Don and Betty

Betty Lane lived on the Buckeye, on a farm North of Fort Collins, Colorado with her mother, father, and six brothers and sisters.  She had been sent to Fort Collins to attend Fort Collins High and later Colorado A & M, majoring in Home Economics, a good major for a girl of 20 from farm country.  Her older brothers were in engineering, Clark in Mechanical and Howard in Civil. It was 1930 and the depression was on.

Don Meskimen moved to Fort Collins from Denver to become an Aggie too.  He wanted to become a Veterinarian.  But first he had to complete his pre-vet coursework and apply for Vet school. He was 18 when he entered school.

I don’t know where they met, but it is rumored that Don dated Margaret, Betty’s sister,  four years younger than Betty.  Otto Montgomery, another vet student and one year older than Don, dated Betty.  And then they switched, dated a married the other sister.  Otto would say Don was a few years behind him in Vet school because Don took time off from his studies to run off and get married in California.

Don and Betty were madly in love and would talk her older brother into driving them into the country so they could neck in the back seat.  They ran away to California in 1933, he was 20 and she was 23. They lived in San Francisco in 1933.

In 1934, after moving to Los Angeles, they were married on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 1934.  They worked in munitions plants in Death Valley, within sight of the Twenty Mule Team Borax wagons. Betty described her work there as standing by an assembly line with a pull cord in front of her. Should anything happen, pull the cord and run like Hell. The company he worked for was found to be owned by the Russians. Later after he had quit working there and moved back to Fort Collins, the company was taken over by the government and turned over to the employees.

Betty also talked about living in Los Angeles and attending a Free Methodist Church because her family was Methodist. Imagine her surprise at a more Pentecostal service, concluding in an invitation to come to the front and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. When others got up to go to the front she got up and went to the back and left.

It is probable that Don’s brother Bob lived in Los Angeles at that time too. Bob married Creadeah and Dovie was born there in 1939 before they moved to Fresno where Dovie still lives today.

On October 2, 1935 their first child, a daughter, named Gladys Elane, was born and they returned to Fort Collins to face the music. They both re-entered Colorado A&M and had their second daughter, Donna June, on June 25, 1936. Fortunately Betty’s father had bought a dairy farm near the campus (just west where they would later build the university Presidents house, later to become the alumni center). During the depression they got dairy products from her father and Don got salad greens from the grocery store he worked at on W. Laurel St. and College Ave. When he trimmed the produce he would take home the cuttings to his family.

When Don graduated in 1940 the family moved to Delta, Colorado on the west slope of the Rocky Mountains where he set up his first Veterinary practice. Betty used to chase him down using the party line, “Hello, Mrs. Johnson. Is Doc there yet? No, Mrs. Meskimen, he hasn’t arrived yet. Then Mrs. Jones cut in to say he had just past her place on his way to the Johnson’s”.

Their son Lloyd (me) would be born in Delta in a convalescent home August 26, 1941 and twin boys, Ronald and Donald would be born there November 10, 1942. Donald was a surprise and therefor suffered from oxygen deprivation and as a result had Cerebral Palsy. Shortly the family moved to Nebraska, first Fremont and later Coleridge where Don set up his final practice.

This story has been pasted together from my memory of stories Betty (my mother) told and from Ancestry.com.

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