Daryl Hoole’s first book, The Art of Homemaking, was published in 1967 and lasted on the shelves of Deseret Book for 25 years. The unofficial spokeswoman for home culture in Mormonism for the second half of the 20th century, Daryl has been in demand as a speaker for women’s groups throughout the United States and Canada. She served on the Primary General Board, is the mother of 8 living children and grandmother of thirty-six.
Would you take me back to the original motivations for homemaking and home organization to become a passion in your life.
I grew up in a home with parents who were both orderly and organized. They were also gracious and warm and loving and involved in church and community and family. I saw a good balance. My father was a military officer. He joined the ROTC during the depression to help him through school, so in 1940 when world conditions became unsettled, he was called into active duty. I was 6. My mother insisted that we follow him, not stay at home. She loaded us up, my sister and me, in the car and the little trailer and we followed him all over. I had 18 schools before I finally got to high school. Six first grades! Different teachers in four different states so I laughingly say I blame all my problems onto those 18 schools! But during those years, all through the duration of the war, as we traveled coast to coast, I saw the advantage of organized yet flexible living. Everything was organized but never rigid, nothing was cast in stone. We would adapt and adjust and I realize now how much smoother you can adapt and adjust when things are first of all in control.
Can you give me an example of how your mother had things organized while you were in this state of flux?
She managed to streamline things so that we could quickly pack. She had papers that she kept filed. We always had a home even though we didn’t have a house to put it in. We settled down finally in Salt Lake, and by that time I was thirteen. We were glad to be back in Utah, and then four years later my father was called as the mission president in the Netherlands (also known as Holland) so off we went again. By that time I had two younger brothers as well as my sister. Mission presidents in those days were not released on a schedule like they are today and so we stayed for four and a half years and had a glorious experience. I was called on a full-time mission to serve in the mission office and proselyte after hours. In doing so I learned more about the advantages of efficiency and organization. I saw that the less time you spend with your papers the more time you can spend with people.
Forty years later my husband was also called as mission president to the same mission! He was born in Holland, joined the Church when he was 15. Some young people in his neighborhood invited him to go to a near-by building to play table tennis. It was after the war and there wasn’t much to do so he went with them. He enjoyed the evening and they invited him back and pretty soon they told him about baptism. The building happened to be the church headquarters in Amsterdam. He joined the church and immigrated when he was 19 and settled in Salt Lake City. He was drafted into the US Army because of the Korean War. Upon his discharge, he was called back to Holland to serve a mission. Returning to Utah, he desired a college education He had dropped out of school in the fourth grade in Holland, speaking Dutch, so it was a big jump to the University of Utah, speaking, English. Blessings from his missionary service have been innumerable and his two years of military duty put him on a fast track to US citizenship and the G.I. Bill paid his way at the university.
Tell me about the origins of your book, The Art of Homemaking.
We had been married just a year when we had premature twin baby girls. Only one lived. The other died at six days. The one who lived now has triplets plus four other children. But anyway, back in those days I had a baby girl who survived and then a little boy fifteen months later and I had a lot of neighbors who would ask me how I managed. “How can you do this and have these babies and get dinner ready and have an orderly house?” A particular neighbor said she never saw the bottom of her sink or the bottom of the clothes basket or the floor in the children’s playroom. Another neighbor was full of questions. She was also a wonderful cook. So we had a good time: she would give me cooking tips and in turn she would come over and our babies would play and we would talk about household management. And at first I had no idea what I did; I just did what my mother had done. And my husband, who has always believed in me, even before I believed in myself, would say, “Well, think about something specific. Give her some tips.”
At this time, my neighbor was teaching classes in nutrition for BYU Continuing Education and she mentioned my name to the leaders as someone who could teach classes in household organization and management. They were developing what they called a “school for brides.” They were going to have a twelve-week course for young girls getting married: diet, nutrition, shopping, how to carve a roast, how to shop and what to buy. I was thrilled to be asked by BYU to do that.
So, I started thinking more and more about what exactly I did and compiling that information for each class. That class continued for years and years and years. The morning after that first class my phone started to ring: Relief Society presidents calling and asking if I would come talk to their sisters. I would put my own children in the nursery and I would talk to the women for an hour and teach them. The ladies always wanted a copy of this list or that schedule and so forth. So I was printing all my materials and then one day the BYU coordinators said, “You’ve exceeded your allotment of paper for the class. You need to start charging them for these notes.” So I presented the idea to the women and they were happy to pay for them. And one woman said, “Why don’t you put them in a nice cover and we could give them to brides for gifts?” That’s how my first book was born. That became the Art of Homemaking.
I tell women who come to me in my classes that, with regards to papers, you’re either going to have a search or you’re going to have a system. And it’s just a lot smarter to have a system. I endeavored to teach true, eternal principles along with examples and stories to illustrate, but now in looking back, I can see the fruits. I’ve seen how these principles have blessed our children and anyone else who has used them.
I taught a filing system I had learned after my mission working as secretary to Elder Adam S. Bennion of the Quorum of the Twelve. I would teach them how to have a place for everything and everything in its place and to put things away instead of put them down. I taught them laundry sorting and folding and putting away methods and how to organize drawers and closets. I could go on and on. Little things make a big difference.. It’s mostly more about habit than it is about time. I don’t think I spend as much time as some women who don’t keep a clean house because I can find stuff fast. I would teach that after your house is in order, your work really starts. If you try to begin your work before your house is in order you’ve got toast crumbs in your papers and children spilling their milk at the kitchen table because it wasn’t put away and everything going wrong. Messes left unattended create more messes. But if you first put your house in order and everything is where it belongs, then you can just cruise through whatever the work of the day is.
How did you suggest women teach these principles to young children, who are so often the source of the disorderliness?
You make it easy for them. You give them a specific place to put things. We required our children to take care of their rooms but we had low hanging hooks and shelves they could reach and containers to keep things together. I would ask the children to do something specific: instead of saying, “Go clean your room,” I would say, “Pick up your socks,” and “hang up your clothes,” and then either Hank or I would work with them. I think that is the answer: hand over hand, side by side, you work with children. We emphasized “first things first:” when you do this (your chores), then you can do that (play, go on an outing, read a book, see TV, etc.)
I’ve always said in my teaching that an orderly house is what you want, but toys don’t count. Toys are not the problem. People’s projects are not the problem. That’s progress not neglect. There is a big difference between a house that doesn’t get the newspapers thrown out or socks picked up and one where there is life and activity and children with toys and people with projects. We gave each of our girls a sewing machine as they turned 16 and one year I think the sewing machines buzzed the whole month of December as the girls were in their corners making gifts for Christmas, but that was good. See, there is a big difference.
We have sons whose garages look like they could be in Better Homes & Gardens. Clean, organized garages. They do really a good job! Our girls are beautiful homemakers and our daughters-in-law are as well. Someone said to me, “Who would want to be your daughter-in-law?” (They have the pressure of carrying on the reputation of the Hoole name after all.) But somehow they came along and they’re loyal family members. In fact, it was one of the daughters-in-law who came to me after one of our missions and said, “You should write again. My friends need an updated Art of Homemaking. They’re struggling.” So that is how my last book, The Ultimate Career, came to be; I did it with my daughters and daughters-in-law who had fresh perspectives. Each one contributed to the manuscript in many meaningful ways.
How do you feel that modern technology and digital advancements change any of the principles that you taught? I assume that it changes some of the tactics, but do you feel like it changes the principles?
No, it doesn’t change the principles. It just makes everything better, more efficient. Technology takes away a lot of the laborious part of homemaking. All these labor saving devices are wonderful because I think it gives you more quality time for your family and other people and projects and service. We used to have to clean an oven with a mask on and Brillo pads and toothbrushes and it would take me maybe an hour, hour and a half to do it. It was not a pleasant chore. But now I push two little buttons on my stove and it’s done.
Have you written or spoken at all about a digital system that might mirror what you did with your own paper systems?
Oh yes. In fact, my filing system is fully described and illustrated in my writings, but now it has basically been replaced by computers. I appreciate modern household items. I love my washer and dryer. I watched my mother do her washing in a double tub Dexter. Her washing was an all day process every Monday. Doing the laundry was a big job! She made starch and bluing, and she would take the clothes from one tub to the next and then to the wringer and then to the line outside the house and then she would take another day to iron all these items. She didn’t have the time that I have to read good books and go places and do things and give a lot of service.
Mothers do a lot of carpooling these days. My mother never carpooled. She didn’t even have a car at her disposal. Carpooling now consumes a great deal of many mothers’ time, but it also gives them some captive audiences with their children. One mother said, “I raise my children by the mile.” That’s what we do now, but the principles – that children need to be trained and taught, and it is good to keep your house clean and neat — all those values remain just as true as ever. The methods are different but the purposes and goals remain the same..
Is there anything that discourages you about the development of modern technology? Are there any negatives to not spending a day doing laundry? How should we deal with life in the information age?
I think maybe mothers were more inclined to be home with their children and I think that’s important Any true principle, if it’s carried to the extreme it’s no longer true. I think we now tend to overdo some things. If we aren’t careful technological devices replace relationships. I just read the other day about a three-year-old who was crying. When asked what he wanted, he said, “I want my iPad.” Not “I want my mommy.” That’s sad, you know? I’m afraid that people are losing communication skills and relationships are being affected. We’re having too many microwave dinners. People don’t sit around the table, they just grab food and go. I think what children need is good food on the table and you. Technology needs to be kept in proper bounds, it needs to be controlled. Then it blesses our lives. Take fire, for an example. When used properly it warms us and cooks our food. It’s wonderful. But if it’s out of control it can burn our house down. This is true with any of the modern things. In control they can bless our lives, out of control they can destroy us.
I encourage mothers to be grateful for self-cleaning ovens and microwaves and washers and dryers and computers and all those good things, but don’t give up the soft touches. I have said that for every computer, you need a quilt. You have to balance the hard, cold computer with the soft coziness and the warmth and the charm of a quilt in the house.
In addition to the publication of The Art of Homemaking, and your other books, would you take me through a couple of other milestones that were significant to you in your work?
Our eight living children have been our joy. They’re all faithful and active in the church and are raising their children in light and truth. I had a wonderful husband who supported and encouraged me in every way. He was very successful in his own field so there was never any competition, threat or other concerns. I helped him and he helped me. We had memorable trips as a family as we traveled with BYU Education Weeks. We would have great times. As I would teach my class, they would all stay at the motel and swim and play, then we would see the sites. As a result, the children gained important information and valuable lessons in American and church history.
When my father was released from being mission president in Holland, Elder Adam Bennion, the general authority visiting at the time, invited me to work for him in at church headquarters. I told him I needed to get back to school, I needed a social life. He said, “Do you want an education or a degree? If you want an education, come work for me.” Then later I got married and I had all these babies and so I didn’t get a degree along the way. I felt, however, that I had an education; I had a second language, traveled everywhere, domestically and foreign shores. I had countless opportunities as I went around to education weeks teaching my classes. I would always take other people’s classes. So I learned from the best minds in the church, but I didn’t have an official degree.
Do you ever miss that?
I was self-educated, so I never really missed it. One time, I did talk to BYU about going back to school and taking some classes, and they said, “Well, you could do that but don’t take anything in Home Economics because the value of your work and what has made you successful is that you’re telling practical things, not the academic things. Your laboratory is the home.” My approach was practical rather than just theoretical. There never would have been an Art of Homemaking if I had gone to school first, they said.
In 2012, BYU invited me to give a distinguished lecture on teaching children self-reliance and respect. I had thought I had given my last lecture three years previously when I retired from Education Week. They said there would be a dinner prior to that and I could invite my children and their spouses and of course my husband. I knew it would be a nice event, but I didn’t know it would be that nice. As I entered the formal dining room, I was just absolutely amazed. There were linen-covered tables with china and silver and orchids, and roses, and lilies and not cafeteria or cookery food but a gourmet dinner with tenderloin steaks with French sauces and so forth. And in attendance were Elder and Sister Dallin H. Oaks and BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson and his wife Sharon. The leaders of the university gave tributes about me. Before I started my talk in the auditorium with an audience of 500, I was presented with a plaque for my service in championing the family. They also awarded me an honorary alumna degree.
So you have a degree!
So I have a degree now. I got my degree! We as a family have laughed about it, but it really was a thrill of the lifetime.
For a woman of your generation, you have had an interesting intersection of family and career. Do you consider yourself to be a career woman? Do you consider yourself to be a pioneer of women’s opportunities in the workplace?
I was always a homemaker at heart. That was my first and main thing. One time I was introduced as an author and I thought, “No, No! I’m not an author, I’m a mother.” I was a full time mother, a very early morning writer and only a part time teacher. My career was not a monetized one. I didn’t get much money from it. I never charged the church for anything. We did sell books but I didn’t very often get paid for speaking. So it didn’t seem to be that kind of a career. I had to say “no” a lot. I had all sorts of funny requests for speaking: one woman asked if I would come speak in her stake because we had been babies in the new born nursery together at the hospital! I could go on. But I think I was an instrument on an errand and the Lord compensated for anything I might have not done with the family.
Did you ever receive push back from any family or friends or ward members who thought you were taking it too far?
I can’t think of anything. My husband didn’t and the children didn’t seem to think so. It was kind of like a church job. I’ve been a Relief Society president in the ward and stake and that’s kind of how it felt all the time. It felt more like a service project.
It became extremely popular at one point for women to want to come to my home for a class and then take a tour of my house. I had a list of 800 women who wanted to do this. I just worked down the list. I had one lady call me and say, “My husband tells me that he will stop smoking if I will be a better housekeeper. I’ve got to come right now. He is in the mood!” and I just brought her right in.
One woman said, “I’ve heard you speak two or three times and it was helpful, but it was when I walked through your house that I really ‘got it.’”
That’s a lot of people going through your home! Wow!
It is! One time some women came from some place in Southern Utah and their plans were to go to the Lion House and my house. But they didn’t tell me they were coming in a great big bus! So this bus parks in front of the house and these women come in. The driver stays in the bus and he leaves the motor on grind… My children came home from school to see this Greyhound bus and hear it go rrrrrrrrarrr as it just sat there. And they were a little embarrassed! They didn’t mind the women but they did not like that bus sitting out in front.
And what did your neighbors think? Having hundreds of women in and out of there?
It’s been positive. In fact, some of them asked to be invited. They helped spread the word to their daughters and others. Besides, the women came only a few at a time once or twice a month. I have felt that women want to be happy and successful and joyful in their homes. I was an instrument in that. I like the little saying that if momma ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy. I think it’s important that women are happy because then husbands and children are happy. I think it matters that women find fulfillment rather than frustration in their homes because everything else is flavored by that.
Obviously this was a very busy house for a long time. But with children out of the home now, how have you been able to apply your principles when it’s been just you and your husband?
I still maintain the same standards, but doing so takes a lot less time. I have served on the Primary General Board and have served two missions with my husband. We have 36 grandchildren and 17 great- grandchildren. So I have been very busy as a grandmother. Just keeping track of their birthdays is a job. They drop in frequently and we go see them a lot. Family dinners are huge. It takes me a day to cook and a day to have the dinner and another day to clean up. Our house is still busy — I think the phone has rung three or four times since you’ve been here.
I know! You are a popular woman!
In fact, to get my work done with the phone ringing constantly I used to support it on my shoulder and talk using a long cord. Now I have a little headset. That way I can fold clothing. I can dust the plantation shutters at a window with one phone call. But I have enjoyed these later years because I have been able to write more books and articles as well as columns for Meridian Magazine and I have bigger church jobs and can go on missions. My main project right now is writing life and family histories, including my own.
Is there anything that you would like to say about your husband? He passed away two weeks ago. What sort of changes do you foresee in your life now?
I don’t want to make too many changes. I want to stay here. This is a good home. Paid for. And it’s about the right size that I can manage well. I have help with the yard. I may eventually have help in the home if I get so I can’t see the dust. Since Hank has been sick we haven’t traveled. Now I would like to go see the children more. Three of them live in the East so I would like to visit them. I enjoy going to lunch with friends and sometimes on Sundays I might say to some of the single women in the ward, “Whatever you’re having for dinner, why don’t you bring it over and add it to what I have and we will eat together.” Sundays can be a difficult day for people who are alone. Holidays are hard. I’m sure the children will make sure my holidays are filled but I don’t look to them to fill every Sunday.
How long were you married?
Fifty seven years. We were hoping to get to 60! They were wonderful years. My husband was a great companion and he provided beautifully for us. Good father, good supporter of me and I’ve always been able to say that he kept his promises to God and his promises to me and what more could I want. These last years during which I have been taking care of him have really been tender and rewarding. Our love for one another reached a new dimension, a very blessed one. He had to go everywhere in a wheelchair and, by the way, I was able to swing the wheelchair into the trunk! I have done things I never thought I would have to do but it has been a sweet service and he was so cheerful. Sometimes when people get sick they take out their frustration on their caregiver but he was always appreciative and kind. Not demanding but really of good cheer. Every evening, I would sit with him and watch whatever sports game he had on television. I just sat there and did it with him and I’m glad now. Sorry, I can’t talk about this too much without crying.
His funeral was filled clear to the back of the cultural hall in our ward building.. We had beautiful music and ten speakers: each of our eight children and two grandchildren. Our poor bishop nearly perished over the thought of it. But each one gave a three minute talk and they were wonderful heartfelt tributes and testimonies.
A very organized approach!
Well you can say a lot in three minutes if you organize it and choose your words thoughtfully. I think of the Gettysburg address. We are still quoting it. The service ended right at the prescribed time. The bishop was very pleased
Over the years as the children married and moved on we re-did their bedrooms, and my husband had a den and I had a den. They were next to each other and we could talk back and forth. I always said I could share anything–my car, even my toothbrush if I had to, but I can’t share a computer. He had his, I had mine. Everybody needs some space of their own. When the house was full of children, my space started out as a card table downstairs in the furnace room. It wasn’t even a finished basement at that time.
Is there a parting message that you would like to leave?
Yes, I am glad you asked that. I was speaking in California at a Know Your Religion program so men were there. One man came up to me afterwards and said, “If you had five minutes to talk to the women of the church what would you say to them?” I started to go, “Uhhhhh….” Years later, I did make a statement: I would say that the work in the home is a means to an end and the end is to nurture and prepare children for eternal life.. That’s a lot less than five minutes!
At A Glance
Daryl Van Dam Hoole
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Marital status: Married 57 years, now widowed
Children: 9 children, 8 living
Schools Attended: South High School, BYU Honorary alumna
Languages Spoken at Home: English and some Dutch
Favorite Hymn: “I am a Child of God,” “I Believe in Christ,” “How Great Thou Art”
On The Web: www.theartofhomemaking.com
Interview by Neylan McBaine. Photos used with permission.