I was born on March 1, 1907, on a small farm west of Edgar, Nebraska, to parents, Ernest and Elsie (Organ) Sugden.
Nearly two years later my brother, Merton Lyle was born, October 30 1908. While we were still toddlers (I was too young to remember any of this) Ernest and Elsie decided to move to the
western slopes of Colorado. Dad's doctor thought that the dryer mountain climate would be better for his health.
Dad went on ahead of us and purchased raw uncultivated land on a mesa a few miles north of Delta, Colorado. Our nearest
village was Austin, which was quite near the Gunnison River.
My dad cleared the land, built us a four room house, and started raising sugar beets and planted a lot of fruit trees. Our family
then took the train out from Edgar to join him. Our orchard of ‘Jonathan' apples was his pride and joy. We lived there from 1911 to 1918. Wallace was born on July 22, 1911.
Dad continued suffering due to the high elevation, so it was finally decided that we should return to the lower elevation
of Edgar. We leased our farm to friends in Austin.
Back in Edgar, Dad continued to experience problems with his heart and lungs, so his doctor recommended that we move to
the warm dry climate of southeastern California.
So, in the summer of 1919 we set out for California in our Model-T Ford. It was an arduous journey, gravel roads all the
way, however there was little traffic. Motels were unknown, at night a canvas ‘shelter' was erected and we slept on the ground.
The ‘highway' across the mountains was a one lane affair, if you met someone going the other direction, one car had to back
up to the last ‘wide spot' to let the other car pass.
This picture of us was taken at an overnight rest stop at the home of friends in Elizabeth, Colorado.
When we reached our next goal, Austin, Colorado, it was decided to settle there temporarily because the school term was
about to begin. The family leasing our farm was planning to move, so until they moved, we stayed with a family friend in Austin, Nate Benner.
It was very pleasant to be back among friends in Austin. Our transportation was a buggy pulled by one horse, and soon, we
had a two-seated surrey pulled by a team of horses as our family grew.
We were happily situated and made many friends. Our Grandfather, John Sugden, who spent lots of time visiting
us was so impressed with our prospects in this newly developing area that he wanted to move his family from Nebraska to Colorado too, but Grandmother Sugden, who had borne thirteen children
refused to make the move. (Our dad, Ernest, was one of her older children)
So Grandfather John finally gave ups his dream, but still spent a lot of time visiting us and going north to Grand Mesa,
Farming prospects did look very good for us, as irrigation water was going to be brought down from Grand Mesa, but dad's
health continued to fail. Our move to California was not to be. First it seemed to be a heart condition, and then he was very sick with Smallpox.
And then, before his death, doctors determined that he had tuberculosis. In that era, medical diagnosis was not very sophisticated.
Dad died on April 20, 1920, he was thirty six years old.
And so my (pregnant) mother was pressured by Grandpa John and other family members to sell the farm and move back to Edgar
where relatives from both sides of the family could look after us.
Elsie bought a house on the west edge of Edgar, right next door to her father, Daniel Organ and step-mother, Sarah Jane “Lillie” Organ.
Then on September 18, 1920 , her fourth child, was born. Everyone in the family thought that the new baby should be named
Ernestine for the father that she never knew.
I have many happy memories of attending school in Edgar. All three of us immediately made many friends at school; we were
very poor but we were warmly accepted. My best friend was the banker's daughter, Helen Clack.
Mother, having only an 8th grade education, was not able to do more than menial work. She took in sewing, wove rag rugs,
and provided lots of domestic help to other families, which included cleaning and cooking.
Merton and I found ways to earn extra money. I worked as a relief telephone operator at age fourteen, but I lost my job
when the ‘big boss' came out from Lincoln and discovered how young I was. The chief operator in Edgar told me, “Myreta, on your 16th birthday, you come back”, so I did, and worked in the
telephone office until I began my teaching career in a rural school in the fall of 1925. I had taken the 'Normal Training Course' in high school, so I was qualified to teach in a rural school.
I had always dreamed of going to college. After six years of teaching in a rural school, I had saved up enough money to
enroll, taking all of my freshmen courses during summer school. In September of 1931, I enrolled at Peru State College, Peru, Nebraska (about forty miles southeast of Lincoln) because Wallace
was also there; but in October, disaster struck!!
The Depression set in, the bank went broke, and I lost all of my savings!! The Dean of Women at Peru came to my rescue and
offered me a job in her office until the next May, and that paid for my room and board and got me through.
I also had sold my Chevrolet Coupe to another rural teacher back home and she was sending me $20 a month until it was paid
for. That was my spending money.
I had only three dresses, but my wonderful roommate, Myrna Brownson, who was from Falls City, was also short of funds and
clothes, we both enjoyed that one year in college.
Then, I had to go back to work; but again, I was lucky!! An elementary teaching job opened up in Deshler, and out of fifty
applicants, I got the job!! The Depression deepened, but at least I had a job!! It paid only $65 a month but I was very happy.
After four years of teaching in Deshler, Wayne and I were married, August 12, 1936, and I became the wife of a school superintendent.
We then took teaching jobs in Fairmont where both Norval and Curtis were born, and then Wayne accepted a superintendency in Fullerton (1943) where we remained all those years.
Going back to the 1920's, Mother managed to buy a used piano. It just so happened, that a lady from a neighboring town,
Mildred Mansfield, from Ong, Nebraska, wanted to start a piano class in Edgar, so Mother offered her the use of our piano and home for the classes, if she would teach us kids. It turned out
that I was the only one interested, and what a deal it was!!
When Wayne left teaching, in 1952, he purchased the Ted Miller insurance agency in Fullerton. During those first
lean years getting the business going, I began teaching piano myself in our home in Fullerton. I enjoyed it so much that I continued teaching piano for 35 years. I started out with just
three students, but my enrollment certainly grew. Some years, I gave as many as 35 to 40 lessons each week. Quite a few of the students came from surrounding towns.
Life for us was quite pleasant in Fullerton. My mother Elsie came to live with us until her death in 1954. Our boys did
well in school and college and made us very proud.
During our years in Fullerton, I was active in the Methodist Church, Eastern Star, P.E.O., and played lots of bridge.
Wayne and I had a good marriage for 54 years. After his death in November of 1990, I moved into the P.E.O. Home in Beatrice, where I have made many new friends and still enjoy a hand of bridge
when I can get a foursome together.
Life hasn't always been easy, there have been some challenges, but I have many fond memories and few regrets.