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LIBBY

Story ID:9801
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family History
Location:Hamilton New York USA
Year:1937
Person:Libby
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LIBBY

By Fred Wickert


In a restaurant I frequent, I have a friendly relationship with the waitresses. There are two of them. A few weeks ago I came in and there were three of them there. I was informed there will be three from now on.

Two weeks ago I went there and one of the girls was missing. I asked about her and was told she was gone and will not return. The new girl brought me a refill on my coffee and I asked her name. She said her name is Libby. I was surprised for that is not a common name.

The last time I heard the name Libby as a womanís first name, I was a small child. My fatherís aunt had never married and she lived with us for a few years. She was to us, fondly, Aunt Libby.

Many years after she had passed away, a cousin gave me a lot of information about our family tree. There was a person named Elizabeth something and I did not know who she was. I asked my cousin about her and learned she was the person I knew as Aunt Libby. I learned that Libby is a nick name for Elizabeth. I knew Liz and Betty were, but I never knew Libby was. I am 80 years old and I had heard the name Libby only one time after Aunt Libby. That was a man called Scooter Libby on the White House Staff. I had never before now heard the name Libby used by any woman other than Aunt Libby.

Thinking about it reminded me of an episode in which Aunt Libby was to feint and fall on the kitchen floor. We were living in Hamilton, New York at the time. My maternal grandparents were living on a small farm Mom and Dad owned in the town of DeWitt. The farm was a half mile outside Syracuse city limits.

Dad had a little vacation time in the summer. He took a week to go to the farm near Syracuse and do some clean up. He made some repairs and then began cutting brush in a hedgerow along the rear property line. He first cut the brush and then put it in piles. Somehow he accidently was stabbed in the arm by a sharp thorn. The arm became infected. Dad continued to work, ignoring the arm.

The next day the arm had swollen badly and turned an ugly purple color. Dad got in the car and started for home. He could not use the one arm so he managed to drive the 45 miles with one hand. There was no automatic transmission in those days. One had to shift gears manually.

By the time Dad got home his arm had turned black. The arm had a bad case of blood poisoning. In a few more hours gangrene is going to require amputation to save his life. Dad was always one to shun hospitals. He referred to hospitals as ďPlaster coffins.Ē He also did not like to spend money for a doctor when he could fix things himself. He ordered Mom and Aunt Libby to find the biggest and deepest kettle they could find and fill it with water. He told them to then turn up the heat on the stove under it and to bring it to a boil as soon as they could. He told them to let him know when the water was boiling. Then he went to the bedroom and lay down.

When the water was boiling Mom went to the bedroom and told Dad. Dad came out to the kitchen. He stripped to the waist and plunged the infected arm in to the boiling water. Aunt Libby feinted and fell to the floor out cold. Mom was beside herself. She thought Dad had lost his mind and Aunt Libby had a heart attack all at the same moment.

I donít know how long Dad kept his arm in the boiling water. I couldnít have done that. Iím sure the surgeon was the way if I had what he had. There were no antibiotics in those days so amputees were not hard to find.

Iím sure the arm was out of the boiling water quickly and I am sure Aunt Libby was back to life quickly. The boiling water did the trick. It removed the poison from Dadís arm and it healed. Aunt Libby survived too. She did leave us and go live with her sister until they both died. I donít remember which one died first. Of one thing I am sure. Aunt Libby never forgot that day as long as she lived.

Little did I know when I asked that waitress her name, the answer could provoke an incident in my family history to be written about. I marvel sometimes at what simple little things like a girlís name can provoke. Libby is not a common name but if you have read this story and hear the name Libby again, Iíll wager you will remember this true story.


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