Thoughts on family history, screenwriters and Mount Everest

In two weeks I will attend a family reunion. While it will be fun to see siblings, uncles, aunts and cousins, I’m mostly looking forward to sharing something with them that I’ve been working on for the last year — a life history of my grandparents, Charles and Dorthy Mickelsen.

The final document is being printed right now and made into a little book that will be handed out among the family. The book contains about 140 pages, including stories from their ancestors, 50 pages of many rarely seen photos and excerpts from letters between my grandparents during the Korean Conflict in the early 1950s.

Charles and Dorthy Mickelsen, my late grandparents.

Charles and Dorthy Mickelsen, my late grandparents.

Writing and compiling this history was both an honor and opportunity for me to pay tribute to my grandparents. They were so good to me and my family during a critical time in our lives. Learning about their lives helped me to more fully understand and appreciate their personalities and life experience. For example, I learned that as a young girl, my grandma Dorthy often walked miles to church on her own and arranged her own baptism because her family wasn’t active in the church. 

When Grandpa Charlie sold his horse to buy a ring and propose to Grandma, her first question was “where?”

“Where do you want to be married?” He said. It didn’t matter to him.

But when she said the “Idaho Falls Temple,” that grabbed his attention. Getting married in the LDS temple would require him to make some important changes in his life. But that’s what his sweetheart wanted. He knew he couldn’t fake those changes either. Getting married in the temple was a foundational turning-point as they began their lives together. They were married in the Idaho Falls Temple several months later.

Charles and Dorthy Mickelsen were married in the Idaho Falls Temple in June 1948.

Charles and Dorthy Mickelsen were married in the Idaho Falls Temple in June 1948.

Writing their history was a worthwhile project that not only meant a great deal to me, but I hope will mean something special to the Mickelsen posterity.

I hope to do more such projects in the future because they have the potential to positively impact many generations.

“A life that is not documented is a life that within a generation or two will largely be lost to memory. What a tragedy this can be in the history of a family. Knowledge of our ancestors shapes us and instills within us values that give direction and meaning to our lives. (Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander, General Conference, April 1999)

“I have a strong feeling that when this life is over, our personal and family histories and the influence they wield will be of much greater importance than we now think.” (Elder John H. Groberg, General Conference, April 1980)

“Life is filled with these types of teaching and learning moments, and we believe it is impossible to overestimate the influence our own stories can have on us, our children, and future generations. … But if we and those we love are to benefit from these moments, we would be wise to ‘Treasure up … the words of life’ (D&C 84:85), write them down and frequently recount them – thus making them part of our family lore and heritage.” (Elder W. Craig Zwick, “More To Your Story, p. 3”)

“We … write, to persuade our children … to believe in Christ.” (2 Nephi 25:23)

These thoughts have motivated me to want to know more about my family as well as share meaningful experiences from my own life with my kids. I reserve the right to do that from time to time on my blog.

While family history stories may impact the lives of family members, I recently wrote an article for the Deseret News about two screenwriters that are impacting many lives through their careers as screenwriters.

Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul created the “Despicable Me” series and many other films. I had the chance to do an email interview with them recently in connection with the release of “Despicable Me 2,” which is set for release July 3. The article went online June 27. Go read it.

"Despicable Me" screenwriters Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio.

“Despicable Me” screenwriters Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio.

It was fun to ask the two Mormons about how they brainstorm ideas, work with celebrities like Steve Carell and survive in Hollywood. What I found most interesting is their formula for creating family-friendly movies that convey a value or lesson. They said they write for themselves. If they find the story to be entertaining and compelling, there is a good chance the audience will be engaged as well, they said.

“We always want the movies to be about something, but we never want them to be preachy,” the writers said. “We also never write them for anyone but ourselves. We just try to make each other laugh or feel something, and that may be one of the reasons our movies have had some success. Once you try to write something just for kids or families, you’re in trouble.”

If there is one lesson that Daurio and Paul have learned while writing in the filmmaking industry, it’s patience.

“These movies take three years to make, so we’ve definitely learned patience,” they said.

Another recent article I wrote felt like an adventure. I interviewed two Latter-day Saint men who reached the summit of Mount Everest in May. The article ran on June 11.

David Roskelley and Steve Pearson hold up a copy of the Book of Mormon on the summit of Mt. Everest in May 2013.

David Roskelley and Steve Pearson hold up a copy of the Book of Mormon on the summit of Mt. Everest in May 2013.

The article details their physical and spiritual journey to the top of the world pretty well. I thought it was cool that they carried the Book of Mormon to the top of the world and snapped a photo. Hearing how they attempted to sing “High On the Mountain Top” gave the song a whole new meaning.

A panoramic view from the top of Mt. Everest.

A panoramic view from the top of Mt. Everest.

I came away from this interview with an inspired feeling and determination to climb all the daunting and treacherous mountains of life.







Trent Toone

My name is Trent Toone and I’m a journalist for the Deseret News, where I write for a variety of feature sections. I was raised in Northern Utah and graduated from the University of Utah in 2003. Since then I have worked for several newspapers and received various awards over my journalism career. I am the author of “No Excuses, No Regrets: The Eric Weddle Story,” the sports biography of San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle. I served an LDS mission to Santiago, Chile, and spent a year teaching seminary. Like my father before me, I am a proud Eagle Scout. My wife Lisa and I have four children and live in Northern Utah. Feel free to contact me by emailing to trent.b.toone (at) gmail (dot) com.

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