Garland Bray -- Biography (Part 3)
Early in 1974 Garland and Sandra found some property in Wayne County that they really loved. They had been looking for a piece of land of about 40 acres in size, and this one was much more than that -- 107.5 acres. But they decided to buy it anyway. Garland had been working for Kennecott, but was not completely happy there. Now that they had the property, he decided to quit the rat race and "go back to the land". In the summer of 1974, he and the boys moved down there and started taking care of the farm.
Larry and Mike both started at Wayne Middle School that fall, when Larry was in 8th grade and Mike in 6th. The farm was about 5 miles out of town, up a dirt road on Government Creek Cove. The kids in town called Larry, "Caveman," because he told them he lived in a cave in the hills. Mike was called "Book" because he liked to read a lot.
Both boys finished high school at Wayne where they played sports of wrestling and baseball, and both served as student body president of Wayne High School during their senior years.
Garland was doing experiments with solar and wind energy of different types, and they had a large garden, some milk goats, chickens, ducks, and other animals, and about 25 acres planted in alfalfa which they had to irrigate. They got all of their water from Government Creek which ran through the property. They had no electricity, running water, or phones. They got free scraps of wood from the sawmill, which they burned for heat, with a system of pipes and barrels set up to bring steam heating into the trailer house. They liked living in this way and being as "self-sufficient" as they could, making their own goat cheese, yogurt, soap, and other things. Garland also worked a few summers at Capitol Reef National Park maintaining the trails, and also he sometimes taught as a substitute teacher at the schools in Bicknell, and sometimes worked at the sawmill.
After Larry graduated from high school (in 1979), he married Mary Ellett from Loa, Wayne County, in 1980. They lived in Loa for a while, and in 1981 Larry made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for throwing a stone with a sling 1,434 ft. 2 inches, at Loa, Utah on Aug. 21, 1981. This type of sling is one of the most ancient weapons; it was used by shepherds for defense against wild animals and to help keep their sheep; it was also used for hunting and warfare, and of course is mentioned several times in the Bible such as when David killed Goliath. Garland had taught Larry to use a sling at a very young age, and he had become quite adept in both distance and accuracy, and knew that he could break the record. The old record was around 1000 feet, and it was set in 1970 in England. Larry broke the record in 1980 at the Wayne County fairgrounds in Loa, but the Guinness people wouldn't accept it that year because they said that he didn't have sufficient proof or documentation. So he broke the record again in 1981, and this time he had nearly all of the officials in the county there to watch and certify everything. They marked each stone just before it was thrown, and when the stone was picked up after it was thrown, they checked the mark to make sure it was the same stone, and then the surveyors measured the distance very accurately, and it all had to be photographed, certified, and notarized. It was quite a big event.
Later, after Mike had also graduated from high school in 1981 and moved to Salt Lake to go to college, and Larry had joined the army and moved his family to Washington and later Alaska, Garland decided to leave the farm and go back to work full-time for a while. He applied for many jobs both overseas and in the U.S. He was hired as an Operations Research Analyst for the federal government, at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. The Space and Rocket Museum and Astronaut training facilities are located in Huntsville.
Sandra had been working for the federal government since 1967, as a computer programmer at Hill Field and then at Ogden Defense Depot. All of the time Garland and the boys were "roughing it" in southern Utah, she had maintained the family income and also the residence in Hunter; they both made visits back and forth as often as they could. When Garland moved to Alabama, Sandra stayed at the family home in Hunter, and continued to commute to her job in Ogden.
Garland lived in Huntsville for about two years, during which he worked on a project of simulating, by computer, how the government's radar-based identification system for friend, foe, or neutral aircraft would work under various extreme weather conditions. The government said that his work would save them millions of dollars in the future, and in thanks they gave him a large cash award of thousands of dollars. Garland also took flying lessons and got his private pilot's license during this time. He flew cross-country to Utah, and also when his family came to visit he took them on trips to Stone Mountain, Georgia and Disney World in Florida.
Garland later transferred to another civil service position at Ft. Lewis near Tacoma, Washington (civil service employees are free to transfer to different positions within civil service, not losing any seniority or retirement benefits), and he lived in the Tacoma area for about one year. He flew to Utah a few times, and his family also visited up there, and we got to experience deep sea fishing on the ocean and visits to the Seattle aquarium, Space Needle, and to the various islands by ferryboat, etc. After about a year Garland transferred to Dugway, Utah. Here he lived during the week at a trailer home in Terra, Utah, near Dugway, and on weekends drove back to Salt Lake. After about a year he transferred again, this time to Albuquerque, New Mexico. He flew back and forth quite often to his land in Wayne County, Utah, and Sandra would drive down and meet him there.
It was on one of these trips, in March of 1991, that his airplane crashed on takeoff at the Wayne Wonderland airstrip, and he nearly lost his life. The volunteer ambulance crew from Wayne County took him by ambulance across the mountains to Richfield, and on the way they had to restart his heart a few times and keep him breathing by a hand pump. The Life Flight crew came down from Salt Lake but it took them several hours to get him stabilized enough to attempt the flight to Salt Lake. They informed us that he would almost certainly not survive the flight.
He beat all the odds and the doctors' predictions, and after being in a coma for a few weeks and having several operations to repair his shattered facial bones and jaw, also his fingers and leg, he made slow but steady improvement. After about a year, and time spent in various rehab facilities, he was able to come home. He got a medical retirement from the government, and today enjoys good health, dividing his time between his home in West Valley City, Utah, and his ranch in Wayne County. He spends his time working on various projects on his computer, and on ideas which he has for construction and improvements on his land in southern Utah.