Thursday, March 16, 2017

Neville Goes to Denver

Noon, 18 June 1939, Denver, Colorado

Neville, c. early 1930s.
Neville sat at a small table in her basement apartment writing a letter to her sister Virginia Troutman back home in Winside, Nebraska. She had been describing the drudgery of her work. There must be something good she could say. She paused and looked at her surroundings. The two basement rooms where she lived were adequate for her and her friend Jean. The bed was just the right firmness, not too hard, not too soft. Windows let in light and air from the street. She breathed the cool evening air wafting in from an open window. So nice! Oh, the stifling heat of Nebraska summer nights! She was glad to be away from that.1 But the windows were situated too high for her to see out. She hated that she was so short, the shortest one in the family. Pap always said she took after his mother that way.

Bored with their small town teaching jobs in Meadow Grove, Nebraska, Neville and Jean had taken off for Denver hoping for a change. Maybe they could get teaching jobs in Colorado, but so far nothing. To support themselves over the summer, they hired on as maids in a rooming house in downtown Denver.2

Neville had no complaints about her employer: “I like the lady we work for. She’s from Texas. Came here two years ago & started this boarding house [at 906 Grant Street]. It’s in one of the best parts of Denver. There are two swell hotels in the same block. They are the highest buildings here except for Daniels and Fishers Tower.”3 Neville's employer, Gay Nedd, a divore, had come to Denver with her son Louis, his wife Margaret and their two young sons. Margaret assisted her with the work. Louis had found a job as a salesman for an auto supplier.4 Today, Louis and Margaret and the boys had gone to the mountains for the day.5 Exploring Denver and driving to the mountains relieved Neville and Jean of the tedium of their work.

Oh, the work was such a bore! Neville hated it. First they had to get up at 6:30 a.m., too early! She and Jean helped Mrs. Nedd prepare and serve breakfast for twenty boarders. And, oh, those boarders! All “old maids & baches,” they thought they were “pumkins” [sic]. Neville had had enough of them. She had tried to talk Jean into going home, but her friend wanted to stay. 6

Going home meant teaching at Meadow Grove again, so maybe staying here was best for now. Virginia had written her about an open teaching position at Bloomfield, Nebraska, but she had called too late. If only she had called the day before, but she had been suffering from a terrible headache and couldn’t talk on the phone.  She considered going back to college: “I’d rather borrow money and go back to school than go back to M. G.” She wondered if her brother Verne would be coming home from Virginia: “If [he does,] let me know ‘cause I’m quitting this and coming home. How do you suppose he would like to come out after me? You could come along and we could drive up in the mountains.”7 Wouldn't that be fun! 

Neville’s financial situation was stable: “I sent and got my check,” she wrote. “I still have $100 dollars in Traveler’s checks. I bought me 3 uniforms @$1.50, a pair of sport oxfords $2.98, white with crepe rubber soles, 1 white apron .39 & a pair of black & white pumps. $3.98. I got stung on the pumps. I can’t wear them. I’m taking them back tomorrow.” The pumps made her right foot “awful sore” and hurt her “big toe & instep.”8

She signed her letter and added one more sentence: “P.S. Don’t say anything much about me coming home . . . but you never know I might walk in one of these days.”9

Neville did walk in before summer was over. She kept her teaching position at Meadow Grove for at least two more years. But she continued to explore her options.
 Sept. 1939: James, Virginia, Mary, Neville; back: Carl, Clint, Verne.

Neville with her grades 3-4 students, Meadow Grove 1940-41.
Neville, seated 2nd from left, with Meadow Grove teachers.

1 Neville Troutman, Denver, Colorado, to Virginia Troutman, letter, 18 June 1939; tells about her work and activities in Denver; Family Letters CD, copy privately held by Z. T. Noble, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 1940 U. S. census, Denver, Denver County, Colorado, population schedule, enumeration district 16-21, sheet 10-A, visit no. 135, Gay Nedd household; digital image ( ; accessed 9 March 2017); NARA microfilm publication T-627, roll n/a.
5 Neville Troutman, Denver, Colorado, to Virginia Troutman, letter, 18 June 1939.
6 Ibid.
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid.
9 Ibid.


  1. The stories are such fun. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you. I appreciate your comment! It's fun to share.