Leola Mae Richins Lupo

Leola was born on Christmas Eve in the village of Grouse Creek, Utah, 1925, to Wilford and Lillian Richins. Her mother died a few hours after her birth.

In 1927 Leola’s dad married Hattie Paskett, sold his property in Grouse Creek and moved to Declo, Idaho. Mrs. Richins, Leola’s grandmother had taken care of Leola for eighteen months and had become very attached to her. So the family moved to Idaho and left her with Grandmother Richins.

Leola grew up in the big two-story rock house, which still stands. A large room had been added to the north side of the house. This was once used for a store and Post Office. Later the Post Office was moved and the store was sold.

She thought it was great when Grandmother Richins sent her to the store to get something and she didn’t have to pay for it. She, of course, had to explain later to Leola that the people who bought it still owed money for it and this was the one way they were paying the debt.

Grandma and Grandpa Richins raised turkeys and in the fall they would kill and clean them, then ship them in big boxes to market in Ogden, Utah. In 1932 Grandfather Richins became very ill and Grandma and Leola went with him to Ogden to the doctor. They stayed with Eliza Blackburn for a long time. He died soon after and never made it back to Grouse Creek. This left Grandma and Leola alone.

Leola always had problems with her feet and ankles. When she was growing up she had to wear high-top shoes, like a boys, until she was in fifth grade. On Sundays she wore high-button shoes. When she tried wearing oxfords she cried because she couldn’t walk in them.

The winters in Grouse Creek were very cold and there was always lots of snow. The children always wore long underwear and long wool stockings. As they walked to school, icicles would form on their legs. Anyone who owned a car would just park it in the winter and use a sleigh. All the kids with their little sleds would hook onto the back of the big Tanner sleigh and ride to their feed yard a mile or so away, wait for them to feed the cattle and then all get on the sleigh and ride home.

Leola remembers when she was ten or eleven years old they had an especially bad winter with high piles of drifted snow. The mail had not come in from the train in Lucin, twenty-seven miles away, for days. The folks from Idaho always sent her most of her Christmas. Because of the snow this year, it was late. When her friends came down to see what she had gotten, she said “nothing.”  Her grandmother found a few little things to put in her stocking. Her Aunt Nola always made something for her too. She made a lot of dresses for her. She would have her look in the catalog for one she liked and then her Aunt Nola would proceed to make one just like it for her.

Leola was always very close to her Aunt Nola’s family. Aunt Nola was like a mother to her. She was especially close to Ivy.

One time she and Ivy went and stayed at Lucin where her Uncle Lawrence worked on the railroad. Leola and Ivy went down to Montello, Nevada on the train to see Uncle Lawrence’s brother there and go to a dance in town on the weekend. On the train trip back from Montello to Lucin the train didn’t stop to let them off. They went running through the cars crying for them to stop. One car was full of servicemen. When the told them what the problems was they got the train to stop and the girls got off in the desert carrying their suitcases. It was probably three or four miles walk back to Lucin.

When her Uncle Wellie built a bedroom out of the attached store of the old rock house and his family moved into that and the kitchen, he put a stove in the dining room and Leola and her grandmother lived there. They had an upstairs, but in the winter it was too cold up there so they slept in the living room. Leola had a playhouse in one of the rooms upstairs.

One year her grandma rented the living room to two school teachers. She had a cook stove put in and they slept in the fold-away bed.
Leola went the first ten years of school in Grouse Creek. There were fifteen students in her class when she started and by the time she graduated from the tenth grade there were only four students left. The families would move to Tremonton, Brigham City or Ogden for their children to finish eleventh and twelfth grade.

Leola went to Tremonton to finish school. Her grandmother went with her the first year. They lived in one room of the Midland Hotel and cooked on a hot plate. The second year of high school Leola stayed with a family she had met and worked at a café after school. She graduated from Bear River High School in 1944.

After graduation, Leola worked at the café, later the Five and Dime store and shared a room at the old hotel with Fern Tanner from Etna. One of the ladies who cleaned rooms at the hotel was Ione Iverson. Her husband was in the service and she invited Leola to move into her home. They remained very good friends.

She met Louie Lupo who was stationed at Bushnell Hospital in Brigham City and they started dating. He took her to meet his family in Helper and they were married on June 6, 1945. Louie was sent to Corvallis, Oregon after they were married. Leola stayed in Tremonton for a while.

In Corvallis, a Navy debarkation point, they learned that Louie had just come back from overseas so they mustered him out of service on the point system. They made their home in Helper, Utah.

Like all the servicemen and their wives after the war, Louie and Leola started out in a borrowed bedroom with no job and no car. Louie’s brother took them in and lent them a car to drive to Grouse Creek to see her grandmother and pick up any of her belongings.

In 1946 her grandmother had a stroke and she passed away in 1947 at the age of eighty-nine years.

Leola worked at Cornets 5 & 10 cent store in Helper while Louie looked for work. For a while Louie worked for the Denver-Rio Grande Railroad installing electrical floodlights in the railroad yard. After the job was finished, the company moved on. After two or three other temporary jobs, he went to work for Helper City where he worked for thirty-one years. He then worked for the Carbon County School District.

On December 23, 1950, the day before Leola’s birthday, they adopted their son, Fred. What a joy he was to them. After graduating from school, Fred joined the air force for four years. After he was discharged, he came home to Helper and married his sweetheart Carol. They had two children. Leola was very fond and proud of them all.

It was in the year 1954 that Louie and Leola bought the home where they lived up on the hill. Their son, Gary, was born in 1960 and he became her life.

Leola and Louie loved to go camping and fishing. They enjoyed taking their trailer up into the surrounding mountains and to the lakes. Leola loved country music.

Louie retired from the Carbon School district in 1982 and passed away in 1991.

Leola died in Helper, Utah on September 16, 1996.