Joanne Smith and Helen Smedley were brought together by, what some might call, a turning of the tide. During a low tide, uniquely beautiful seashells can be found all along a beach. With this turning of the tide, a uniquely beautiful friendship was found.
Friendship is like a seashell…spiraling out and around itself again as it grows. It grows from dissolved minerals, suspended and spinning in the surrounding water. Rather than spinning minerals, growing friendships spin out from the depths of who we are on the inside and our desire to show what is underneath the surface, making visible to another the unseen parts.
During the early 60s, Joanne’s and Helen’s husbands were both contractors who had been involved together in different development projects. When the men began to envision the development of the Mountain Green Highlands area, wheels were set into motion for laying foundation and building up a community. There was another foundation being formed at that time as well… a foundation for the building of a long and fulfilling friendship.
Helen’s husband, Dale Smedley had been doing contracting work for the “Montana Utah” company. The company had started the building process by cutting roads for the planned Highland development.
Then, the company went broke. They owed Dale Smedley the most money and so they offered to sell out the business to him. Smedley took them up on their offer and started making plans of his own.
Dale specialized in the infrastructure of a development and he started looking for a partner to build the houses. Kent Smith, Joanne’s husband, was the perfect match and balance for what he needed in a partner.
Of the time when her husband, Kent first brought her to the spot in Mountain Green that she now calls home, Joanne said, “He brought us up for a picnic by the creek. There weren’t any houses here then… only sage brush,” Joanne then recalled of the time that, “He wanted to know how we liked it and if we wanted to get involved up here.” Then she added, “I fell in love with this place.”
Helen, on the other hand, needed a little more convincing. “I didn’t like it at all,” she said. Then, she corrected herself and added, “Well, it wasn’t that I didn’t like it. I had my home and I was perfectly satisfied where I was.”
Dale had assured Helen after they had built their home in East Layton that she wouldn’t have to move again. Helen was determined that she would hold Dale to the terms of the promise he had made to her. Dale kept to the agreement by her not having to move out of their new East Layton home.
He had not made any promises to her, however, about not building a house for them in the Highlands. Dale had a house built without Helen’s knowledge, then had to tiptoe carefully around the subject of the planning and development that continued on the Highland project. Dale was doing additional planning as well.
The plan Dale had formulated went into action at the end of the year 1965. Dale somehow convinced Helen to spend Christmas in Mountain Green. He took her shopping for new furniture. Then, made sure that the furniture was all safely delivered to the new house he had built for them, and the house that, as far as Helen knew, was only being lived in by them for the Christmas Holidays.
After spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with her family in the home, Helen began to look outside through one the home’s windows. In those moments of looking out at the wintery Christmas scene, she had a change of heart.
Helen recalled the moment by saying, “I looked out the window and the snow was just swirling… like in one of those [snow globe] balls… never landing.” Helen then added to her description of what she saw through the window of the home Dale had built, “It was such a sweet picture.” Dale’s plan had worked, proving once again that, “If you built it, they will come.”
So, at the close of that family Christmas in ’65, and with the year of 1966 fast approaching, the Smedley’s found themselves at home in the Highlands of Mountain Green. It would be two more years before Kent and Joanne Smith moved to their house in Mountain Green. It was truly more than just a house to Joanne by then. It was her “dream home.”
When the business partners and friends were finally settled, Dale and Kent continued their work as pioneers in the development of the Highland area in Mountain Green, Helen and Joanne went about the work of growth and development in their families. Joanne is the mother of eight children and Helen is the mother of six children.
As the families’ work continued over the years inside and outside their homes, Joanne and Helen continued to build upon the foundations of their friendship. The friendship grew naturally because they had so much in common.
Their children also became the best of friends with one another over the years… the kind of friends to the family that didn’t feel much difference when going between one family home and the other. They were in and out or the other’s home so often that the feeling of being welcome and “at home” could not be felt where one home ended and the other began.
Even though the life’s of these two families’ sounds near perfect, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the Smiths and Smedleys. As is common in other communities going through growth and development, the changes can give rise to a lot of sensitivity and emotion about the issues surrounding it.
The Smedleys and Smiths can truly be called pioneers of this area in Morgan County. Pioneers are visionaries for change and finding a better way, they are passionate enough about their vision to make a plan, and then they have the courage and the willingness to put all of their cards on the table in order to make their dream become reality. “If you aren’t willing to take a risk,” said Joanne, “you’ll never get anything done.”
Through all of the inevitable peaks and valleys of the development process, these families and friends have remained supportive and close to each other … especially when they weren’t feeling support from anywhere else. Helen explains it this way. “If you’re doing things, and up and going, then you’re bound to have people that aren’t happy with you. So you just have to be people that can just brush it off,” she said, “or else you’d be hurt all of the time.”
Joanne Smith still lives in her dream home along Gordon Creek in the Highlands. She is still close to her good friend, Helen. Helen lives just a block away in the same house that her husband built for them…the same house where she spent her first Christmas in Mountain Green and where she celebrated finding and being truly home for Christmas.
At the end of sharing their story of friendship, both Helen and Joanne said in unison, “I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.” Helen paused to reflect, and then added. “Yes... It’s been a great life.”