MEEKER I The term “senior citizen” is an understatement in the case of long-time Meeker resident Evelyn Metzger, who turned 102 on April 20. She spoke among friends who had gathered for a surprise birthday party in her home:
Herald Times: Happy birthday, Evelyn. Where were you born?
Evelyn Metzger: I was born in Nebraska. I was just a baby when we moved to Lander, Wyo., and 7 when we came down here in a covered wagon. My dad (who fought in the Spanish-American War in 1898) died (of pneumonia when I was three), so my mother loaded up us five kids and here we are.
HT: What did your family do down here?
EM: My mother bought a ranch and we milked cows and used the cream for everything. (She eventually bought a hotel.)
HT: So what does it feel like to be 102?
EM: About like what I did when I was 101. (Laughter from the group.)
HT: So what are some of the great things you’ve seen in 102 years?
EM: Oh, my! I couldn’t begin to tell you. This town has changed so much. I could write a book. We built this house (at 10th and Garfield) in 1950, the same time they built the hospital, and we still had dirt streets. This was just a cow pasture then.
HT: What are some of the things you remember over the years?
EM: Oh, I can remember a lot of them. I remember that the WREA (building) used to be a furniture store in the front and a mortuary in the back. I had two brothers in the war (WWII). We had ration stamps—you couldn’t buy sugar and other things.
HT: What else can you remember?
EM: When I was 10, my mother sent me three or four miles up river—night and morning —to milk cows for a woman who couldn’t do it. I took a bus as far as Elk Creek and this guy met me on horseback. I got paid $10 for the summer. You know, that was a lot of money then.
(When) I was about 14 or 15 years old—we were living on the ranch—and I was (home alone) one day. Two guys on horseback stopped and said they were hungry. So I fed them! I didn’t know until afterwards that they were outlaws, but they treated me very nicely.
(Over the years) I belonged to about five bridge clubs. One of our clubs was the Fortnightly Club—it met every other Thursday, and I was the secretary. We named Meeker streets and Lake Avery. Avery Starbuck belonged to our club, and when she passed away, we sent in her name, and it was picked in honor of her.
HT: What is your best memory of Meeker?
EM: Oh, gosh, I don’t really know. We had dances every Saturday night. My husband loved to dance. We’d go to Rifle, every place, to dances. And fishing. He loved to fish.
HT: Do you remember the Great Depression?
EM: Depression? I was always in it! (Laughter from the group.) When we got married, my husband made $450 a year. That’s all we had!
HT: Well, Evelyn, happy birthday again. What did you ask for for your birthday this year?
EM: I didn’t ask for it but I got it (this party). I don’t need anything, but I got the best present.