Libby Elsie Cooper Whipple Olsen
Memories and stories are by Libbie E. Cooper Olsen
unless otherwise noted
Childhood in Florida
A Cane Juice Party
Papa had a sugar cane mill that he used to squeeze the juice from the sugar cane we raised on our farm. To turn the mill, a horse would be hitched to a beam that was attached to the axle of the mill wheels. When the horse walked around the mill pulling the beam, it turned the mill rollers between the mill wheels. As the rollers rolled around, a man would stuff the sugar cane stalks between the rollers so the rollers would crush the cane stalks between them and squeeze the juice out.
That was a time for a big party. All the neighbors were invited over. Everyone would bring something to eat, and every one would drink the newly crushed cane juice. The juice was then placed in a large iron kettle and boiled own to syrup. Papa had a thermometer to test it with. He made real good cane syrup. It was declared by many that it was the best in the country.
Sick in a Buggy
My earliest memory of when I was little it seemed that I was in a baby buggy. I remember I was not well. Two men came to the door at nighttime, it was dark. When I was grown, mother told me that at that time I was about two years old and had a very severe case of measles. The Elders had come to administer to me. The baby buggy, the light from the kerosene lamp and the Elders remain a vivid picture in my mind.
(Story by Nellie N. Olsen Ostler)
One day when I was about five years old, all the family had gone but Mentie and me. Mentie thought that it would be a great time to take a bath. She heated some water on the stove, and put the big wash tub into her room. Then she put the warm water into the tub and was taking a bath. While she was getting dressed, someone knocked at the door. I ran to answer the door. It was the Mormon Missionaries. We were the only Mormons for miles and they always stopped here and made it their home - a place to rest and eat.
I loved to have the Missionaries visit, because they talk to me and sometimes even played with me. I invited them in, and politely asked them to sit down, like I'd seen my mother do.
"Libbie!" It was Mentie. She knew that she had been taking a bath. I was big enough to talk to the Missionaries, so I ignored her.
"Libbie!" The Elders looked at me.
"Libbie, Please! !" The Elders were still looking at me. I got up, smiled at them, and said excuse me. I went to Mentie's room.
"Libbie, I can't find my garters. I believe they are on the porch. I hung them on the nail by the window to dry yesterday. Would you please go get them for me? And, don't say anything about it as you go out there," she warned me.
I smiled at the Elders and went out on the porch. Alas, the garters were too high. Elder Brodrick asked me my trouble and in the innocence of youth, I told him. He chuckled, lifted me up so could reach the garters.
To say Mentie was embarrassed is putting it mildly.
My Kitten and the Elders
I always had kittens as a child. I would dress them in doll clothes, put them in my doll buggy and push them around the yard. Mama said I kept my doll buggies broken down from hauling kittens around.
My kittens were very dear to me. My dolls were dear, but these kittens were alive and could love back.
For culinary water, we had a hand pump on the back porch. The water was pumped from a spring. We kept a tub under the pump to catch the drippings.
One day when the Elders dropped by, those terrible Mormon Elders put my kitten, my precious kitten, into that tub of water.
I can still see my yellow kitten struggling in that tub of water. Of course it didn't drown it, but they said they were going to.
(Story by Nellie N. Olsen Ostler)
Today we were going to the woods to pick berries. Libbie had watched Mama make lunch. She was excited. A picnic and picking berries. How fun.
Mama put the baskets and boxes for the berries they hoped to pick into the wagon.
Whenever they left home, especially if we were going to pick berries, Papa always took a gun just in case they met a bear. Mentie and Libbie were in the wagon behind Papa. Papa drove the team of horses, and Mama laid her gun at her feet.
Libbie's eyes and thoughts rarely left the lunch box Mama had fixed for our dinner. She could hardly wait. They finally came to a place thick with berry bushes. Papa stopped the wagon and secured the team of horses. They all began to pick berries.
In a few minutes, Papa grabbed his gun from the wagon.
"Don't shoot! Don't Shoot! It is a man." Mama screamed. It was not a man. It was a bear. Libbie did not remember whether her father shot the bear at that moment, but he did kill a bear that day.
When I would get real naughty and do something to exasperate Mama, she would rather disgustedly shake her head and say, "Libbie, I don't know where you came from unless a buzzard laid you on a stump and the sun hatched
Now that I am an adult, I can imagine a twinkle in her eye, and know that she was only teasing. At that time I took it seriously.
Now that I am grown, I realize that off times children like to take time to feel sorry for themselves. Did I enjoy mulling the story over to the point of brooding over my origin? Was I different than others? I must admit there were times that I took this rather seriously and even wondered why they picked me off the stump. Was I different than others? I knew my mother loved me and was only teasing-but yet .... ?
[When an opossum feels its life is in danger, it will pretend it is dead. It doesn't move a muscle or a hair, even appearing to not breathe. Then animals that are hunting the opossum will leave it alone. When the enemy has moved along, then the opossum will get up and go about it's business. When a child plays 'possum, they will pretend to be asleep, or "not there".]
Once there was a little girl, about three years old named Libbie. I think she was a "wee bit" spoiled. She did not like to get up in the morning. They would call and call but she would snuggle down in the covers and play 'possum. It was getting to be an aggravating habit and at times rather annoyed the older members of the family.
One evening at supper, the family discussed a trip into town in the morning. The town was Eustis, Florida. Trips into town were not very frequent in that household and it usually meant a penny for candy for Libbie and her sister, Mentie. Libbie was delighted with the idea. Everyone went to bed early.
Next morning everyone was up bright and early to get the chores done quickly. Libbie was called several times, as usual, but played 'possum as she usually did.
Papa and Thomas went to take care of the cattle and pigs. Mama went to milk the cow and Mentie went to feed and care for the chickens.
The house was very quiet. All was still. Burrowed under the covers, Libbie suddenly heard the quiet, the stillness. Libbie sat up and listened again. Not a sound.
Where could they all be? Then she remembered They were going to town today. They had gone and left her!! She was left alone!!
Mama at the barn heard a scream.
Then she heard a loud "Ma-ma, Ma-ma", Libbie was yelling as she ran down the road in her nightgown. With every leap she made, she let out another "Ma-ma". Mama jumped up from milking the cow. She dropped the milk bucket and took after the screaming child.
Libbie was screaming so loud that she could not hear her mama calling her. Her panic helped her run faster than usual and to scream louder than usual. Finally, her mama caught her.
That is all I have been told of the story.
Did they go to town? I do not remember.
A Special Trip
Our family often went fishing and hunting. We took one fishing trip I well remember because it was a family reunion. We went in our wagon. The rest, except for Uncle Dennis, mama's brother, went in wagons with us.
I remember that Grandpa Pattison was there. There were several families. There were Aunts, Uncles, and cousins.
We made our camp and had a campfire supper. I was too small to know why, but they kept looking for something.
After a while, I heard a rumble and a light flashed. Everyone ran toward the railroad tracks. Being so young, I didn't even know what they (the tracks) were. To me the coming train was a big fiery monster, but now I know it was just a small "donkey" engine. But then, I was frightened almost into hysteria. The train engine stopped because the men flagged it down, and of course, the women were calling to the men to be careful, afraid they would get run over.
After the train engine noisily came to a stop, Uncle Dennis and Aunt Lulu got off the train with their babies and bundles and lunch baskets. Now, our food was good, but nothing like the store-bought food Uncle Dennis had. My mouth watered at the sight.
After all the children were in bed (except spoiled me), and all was quiet that night, the grown ups (with me being carried along) went to a vacant house on the lakeshore. The moon was full. It was almost like day in brightness. We had camped in the pines, and the moon did not show so well at the camp. Of course the glass had long been missing from the windows. We leaned on the windowsill and looked over the water. It was so peaceful. It is all still a very vivid memory and brings a smile to me when I remember how excited I was. The train coming in, the beauty of the moon in the sky, the beauty of the moon's reflection in the lake, it is still there in my mind.
Our family was going to leave Florida and go west to join the Saints in Zion. I remember getting ready to move. Aunt Mamie came to help pack. We didn't get to take much, just what we could carry on the train. I do not remember actually leaving our home, but Mama told me that I hid behind the door of the train depot to keep from going.
Now, ! do remember getting to Quitman, Georgia. We were going to stop and visit my brother James and his wife Theora. We rode to their home in a cab. This cab was a specially made buggy pulled by a horse. I thought the cobbled streets queer, and all the street lights were confusing. I had never been in a town as large as Quitman.
My brother owned a bakery and a small store. To treat me, he gave me some bananas. Papa seeing how I enjoyed them, gave me some money and I bought more bananas. Mama also gave me money to buy bananas, so I bought more bananas. Papa didn't know that
Mama had given me money to buy bananas. Mama did not know that Papa had given me money to buy bananas. I ate so many bananas that I was very ill. (I still like bananas.)
On the Train
I remember that on the trip west, we crossed the Mississippi River. Our train rolled on a large flatboat. It was a peculiar sensation being on the train, with the rocking motion of water, and to look out the windows and seeing water on all sides.
Another thing I remember is going up Royal Gorge near Denver, We rode in a chair car. Only the wealthy people could ride in a sleeper car. The dining car and sleeper car was the last two cars on the train.
Those two cars jumped the track going through Royal Gorge. Everyone was very excited. We were most fortunate that we were not wrecked. The trainmen uncoupled the two rear cars and moved the passengers up to the chair cars.
May I Go?
Have you ever asked you mother if you could do something and your mother would tell you to go ask you dad? So you go to your dad and ask if you can do it, just to have him tell you to go ask your mother. Well, so did Libbie and her sisters. Their mother,
Telitha, was always the one that told them where or what they could do. But every so often...
Libbie's sister, Nellie Cooper Rogers, told of one time when she was sent back and forth between the house and field to decide one question. Her father said to ask her mother. She asked her mother, and her mother said to ask her father.
She remembers that she did not get to go where she wanted to go, but she does not know who said "no!"
( by Nellie N. Olsen Ostler)
Libbie's sister, Nellie, said that the only time she ever remembers her father hitting her was at the table one time. She was sassy, and sassed him. He gave her a back handed slap that turned her over backward in her chair.
Libbie also told similar stories. There was a difference though. According to Libbie, she found herself going over backward not just once, but many times. She said that most of the time she'd not even have time to look at her father to see his reaction to what she had said before she would find herself falling over backwards. She said that he'd calmly go ahead with the next bite as if nothing had happened.
I have a feeling that Libbie's assigned seat was next to her father for a reason.
Do you think that Libbie might have been a little harder to teach about not sassing, than her sister Nellie?
I Died When I Had the Flu
In 1919 1 had the "flu" that swept the nation in 1918, causing many deaths. This flu was followed by pneumonia. I was very ill. I was delirious much of the time.
One night when the doctor came to care for me, he said I would not live until morning. Mama called the Bishop. He administered to me and told me I would be healed according to my faith.
That night I felt my spirit leave my body. I looked down on the scene below me. I saw my sorrowing mother with the lamp light on her. I saw my beautiful body lying on the bed. It seemed to call to me. It yearned for my spirit and my spirit yearned for my body. Then I went back into the land of sickness and high fever.
I would have thought that this was as a result of the high fever and delirium, but for the deep conviction within myself and the fact that my mother testifies that I did die. She said my heart stopped beating for several minutes.
My mother just loved company. One spring Sunday she invited a friend and her husband to come for dinner. The friend brought her brother-in-law. That was when I met Ammon. There were other girls and young men around our age, we had parties, but it seemed that Ammon and I were for each other.
I completed that year of school at the college in Tempe, but my father said if I were planning on getting married, he saw no reason to send me to school the next year. I worked nearly a year in the telephone office.
Ammon was quite tall, had brown hair and brown eyes. He was always quite healthy. He was really a very good man, naturally kind and gentle. In February 1923, Ammon and I were married by Bishop Dana.
The Cedar Chest
Ammon wasn't only a carpenter that built houses and other building, but he had many skills and talents.
His great love was working with wood. He also made a lovely cedar chest that he felt quite proud having made. He kept it polished and when they moved he was careful that it not be scratched.
One day Ammon Jr. took a hammer to this prized cedar chest. When Ammon Sr. came home, Libbie asked him what he'd do to anyone that scarred his chest. He proceeded to tell all the dire things that he'd do.
Libbie then revealed who the culprit was. Ammon Sr. walked over, sighed as he surveyed the damage, turned and picked up Ammon Jr., gave him a toss in the air and roughhoused him as fathers do babies.
A Chopping Block?
One time just to prove that he could do it, he went outside and took the chopping block we were using and made a very beautiful box with sliding lid on it. This beautiful box was about four or five inches deep, about sixteen inches long and about twelve inches wide.
What is a chopping block? Well, a chopping block is usually a big piece of wood, part of a log, or stump, that is used as a base to lay other wood pieces on in order to split them into smaller pieces. People use a chopping block to prevent the axe or hatchet from hitting the dirt or rocks when they are splitting of"chopping" wood. If the axe or hatchet hits rocks and dirt, it would be damaged.
Chopping blocks also help stabilize the wood to be split so that splitting the wood is not so dangerous as it would be if the wood were able to
Chopping blocks are not considered to be a source of furniture nor beautiful boxes. This story is to illustrate what a good carpenter Ammon was.
St. George Temple
In April 1923, Ammon and I went to the Saint George Temple. St. George was the closest temple. It was a long trip and took lots of money. There were three cars of us that made the trip. Mama and Papa and Nellie and Clara went with us to the temple. There was another car of friends that also went with us.
That was a happy trip, traveling through the desert. At night we spread our beds on the ground and cooked our meals over a campfire. It took us about a week to get to Saint George. While in St. George we stayed in a hotel close to the temple.
I was sealed to my parents the same day I was sealed to my husband, the 25th of April
1923. On this day, papa was also sealed to his first wife, and other temple work was done.
For Grandma Cooper
I was able to do the work for my Grandmother Cooper. Let me tell you about that. When I was a girl, not too long after Grandma Cooper had died, I had a vivid dream that she was standing in a fire. She begged me to help her. When I told Mama about the dream, she said my grandmother was ready to accept the Gospel and was beginning to see her work done. We all thought it a peculiar dream, but over the years it was pushed back into memory. That day at the temple, Papa had assumed that Mama would go through the temple for his mother, while he would go through for his father. As they were discussing it and getting it set, the temple official paused and looked over the company. He told her no, she was not to take that name through. He then put his hand on my shoulder, "This girl is a literal descendent of this woman, she will do her work."
At that time, my memory of the dream flooded back to me. I knew then why I had had the dream. It was a reality. I was to help my Grandmother. I hadn't told anyone but Mama about the dream, so I felt that the temple president had been inspired. I did Grandma Cooper's temple work.