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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • 65 years on the Neosho Square

  • Since 1963 Betty Peters was the sole worker in the Prettyman Building on West Spring Street.
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  • Since 1963 Betty Peters was the sole worker in the Prettyman Building on West Spring Street.
    Each workday morning, Ms. Peters parked her car nearby and opened the office, spending the day taking care of what remains of the Prettyman estate. Now she has retired.
    "I enjoyed my work," she smiles. "It was quiet and peaceful there."
    During the last year, as she worked at her desk, using her manual Underwood typewriter, Peters was winding down what was once a far flung enterprise which was started many years ago by Charles Prettyman, Jr., then continued by his son Charles Prettyman III.
    It was after Charles III's death in 1963 that Peters became the only person to work in the business.
    Working alone each day without even a radio or television going in her office, is a far cry from the childhood she once knew.
    "I am the oldest of 15 children," she said. "My parents had 15 children in 20 and one-half years. There were ten boys and five girls."
    While she was still in high school, Peters took a job with a local attorney, L. D. Rice.
    "In those days, a young woman could get a job like that without any training. I was just a clerk in that office."
    When World War II erupted and Camp Crowder was built, Peters took a job in the Post Engineer staying for the duration of the conflict.
    After that, she took a job with the Prettyman law firm. That was Oct. 7, 1947, and she was a Prettyman employee until her retirement last year.
    Before the final Prettyman estate was finally settled, there were still many things in the office to care for, including the destruction of decades-old forms and letters.
    At one time the Prettymans owned more than 200 pieces of rental property in Neosho. Now that number is down to three. Taking care of those properties all those years kept Peters in touch, as each month dozens of people came in to pay their rent.
    When Peters first went to work for Mr. Prettyman, the law office was located over the old hardware store on the north side of the square.
    "When we were up on the second floor on the square, Mr. Prettyman would sit at his desk with his feet propped up on the windowsill, watching the traffic going around the square. His wife fussed at him for that," she said with a smile.
    Later the offices were moved to Spring Street and there were no more feet in the window.
    "The Prettymans were on a tour of Europe when it was time to move, and I moved in here all by myself," she said.
    Having worked on or near the public square for more than 65 years, Peters has seen many changes. What she is most disappointed about in all the changes is "...I can't buy a needle or thread without going out into the country."
    Page 2 of 2 - Needles and thread are important to Peters since she crochets and does needlepoint.
    But now in retirement she has plenty to do. Over the years she has bought property on Grand Lake. Now she tends to her property there, and she loves fishing off her deck— and doing little needlework.

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