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"I prayed that night that she would come to Yale," Nonie said. "But I had a new friend."They hit it off."What then? Silence."This is difficult for us to talk about," Vivian said."No one knew what was happening," Nonie said. "Suddenly, we were in love."From that day forward, they felt like they were in hiding.They moved into an apartment above a building where the local mortuary stored its caskets.Both were attending Iowa State Teachers College (now known as the University of Northern Iowa) in 1942."I could tell you exactly what she had on," Nonie said."A gray dress with black velvet trim and big pearl buttons."That was it. But after Nonie dropped out of school and returned to Yale to work, she heard the school in town needed a new teacher. Nonie had to work that night but told Vivian to go to the show, and she would join her later."She was already bossing me around," teased Vivian, the soft-spoken one in the relationship. That's all.""The hand of God was there," Vivian added."I kind of blanked out, until I said, 'My gosh, this is Iowa! A young woman who works in the retirement community had come to them one day."She asked us the question," Vivian said. She said, 'awesome.' " She was so excited that she ran down to eat her lunch with the other caregivers and told them."We'd been quiet such a long time. Emotions came out as she shopped for a dress."I always wanted a wedding," she said at the shop, admiring the dresses. No gay couple had ever married in the church."It's Vivian and Nonie," Hunsaker said of the decision to marry them.
When he did, Vivian and Nonie told him it was the first time they had talked to anyone about their relationship."I was dumbstruck," he said. "They had learned to live with their heads down so long.
No one said anything, even after they moved to Glenwood when Vivian got a teaching job there."I'm sure back then she would have been fired," Nonie said. Nonie couldn't cook, and Vivian "couldn't mow a yard no more than the man on the moon." So they divided up duties and made a life together, although holidays with family were spent apart.
In 1947, they moved to Davenport and by 1950 had a house built, settling into the neighborhood.
People just thought they were two young roomies living in an unusual place.
But soon friends started to drift away, and the couple suspected they knew.