Brothers, Herbert re-enact 1936 governor encounter
In December, historian Ron Fox was searching archives for photographs of past governors' inaugurations when an image from Jan. 1, 1936, caught his eye.
The picture shows two young boys brothers clad in shorts and tall boots shaking hands with an apparently ecstatic Gov. Henry Blood, Utah's seventh, who helmed the state from 1933 to 1941. Fox said the only information on the photo was the date. Curious, he went to Ancestry.com and began searching archives of The Salt Lake Tribune where the photo originally ran. Soon he found an accompanying article along with two names: Clarence and Waldo Udarbe.
In the phone book, Fox discovered that the Udarbe boys were alive and still living in the Salt Lake City area.
"I love history," Fox added Wednesday. "It's the thrill of discovery."
Fox eventually mentioned the brothers to the governor's office, and everyone was game to re-enact the moment captured in the photo. Wednesday at the state Capitol, the Udarbe brothers, Fox and Gov. Gary Herbert came together to do just that.
While he waited for Herbert, Clarence, now 83, said he remembered only bits and pieces of his encounter with Blood nearly a lifetime ago. He was 7 years old, he recalled, and his parents had brought him up to the Capitol to see the governor. He and Waldo were the first people in line to shake the governor's hand.
Fox added that in the 1930s the state set aside a day for citizens to come shake the hand of the governor. The tradition was eventually discontinued.
Waldo, now 80 and a foot taller than his older brother, remembers even less.
"I must have been surprised," Waldo said as he studied his own facial expression in the old photograph.
In the years following the brother's encounter with Blood, they grew up, married and started families. Today, both men have seven grandchildren. Clarence also spent five years in Germany as a soldier and an LDS missionary. Waldo became an electrician. And both men stayed in the Salt Lake City area, which allowed Fox to find them.
Wednesday evening Clarence and Waldo chatted briefly with family and staffers at the governor's office, then stood in the corner of a side room and clasped hands with Herbert. Fox stood by with the old picture. Afterward, all three men swapped signed copies of the photograph.
As they walked out the door, both Udarbe brothers said it was a privilege to meet Herbert. Much like his younger self, Waldo was "surprised" by the encounter. Clarence described the experience as an "unexpected pleasure."
"We're available to take pictures with governors anytime," he added, chuckling.