Lester Dent was born in La Plata, Missouri, on October 12, 1904, to Bernard Dent, a farmer and rancher, and Alice Norfolk Dent, a former schoolteacher. In the final stages of her pregnancy, Alice Dent stayed in La Plata with her parents, although she and her husband had been living in Wyoming, where they ran a ranch near Pumpkin Buttes. Lester and his mother returned to Wyoming, and he attended a country grade school until the eighth grade, when, the ranching endeavor having failed, the family returned to La Plata, where the elder Dent began a dairy farm.
An only child, Lester Dent spent much of his early years in Wyoming without playmates, and his return to the little town in northeastern Missouri did not change this situation significantly. He attended Chillicothe Business College in Chillicothe, Missouri, in 1923, intent on banking as a career, but he changed his mind when he discovered that telegraphers made more money. He taught at the college for one semester, and in the fall of 1924, he took a job as a telegrapher for Western Union in Carrollton, Missouri. In mid-1925, Dent moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma, to work as a telegrapher for the Empire Oil and Gas Company. On August 9 of that year, he married Norma Gerling, and in 1926 he and his wife moved to Chickasha, Oklahoma, where he worked first as a telegrapher for the Associated Press (AP) and later as a teletype operator. When one of his coworkers for the AP in Tulsa, Oklahoma, sold a story to a...
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