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Thelma Steele

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 1 month ago

Thelma Jensen Steele was born on July 26, 1921 in California. She was the youngest of 7 children of James and Mary Brandt Jensen who lived on Pocket Creek, SE of Boulder. Thelma’s mother had gone to CA for the baby’s birth. “Dad had to stay home because they were haying,” Thelma said. “When I was growing up Mom never made us girls do chores, but as we got older we just started helping. Mom had chickens, a garden and flower beds. I remember helping wash up dishes in the kitchen. Mom would work outside and then come in and make a mess and I’d have to clean up again.” Thelma enjoyed cooking and moving to different places to make meals for the hay crews. She attended the Olsen School through 8th grade, went to Boulder School for 2 years and earned her diploma from a mail correspondence course.

Thelma met her future husband Earl Steele when she was 10. “My older brother Leo married Earl’s sister Eva,” said Thelma. “We met at their wedding.” Earl Steele was born in 1920. He and Thelma were married in 1941 in Pinedale. Earl milked cows, shipped cream, worked for Bill Bloom and the couple spent one winter in Rock Springs. Thelma said, “Earl worked in the coal mines and it was good money but after paying rent and buying groceries, we didn’t make much. We came back in the spring.” They bought the Boulder Store in 1949 from Vint, Harold & Beulah Faler. “We had electricity from a generator and indoor plumbing,” said Thelma. “That was really a treat after living on ranches. Everyone around traded with us. The ranchers shipped once a year, so we got paid once a year. Or if they had sheep we’d get paid when the wool was shipped too. Earl was a hard worker but we didn’t make enough from the store so he drove a freight truck for years. Once he went to Jackson and hauled elk to Rock Springs. Of course he stopped at the store so we could all see. My work in the store wasn’t hard, but it was confining. When it was slow I could read a book or watch a game show. I never watched Soaps because I’d always be interrupted - someone would come in the store! In the summer we were open 7 days/week. Sometimes it felt like I was in prison. The only problem we had was people coming to the back door after dark and getting us out of bed for a pack of cigarettes.”

Earl and Thelma had 3 children - Sharon (Lozier), Pete, and Rhonda (Swain). Thelma has numerous grandchildren & great-grandchildren. Through the years, when they had time off, she and Earl and the kids would drive around the hills or go camping. Thelma belonged to Homemakers and Sewing clubs.

In 1967 Earl and Thelma went on a trip to CA, Mexico and AZ. He had a heart attack and was OK, but their trip was several weeks longer than expected. They sold the store to their son Pete in 1970. In 1977 Earl had a fatal heart attack. Thelma kept working in the store until 1999. She had been there for 50 years!

Thelma loves to go on adventures around the countryside. She said, “I used to gather up a bunch of ladies and off we’d go. I’d drive. We’d take a picnic. We didn’t have a phone and no one knew where we were. It was great fun. I love to snoop around old places. I didn’t have leisure time with the store and now I’ve got more than I need.” She enjoys crocheting, puzzles, reading and an occasional lunch at Rendezvous Pointe.

By Judi Myers

Printed in Rendezvous Pointe (Pinedale WY Senior Center) Newsletter, July, 2007

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