Moving from Globe to Phoenix, Arizona in 1932
by Alton Scott Foster

Sonoran Desert Plants

Superstition Mountains

Canyon Lake

Four Peaks

Saguaro Cactus

My mother and Frank Pascoe decided to move to Phoenix, Arizona, in the year of 1932. Frank's Uncle, Charlie Pascoe, from Clifton, Arizona, loaned them the money to purchase a service station, located on the corner of 14th street and Pierce in Phoenix. Later they added a Dry Cleaning Shop, which my mother operated. I soon learned to pump gas, check the oil levels in customer's cars.

In the summer time I slept, outside on a steel cot with a wet sheet in order to keep cool. Mosquitoes were a real menace and I had to keep covered all night or risk being carried away.

I learned to build my own radio set, which included a round rolled oat carton, some copper wire, a cat whisker and a crystal, and of course ear phones. I remember laying in bed and listening to KOY or KTAR, the only two radio stations at that time.

I entered my Freshman year of high school in 1932,at Phoenix Union High School. I enrolled in a liberal arts course, which included, English, Spanish, civics, geometry, mechanical drawing, wood shop, metal shop, machine shop and others that I have forgotten. 

I enjoyed my school years at Phoenix Union High School and received average grades, except in Chemistry, which I failed. My geometry teacher said that I was an A student, but because I would not apply myself and study enough, that she was only going to give me a "B" grade.

Math was an easy class for me as well as Spanish which I took for two years.

My mother divorced Frank Pascoe after selling the home and gas station. We then rented a house nearby.

My sister Ilene married Ernie Stofer, and they rented a house directly in back of ours.

I started to work again for Pay N Tak It in the meat department, after school and on Saturdays. The first store was on 7th Avenue and Roosevelt Street in Phoenix.

I continued to work during my high school years in order to help with expenses at home.  

Cholla Brittlebush

Barrel Cactus

My first car was a 1928 Chevrolet, and I remember driving to work after school and the car would get so hot that when I stopped, it would continue to run, because it was so hot. My next car was a 1932 Ford convertible with a V8 engine, and boy did it use oil. It had a by- pass on the exhaust system ,so that the exhaust came directly out of the manifold, and believe me it sure attracted the girls and the cops.

While I still had the Chevrolet, a couple friends and I went to California to see my father. On the trip we blew out four tires. At that time the road west of Yuma where all the sand is, the roadway was made of wooden planks for only one car and when you met some one, one or the other would have to pull off the road so the other could pass, and then the one that was on the road would have to wait to be sure the other one was able to get back on the road again.

I graduated from Phoenix Union High School in 1936. I was not a good student, because I did not apply myself sufficiently. After graduation, I worked full time for Safeway Stores as meat market manager.

In those days, we made displays of food items in the aisles. One such display was sugar on a pallet, some 3 inches above the floor. We had a customer whose little dog would urinate on the sugar, so I rigged a hot-shot coil to this display and when our little friend lifted his leg to relieve himself, I gave him a jolt of electric current that made him run to the end of his leash screaming to the top of his little lungs. His owner turned to me and asked, what in the world happened, and I said that he must have taken a fit. Ever after, when she would carry him into the store, he would start to get away from her, no wonder! 

Aloe Cactus Plant

Mezona Dance Hall

I used to go to the Mezona Dance Hall in Mesa on Friday nights. This was sponsored by the Church. This was where I met the girl of my dreams. I was still working for Safeway, and I told Elsie that when I was making $ 27.50 dollars per week, we would get married. Soon after this we were married in Wickenburg, Arizona, on the 25th of May 1940.
At the time that we were married, I was working for American Tobacco Co. We rented a house in Prescott, Arizona. Soon after this, American Tobacco and I departed company and I leased a meat market in Prescott from Sell Right Stores. This was where I met Milford and Rilla Johnson, who became life long friends. I bought a little chow puppy far Elsie and soon after he got away from her and was run over by a car. Elsie was heart broken. 
Gary Lee Foster was born on the 18 June 1941, at St. Joseph Hospital, in Phoenix, Arizona. In those days mothers were required to stay in the hospital for ten days, after giving birth. The total cost for Gary's birth was $100 dollars.

We moved back to Phoenix, Arizona and again I worked for Safeway as a meat cutter. The store was located on 7th Avenue and Camelback Road. I had a customer by the name of Collier and he took a liking to me and he said to me one day that he owned all the vacant lots facing Camelback Road from Central Avenue to the Safeway Store and he would give me one or all if I would pay the $25 dollar taxes per lot per year. Can you imagine, I thought I could not even pay taxes, even on one lot.  Each lot eventually was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

We moved to Casa Grande, Arizona and again working for Safeway Stores as a market manager. Our friend was showing us a new shotgun that he had just purchased, when it discharged into a chair that a few moments prior, Elsie had been sitting in.

We were living in Casa Grande when World War 2 broke out. Elsie would take Gary to the back yard to enjoy the sun and he would shiver when the Air Force planes would fly overhead. These planes were from Williams Air Force Base, in Chandler, Arizona. 

I was looking for the opportunity to better my employment, so I contacted Elgin McCarty, who was the Fire Chief at Williams Air Force Base in Chandler, Arizona. As a kid, I knew him when we were living in Globe, Arizona so he hired me immediately. I became a firefighter until I was drafted.   See my Draft papers and comments.

See United States Defense Savings Bonds that we purchased at the time to help out our countries war effort.

After World War II I returned to work at Williams Air Force Base for a total of 14 years, from 1942 to 1956. I attained the rank as Assistant Fire Chief after two years.

This was a very dangerous job, with lots of excitement, a real challenge, and responsibility, however I thoroughly enjoyed it. William's Field was an air training base, and for this mission, we had lots of air craft fires, not only on the Base, but all over the State.  

High test gasoline and magnesium were our worst enemy in fighting these fires.  However, we were still able to save many lives from crashed aircraft that may have crash landed on the runways.

I have been blown off wings of aircraft, been inside aircraft when they exploded, and always survived, none the worst for the experience.  

I was not a member of the Church at this time, however, I always felt that the good Lord would look after me. I'm sure that this feeling carried over with my firemen, because, they always had confidence in me, when the chips were down and we were faced with the task of saving some pilot from his burning aircraft.

Rick at about age 2

We were living in Phoenix, Arizona and working at the Base, when My son Richard Alton Foster was born on the 2 August 1944, at Good Samaritan Hospital, Phoenix, Arizona.
As I remember, we lived on about 20th Street & East Lafayette. The Lafayette Street name was later changed to Flower Street. This was the first house that we owned, and we paid about $1,600 dollars for it. There was about twenty of these houses in this area and we had a small store and laundry facility adjoining. This community was an experiment as a "housing co-op".

We later moved to Williams Field, as it became necessary for me to live on the Base. Shortly thereafter we purchased a brand new 1949 Hudson Ambassador Automobile from Joe Darner Motor Company located in Mesa, Arizona. This car had an in line 8 cylinder engine and this was one of the quietest running engines that I had ever heard.

While living here, I attended all of the fires and aircraft crash calls, not only on the Base, but off Base as well. Subsequently, I have been over much of the State of Arizona, where ever these crashes occurred.

On one such crash we found the burned aircraft, but could not locate the pilot. As we were about to leave the scene, I faintly heard some one call out for help, and as I ran down a wash, I came face to face with the pilot. He was standing upright in a very stiff position and he said to me "Don't touch me" and I knew why, because he was burned to a crisp. We placed a stretcher at his back and belted him to the stretcher and lowered him onto it and then carried him to the ambulance. He of course died soon after. I wondered how long that he had stood in this position with the intense suffering, before we arrived.

To my remembrance, we never saved the life of a pilot that crashed away from the Base, however, we were able to save many that crashed on Base. One time an AT6 aircraft came in for a landing and crashed on the runway and afire. As I entered the aircraft I helped both pilots out and all of sudden one pilot ran back to the cockpit. I stopped him, thinking that he was disorientated, later I saw that these pilots were Chinese and they were extremely fond of oranges, and the one pilot had left an orange in the cockpit which he was willing to face the fire in order to retrieve his orange.

We answered an alarm just east of the Base and when I arrived I saw the pilot some distance from his crashed and burning Jet. He was sitting on his parachute and was screaming to the top of his lungs. I noticed that both his legs were almost torn from his body. The medics gave him a shot to relieve the pain and he kept calling for more shots because he was in such pain. He later recovered from his pain and the loss of both legs. He graduated with his classmates, however of course he never flew again.

On most crashes that occurred on Base, we were annoyed by military that came to the crash just to see what happened and were always in the way of our efforts. On one such occasion, we were alerted that a Jet was coming in for an emergency because he had run out of fuel. As he was turning on final approach he lost altitude and crashed. The crash brought many unauthorized military to the scene. We found the de-captivated body and as I was looking for the head, some of the military were helping. I found the head and as I was carrying it to the ambulance, I said to some of these military, as I held the head in my hand, "is this what you are looking for". Needless, in no time we were left alone to do our job.

I enjoyed my job and received many letters of commendation. I became deeply concerned about the safety of the pilots and upon retiring each night I would offer a prayer in their behalf.

1920: Southside Hospital
Mesa’s first community hospital was established in 1920, when a group of citizens purchased a home at Main Street and Hibbert and converted it into a hospital. In 1923, it was incorporated as Southside District Hospital. It moved into a new building in 1935 and continued
to grow steadily. In 1973, after merging with Phoenix’s Good Samaritan Hospital, Southside was closed and replaced by Desert Samaritan Hospital near Southern and Dobson.
While living on the Base, Steven Ray Foster was born on the 26th of February 1952 at Southside Hospital in Mesa, Arizona. Elsie had a very hard birth. Her Doctor was named Rowley. He gave her a spinal injection. Evidently he made an error in this, so he then gave her an anesthetic. Even after Elsie was able to come home, she never seemed to recover from the spinal injection. One day I came home and Elsie was looking out the back door and I asked her what was the matter and she said that she was unable to mix the milk formula. I took her to a doctor in Phoenix and he had her admitted to a rest home where they gave her insulin shots and after about six weeks she was released. The doctor said that no doubt the spinal shot had affected her nervous system.
During this time I was left to take care of Gary, Rick and the new-born Steve. Jess Gale's wife volunteered to take Steve and what a blessing for me. Gary and Rick were at school during the day and I was at home with them at night, so all seemed to work well. However one day the school called me at work and said that Ricky was so sleepy at school that he could not stay awake in class and they asked me if I was seeing that he was getting enough sleep at night. I soon discovered that he had eaten almost a full box of cereal prior to going to school and he was just sleeping an over-dose of his favorite cereal.  
I worked at Williams Field for about fourteen years and accumulated about one full year of sick leave. I received a letter of commendation for this, since it was the highest amount of any civilian in the Air Training Command. Since my job was somewhat dangerous, I realized that my sick leave was the best insurance that I could have. Of course I was blessed with good health and have been all of my life.
During the time that Elsie was in the rest home, I was really concerned about her health and the out come. I remember one night as I prepared for bed that I was prompted to pray to God and ask for his blessing to be upon Elsie. In so doing I promised the Lord that if she would be healed that I would do any thing that he may require of me and this was the beginning of my conversion. It was a blessing when Elsie finally came home. I took some of my leave from the job and took care of Elsie and the boys. I continued to pray for Elsie and it wasn't long before two Stake Missionaries came to visit us and particularly me.

Unbeknownst to me, Elsie had been attending the Queen Creek Ward and she had asked the Bishop for the Missionaries to come visit us.

At first I was not too impressed with the Missionaries, however I kept remembering the promise that I had made to the Lord and I decided that I would listen to them. As the lessons were given I knew that I was more intelligent than thy were, however they had the spirit with them. I had a lot of questions for them and sometimes they would say that they would have to study and get the answers for me, which they did. One of them was named Robert Morris and I have never met a man as humble as he was and he made a lasting impression on me.  

Many years later when I was called to be a Bishop of the Pine, Arizona Ward, I attended his funeral in Mesa, Arizona and had the opportunity to meet most of his twelve kids, they were delighted to know that their missionary Father had taught me the Gospel.
(Note from Gary:  While working at the Arizona Temple in 2000 I met a man by the name of Brother Morris.  He was about 60 years old and asked me if I knew an Alton Foster.  I told him that he was my father and he told me that his father was the missionary that taught my father the gospel many years before.  It's a small world... two grateful sons each sharing a memory of their fathers.)
As I was being taught the Gospel, I became more interested and was Baptized in Mesa, Arizona, on the 2nd of January 1954. Elsie and I were sealed as husband and wife and sealed to our children for time and all eternity in the Arizona Temple Mesa, Arizona on the 26th of May 1955.
This was a new life for me and my family and as I grew in knowledge of the divinity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ my family was blessed and I began to know that the Gospel was the most important thing, second only to my family. My education has been achieved by study of the Gospel and accepting Church callings as they were offered to me. I have never turned down an opportunity to serve the Lord in any capacity. I feel that the Lord has blessed me many fold, because of the sincere prayer that I offered one night when I needed him most.
My testimony to each of my children is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and that the same Gospel has been restored in all of it's fullness for us and in these times. Joseph Smith was a literal Prophet of the Lord as all succeeding Presidents of the Church have been. Jesus Christ is who He said He was, the Son of God the Father, that they live and are concerned for us and that they answer our prayers. My prayer is for each of my children to now or someday share with me this testimony that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. It is the only true Church upon the face of this earth for our benefit and has been given every tenet and scripture and holy ordinance for our salvation.

Mesa Arizona Temple

Even though Sheri was born after Elsie, myself and her three brothers were sealed in the Arizona Temple, she is automatically sealed to us as a family because she was born under the covenant of our Temple Sealing.

Continue reading Alton's Summary of his life