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West Colfax Sketches

By Kristen Autobee

It was her name that first caught my eye. In early January 1938, the East Jefferson Sentinel business directory includes “Beulah Trout, teacher of Piano, Elements of Music. Studio 5221 West Colfax. Phone La458.” This may be the first studio on West Colfax. And like so many of our modern artists, her studio was in her home.

Childhood piano lessons are stressful. Do you remember the old upright, Mrs. Pianoteacher noting your insufficient practice time, the dread moment when Auntie suggested you entertain the family? Which was worse: only your mother at your recitals or the whole family? Why would an otherwise sane adult be a piano teacher, torn between childhood indifference and parental educational duty?

The historical record does not shout why the former Miss Beulah Bloyd became a private music teacher, but we can guess. After graduating in 1923 from Canon City High School, Beulah went off to teach school in Silver Cliff, about 47 miles southwest of her hometown. Her marriage was announced in the June 11, 1926, issue of the Wet Mountain Tribune, a paper which has been published in Westcliffe weekly since 1883. Fred Trout was a “prosperous young farmer of Hillside,” and the couple honeymooned in northern Colorado. William was born in 1928 and Mrs. Trout’s public school teaching career was over.

The marriage didn’t last and Beulah relocated to Mountair to be closer to her parents.

Cyrus and Daphna Bloyd moved to Lakewood in about 1928. Beulah’s father, along with her uncle William, sister Lola and Lola’s husband Herman Mann, operated a truck farm at 1590 Harlan St. Daphna Bloyd opened the Eagle Cafe at 5225 W. Colfax around 1935. By 1938 the cafe was in a newly constructed building, open 18 hours a day, employing seven waitresses, and one cook – Charles L. Meade.

A notice in the East Jefferson Sentinel of Feb. 10 states, “The piano class of Mrs. Trout will join the class of Miss Florence Kaltriter in a recital and Valentine’s party at the latter’s home on Feb. 19.”

It wasn’t just the children making a joyful noise. The paper also reported that the home of Mrs. Trout “was the scene of a delightful pinochle party Saturday, Feb. 5…. Following the games there was music by the crowd and lovely refreshments were served.” The guests included Lola and Herman, and Charles Meade.

The Trout and Kaltriter classes gave a spring recital in April, and another party-recital in June. The recitals and student parties were generally “at the studio of Mrs. Trout.” Students are listed along with their piece. The spring recital ended with Mrs. Trout and Miss Kaltriter playing “The Nut Cracker” by Tchaikovsky. Then a May 19, 1938 headline ran “Mrs. Beulah Trout receives Scholarship.” The scholarship was for a summer term at Washington University in St. Louis and Miss Kaltriter would teach Mrs. Trout’s students for the duration.

Mrs. Trout’s summer was packed with technical courses to improve her own playing as well as classes on the latest educational theories. Classes titled “Music Literature,” “Aural Theories” and “Piano Principles” were balanced with “Observation of Children’s Work” and “Studio Administration.”

The instructors were from the St. Louis Institute of Music faculty. SLIM, as its alumni call it, was founded in 1924 as the Progressive Series Teachers College. One of the instructors was Austrian-born Gottfried Galston (1879-1950). Mr. Galston performed extensively around the world between 1906 and 1926, the year he joined the faculty of SLIM. Mrs. Trout and her fellow teachers would have considered him a living great. Two circa-1912 Galston performances are available through the twin miracles of piano rolls and YouTube. Mr. Galston is best remembered for his arrangements of Chopin and Bach.

This summer program was open to Progressive Series Society members who could pass an entrance examination. This non-secret society was associated with the St. Louis Institute of Music. The first two chapters, Alpha (Canon City) and Beta (Denver) were both organized in 1926.

Once home, the combined classes held their annual Halloween party with 30 guests present. In mid-November, in a quiet ceremony Beulah Trout married Charles Meade at the home of the justice of the peace. A Sentinel article on Nov. 24 tells us that the bride wore black velvet, the couple would purchase the Eagle Cafe, and Mrs. Meade would continue to teach music in her West Colfax Studio.

Eventually the Meades sold the Cafe and moved to 29th and Benton. In 1956, Charles retired as head of the priest’s dining room at Regis College, and became caretaker of his then invalid wife. They settled into a new routine. Every morning Charles made pancakes and scrambled eggs for breakfast and then read the Rocky Mountain News (RMN).

Charlie's 1958 RMN obituary records his last day. After dinner, he cashed a check at the Edgewater Drug Store, bought eggs and milk at the Cowette Creamery, and stopped at the Edgewater Inn on his walk home. Sitting at the bar, Charlie called over co-owner Nick Domenico to show off a picture of Beulah. “‘Isn’t she a beautiful woman?’ Charlie asked Domenico. ‘She’s a former music teacher too.’” Charlie returned photo to his breast pocket, as a gunman entered and ordered Charlie to put his head on the bar. Instead, the otherwise “jovial Irishman” punched the gunman in the face, who responded by firing twice.

The beautiful, beloved, former music teacher died in 2004, age 99.