George Walpole spent most of his 85 years living and working in Evergreen. According to earlier reports, that distinction qualified him as one of “Evergreen’s Old Timers.”
He was born in Idaho Springs in 1903. His parents, Charlotte Amelia Berrian and James Patrick Walpole later moved the family of four boys to Morrison. George attended the two-story limestone schoolhouse on Spring Street there, which, until the 1950s, was used for grades one through eight.
He proudly noted in his memoir that he made it through eighth grade without ever being tardy or absent.
One of his favorite early jobs, which he took on as a teenager, was as a printer’s devil or apprentice for the Morrison Monitor, a small hometown newspaper that operated until 1918.
He graduated from Golden High School in 1923. His Uncle George Berrian secured a room in a boarding house on Ford Street for him during the week. During the summers, George worked on what became Berrian Ranch in Evergreen, a mile or so south of Marshdale. The work was physically demanding: stripping bark from trees and cutting timber for slabs that were used to shore up mines or provide lumber to local builders.
Another valuable experience he gained was learning how to drive on the rugged roads in the mountain area after he hired on with the Pacific Lumber Co. in Morrison delivering lumber and supplies.
“I was driving a truck up in Indian Hills on my first job. It had a cab for just the driver right in the middle up front with lumber stacked along each side. A hard bump could throw the truck out of gear.”
“When that happened on a downgrade,” he recalled, “The truck stopped all right, but the lumber kept right on going.”
While hauling goods for the Evergreen Transfer Co. he recalled working the early shift: “We left Evergreen at 2 a.m. to get back around 7:30 a.m. for the store’s opening. I’d have to cross the creek 14 times one way.”
If anything, George was a loyal employee. Though the ownership changed from The Evergreen Transfer Co. to Hammond Hardware to The Hardware on Meadow Drive, he stayed on — repairing roofs, painting siding, delivering goods.
In his thirties he lived in downtown Evergreen. He met his wife Ethel Egley, at a picnic in 1938 and married her the next year. She was 24 and he was 35. For awhile they lived next door to the former Liston Lodge, which is where Cactus Jack’s Saloon is located today.
As a full-time resident for most of his life, he watched as the little village of Evergreen changed from a tourist haven in the summers to a home for permanent residents.
The couple adopted two boys, James and Charles and in 1951, Nancy was born. In 1960 the couple built a house on Blue Creek in south Evergreen. In 1979 son James and his wife, Linda, bought the place and live there today.
Even after George retired from The Hardware, he continued working at the Church of the Hills, where he and Ethel were members.
Ethel’s career at Evergreen Drug lasted 32 years. She was just as familiar around town as George. So much so that daughter-in-law Linda called her “Evergreen’s Ambassador.”
George calculated that between the two of them they’d spent 75 years serving the public.
The Walpole’s son, James, remembers his parents as hard-working, gracious people.
Of his marriage, George wrote, “There aren’t too many of us who have lived almost all their lives in a place like Evergreen and know so many kinds of people. We had 37 years of a great and wonderful marriage.”
In 1969, he told an interviewer that Evergreen was a good place to live. He said, “It’s the only place I’ve lived. It’s home.”
Sources: James and Linda Walpole interview; George Walpole personal memoir; Evergreen: Our Mountain Community by Barbara and Eugene Sternberg; Canyon Courier April 13 and 27, 1977; Feb. 15, 1978; Evergreen Zine Jan. 1969; www.historycolorado.org. Photo courtesy James Walpole.