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Logan StoryCorps: How a father and son mended their relationship

 Lianna Carrier  and her older brother Michael Bingham with his arm around her
Siblings Lianna Carrier and Michael Bingham.

Michael Bingham, founder of Jump the Moon art studio in Logan, and his sister Lianna Carrier shared the StoryCorps mobile recording booth to talk about their different upbringings as siblings with a 22-year age gap. Lianna learned about Michael's relationship with their father and how it developed and changed through time, experience and intention.

KIRSTEN SWANSON: It's time again for Utah StoryCorps: Everyday people sharing their stories at the StoryCorps recording booth in Logan.

MARY HEERS: Michael Bingham, the oldest of nine children, sat down with his sister Lianna, who is 22 years younger. They had never lived in the same house, so this was a chance for Lianna to get to know her brother better.

MICHAEL BINGHAM: Our dad was a Marine. His favorite saying was, “There are two ways to do anything -- the right way and the wrong way.” We clashed a lot.

I felt like I was always trying to do something to get his okay to get his approval, like one time we had been out and got a load of wood cut for the wood-burning stove in the basement. And I decided I was going to really get on his good side. And I knew he wanted the wood stacked along the fence, so I spent hours like stacking the wood along the fence. And I was in bed and just waiting for him to come and come bursting in and go, “Wow, you're the greatest son ever.” Instead what I heard was he came home, went right to the backyard, un-stacked the entire fence and then stacked it back so they were all perfectly lined up in the front. And I remember just laying there crying. Like, I'm never going to make my dad happy.

LIANNA CARRIER: Do you remember Dad playing with you? Like playing outside, playing catch, wrestling in the living room? That kind of stuff?

MICHAEL BINGHAM: No, I skateboarded. I spent a lot of my youth on a skateboard. In fact, I got good and I competed. And man, every single competition I just hoped I'd see my dad show up. And he never did. He said, “Well, skateboarding is not a real sport. It's a toy. Like, I'm not gonna come watch you play with a toy.”

In high school when I was a senior at Madison High School in Rexburg, students from Sugar City High School came and graffitied our boxcar that had a bobcat painted on it. And me and my friend Bruce got elected to retaliate.

And so the plan was climb their big water tower, and spray paint some graffiti on it. And I made it to the top of the water tower when the police lights started heading our way at 3:00 in the morning. And the sheriff was like, “We'll wait all night, you'd be better come down.”

Anyway, we got caught. And he called Dad, he came and got us and boy, he let it known to the police officer that if we lived, boy, no action of the law needed. He would take over and we would be severely reprimanded and punished. So, we're in the backseat of the car, and I'm thinking of my life's over -- and then he started laughing. “How am I supposed to punish you? I got caught doing the same thing when I was in high school.” He had climbed the Idaho Falls water tower. I saw a different side of him then, and nothing's ever a done deal, really.

And as an adult, I was driving through Sardine Canyon, and I got thinking, have I ever gotten a hug from our dad? Or has he ever told me he loved me? And I couldn't think of a time -- and I'm 45 years old; I’m like, how is this possible? And I thought, I'm going straight to Dad’s house and when he opens the door, I'm gonna lay a big ol’ hug on him. And I did.

He came to the door and I give him this big old hug. He tried to push me away, you know, I'm like, “Dad, I don't remember ever getting a hug from you and I need a hug from my dad.” And he hugged me and I said, “Dad, I love you.”

And then we made that a thing when I saw him every time after that: gave each other a hug, told each other we loved each other. And it lifted this huge burden. It changed everything.

Support for Logan StoryCorps comes from Cache County and USU Credit Union, a division of Goldenwest.

Mary got hooked on oral histories while visiting Ellis Island and hearing the recorded voices of immigrants that had passed through. StoryCorps drew her to UPR. After she retired from teaching at Preston High, she walked into the station and said she wanted to help. Kerry put her to work taking the best 3 minutes out of the 30 minute interviews recorded in Vernal. Passion kicked in. Mary went on to collect more and more stories and return them to the community on UPR's radio waves. Major credits to date: Utah Works, One Small Step, and the award winning documentary Ride the Rails.
Kirsten grew up listening to Utah Public Radio in Smithfield, Utah and now resides in Logan. She has three children and is currently producing Utah StoryCorps and working as the Saturday morning host on UPR. Kirsten graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor's degree History in 2000 and dual minors in Horticulture and German. She enjoys doing voice work, reading, writing, drawing, teaching children, and dancing. Major credits include StoryCorps, Utah Works, One Small Step, and the APTRA award-winning documentary Ride the Rails.
Check out our past StoryCorps episodes.