LEWIS EDWIN OLPIN
Contributor: ajkalb Created: 4 years ago Updated: 4 years ago
January 23, 1893 was a Red Letter day in the new soft rock house on Locust Ave. "It's a BOY!!' Lewis Edwin was born one hundred years ago! Just 2 1/2 months before the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated. In fact he didn't receive his name until a month after the dedication. When Lew was a teenager, he decided to get rid of a beehive from a tree in the back yard. The bees could not be kept in the hive and Lew was almost a casualty. Aunt Vie helped Ine pick out the many, many stingers most of the night. As a result of the poisoning of his system, he suffered each springtime with a very serious rash and sick spell during the hay fever season. But he said the poison from the bee stings got rid of the skin problems which had plagued him. This continued thru his teens. Lacy his sister said "Lew was quite an 'Edison'. One of our worst tasks was to carry the water for the washing machine for at least a mile from the flowing well. (at the Lumber yard). Then we had to turn the wheel on the washer while Ma did the wash. At last the city water system was installed and we had a hydrant. It was set in a cement platform near the kitchen door. Then 'Edison' made a water wheel that turned the washer with the force of the hydrant. This served well until electricity took over." "Lew was always a hard worker. He loved to work himself, Joe and the horses." Lew and Joe worked and played together. Lew was the taskmaster and Joe loved to goof off. Joe told this story. "One day Lew and Joe were using their new spray wagon at Pres. Wilford Warnick's orchard by his home. Lew noticed Ray Pully, a twelve year old boy who lived with the Warnicks, coming toward the privy. They had been cleaning out the outhouse and the service door was still up about a foot. Lew sprayed Joe (that was the way they signaled each other) and they both headed for the privy with the spray hoses. They gave a "charming, graceful, thorough under seat application with the full 300 lb pressure." Above the engine noise they heard the heels on the clapboards. The door burst open and the kid ran madly down the house trail pulling up his well-saturated trousers. Roy was their spray wagon driver. The engine was so noisy that Roy couldn't hear their instructions, so they devised a way to get his attention by turning the 300 lb pressure stream at him. Their dad found out and that was the end of that as Dick used to say. Lew had a mind of his own. In elementary school he was forced to go ahead to the next class. He didn't want to leave his friends--Jack Gardner, Earl Loader, Cliff Harper and Herb Armitstead. Lew sat in class day after day doing nothing until they "held him back" and he was with his friends again and he was definitely the smartest one in his class. In Lewis' senior year his principal, J.M. Walker accused him and a friend of an infraction. They were innocent, but he insisted they were lying. They were so frustrated that they picked him up chair and all and carried him out into the middle of the street. Lew was expelled. He went home and told his parents he was wrongly accused. His parents believed him, knowing that he did not lie to them. Grandfather interviewed him as his Bishop and sent his mission papers immediately. He received his call to New Zealand and left Nov 8, 1912 for a three year mission. When Lew was ready to go on a mission, he and Uncle LeGrande went to Salt Lake and paid 25 cents each for overcoats. Dad came down with smallpox--everyone thought it was from wearing his coat. So he spent the last weeks before his mission quaranteened inside the front room of their home. Meals were left on the front porch. They had his farewell without him. All were so afraid of him that Uncle LeGrande drove him to Salt Lake alone and put him on the train to begin the trip to New Zealand. Members of the church in New Zealand knew he was coming and were worried about meeting the ship. How would they recognize him? They tell a story of fasting and praying before leaving to meet the ship. All testified that as they saw the people leaving the ship, there was one young man with a halo around his head. They were able to walk right up to Lew and greet the new missionary. One of his favorite companions was Matthew Cowley. He had a wonderful and fruitful mission working successfully with the Maori people. He quickly learned the language with an accent. A Maori sister asked Lew to choose one of her ten children to take home with him. When the family offered Dick Marsh to Lew, he wrote to his parents and asked if he should bring Dick home. They said, NO! But much later, when he approached the ship to depart from home, there was Dick with his belongings in a knapsack over his shoulder, ready to go. On The ocean trip home there were rough seas and everyone on the boat but Lew and Dick were deathly ill. They tried to help everyone, but had total care of Zealand, an infant son of Chase and Della Murdock a missionary couple from Beaver, Utah. Lew returned home in 1915 having been proven innocent of the wrong doing a short time after he left school. He returned to Pleasant Grove High. Lew graduated high school in 1916 with brother Joe and cousin Ray. He attended BYU long enough to get his teaching certificate, then graduated from St. Louis Mortuary School. In 1917 he joined the Army and served in France as a chauffeur and even a test pilot of those little rickety planes. He was honorably discharged May 7, 1919. As luck would have it, Lew remembered that the beautiful Della Murdock had a sister in Beaver County. So he went to teach in Minersville and found the Murdocks as soon as possible. He purchased a new "21 Buick Roadster" to help fight the stiff competition for Margaret's attention. Lew put up a good fight and they were married Dec 21, 1921. There was a double wedding in the Salt Lake Temple with Joe and Violet. In order to avoid being shiveryed they actually printed the 'Logan Temple' on the double wedding invitation. Quoting Joe again, "The day Lew and I got married, as usual, Pa brought up a load--from our farm. We four had gone to Salt Lake the stormy day before. Lew and I delivered Pa's load while he tried to pacify our wives-to-be (not to mention the mothers in law) and the temple door man. We barely made it! The marriage was performed by George F. Richards late in the day on Dec 21, 1921. One day James H. Walker called and offered $150.00 per month for Lew to come to Alpine as principal where discipline was out of control and the strong will of Lew was sorely needed. Lew and Margaret remained in Alpine for four years. Next they moved to Orem where Lew was principal at the Sharon School for another four years. Grandpa Ed died and Lew and Margaret moved to Pleasant Grove. They bought the home of Grandma Robison for $600.00 on State Street. Later they built a lovely purple brick home/mortuary on the property. Lew and Margaret loved hard work. They kept a schedule which left no time for rest. Lew was happiest when he was working: the fruit farm, spraying, the lumber yard, the mortuary, bank director, mayor, garden and church leader. He started early and worked late until his ulcers made him slow down. Margaret worked equally hard. She bottled every known fruit and vegetable, processed the chickens, pigs, calves which were raised and killed each year for winter food. She kept a large house, raised six children. Lew was always pinching our koomees. He would tell us to run and get the salt shaker to catch a bird or animal. We believed that we could have caught any animal if only we could have run fast enough with that salt. Later he would get the attention of a grandchild by popping his lower false teeth out to amuse them. Lew and Margaret were always frugal. They went to Yellowstone with their family and Nina, Beth, and Lacy. They searched until midnight to find the cheapest motel. LuJean remembers stopping in Las Vegas to look for a place to stay. Lew had her go down one side of the street writing down the price of each place, while he checked out the other side of the street. At the end of the strip they were able to pinpoint the very cheapest one. They really knew the value of money. They both worked very hard and saved most of what they earned. They moved into the new mortuary when there was only a kitchen, bedroom and bath finished. The house was still damp from wet plaster. Kathryn was a baby and became ill, probably because of the damp house. Margaret worked hard to pay for the furnishings in her new house. She churned extra butter and raised and sold chickens to help earn money. They had no furniture until they could pay cash. They paid cash for everything, always. Lew thought paying interest was absolutely ridiculous. I am sure he never borrowed or paid interest on anything. Lew was careful to pay his share, however. When Dee and J. R. Richins played with matches and burned down Richins haystack, Lew insisted on paying for the whole haystack even though both boys had been responsible. They raised almost all of their food. Fruit, vegetables, meat (chicken, beef, pork) milk, butter, cream, ice cream, cottage cheese, buttermilk, eggs. The children remember running to town for things like vanilla, or sugar, but not often. Lew learned to appreciate fish on his mission. The maori people served fish at all meals. I heard him say you just had to hit the fish on the head to make sure it wasn't wiggling before you swallowed it. Lew bought a sorrel and white shetland pony and named him Dick. There was a little cart for Summer and a box which served as a sled in Winter. He never went to Salt Lake without stopping at every tire store to buy used tires to replace the ones on the cart. The tires were model A. This little horse caused him lots of trouble. It often ran back to its old home in Orem. Dad would find it missing, drive back to Orem, load Dick into the back of the car (He barely fit, standing behind the front seat) and drive him back home. Whenever Margaret went with Lew to get Dick, she insisted that they return on the steel plant road so that they could stop for the water cress which grew in the pasture streams, and which we all loved. Their children were never allowed to ride in Dick's cart until all of their work was done. Cleaning, washing, cooking for the girls, and yard, garden and outside work for Dee. Dick loved larger horses and would run up to them whenever he saw one. They would bolt or buck because they were afraid of him. Lew was careful to spend the time and money necessary to make up for the trouble when this happened. Like the horse would ruin a hay wagon. Jerry never got to use the little pony, but he had a baby lamb which came to the family as a newborn and which he loved as much as any pet has been loved. We remember him riding his lamb around the yard when it was fully grown. Dad said "The hardest years of his life were the ones he spent as mayor of Pleasant Grove during the worst of the depression. The people who needed help were often lined up in his front yard. Some were very angry with the system and with Lew. He served two terms--1930-1934. "This was the time that the government had us start the Public Works Administration (PWA)." So I got my fill of public office." He never asked anyone to do work he wouldn't do himself. He worked hard all of his life--work was his life. His children all learned how to work hard from his example.
A choice thing that our Dad said to us was, "When your bishop asks you to do a job--the Bishopric has prayed about it and knows that you should be given the opportunity. If he has made a mistake that's not your problem that's the Bishop's problem. Do what your Bishop asks you to do and you will be blessed. Lew often bought fruit for the family by the case. The oranges, lemons and other fruits were wrapped in stiff, scratchy, slick/rough paper. This paper served as toilet paper for the family most of the time. Lew dug a root cellar outside and built an ice cooler inside near the back door. Besides the fruits and vegetables and jams and jellies and pickles and relishes Margaret canned, they managed to preserve root vegetables and fruits and cured meats in these two places.
Lew got much pleasure in waking his children up at first light to pick fruit for other farmers. This we did even though Margaret needed us to help with the canning. They felt we needed the experience of working for someone else and earning our own money. Lew was always eager to find out how many cases or lugs we had picked and how that compared with the other pickers. We were also the first each year to be hired at the Pleasant Grove Cannery because he loved to know that we were hard, fast workers and we tried to work very hard to please him.
One extravagance: Every two years Lew went back East to pick up a new car. He always took one or two of his children along. While there he would put the kids into a movie which they watched over and over while he and Herb Armitstead or Uncle Lon would go to a ballgame. His favorite part of the trip, though, was to see if he could break his record in getting home.
Dee, Jewel, and Jerry got to go on a great auto trip to visit Elaine who was on a mission in Minnesota. Our parents again made sure that we stayed in the most inexpensive places, Margaret carried a bottle of lysol and used it on all bathrooms before we could go in. They managed to provide food from stands or grocery stores and never went to restaurants.
They made sure we had wonderful experiences. That trip back East, made a big difference in our lives. We saw the Hill Cumorah Pageant, the Sacred Grove, and we stopped at Nauvoo, Kirtland, Carthage and many other Church sites across the country. The older children were taken through the Northwest where they were shown the Locks in Seattle, Salmon Spawning, and many major sites in that area. It was fun for them to see how Lew loved fish. He ate crab constantly on that trip. While on that trip they took a ferry to Doe Bay where they stayed with relatives for a few days. Margaret commented on the beautiful redwoods often.
Lew had an unwavering testimony. Lew was always generous with the Church for any kind of fund raising and he taught his kids that money spent in the service of the Lord would never be missed. Dad raised the money and supervised the building of the Pleasant Grove First Ward and the first stake house which took the place of the old Pleasant Grove Tabernacle.
Quotes from Lew: "I have had the experience of directing the building of the Pleasant Grove 1st ward chapel and then the stake house." My church and activities in business have given me much joy and experience. We have been successful in doing the things we have worked at." "I am an Eagle Scout and a High Priest."
When Lew was teaching in Minersville the school won the State Basketball Championship. Every boy in the school was on the team--all eleven of them.