Editor’s note: Merle Brenton, a resident of the Walbridge Wing in Meeker, celebrated her 100th birthday party Saturday, with many of her family and friends present. Here’s her story …
Merle was born in Independence, Kan., on the 10th of May, 1910. Merle lived in Kansas until the age of 10, when her family moved to Rifle. Her brothers had moved to Rifle the year before and leased a place on Talkenball Mesa, across the bridge of the Grand River (now called the Colorado River). Later, the family moved to Correl Gulch on Yellow Creek. The family’s next move was to the Dudley Place on Piceance Creek.
Merle left Colorado for a time to attend school in Ohio, where she lived with her aunt and uncle, but she injured her arm and was missing her family and came home after finishing her ninth-grade year. While she was in Ohio her family purchased the Rio Blanco Store and Post Office, her mother became the postmistress in Rio Blanco, Colo. This was in 1924.
Merle shared a ride to high school in Rifle with the Shults children: Ivo, Claud and Bernice, but later lived in Rifle and only came home on the weekends. Merle explained, “I didn’t do well in school after my sophomore year as I was the only girl to have to wear high-topped button shoes. I spent the whole time worrying about how old-fashioned I looked.” Merle also played a French horn in the Rifle girls’ band and played forward position on the girls’ basketball team. Now Merle is not much taller than a bean sprout but I imagine she was a force to be reckoned with on the court. It would have been great fun to see one of those games.
Later, Merle’s dad got a job in Meeker, running the old Commercial Club. He and the young man who worked in the pool hall just down the street would swap stories and yarns. That is how Merle met her husband Everett Brenton. Their first official date was a barbecue to commemorate the opening of the Buford-New Castle Road.
Merle’s family moved once again to Idaho, but Merle didn’t care for it and moved back to live with Don and May McKay in a hotel located at the bottom of Rio Blanco Hill. The house was called the halfway house, as it was a stop over for the cattlemen going from Meeker to Rifle. It was also the stage stop for meals and lodging. Merle stayed with May and Don until her 24th birthday.
Later, Merle found a job cooking for the Shavers at Axial Basin, then another job with Edna Winslett. This lasted until the fateful Fourth of July where she and Everett went to the dance and ended up married the following day — sounds like a good dance. Jack Wix was the judge, Goldia LaFevre and Fred Long stood up with them. Following a fine supper cooked by Ellen Martin and her husband they left for Blair Mesa, where they made their home for many years.
Merle and Everett had two children, Goldia Brenton-Moomey and Frank Brenton. Merle and Everett made a good home for their children and had a wonderful life together. There were hard times, according to Merle, but it is the good times that Merle remembers.
Everett passed away in 1976. Merle has stayed busy, though she says, “Goldia and Jerry have dragged me all over the United States and part of Canada, and I have loved every minute of it.”
Merle takes each day and uses it as best as she can. Her knees don’t work, she has to have help with everyday tasks and her hearing is shot, but Merle loves spending time with her church, her family and her friends and she truly does make every moment count.