Gerald “Jed” Cook’s larger-than-life stories are almost as big as he was. Cook, who lived nearly a century in the rural community of Ibapah in remote southwestern Tooele County, passed away last July. But with his daughter Marilyn Linares’ help, his stories live on.
Linares recorded her father’s stories in a book she wrote and titled, “Jed: The Memoirs of Gerald Cook – Legendary Cowboy and Storyteller of Deep Creek.” Linares said her father always had an anecdote and something witty to say.
In the book, for example, her father, who was 98 when he died, had said, “I don’t want somebody writing my stories down — ‘cause I don’t always tell the truth!”
Despite Cook’s proclamation, Linares, who is a retired schoolteacher from Ibapah at the base of the Deep Creek Mountains, didn’t listen to her father’s protests. The book’s first printing was this year. It is being marketed as fiction, although the only fictionalized content is the names.
“I was born in Lehi, Utah, but after I had my first bowel movement, they moved to Deep Creek, and lived there ever since.”
Cook’s salty statement chronologically kicks off the tongue-in-cheek tales about a life in Deep Creek.
Cook was born to William and Audrey Cook on Sept. 16, 1918. At a young age, he pondered the facts of life after watching a ewe give birth. He wondered, “How the hell that lamb got in there.”
Gifted musically, Cook played the piano, accordion and mouth organ without reading a note, and he also graced the family’s dance band.
At 9 years old, Cook’s father, Will, died of tuberculosis. In recounting his father’s death, Cook claimed his father spoke some parting words, then asked, “What do I do now?” Uncle Abe told him, “Give ‘er up, Will. Giver ‘er up.” Ten minutes later, Will Cook was gone.
A summary of his father’s dying words to Cook were, “Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Be kind and honest.” Cook kept the first virtue intermittently while he sincerely pursued the rest of the list.
Cook’s mother, Audrey, never remarried, and she continued to run the family ranch. This required that Cook, despite being young, do some grown men’s chores. Audrey was fiercely strong like many women who lived in Deep Creek.
Other Amazon-type matriarchs of early 20th century Deep Creek, according to Cook, were “Mrs. Simons,” who knew how to handle all the local medical crises in the isolated geography, and Lorna West, who could ride a mustang with only a mane hold, and even then, she survived a horse rolling over her.
Then, there was Margaret Mulner, who kept a “big blow snake” in her shirt to take care of teasing grade-school boys.
“She took that big blow snake out and held it by its neck. Its tongue was going in and out,” Cook recalled. “Those boys sure lit out.”
As a boy, Cook earned the reputation for bronc riding and horse breaking. All that time spent on a horse affected his body. He claimed a life-long condition of piles (hemorrhoids) generated from riding horses bareback. His legs were also bowed.
In addition, Cook said of his iconic cowboy bowed legs, “I didn’t get these legs from sitting on chairs.”
As for the “piles,” late in life Cook discovered a cure when he split his pelvis riding a bucking horse named Slivers. On social media, Cook’s son, Les Cook, referred to his father as “#Tenacity” because Cook never fell off a wild, bucking ride. He was glued on.
Slivers challenged that reputation and briefly turned the hashtag into a lie. However, after riding Slivers, Cook no longer had piles.
In addition, Cook rode horses to attend and ditch elementary school. One childhood memory he loved was that an elementary school teacher he respected boxed with the students at recess. In fact, the teacher didn’t mind knocking them down with his boxing gloves.
Cook went to Tooele for his ninth-grade year, and, while traveling back to Ibapah, he stayed with a school friend in Wendover. The friend’s mother took in laundry from the local bordello. Cook recounts that the mother sent him to pick up the laundry at the bordello.
However, he returned empty handed because the reputation of the ladies scared him so badly.
Cook’s formal education ended in the ninth grade.
As a young adult, the army permanently deferred Cook from World War II service because he was the only son of a widowed mother. In the 1940s, he surveyed the Wendover Air Force Base runways, a skill he learned earlier when he surveyed the Goshute reservation.
Cook married Joyce Chloe Parrish on June 17, 1950 in the Elko Nevada Presbyterian Church. They celebrated with an all-night dance in Deep Creek.
By the next morning, Cook said the musicians were lying “all over the grass and everywhere.” When the musicians started “coming around,” the music started up again the next day.
The Cooks had four children: Jocelyn, Marilyn, David and Les. Their rural upbringing ensured the Cook children worked hard.
Describing his parenting style, Cook told his children, “I don’t polish my own boots and I don’t polish yours.”
His words meant, he didn’t believe in compliments, but his children knew that he loved them through other gestures. Cook supported his children in all their horse and animal events, for which all four kids received recognition. Among Linares’ honors were Bit ‘N’ Spur Royalty in 1975 and Miss Grantsville in 1976.
Cook also lovingly gave gifts inscribed with things like, “My little girl yesterday; my friend today; my daughter forever.”
Cook passed his love of animals on to the next generation, so when his children sold their 4H animals, Cook claimed they cried, “tears as big as horse turds.”
Other beloved family animals included a bucking horse named Ol’ Blondie. Someone claimed that Ol’ Blondie could buck “guys off in the rodeo before God got the news.”
Furthermore, Cook’s dog, Pike, could kill rattlers, much to the chagrin of bystanders.
“Pieces of snake flew everywhere. You’d better duck ‘cause pieces of snake might hit you in the head,” Cook warned.
Cook recounted tales of local Ibapah characters as well. Some residents would tell travelers that here they drank “lizard piss” to survive in Deep Creek.
Another character named Dutch John received a mule as payment for his labors in a mine. Later on the boss wrote a letter demanding the mule be returned.
Dutch John wrote back saying, ‘Dear Mr. Etta’ … I scratch out the Dear … I don’t know if I’ll see you before, but I’ll see you in hell, and that’s where I’ll deliver the mule.”
In his 90s, Cook kept 30 head of cattle and a herd of ranch horses. He knew some horses he could still ride if he could get his leg over the saddle cantle. In those years, Cook asked Marilyn to bring him his “smokes.” He never smoked a day in his life. He meant Cheetos.
Cook owned hearing aids and dentures. Quite often they were lost, or — perhaps they were in his pocket.
Though Cook rejected formal religious practice, he found a sense of God in masonry. He believed he worshipped God best on a horse in the mountains. In July, after 98 years, his family believes the bronc-riding storyteller found God somewhere beyond the mountains.
They gave Cook a cowboy funeral under the trees in Ibapah. They buried him in a pine box, made sure he had his mouth organs and they told stories — stories that now are written down and some of them might be true.
“Jed” is available in the following locations: The Tooele Transcript Bulletin at 58 N. Main, Tooele; Paul’s Barbershop, Grantsville; Elko Folk Life Center and Northeastern Nevada Museum, Elko, Nevada; and Eureka Sentinel Museum, Eureka, Utah. Or, you can write to Marilyn Linares at HC61 Box 6042, Ibapah, Utah 84034. Include $20 as payment.