Aired Thursday March 18th, 2010 at 7:00 pm on KUED HD Ch. 7.1
Join KUED on Thursday, March 18 at 7:00 p.m. for ON THE ROAD WITH J. GOLDEN KIMBALL. Follow Jim Kimball as he embarks on an odyssey of his great-grand uncle, Jonathan Golden Kimball, a former mule skinner and cowboy who rose to become a colorful General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
J.Golden Kimball, as he was called, was assigned to regularly visit rural towns in Utah to preach at Stake Conferences during the 1920s and '30s. Today, many Mormons along his former route fondly remember his visits. "I've been collecting stories about J. Golden Kimball for years now," explains Jim Kimball. "So I went out on the road to find people in rural Utah who could tell me their recollections of Uncle Golden."
This 90-minute nostalgic journey was created by award-winning producer Elizabeth Searles, with associate producers Diana Jergensen and Sally Shaum. The program is a sequel to Jim Kimball's one-man stage show where he continues the legacy of his uncle by performing some of his best-loved stories before audiences in Logan, Capitol Reef, and St. George.
"Well, it's a beautiful morning," Jim Kimball says from behind the wheel of a 1912 Ford Model T. "The day after a storm's always the most beautiful. I'm sure Uncle Golden must've felt just as I'm feeling now. What a lovely time it is in the Spring in rural Utah."
"J. Golden Kimball was a cowboy at heart." adds Kimball, "For him, traveling the rural parts of the state was like going back to his roots...it rejuvenated him to get out there in rural towns and talk with people - to hear about their cattle herds and alfalfa crops."
Lorraine Young tells Jim Kimball a story passed down by her mother. Once, when J. Golden came to town, he was asked his opinion of women wearing cosmetics. "At that time, for women to use make-up was frowned upon. Someone asked J. Golden what he thought about that, and he said, 'Well, a little paint never hurt any old barn,'" she says.
Dr. Lawrence Reichman recounts a story told to him by his grandfather. Once, when J. Golden Kimball visited St. George to speak at Conference, he found much of the congregation absent. Upon discovering that his audience was watching a baseball game, he marched out to the baseball field, walked up to the umpire and said, "I'm taking over this game." Then, he delivered his sermon on the field. At the conclusion of the speech, J. Golden said, "I say these words in the name of Jesus Christ Amen. Play ball!" Then he went into the stands to watch the game.
"My wife and I are the only two people left who can tell this story. All the rest, so far as we know, have gone beyond the veil," says J. Lee May of Rockland, Idaho, as he passes on a story to Jim Kimball at the counter of the Bluebird Cafe in Logan. He recalls the excitement of J. Golden's speech at a Rockland Stake Conference in 1926: "There had been noise around that J. Golden Kimball would be at the conference. Naturally, the building began to fill with people. They stacked themselves in there and every seat was taken, and they were sitting in the aisles and in the window wells." When J. Golden finally got up to speak, the huge crowd was surprised by the man's humor. "He looked out across that audience for a few minutes and he says, in his high-pitched voice, 'So this is Rockland. How in the hell did you find the God- forsaken place?,'" remembers May.
J. Golden Kimball was a "refreshing anomaly" in the L.D.S. Church, according to Jim Kimball. "People related to him. He had a struggle with perfection, and he was able to couch it in terms that they understood. People feel a oneness with him because of his wit, talent, and his commitment to the church," he says.
Afton Stuart of Logan, retells her father's story about the Easter Sermon given by J. Golden in Logan in the late-1920s: "When J. Golden got up to speak, he went to the pulpit where there was this beautiful arrangement of Easter lilies on the pulpit. He looked at the bouquet, and then he looked at the congregation, then looked at the bouquet again and he picked it up and put it over on the piano. When he came back he said in his rather high-pitched speaking voice, 'the contrast was too great.'"
Jim Kimball believes that the nostalgic documentary could only be found on public television. "Public television is indispensable in preserving this history. I thank KUED for helping to keep that memory alive," he says.
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