She came to town in a covered wagon

Evelyn Metzger, who will celebrate her 99th birthday on April 20, came to Meeker with her widowed, pregnant mother and three siblings in 1919 in a covered wagon. She has attended the Old Timers Celebration for more than 75 years.

Evelyn Metzger, who will celebrate her 99th birthday on April 20, came to Meeker with her widowed, pregnant mother and three siblings in 1919 in a covered wagon. She has attended the Old Timers Celebration for more than 75 years.
MEEKER I Last week’s article about the significance of the Old Timers Celebration led to a woman who has attended the event since she was in her early twenties. She was allowed to go with her spouse, a 30-year resident. She has rarely missed the event since then and she will attend this year, at the age of 99.
Two years ago, after fighting an illness, Evelyn Metzger danced at the party with Dr. Krueger.
“I’m not going to dance this year but I am going with my son,” she said. This marks almost 77 years of attendance for this remarkable woman whose memory is as clear as a bell. Evelyn will celebrate her 99th birthday April 20, and what a story she has to show for her enduring life.
She came to Meeker in 1919 with her 28-year-old widowed mother, three siblings, and another one “on-the-way.” Her family lived in Nebraska before her father passed away. They moved to Wyoming until the promise of green grass, flowing rivers and beautiful surroundings lured Evelyn’s mother to the area. Her mom loaded her children into a covered wagon and headed down from Wyoming, not sure where they would stop.
Upon reaching this area, they camped near the “River Bridge” with the view of the green grass of the mesa above them and the sound of the river nearby. Evelyn’s mother knew she had reached their destination after that first night.
She worked extremely hard to keep her family fed and they moved to a ranch 15 miles up Flag Creek in their first year in the area. They did not have a vehicle, a phone, or any sort of indoor facilities, and they simply planted a garden to help supply food. Evelyn remembers walking four miles to the Flag Creek School that year with her siblings before her mother decided they needed to be closer to town.
The family moved to a cabin near the current golf course, and then to the home near the Sprod property today. Shortly after this move, they moved to Powell Park where Lonnie and Peggy Shults now live. Evelyn attended school at the Powell Park School. Through the years her mom worked for different people including a stint with Garrett Evenson up Miller Creek. Evelyn attended the Miller Creek School during her eighth grade year.
In the winter months her mother cooked for the Meeker Hotel so the children would not have to walk far in the cold weather. When it was time to attend high school, Evelyn worked for Laughtin for her room and board. Her tenth grade year she roomed with a girlfriend in town and in 11th and 12th grades her mother rented a house behind a filling station near the current Carsten Apartments. Evelyn was graduated from high school in 1931.
She remembers there being more businesses in town during her growing up years, such as the flour mill, the show house (theater) where the abstract company is now, and the lumber yard where they stored ice blocks in sawdust to distribute in the summer. She remembers vividly the time when no one had refrigerators and deep freezes were unheard of.
Evelyn married Karl Metzger in 1933. The two moved to Utah and then to California where her husband was paid $45 a month in a job he was happy to have. They moved back to Meeker when he got a job with the Works Progress Administration at the light plant across from the old water plant. He shoveled coal into three furnaces to keep them running and the plant paid for itself at that time, with no additional tax money.
After the light plant sold to White River Electric, Karl worked for the water plant. He was employed by the town for 38 years.
In 1936 they had their daughter Doris, and their son Bill in 1940. During their early years, Evelyn remembers not having an indoor bathroom and the family getting their first refrigerator in 1937 and their first deep freeze in 1950. They built the home she currently lives in on Garfield about that time.
“I was so excited to have an indoor bathroom. I said we would build that first and the house around it if we had to,” Evelyn said.
She recalls the fun they had attending dances every week in school houses and dance halls in the area. Karl loved to dance and they would even travel to Rifle and Grand Valley for the chance to kick up their heels.
“People danced then,” and were good neighbors, she said. Friends gathered in the evenings to play cards and talk. She isn’t sure when that changed but said, “It must have been when we got TVs and computers that people stopped having dances.”
“You could get anything you needed in Meeker then,” she said. Oldland’s store was a large store and there were two and three grocery stores in town.
Evelyn was a member of the Fort Nightly Club and remembers when they decided that schools needed to provide a hot lunch for kids. She began working for the school about three years after the program was started and worked there 38 years before retiring in the early 1980s. Through the years she was a member of several bridge clubs and the Methodist church. She said she really enjoyed the time with the clubs and getting together with friends.
Evelyn has seven grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren. She was pictured with five generations just two years ago.
So many things have changed in Evelyn’s lifetime; from telephones, to computers, to the amenities of indoor plumbing and refrigeration. She believes the thing that has really taken a turn for the worse is communication, with texting and talking on the phone taking the place of personal, face-to-face conversation.
Evelyn’s perspective on our little town is second to none as she has lived through its ups and downs. She knows first hand what is actually a necessity and what is merely convenience. Her distinct memories of significant events, events that our young generations simply take for granted, makes Evelyn quite a historian, holding enough information to write her own series of books, from a covered wagon, to the home she has lived in for more than 60 years, she has walked the walk of what was, and what is now, Meeker.