My mother, Betty Louise Meining Gentry arrived at the train station in St. Thomas when she was four. Tired from her long trip from Colorado with her mother, Gladys Gates Meining, a young widow, she didn't want to walk through the sand dunes to the Gentry Hotel, so her Grandfather, Edward Earl Gates (Ed Yates), carried her. Here, Gladys met and married Osborne Leland Gentry, son of Harry Gentry and Mary Ellen Syphus. Harry and Ellen owned the Gentry Hotel, a freight line, mercantile and ran the U.S. Post Office.
Mother told me I gave Osborne the name, Papa, as a babe standing in my crib, by which he was known forever after. The stories of St. Thomas were personal to my grandfather and his sister, my great aunt Laura May Gentry. Hearing their connection to the land made the place personal to me. My love of this magical place rising again from the waters of the
Colorado River is immortal.
Today, I can again walk where my ancestors walked, worked, danced and sang - where outlaws roamed and saints were born. I have tried to be true to their stories as they have come down to me.
Betty Louise Meining Gentry Lewis, the only child of Gladys Louise Gates and Otto Albert Meining, was born May 30, 1927 in Saguache, Saguache County, Colorado. She idolized her dad, who passed away before her fourth birthday.
In her own words, "My first definite memory is when we arrived in St. Thomas, Nevada. I was very tired and didn’t want to walk from the tiny railway station to the hotel through the deep sand. I believe Grandad Ed carried me.