Old Juan

by SeaBird

Chapter 4 - A Small Boy Shows the Way

School started that September, Bobby was a senior this year and all the boys were in school except young James, who had just turned 4 years old.

The little boy was lonely, all his brothers were in school and just Juan was home with him.

It was a warm fall day and being cooped up in the house was not his idea of a great day! Juan was in the kitchen having a second cup of coffee when James wandered in. The little boy had a sad look on his face and said to his dad, "Daddy, will you teach me how to ride a pony?"

Juan replied, "I can't ride, can you wait until one of your brothers get's home?"

The little boy looked ready to cry, "But Daddy, can't you show me, you can do anything!"

Tears were beginning to bubble out of the boy's eyes and Juan could feel his heart begin to crumble.

Finally he said, "Well, let's try it, maybe I can swing up on the pony and we will ride around the yard."

James' eyes lit up like the Fourth of July, he screamed, "OH BOY, I'll get my new hat!", and he ran off to collect his new cowboy hat.

Juan groaned, thinking, "Oh God, what have I gotten myself into?"

The two walked out to the corral and saddled up one of the ponies.

Holding onto the reins, Juan lifted James up into the saddle and then, standing on a box, levered himself into the saddle behind the boy.

They rode around the yard, James was screaming, "Faster, Daddy, faster!" Juan found that he was actually quite comfortable in the saddle, so he kicked open the gate and the two headed out for a ride.

They rode as far as the High School and, as they started to turn back towards home, it was time to change classes. Bobby, Roger and Phillip were headed to the JROTC Classroom when they spotted Juan and James on the horse! The three brothers yelled and screamed, waving their arms in greeting.

Bobby yelled, "Way to go, Dad!"

He added to himself, "About time!"

As they rode back to the house, Juan was thinking, "I can do this, I can go with my boys!"

It took a small boy to show his Dad just how little he was handicapped!

The first grading period reports cards came home, and all the boys were on the Honor Roll.

Major Davis, the JROTC Instructor included a note in Bobby's Report Card asking to have a meeting with Juan.

He asked Bobby what was going on and Bobby had no idea.

The next day, Juan telephoned Major Davis and set up a meeting for that afternoon. Juan could not believe that Bobby was in any trouble, but whatever it was he needed to find out early.

Juan arrived for the meeting and was ushered into the conference room. Not only was Major Davis there but also the High School Principal, Amanda Gorman and the Senior Class Advisor, George Cahill.

Major Davis had a stack of papers in his hand and a smile on his face that told Juan there was no trouble ahead.

The Major began, "Mr. Moralis, you and I have spoken before about Bobby's excellent grades and leadership. Now, I have a paper here that proves what I said!

He passed a bundle of forms to Juan and as he read them, he nearly fell of his chair!

It was an offer for a Congressional Appointment to Annapolis – The Naval Academy!

Juan started to stammer, "But…. How…. Who…."

Major Davis laughed, "Are you aware that Bobby Moralis is the top High School Student in the state of New Mexico?"

Juan read all the paperwork and then asked, "Is Bobby aware of all this?"

Amanda Gorman, the Principal replied, "Yes he is …… Bobby, come on in here!"

Bobby opened the door and entered the room, wearing an ear to ear grin on his face.

He hugged Juan and said, "May I go, Dad?"

Juan hugged his son tightly and, with tears streaming down his face said, "Son, if this is what you want, YES, you may go!"

Juan was overcome with emotion and pride in his son. He sat down and looked at Major Davis, "Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!"

So began an odyssey of paperwork that seemed unending. Immediately after Christmas, Juan and Bobby flew to Washington, DC to meet with their Congressman and also to pay a visit to the Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Bobby came away with stars in his eyes, ready to start his plebe year then and there!

The remainder of the year passed rapidly, it was no surprise to anyone when command of the JROTC was passed to Bobby's brother, Roger Knife.

At the Change of Command Ceremony, Roger praised Bobby and then continued, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests, I would like to add to the praise that my Brother, Bobby Moralis accorded to our Dad, Juan Moralis. This man, Juan Edward Moralis, drug a skinny, filthy Indian boy out of the bushes, loved him, cared for him and encouraged him to be the boy you see standing before you. The greatest thing I can think of to say is, I am now 17 years old, on my 18 th birthday my Uncle, John Peters, has papers to file changing my last name to Moralis. Dad, I repeat what Bobby told you, you are the greatest that will ever be!"

Anita had to drive Juan home again this year!

A week later, they took Bobby to the airport in Las Cruces, where he boarded the plane for Washington and on to Plebe Week at Annapolis.

The JROTC Annual Encampment was a great success, units from other High Schools were invited to participate, more than 1,000 cadets attended!

Juan spent the summer enjoying his boys, they spent many hours roaming the hills on horseback.

Roger started applying to colleges and universities that had courses in forestry. He had decided he wanted to be a Forest Ranger. The best course available was at the University of New Mexico in Las Cruces.

He and Juan made a visit to the campus and met with the Freshman Counselor.

After looking at Roger's High School Record, he told them that Roger should have no problem meeting the entrance requirements or passing the course of study for a degree in Forestry Science.

They received a letter from Bobby, he said that being a Plebe was no cakewalk, but he was determined to succeed.

Kennecott announced they were curtailing operations at the smelter and were going to lay off over 1,000 employees. This was a terrible blow to the folks in Hurley, the smelter was the only employment in the area.

Bill Cochran quickly made arrangements to sell the ore from the Moralis Open Pit Mine to other smelter operations. The ore was high grade, so other smelter companies were anxious to bid.

The school district voted to consolidate with the Silver City School District and bus all the students there.

Since the Moralis Foundation owned the Elementary School, Juan decided to open it as a private school. There were so many applications for enrollment that he purchased the High School from the school district and had it renovated. Even before the renovations were complete, enrollment applications started arriving.

Most of the teachers asked to stay with the now private school and before the last day as a public school, there were more applications than there were places for students. Some applications came from as far away as Tucson!

The Foundation contracted to have motel like accommodations built for out of town students and Juan again went on a hunt for mentors.

Like before, most of them came from the VA Hospital in Tucson. Juan and The Moralis Foundation had gained such a high reputation; the Social Services Office at the hospital had Juan's home phone number on file!

Roger graduated with Highest Honors and was Class Valedictorian. In his speech he said, "The highest honor I have received came not from my classes, but from Judge Sanchez when he signed my petition this morning, to change my name to Moralis! If I, a dirty, scraggly little Indian boy can come so far, then I say to those of you who think they cannot, you are WRONG! Make the most of very opportunity, you can be whatever you want to be if you are willing to grab on, hold on tight and NEVER, EVER give up!"

Juan had to be driven home again by Anita!

Times were hard in Hurley, now that Kennecott has closed down, but Alfredo Moralis managed to keep the little General Store open, it was the only store in town. He still gave credit and nobody ever abused it. Juan helped out making sure that Alfredo had sufficient funds to keep the place going.

Employment at the private schools helped and both the schools and the Home bought all their supplies locally.

Bill Cochran drove down from his office in Silver City to talk with Juan, "Juan, we have discovered an arm of the ore body going off to the north. Kennecott has shut down the Tamara Pit Mine, if we can increase our production we can sell every pound we can dig."

Juan asked, "How many more people will it employee?"

Bill replied, "On a steady basis, probably 100 men." Juan told him to go ahead, folks need the jobs here.

Roger Moralis entered U of NM, Las Cruces that fall and Phillip was a Junior at Moralis High School. James started the First Grade and the Twin Terrors, Juan's nephews, Juanito and Carlos were High School seniors. Phillip was the only one in JROTC now but Juan kept close tabs on that successful program.

Jason would be a graduating senior. The beatings he had sustained impaired him mentally, but he would be a fully functioning adult. He was already working part time for Juan's cousin, Alfredo, in the General Store.

Judge Gabby Sanchez was nominated for a seat on the bench of New Mexico State Supreme Court and was confirmed by the legislature before Christmas.

The Governor selected John Peters to replace Judge Sanchez as Superior Court Judge.

The increased production at the mine not only saved many jobs for the local people, the increased revenue began to pile up in the account of the Moralis Foundation.

At Christmas, Juan made sure all his boys, even Bobby, came home – he sent Bobby plane tickets and drove to Las Cruces to retrieve Roger!

The day after Christmas, Juan convened a meeting of the Moralis Foundation Board of Directors, all were present. They set up a Scholarship Fund with $20,000,000 for deserving seniors of Moralis High School and another $1,000,000 to fund deserving students at the private schools who could not otherwise afford to attend. They then voted to buy the General Store from Juan's cousin, Alfredo, and hire Alfredo to manage it and Jason would run the day to day operations.

The last order of business was to build and equip a Volunteer Fire Department to replace the one that Kennecott has operated. Construction was to begin as soon as possible.

Bobby asked, "If we build an office, do you think the Sheriff will station a couple of deputies here?

Juan said, "I will ask and if he will, is a building authorized by this board?"

A resounding yes was voted.

The day after New Year's Juan drove Bobby back to the airport in Las Cruces and also dropped Roger off at his dorm.

It was a sad trip home, he missed his boys so much and he had been thinking of Danny again.

School began again at Moralis High School and Phillip was determined he would meet the same levels of excellence attained by his older brothers.

As the school year rushed to a close, Gordon Lassiter, a new counselor hired by Juan, called and asked Juan to meet with him.

Juan was used to this by now, so he was not concerned, when he arrived, Mr. Lassiter was waiting for him and they both went into the conference room. Amanda Gorman had remained as Principal and was also waiting for Juan.

Gordon started the meeting, "Mr. Moralis, I am sure you know that Phillip is following in the footsteps of his older brothers. I received an inquiry from our Congressman about Phillip and an appointment to West Point. Based on Phillip's record to date, he is willing to guarantee an appointment for Phillip immediately after his graduation from High School."

Juan shook his head and said, "I suppose Phillip already knows?"

Amanda grinned and said, "Come on in Phillip, we can't surprise your Dad this time!"

Phillip rushed in and hugged his Dad, "Dad, I really want to go, will you let me?"

Juan chuckled and said, "Would I hear the end of it if I said no?"

Phillip laughed, "Nope!"

The annual change of Command Ceremony for the JROTC was held.

Again, no surprises, Phillip was selected as the Cadet Commanding Officer. He was making his acceptance speech, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests, I stand here, not humbly, but exceedingly proud to be able to follow in the footsteps of my brothers. But there is one brother you have not heard from, my brother Jason. Jason, will you come and stand beside me, BROTHER? As you all know, Juan Moralis rescued my brother and myself, but what you don't know is what my BROTHER did for me. He took the beatings from our birth father to protect me, he shielded me from harm and when it got beyond bearing, he grabbed me and ran. Despite his injuries, he protected me until we were found by our older brothers. Jason had a broken leg and was comforted by Bobby. Roger ran for help. Dad came and carried us to safety. Jason is 18 years old now and I am 17, when I turn 18, Jason and I already have the paperwork completed to make our name Moralis, like our brothers. To have the same name as our Dad is an honor beyond compare"

The Brothers held hands and said together, "We love you, Dad!"

Anita had to drive Juan home again!

The Annual JROTC Encampment was another success, nearly 1,500 cadets participated with delegations from four surrounding states and one foreign nation!

Alfredo decided to retire, so Jason took over the management of the General Store.

Roger decided to take summer courses so that he could graduate in three years.

Bobby was on his summer cruise on a destroyer off the coast of Korea. Juan was glued to the news in worry of some crisis that would involve Bobby, but the Gods of War were gracious and no harm befell him.

He came home for a short leave before classes resumed and went with Juan to Silver City for a meeting with Bill Cochran.

There, Bobby met his fate.

Bill's oldest daughter, Charlotte, was home from Stanford. Bobby went goggle-eyed. He was completely smitten, both Juan and Bill sat back and giggled!

Before the evening was over, each had the other's address and the next three years they managed to keep the US Postal Service in business selling stamps!

They would be married three days after Bobby was commissioned!

Phillip's senior year was busy; he was Student Body President in addition to Cadet Lt. Colonel, Commanding the JROTC Battalion.

The paperwork to enter West Point was tremendous, Phillip and Juan visited the Academy over Christmas, if they had let him, he would have started right then!

Like his brothers, Phillip graduated Valedictorian.

In his speech, he said, "There is but one reason I am standing here before you, one name that says it all, Juan Edward Moralis . Yesterday, my brother, Jason, and I did as we said we would, our last name is now Moralis. What more can I say but this great man is my DAD and he made me what I am, what I will ever be. Dad, to repeat my brothers, you are the best that will ever be!"

Poor Anita had to drive Juan home yet again!

A week later they took Philip to the airport in Las Cruces to begin a new phase in his life.

Juan would have a few years to recuperate, James was only in the Third Grade!

That summer's JROTC Encampment hit 2,000 participants from 6 states. That was the maximum the campground could accommodate, future encampments would have to limited.

Only the Twin Terrors remained in High School, but this was their final year.

The Fates would have to wait their turn for James!

That summer, while Phillip sweated out Hell Week at West Point, Bobby was cruising off the coast of West Africa.

Again, Juan stayed glued to the news but the Gods of War continued to look favorably on them.

Bobby came home, but spent almost all his time in Silver City. Love was a powerful magnet!

Charlotte was a beautiful young woman, she had flaming red hair like her father and she was as beautiful on the inside as the out!

Almost as soon as he got home, they were taking Bobby back to the airport, they went a day early so he could visit with his brother, Roger and then, the Post Office could sigh in relief, the volume of stamp sales went back up!

By Christmas, Roger was recognized as a Sophomore and was listed in Who's Who on American University Students. He was active in several clubs and was a charter member of the local chapter of Big Brother's of America.

Slowly, life in Hurley settled down, the loss of the smelter was a terrible blow, but employment at the schools and Home, along with increased hiring at the mine helped a little bit.

Juan had tennis courts and a baseball diamond added to the ground at the Home and later stables and 20 horses were added.

Many morning would see Juan out pleasure riding his horse, he could thank James for that, and boys from the Home would scramble for one of the 20 horses in order to join him.

Juan was just turning 40 years old, still a young man to have lived as much as he had! It was 1978, Saigon had fallen three years earlier, was the world safe for his two military sons?

Only time would tell.

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