Maud’s Life History will be more meaningful if we share a bit of Bernard’s beginnings.
Bernard’s mother died in 1894 when he was 17. As the oldest son in a family of seven--with three children younger than 12--he felt a large responsibility. He worked summers at Saltair--something of an “amusement park” in its day.
Two years later more sadness came. His Danish grandmother, Ellen Poulsdatter Christensen, died.
“By the time his grandmother had died, Bernard had grown to be six feet in height. He told his father that he was going to get a job at the sugar factory in Lehi. Niels said, ‘Oh you can’t get a job, they are not even hiring married men.’ Bernard was a man of no small determination. For the next seventeen days, he was at the factory twice each day. On the morning of the seventeenth day, someone was ill and Bernard was hired. The shifts at the sugar mill were twelve hours long and the rate of pay was $1.75 per shift. . . .In those days laborers were in plentiful supply and were not organized into unions. Men were driven to the limits of their physical capacity. Some of the foremen were overbearing. One morning, after an argument with his foreman, Bernard walked out of the mill. He had not yet left the mill grounds when the superintendent came hurrying after him and requested that he stay. The superintendent gave Bernard a job as a foreman over a gang of men who were laying a pipeline. . . .
“While Bernard was working for the sugar company, he received a call to go to the Southern States Mission. He went to his bishop and explained why he could not go. He asked that the call be deferred for a year or two. The bishop was disappointed, for when missions are postponed, they often are forgotten. That winter Bernard took a six-week missionary course at the Brigham Young Academy in Provo. Between seasons at the sugar mill, he helped his father and his Uncle Washburn Chipman. He also spent two quarters at the University of Utah.
“Bernard was very much an athlete and a great lover of sports. He played on the American Fork town baseball team. Among those watching a baseball game one day were Phil M. Kelly and his colleague school teachers, Nettie Neff and the two Driggs sisters from Pleasant Grove, Alice and Maud. Maud wanted to know who the tall fellow was playing outfield. Phil said that he was his boyhood friend and that he would introduce them after the game. It was the beginning of a romance.
“In 1900 Bernard went back to the bishop and told him he was now ready to serve a mission. The Bishop was much surprised and very pleased.”
Leah Hoggard Howes who was one of Maud Driggs’ pupils told this story:
“One day a knock came on the classroom door. Miss Driggs went to the door and opened it. There stood her sweetheart, Bernard Christensen. Leah said, “You could see that she carried her heart in her hand when she stepped out into the hall.” There was a rustle of student whispering while Miss Driggs was out in the hall. The questions in the minds of her pupils were not answered upon her return to the classroom for she walked straight to her desk, sat down, buried her face in her arms and wept silently. After a moment or two, she dried her tears and went on with the lesson. Curiosity was not satisfied until at recess time the girls of the class teased the information from Miss Driggs. Bernard had come to tell her that he had accepted a mission call to New Zealand and their marriage would have to wait.
“It was a common practice for a crowd of the town folk to go to the railroad depot when a missionary departed, and December 6, 1900 was no exception. J. H. Tattersall said that he was one of the boys among the crowd. Maud Driggs took the train also, and went with her sweetheart and his sister Mabel, to Salt Lake City. From there they went to Ogden and spent the night, December 8th, at the Deaf School as guests of Maud’s brother, Frank. Bernard went on to San Francisco, December 9th. Maud continued teaching school in American Fork the rest of that season.” (quoted material from The Christensen Family of Soro, Denmark and American Fork, Utah, USA, Allen C. Christensen, 1994, p. 59-61 and from “Biography of Bernard N. Christensen,” Clare B. Christensen, p. 5.)
They were not young. Bernard was 24 and Maud was 23.