Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Orderville, UT--Dummies and the Pants that Brought the Town Down

Anyone passing through the small southern Utah town of Orderville, will notice the police cars. There are two of them and they are parked along the side of the road, effectively slowing down visitor traffic through town. That is, until you take a closer look at the policeman sitting in the car.

They are dummies. One a man, the other a woman. But notice how his eyes are looking right at you! Those of us who travel this road frequently always joke about the "dummy cops" but there is another much more interesting story about the town of Orderville, told in the October 1989 conference by Elder Eyring.

It is a cute story, with many lessons for all of us.

"Orderville was founded in 1870 and 1871 by people who wanted to live the united order. They built housing units in a square, with a common dining hall. They built a storehouse, shoe shop, bakery, blacksmith shop, tannery, schoolhouse, sheep shed, and woolen factory. They grew and made nearly everything they needed, from soap to trousers. They had carpenters, midwives, teachers, artists, and musicians. They produced enough surplus that they could sell it in neighboring towns for cash: with that they built up a capital fund to buy more land and equipment.

The population rose to seven hundred people. One hundred and fifty of them gave Orderville a special advantage: they had come to Orderville from the mission on the Muddy River, where they had nearly starved. When those who had been called to the Muddy were released, they were in near destitution. Twenty-four of those families went to Long Valley, founded Orderville, and pledged all they had to the Lord. They didn’t have much, but their poverty may have been their greatest contribution.

But time passed, the railroad came, and a mining boom put cash in the hands of people in the neighboring towns. They could buy imported clothes, and they did. The people in Orderville were living better than they had in years, but the memory of poverty on the Muddy had faded. They now focused on what was in the next town. And so they felt old-fashioned and deprived.
One ingenious boy acted on the discontent he felt when he was denied a new pair of pants from the Orderville factory because his were not worn out yet. He secretly gathered the docked lambs’ tails from the spring crop. He sheared the wool from them and stored it in sacks. Then, when he was sent with a load of wool to sell in Nephi, he took his sacks along and exchanged them for a pair of store pants. He created a sensation when he wore the new-style pants to the next dance.

The president of the order asked him what he had done. The boy gave an honest answer. So they called him into a meeting and told him to bring the pants. They commended him for his initiative, pointed out that the pants really belonged to the order, and took them. But they told him this: the pants would be taken apart, used as a pattern, and henceforth Orderville pants would have the new store-bought style. And he would get the first pair.

That did not quite end the pants rebellion. Orders for new pants soon swamped the tailoring department. When the orders were denied because pants weren’t yet worn out, boys began slipping into the shed where the grinding wheel was housed. Soon, pants began to wear out quickly. The elders gave in, sent a load of wool out to trade for cloth, and the new-style pants were produced for everyone."

And that was the beginning of the end of the united order in Orderville. The town still exists, but dreams of living the united order were tucked away, perhaps to be brought out another day.

So when driving through Orderville, be sure to notice the police cars, and remember the story of how a single pair of pants brought down the town.


Heidi Ashworth said...

Fashion is to blame for most of the evils of mankind. No, really, it's true!

Momza said...

I remember Elder Eyring sharing this remarkable story--I wondered then as I wondered today, if I could live in an "Orderville"? Would my kids haul-tail it outta there when tempted by other things?
Maybe that is why the counsel today is to "live in the world, but be not of the world"? Interesting post!

Becky said...

A good story to think about. What little things in our lives may lead us away from the Lord... probably more than I care to know.

Love Heidi's comment, BTW.

JustRandi said...

What a great story! I love history! We have a little town here with a dummy cop, too. Funny thing is, it STILL gets me every time!

Marilyn said...

Love this! I remember the story. We stopped once and looked at the Orderville Church/museum/something, I can't remember, just remember we stopped.

Carolyn said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. Your posts are so interesting and your family is beautiful.

M said...

I think I should be sited for taking some of those AMAZING pictures! YOu have to admit, they add a nice flavor to your blog! Great Post!

Jenny said...

You gotta watch out for those dummy cops. one of these days they'll replace them with the real thing, then what will you do?