Chapter---1 Birth of a Dream
Gazing at the familiar scenery, caused Gregory’s memories to surface about his childhood days growing up near these mountains, while arriving from the south entrance to his hometown on Interstate 25, while he passed the Denver county limits sign.
Gregory Sr. was a strapping man whose head almost hit the ceiling of the “46”Cadillac, he’d recently purchased off the showroom floor just to be able to make the trip to see his parents. News of his father’s death, however, had greatly diminished the pleasure of ownership and even the trip itself as he stretched. Glancing at the dashboard gauges to check his speed, and suddenly realizing he was growing weary from the long trip they had started out from three days earlier in San Francisco. california.
Gregory realizing now he had not taken much time to rest before departing right after his retirement party given to him by his Command. Stopping only occasionally for food, and bathroom breaks had taken it toll on him.
While watching his 8-year-old son Justin sprawled out all over the front seat next to him, not leaving very much room for Gregory to drive, when starting a nap just before Colorado Springs, Being such a big kid for his age took up three-fourths of the room in the front seat. It seemed he had finally found a pillow to his liking that he had been searching for by scooting around, getting comfortable in the seat as they were leaving while resting his head on Gregory’s right leg with his long blond hair draping over it just after leaving Colorado Springs, Colorado sure didn’t help Gregory’s ability to stay awake.
Looking quickly into the rear view mirror at the reflection of his tired blue eyes, deciding to stop at the next roadside coffee shop to get a cup of java to help him to complete the trip.
As he watched for the signs, glancing at the gas gage again, realizing it was just about time to refuel the car as well. The next sign he passed displayed, “24 Hours Texaco Truck Stop Next Exit.” He thought,
“That was not far at all, I should be able to make it that far.”
Uneasiness then set into his mind playing back why he was here, had caused him to ponder the situations he will be facing upon his return. The first thing that disappointed him he thought, “This is not how I wanted or, how I pictured my twenty-four year career in the U.S. Marine Corps to end,”
Bringing up the feelings that It did not seem fair to be returning home under these circumstances.
Questions began to rise as his thoughts continued making him ponder:
“How can I find a solution to fix the family’s financial crisis?”
“How it was such a sad time for me, and the family to come home only to attend the Memorial service for my father.” Turned into deep regrets thinking further, “I wished I had visited more often during my leaves to spend more time with him.”
Gregory’s thoughts were suddenly disturbed by his son squirming around, He glanced at him quickly to notice he was just waking up from his nap. Hitting his head on the steering wheel, that did not seem to faze him at all. Sitting up as he stretched during his yawn, Justin looked at him while he mumbled with eyes half closed, “How close are we now dad?” Gregory turned his head for a moment to look at this mess next to him, that appeared to resemble his son, “It won’t be long now son,” laughing at what he saw,“You look like you lost the fight.” He responded with. “Do I look that bad? I guess I did.”
Gregory felt better now that Justin was awake, it would make it easier for him to stay awake so they could at least get to the Truck Stop.
With a few more miles Gregory was relieved as they finally reached the turn off for the truck stop exit. while he Pulled into the parking lot in front of the coffee shop, still concerned about the tiredness that caused his eyes to almost close a couple of time a few miles back before reaching the turn off, Shutting the engine off, they exited the car with a long stretch as Justin following suite while walking towards the building.
Entering, they immediately headed for the bathroom. After a quick bathroom break they splashed cold water on their faces. Exiting they checked their appearance in the reflections of the mirror while they passed it while leaving the room. Entering the dinning area, finding a suitable corner table they slid in each side getting comfortable, while waiting to be served.
The waitress came over, smiling as she greeted them while asking,
“What can I get you two handsome fellows today?” Gregory knowing they
look rough from the trip replied, “Thank you for the compliment, we’ll
have to leave you a big tip, could we have a couple of Roast beef au Jus and
some hot chocolate for Justin?” Gregory then gave her a big smile while
asking her, “Please try to find me a bottomless cup of java .” The waitress chuckled, “I’ll see if I can find you that Bottomless Cup.” Then turning to leave to turn the order in to the cook. She returned in a few minutes with the hot Chocolate, and a pot of coffee, she smiled, “I couldn’t find that bottomless cup of coffee, but I did get you the biggest cup I could find. We will have the food out to you in just a few moments.” As she turned heading for the kitchen.
When she returned with the food she asked them, “Do you need anything else?” as
she set the plates down in front of them. Both of them shaking their heads
While they immediately picked up their silverware before she had turned to walk away, started digging in, displaying an appetite as if they had not eaten for days. The waitress said, “Ill be back to check on you guys,” excusing her self as she turned to go to the next table.
She returned several times picking up the pot of coffee from the table refilling his coffee cup while asking, “How is everything?” Noticing they had almost finished their plates asked,” Would you like some pie?” Gregory looked at Justin with that, kind of look “Would you want anything else?” Justin just sat back rubbing his stomach while he grunted to indicated he had his fill.
After a few more cups of java , with a couple of cups of hot chocolate for Justin, they were ready to hit the road again. After Gregory settled the bill with the cashier, they headed out for the car to finish the trip. Entering the vehicle sliding in finding a comfortable position, Gregory asked Justin, “Well, did that hit the spot," Justin said, rubbing his stomach with a big grin.
“It sure did. I don’t know about you, but I really needed that,” Gregory agreed as he started the engine, and pulled away from the parking lot.
After entering the Interstate, Gregory started thinking back again to when Megan had left him. he began to regret that he hadn't tried to correct the situation. Reviewing how badly he'd handled it, he thought, “I sure screwed that up."
This made him miss Megan even more." I can’t think of a time when she wasn’t with me on my trips to Denver." Since this was a troublesome trip for him, he felt a little sorry for himself.
“I wish she could be here to help me deal with this,”
Gregory began reminiscing about other trips they had been on, missing the discussions they would have through the entire trip, most of them beginning as they had been pulling out from a gas & food stops. Talking with each other about their thought on several subjects about the trip, made him reconsider the way he had acted during the argument they had. Disagreeing again with the way he had handled it remembering she was very angry when she remarked while she was walking out the front door slamming it behind her. He recalled her exact comments towards the end of their discussion,
“You are not very understanding about my feelings, about why we should not go out there to live, It is such a desolate, and unfriendly land as I remember it.” Gregory thought, “Her only memories to picture it was of their last visit to see Andy, and Jennifer in 1922, which was quite a while ago.”
Gregory then realized she was still judging it by her memories of it back then, Not being able to convince her it’s as modern as California frustrated him, preventing him from thinking properly making it harder for him to deal with the situation.
Justin had not heard the argument, so he knew that he was under the impression she would be joining them later like a couple of times before when she had taken a few days clear up some last minute details before joining them in a town along the way.
Thinking about the statement Megan had made before they had left spurred Gregory’s .thoughts to relate back to the beginning of his parents struggle. Making him realize that Justin has not been told the whole story about his Grandparents beginnings, decided this would be a good time as any to tell him about his lineage. Gregory felt he should first justify to Justin why Mom wasn’t with them this time, wanting to explain the disagreement he had with her. Then he would tell him the story about Grandma and Grandpa.
Gregory explained first, “I know you thought Mom would join us later, but you weren’t aware of the little disagreement we had about moving out here. Just to let you know, I am hoping there is some way I can make her change her mind about moving out here with us.” Gregory Sr. knowing Justin is very mature and intelligent treats him like an adult.
Justin remarked, “Not a problem dad, we will convince her.” Justin understanding what happened just took it in stride.
Gregory went on with, “Justin, since we are on the subject, we have never talked about how Grandpa and Grandma started out!” Justin replied, “no, I’ve never have heard the whole story about them. I sure would like to hear about that.”
Gregory still having thoughts about what his wife said earlier began with,“If mom only would have considered the struggle they had, and If the people had not helped them, they would not have survived. Her opinion would not have been what it is about this, as she referrers to it, desolate unfriendly country. This country has some great people in it to have done what they had for them, because both Andy and Jennifer had been orphaned at such early ages.
After your Great Grandpa William Mc Dohnnahoe who had survived the war In 1812 while serving under Captain Musick's Company the La. Militia…. ...Moving out here In 1830 to Colorado across the great prairies to honor a promise made on the battlefield to a fallen friend and soldier; won a cattle ranch in a poker game, being very successful with it, sold it in 1850 to return to work in his field of Mining Engineering. He gained employment in the Leadville mines where he was killed trying to save other miners during a mining accident a few years later.
Andy was an only young boy then, when he, and Jessica, your Great Grandmother were forced to forge on by themselves. Jessica missing him pined away for him until she left this earth soon after, leaving Andy, to forge on alone just before his eleventh birthday.
Fortunately, Bernard, an old mining Engineer, who had worked with William, took Andy under his wing. Paying him for his hard work, while teaching him everything he knew about mining engineering.
Andy apparently acquired the old Mc Dohnnahoe genes, being very quick to learn, he didn’t have to be shown something twice. He learned the trade very quickly, not needing to attend any formal school for it. Working out in the elements, He looked well tanned, and rough, appearing to be a lot older than he really was.
Now you’re Grandma Jennifer, she had a hard road to hoe also; her parents had contracted consumption while they were crossing the prairies from Saint Louis.
When the wagon train passed through Denver, the Doctor tried to help them, they didn’t survive very long and she became orphaned at a tender age of nine. Meredith, a Seamstress who made the uniforms for the nurse, had talked, “You know how women talk” the nurses knew about Meredith’s desires to have a child but could not have children, after having had many conversations about it.
Realizing this would be a perfect opportunity for Meredith, and the child would need someone to take care of her. They were very quick to inform her about Jennifer. She didn’t hesitate one minute to accept her taking her in to raise her as her own. Believing her prayers had been answered, “Finally getting her chance to fulfill her dream.” Meredith Home Schooled her, while teaching her the sewing trade also, Jennifer being smart as a whip learned the trade quickly.
She worked hard, growing up very fast through the years, as Andy had put it one time, “blossoming out to be a beautiful young lady that he fell in love with at first glance.” Andy met Jennifer at the trading post one day, while they were both of them were running errands for their families. It was instant love for both of them, They looked into each other’s eyes, “As Jennifer tells it, when Andy was looking for a way to get introduced, being a very confident guy, waltzed on over to the counter beside her, pretending to wait for her to gather up her goods finishing with the store keeper. He asked the proprietor for a bag of hard candy, Jennifer being very outspoken too, looked right into his eyes, “That is my favorite candy.”
Andy finding his opportunity he was looking for replied, “I would be more than happy to buy you a bag or share?” Smiling, knowing she had gotten his attention, “Either one would be so nice of you.” After Andy asked the storekeeper for another bag of candy, he handed it to her. By this time he had forgotten to pick up his bag, they walked out of the store with stars in their eyes. They sat down on the bench outside in front of the store, talking while sharing her bag of hard candy.After they had a long conversation, both of them realizing they had a lot in common, Jennifer asked him to visit with her at the house sometime. The storekeeper interrupted them when he came out of the store bringing Andy’s forgotten bag with a smile on his face, seeing young love developing, handed it to him saying, “I do believe you forgot this.” Andy smiling very sheepishly nodded his head taking the bag from him. The storekeeper turned as he departed quickly, as not to interfere with them. Upon Andy and Jennifer saying their goodbyes, Andy made a promise to visit with her soon and planning to keep his promise to her.
Andy kept his promise and visited her house every Sunday after church. Meredith
loved having him around. He fixed that old sagging back door, along with various cabinets, and shelves, things that have needed attention for years.
After a few months, Andy had asked Jennifer to marry him, Both of them trying to gather up their courage to approach Meredith. Upon them asking her, she thought about it for a few minutes, before giving them her consent to the marriage. Andy being only 15, Jennifer 14, both of them were very mature at that age; Meredith realized it would be great to have a man around again, also considering Andy would be good for Jennifer.
After the wedding July 15th that year,Meredith asked, “would both of you consider live with me in the old house?” Jennifer was so overjoyed she had made them the offer Giving Meredith a big hug while accepting the offer, Andy just smiled while slightly nodding his head yes in acknowledgment. Andy moved into Meredith’s house with Jennifer within the next few days.
Meredith thought it was nice not having to wait for Sunday’s to get things fixed, and to still have Jennifer at home working with her in the business. A few years later, Meredith received a letter from her sister’s neighbor, informing her about her sister Susan had become very ill, after her recovery from the illness she remained bed ridden.
Telling her, she will require someone from the family to come out there permanently to take care of her. Meredith thought about it for a couple days. She had saved up quite a bit of money through the years; she was planning to give the kids when the time came. Deliberating the situation she made the decision to move to San Francisco California, to care for Susan . Upon Meredith breaking the news to the kids, Jennifer was heart broken, not understanding why she wanted to leave, feeling as though her mother was deserting her.
Andy spoke up, “Isn’t there someone else from your family that would be able to look after her?” Meredith tried to explain to them, “I am the youngest of my sisters, and I am the only one she has now, and she needs me to help her, that’s the only reason I am going.”
She went on further trying to lighten the blow, “I love you kids, I really do wish I could stay here till the end. You and Andy will do fine,” looking at Jennifer as she bent over and kissed her forehead, “You both are hard working, and will take good care of each other. Besides you will have the business to keep running for me until I can return.” Meredith seemed to have smoothed it over with them. Jennifer had calmed down a little saying, “how long do you think you will be gone?” Meredith just responded with, “I really have no Idea now honey, but I will let you know when I will be coming back, OK?” Jennifer hugged her, saying,
“I love you, I hope you will return soon.”
Andy hugged her while he told her. “It won’t be the same around here without you; we will miss you a lot.”
The day came for her to start the trip, they went with her to say their goodbye’s, and see her off. When she boarded the train, they waived good-bye to her, as Meredith waved back as the train pulled out of the station.
Meredith had corresponded with them for a few years, her letters always telling them it would still be a while yet before she could return. They would receive fewer and fewer letters from her each year. After the third year they had not heard from her for quite a while, then a letter came from the neighbor sending them her deepest regrets that both, Meredith and her sister had just passed away a day before the letter was dated.
Earlier when Meredith had left, she had signed everything over to Jennifer, believing she would never be able to come back. They knew she would want them to make it the Mc Dohnnahoe Homestead. Andy rebuilt the house with loving hands always, “That’s the way Meredith would have liked it,” Meredith had always talked about how she wanted a second story added on to the house. Over the year’s he made many improvements, making the house what it is today.
The story being finished, Justin remarked, “They sure did have it hard, I don’t know what I would have done with out you and mom if that would have happened to me.” Gregory just answered, “That’s alright you won’t have to, you can’t get rid of me,” looking at him with a big smile. As Justin smiled back, then Justin turned to look out of the windshield thinking about the story.
Gregory then turned his head to pay more attention to the road. Memories were returning as his thoughts bounced back again to when he was growing up while he looked at the landscape.
The memories that were revived were about when he and Dominick growing up together and hiking through the mountains, especially Riddle Mountain, it was very scary to them as children because of all the stories they had heard about the very weird happenings there. He remembered how it was so much fun being scared about it that he started to finally be happy about returning home. Even some of the memories set aside he began to enjoy the childhood memories, “In these beautiful Colorado Mountains.” While he drove through the old neighborhood, noticing the growth remarked to Justin, “It sure has changed a lot.” amazed with all the houses that can be seen, where it once was open range.
When reality set in, pulling up in the driveway, Justin noticed Gregory’s expressions changed as his smile disappeared as the memories faded away quickly when he noticed what was happening to his family. The anger building up in his eyes as they began to become focused and they became smaller. He drew his hand back, hitting the steering wheel as hard as he could, shaking his head back and forth as he blurted out, “They could have at least waited until he was in the ground!”
He hurriedly exited the car after they had stopped in the driveway, walking very fast with his fists folded, towards the front lawn where the sign was stuck in the ground displaying the words House for Sale. Gregory ripping it out very forcefully, unable to hold his anger back. Throwing it on the ground, looking out in the direction of the bank, blurting out,” Your not Going to get it, unless it over my dead body.”
Justin reluctantly exited the car, thinking this is the angriest he had ever saw him, moving very slowly over to where he was standing, Gregory motioned for him to follow, while he headed for the front door. Opening the door while he stood in the doorway, he could see his mother in tears sitting on the living room couch, Greg waited for Justin to get through the door before going in. Upon closing the door he immediately went over to her, sitting down next to her putting his arm around her shoulders.
Justin ran over to get in the action, sitting down on the other side of her putting his arm around her also. Greg managed to get the words out finally, “Mom, I know Dad and Christopher aren’t able to help anymore. but we are. The only way they will get this house, is to fight me for it,” he went on to say,” You’re going to be alright now.” That was the birth of Gregory’s dream.
He had made a decision right then, he would build something for his family that they will never have to lose, so it can be passed on from generation to generation.
His mind began playing back again how Andy had worked so hard in his life making the trips to Cripple Creek, staying away from Mom for months at a time and the hardships Jennifer had endured and still they were not able to get ahead. Greg said aloud, “It was that rotten war that had taken Christopher and has made it so tough for everyone, you couldn’t get ahead.”
He shook his head as the thoughts about his older brother and the war came crashing in his mind, “None of us has gotten over it taking Christopher’s life, a couple of years ago,” in that his bitter feelings rising again concerning the circumstances surrounding his death, thinking, “on some damn Island that didn’t even matter in the scheme of things anymore. Then now Dad, It seems everybody is trying to take everything else that he had worked so hard all of his life for to boot, due to the medical bills. This will leave Mom impecunious, with no place to go.” He swore to himself, “I am not going to let this happen, not to my mother, not if I can do something about it.”
Gregory Sr. being well versed Financial Management, being in charge of finance with the marines, not to discount the college degrees he has earned. This enabling him to logically consider starting a successful business, if there is a way to find the financial resources he needed to help.
Jennifer still had difficulties talking to anyone about Andy’s death. Gregory Sr. had to notify his son in California, upon calling, Martha answered the telephone, his eyesfilled with tears, but holding his composure as he explained to her about Andy death
Martha commented, “Oh no,” asking, “How is Jennifer holding up?” Greg replied, not so well, we sure could use your help with that.” Finishing, Martha reassured him, “I will Notify
Gregory at work immediately.” After hanging up, she immediately called her husband at work.
Gregory Jr. answered the phone, Martha said, “I hope you are sitting down, I have some bad news for you.” Greg replied, “What is it dear, it’s not the kids, is it?”
She replied, “No, it was your dad that called to tell us Andy has passed away,”
Greg almost lost it, he couldn’t say anything. His memories went to how they had grown very close to Andy and Jennifer thru the years, staying with them during their spring breaks during their college years. One of the most enjoyable memories were when Andy would go out with them back packing, Gregory Jr. would wear himself out trying to keep up with him. Sometimes the girls stayed home, Jennifer would teach Martha the seamstress trade, Martha found she enjoyed it quite a bit.
Finally Greg gathered himself back up mumbling, “that is hard to believe,” he asks, “when, how,” Martha having a little difficulty herself replied, “it happened a
couple of days ago “Hun, he had a heart attack, mowing the lawn.” Gregory was silent for a few moments then he replied, “I’ll call the boss to see when we can leave,” Martha said, “sorry Hun, I’ll pack up the car, and get the kids ready, so we can leave.” He thanked her, then hanging up.
The Boss being in another building across town, Gregory called him, the boss answers on the second ring, Greg told him what had happened, offering his condolences, remarked, “you will need some time off, would a couple weeks be ok?”
Gregory replied, “Well, with that old car of mine I might need more time than that,” his boss was silent for a moment thinking, finally said, “We might be able to spare you for a month tops.”