Friday, February 12, 2016

Love's Labor Lost--Almost

Theodorus Peck, 1918
Amy Nichols, 1916
Theodorus Peck, 1918

This love story should not have been possible. 

One world was from the farmlands of Illinois, where Theodorus’ family were affluent landowners, bankers, and shop owners.  The other world was from the cities of Michigan, where Amy’s family were more gentile, educated, and ‘with prospects’.

The likelihood of their meeting was very limited, fate stepped in.  The key factor was the restlessness that filled Theodorus.

He was extremely intelligent and eager to see more than the rolling fields of corn.  Tall and lean with pale blue eyes, Theodorus was not a physically strong man; farming would have been a difficult life for him.  Theodorus “Dorus” was already 35 with no serious attachments.

With his parents’ blessings, Theodorus went on a “stroll-about the United States”.  The stroll went West to Utah and up to Idaho.  It took him through mountains, deserts, and ultimately to Michigan.

He had friends in Michigan from his growing-up years and from his travels.  They showed him different towns and cities.  One city was Detroit. 

Amy came from a town nearby, and had just received her Pharmaceutical Degree.  Finding a job in Detroit meant that she would receive a good salary.
Amy Nichols on her way to the Drug Store

What is a bit vague (from her reminisces) is about her family.  At one time they had been comfortably situated, but something about the father’s gambling and drinking had left them in financial straits.  There were three daughters and one son.  Amy was the oldest and was considered to be a ‘spinster’.  She was also brilliant.

Amy was so mentally gifted that she had begun studies in medical school to become a doctor.  She was the only woman in 103 men.  Two years into her studies, the family was nearly destitute.  With their pleas for help, Amy switched her studies to become a Pharmacist.
Only part of the class photo, with Amy Nichols at the top

At the age of 28, Amy was behind the drug store counter, filling prescriptions and laughing with customers.  She was a big woman with a big personality—tall with brown eyes and an easy smile. 

Theodorus needed something from a drugstore, so his friends took him to this store as it was the closest.  Brown eyes meeting pale blue eyes, well, you can picture the exchange.

They began the courtship.    

Her family was not happy.  No, they viewed Dorus as depriving them of their source of income.

What to do?  They eloped.

When my grandmother said this to me, I was about 14.  My jaw dropped; I looked at my very traditional elderly grandmother, and these images did not coalesce.  “You mean—out the window, down the ladder elopement?”  She said, “Well, almost.”

When the dust had settled and days had passed, Amy’s family cooled down, considered their standing in the community, and held a reception for the newlyweds. 

Reception corsage

Their love story will continue on another posting.

I realized recently that many followers had never seen or read this post that is part of the backstory.  This might answer some questions about Amy and Dorus Peck.