Saturday, July 2, 2011

Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden

Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden is about Dorothy's grandmother,  Dorothy Woodruff, and her best friend Rosamond Underwood and their experience as school teachers in the wilds of Colorado in 1916-1917.  Both families had kept all the letters both Dorothy and Ros wrote to them during their adventures out West, and this book is the result.

I loved this book, and was rather sad to finish it.  First of all, these women were such good friends--they met in school, and maintained a life-long friendship through college, Colorado, and their marriages, where they lived far apart.  They were funny, adventurous, clever, and so admiring of the women homesteaders they met living in Colorado.  Both women had said their year in Colorado was the best year of their lives.

What makes their story a bit different is that both women came from wealthy families in Auburn, New York.  They went to Smith college, and then spent a year traveling around Europe.  Marriage or a career as a nurse or a teacher were their only options, but neither was ready for marriage.  The opportunity to teach in a one room school house outside Hayden, Colorado came up, and they jumped at the chance to have one more adventure in their late 20's.

The photos in each chapter help put a face to the characters--and they are characters.  Farrington Carpenter plays a large part in their story--he's a Harvard educated lawyer/rancher who's plan to have a good school for the local kids brings Dorothy and Ros to Colorado.  They don't realize that Farrington has another motive--there are many single men around, looking for wives.  He hopes to make a few matches!

I admire Dorothy and Ros.  With their family's blessings, they set out into the wilds of Colorado, with no teaching experience, and living a live of comfort, to enthusiastically embrace whatever they found.  Both fell in love with Colorado, the people, and the school.  They never complained and cheerfully jumped into their new lives without reservation.

This book has set in motion, once again, my desire to return to Colorado and visit more places!  I am always struck by the courage and determination that so many women showed moving away from home, living in harsh conditions, and making the best with what they had.  So tough--what a gift they left us all.

1 comment :

  1. I don't have much interest in that time period...the settling of the west and all that...but this sounds fascinating. I may have to give it a read if I come across it at a discount book store! :)