Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series of stories planned by Cache Valley freelance writer Cindy Knowles based on the idea that everyone has an interesting story to tell.
LaNae Dayley and her dog, Punkin, love to go for rides on LaNae’s three-wheeled bike.
“I feel like the Wicked Witch of the West with the dog riding in the basket.” LaNae says. But when she sees people point and say, “Look at that cute dog,” she doesn’t feel so bad.
Punkin is carefully strapped in so she doesn’t fall out. She has her own fan club, and certain neighborhoods with children come running. The pair attracts crowds on Logan’s west side larger than ones that the ice cream truck draws.
Punkin is very social with other dogs, children and women. But she isn’t too fond of men. LaNae got Punkin from the pound at 10 months old. She feels that she must have been abused by a mean man, and so Punkin doesn’t trust men now.
The doctor told LaNae to get a bike to ride for health reasons, and she thought that Punkin would enjoy riding in the back. She loved it from the very beginning. Being 15 pounds, Punkin fit in the back perfectly on a little pillow. LaNae even bought her a little pink puffer jacket for when the weather gets cold.
LaNae enjoys making others happy by serving them. One Christmas it was very unusual for her to be alone. Usually she gets calls, cards and even gifts from family and friends, but for some reason that year not one call, card or gift came. It was so disheartening to her she took down the tree and had all the decorations taken down by noon on Christmas day. She later realized that no one was doing it intentionally, but she vowed to never let someone have that same experience. Instead of being negative, she spun her sad day into happiness for others.
That next year she told all of her family and friends that she was collecting stuffed animals to share for Christmas. By December she had collected 150 stuffed animals.
“There’s always someone worse off than you. Instead of wallowing in self pity, serve and listen to what people are saying. Service will take your mind off of yourself,” LaNae recommends.
She shared all of those stuffed animals at care and children’s centers so that many people who never have someone to visit them would get one. LaNae hopes she was able to turn her sad day into the best day ever for someone else.
LaNae was born right in the middle of three sisters and two brothers. She has always been a hard worker. Her first job at 16 years old was located at a business right across the street from her home. She started behind the counter ringing up sales at Stokes Market, a local mom-and-pop grocery store in Burley, Idaho.She was born and raised in Burley, and knew virtually everyone.
Because she was underage for selling alcohol, the adult customers would have to come behind the counter, ring up the price of the beer into the cash register and then bag the beer themselves. LaNae wasn’t allowed to sell or handle it.
She also had a few jobs at small locally owned clothing stores that aren’t even around anymore. Like many young people in Idaho, she got a job thinning beets on farm in the area, this one belonging to her brother in law.
Something very unusual about LaNae was that she loved public speaking. Even as a young child, she loved giving talks in church. She learned that when you put personal experiences in the talk, it helps people to laugh and sometimes even cry to draw them in to her topics.
She loves doing the research for talks. Back in her school days she used the library and also encyclopedias. Before the internet you had to go to the card catalog to locate the right books and then turn the pages yourself to research topics.
She married quite young, and though it didn’t work out, she says she learned from the experience.
“When you move from father’s house to husband’s you don’t know who you are or who you can become. Being single now this long, it helped me become who and what I was going to be,” she said.
LaNae has thrived since her marriage ended. Seventeen years after high school, she went to Washington State University and got a bachelor’s degree in public relations. She says she went to WSU because back then, the University of Idaho was more of a hippie place to go to school. WSU was more sophisticated with their vet school and engineering school, she felt, and it was right across the border from Idaho, not too far from home.
After graduation she worked in public relations but didn’t really enjoy it like she thought she would.
She then moved to Boise and Twin Falls and worked as a bank teller. She transferred to Salt Lake City and became a teller trainer. She did that for 10 years, but during the recession they downsized by 300-400 employees. She was out of work for 10 months but didn’t give up.
She decided to go to California where her favorite aunt lived. Oceanside on the coast was a beautiful place to reside. She was there for 3-4 years. A tourist town, it’s only 90 miles from San Diego and close to Camp Pendleton.
LaNae got a job at a jewelry store that also sold collectable dolls. Back in her youth, had someone given her a doll, it would have been a huge insult since she was such a tomboy. But in working at the store, she learned a lot about how the dolls are made and their value. She even collected some for herself. At that time, collectable dolls were second to collecting baseball cards.
There is a “bluebook” for dolls, just like for cars. Thirty years ago an original Barbie, still in the box, was worth $2,500. Today that same doll is worth $8,000 to $10,000. LaNae even had in her personal collection a Marie Osmond doll that Marie designed herself. When times were hard, LaNae sold that valuable doll to pay off a large bill.
As her time in California came to a close, she decided to come to Cache Valley to visit a friend and look for work. She found a job at Convergys. After a couple of years there, she went to work at Qwest. Both places are gone now.
This lead to her favorite job as a bus driver for the Cache Valley Transit District. She says she absolutely loved it, especially the routes that had longer runs like Richmond, Hyrum, and Nibley.
The people at work and riding the bus were so friendly, she recalls, and the buses are very well maintained. CVTD used to give the customers a little bus-shaped flashlight key chain. LaNae remembers those special flashlights were very useful for the early morning and nighttime pickups waiting in the dark.
Another fun job she had was at Watkins Party Store. She became very proficient at making helium balloons — many unusual shapes like flowers, fish, spiders, babies, pacifiers and owls.
Because LaNae is known as such a great worker, her friends talked her up and she just got a new job at Thompson Electric from their recommendation. The management hadn’t even met her.
LaNae is still positive and happy and collecting stuffed animals for Christmas sharing. Meanwhile, Punkin gets her ride every morning in the cool air. Keep your eyes peeled for a very happy poodle riding behind LaNae on her tourquoise Sun three-wheeled bike. There will probably be a bunch of kids chasing them down the street to stop and say hello.