Old Juan

by SeaBird

Chapter 5 - The Business of Copper

Two years passed swiftly, only James was living at home and he was nearing High School age already!

Bill Cochran called and asked if Juan was going to be home, that he wanted to talk with him.

Thinking that Bill wanted to talk about the wedding, he told him to come on down.

When Bill arrived, he had an arm load of papers and blueprints with him. He looked excited and started spreading the papers out on the kitchen table. He said, "Kennecott wants to sell the Hurley Smelter, we have enough copper in the ground to last years. What if we purchase the old smelter and rehab it, then put it back in operation?"

Juan replied, "I'm not sure I have the funds enough to swing all that."

Bill said, "Oh, I have lined up enough investors for that, we just have to assure the ore supply, your mine will take care of that, what do you say?"

Juan thought for a few minutes and then said, "OK, I'll do it but there MUST be one stipulation – Hurley or ex-Hurley folks have first dibs on the jobs."

Bill replied, "Done and Done, it is already in the contract. I knew you would want that!"

Within six weeks, work began on the old smelter. Folks in town walked with a new spring in their steps.

June arrived and Bill and Juan, James, Roger and, of course, John and Anita along with the Twin Terrors were on an airplane, headed for Washington, DC.

On a hot Tuesday morning, Juan and Roger pinned brand new shiny gold "butter-bars" on the jacket of Second Lieutenant Robert Edward Moralis, United States Marine Corps.

Miss Charlotte Cochran got the first kiss!

Two days after that, Juan got the first kiss from Mrs. Robert Edward Moralis!

Roger got the second kiss!

Roger was Best Man and Anita was Matron of Honor.

Juan gave the new couple 1,000 shares of Moralis Industries stock, the new company formed to operate the smelter.

After a quick honeymoon the couple was off to Rota, Spain where the young Second Looey was assigned as Assistant Brig Officer.

It was not many months later, an overseas telephone call informed Juan that he was "GONNA BE GRANDPA!"

Poor Anita thought she was going have to get a taxi license, Juan was too jittery to drive!

In December, Roger graduated Summa cum Laude from the University of New Mexico with a degree in Forestry Science. The National Forest System hired him, practically off the podium!

His initial assignment was Forest Ranger in the Siskiyou National Forest.

Phillip would be graduating in another year and, Juan suddenly realized that James would soon be in High School!

He seldom though about Danny anymore, just every once in a while it would flash across his mind.

The rebuilt smelter finally went into production, the first test ingot was presented to Juan.

He was asked to speak at the celebration, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Honored Guests, we go way back together. I see His Honor, Justice Sanchez trying to hide behind that post, I also see His Honor Judge John Peters beside him and I see all the people who have worked so hard to make this smelter a reality. Bill Cochran, I see you, too. I know your Dad would have loved to be here, you have our deepest and heartfelt condolences for his death, he was a great man. I was born here, I grew up here, my children grew up here, this where the roots of the Moralis Family are sunk into the soil. That we have been able to bring the jobs we thought lost forever, back to our town, is nothing short of a miracle, With hard work and honest people, Hurley is, again, a major player in the copper business."

The applause went on for nearly 20 minutes.

Juan turned around to walk away when he ran into a solid man in uniform. He looked up into the eyes of his son, Roger.

He exclaimed, "Roger, why didn't you tell me you were coming, how long can you stay?"

He grabbed the huge man hugging him for all he was worth, and, yes, Juan was crying, but they were tears of happiness.

Roger grinned and said, "I am here to stay, I am now Chief Ranger for New Mexico, Southern Colorado, Utah and part of Nevada!"

It was beginning to look like Anita was going to have to drive again when the 6 foot, 5 inch giant man picked Juan up and set him on the seat of a Ford F-250 Forest Service truck, complete with Red Lights and a siren.

He turned to his Aunt Anita and said, "Let me take Dad home this time!"

Just then, another man ran up, also in uniform, "Roger, oh boy am I glad to see you!" It was Chief Deputy Sheriff Juanito Peters!"

Roger said, "How ya' doin' Cuz?"

Juanito replied, "I am in charge of the Sheriff station here in Hurley now!"

Anita had them all to their house for supper, it was almost like old times!

James drove in to join them for supper, he was a senior in High School. Roger almost didn't recognize him, he is the Star Tackle on the football team and looked to be second cousin to a gorilla!

He was following his brothers, he was also the Cadet Commanding Officer of the JROTC Battalion.

The next day, Juan was doing some paperwork at home.

A young man in uniform, his left sleeve pinned up indicating the loss of his arm, walked into the General Store with a woman, obviously his wife and three small boys.

Jason was waiting on Mrs. Coleman, a long time resident of Hurley.

The man, he wore the insignia of a Army Major, asked Jason how to find the home of Mr. Juan Moralis.

Jason looked at the man, he seemed kind of familiar, but couldn't recognize him, so he gave directions to Juan's house.

As the man turned, Mrs. Coleman gasped and clutched her chest.

Jason ran to her, thinking she was having a seizure. She was shaking like a leaf.

Pointing at the man's receding back, she wailed, "That's Danny Moralis, Juan's little boy!"

Jason ran next door to the Volunteer Fire Station and punched the emergency alarm button. The siren on the tower started to scream and people came running.

Juanito was first to arrive, Jason said, "Call Roger, QUICK! Dad's boy Danny is here!"

Juanito grabbed his car radio, nearly tearing it off the dash, "Dispatch, this is Sheriff 2, over…." "Sheriff 2, Dispatch, go ahead……" Dispatch call Chief Ranger Moralis and tell him its an emergency and GET HOME, RED LIGHT, ESCORT IS AUTHORIZED!... Sheriff 2 out – off duty"

He then turned to Jason, "Close the store, come on!"

Jason hustled poor Mrs. Coleman out the door and the two took off, with red lights and siren blaring!

Mrs. Coleman proceeded to alert the whole town, Juan was so precious to them all this was a major development!

Meanwhile, the young man arrived at Juan's home, recognizing it from memory.

He walked up to the door and knocked, when Juan answered the door, the two just stood there and stared, then Juan screamed, "DANNY" and the man screamed, "DADDY!"

They hugged each other, and soaked each other's shirt.

Just then Juanito and Jason came screeching in with red lights and siren, right behind them a Forest Service truck with light and siren skidded to a stop and a huge Roger jumped out.

Jason grabbed him and pointed, "That's Danny!"

Roger bounded up the steps in a single leap, wrapped his arms around Juan and said, "Dad, we are complete now"

He then pulled his Dad and Danny in the door.

By now, the whole town had been alerted, Anita sprinted to Juan's house, John canceled court and James was told to go home NOW from school!

Danny went back out to his car and retrieved his Family, it was then that Juan noticed the pinned sleeve.

James came running in the door and was quickly appraised of what was happening.

He stepped into the kitchen and made a quick phone call to a room in the Senior's Barracks at West Point, "Phillip, Dad's Boy, Danny came home, I call ya back later!, Bye"

He then told the operator he wanted a transatlantic call to the US Navy Base at Rota, Spain. When the young sailor manning the telephones at the Navy Base came on the line, James said, "This is Lt. Moralis' brother please have him call home immediately, his missing brother, Danny, just came home!"

Carlos came running in the back door, he had been teaching at the Elementary School and just got the word!

Danny and Juan were not saying anything, just gazing into each other's eyes. It would be several days before it was all sorted out.

Danny had been retired from active duty in the Army because of his injuries incurred during a terrorist raid in Beirut.

He just wanted to find his Dad, his Mother had been so hateful, he had always been afraid to look Juan up.

Roger looked down at the man, "Danny, you can have no idea just how wrong she was. If a man could walk on water, it would be Dad! Let me tell you what he is like."

Roger went on telling Danny all the things Juan had done, the boys he had saved, the town he has rescued from oblivion, the Boy's Home, the Schools, the scholarships, everything.

By the time Roger had finished, Danny was weeping.

Roger put his arm around him and said, "Danny, you are home now, stay here with us, get to know us, get to know Dad. It's a good place to live and bring up those nephews of mine, BROTHER!"

At that, Danny completely lost control and collapsed on the couch heaving great racking sobs, "So long, so much."

When he recovered, he brought his wife to Juan, "Dad, this is my wife, Martha, and our sons George and Carey, twins and Richard. May we stay here with you for a while, I think maybe we will find a place and live here. I saw a school and I am a qualified High School teacher."

He didn't see the gleam in his Dad's eye but he felt the arms of three brothers and an Uncle around his shoulders.

Anita and Martha became instant friends as soon they were in the kitchen concocting enough supper to feed everyone.

During the meal, the phone rang, it was Bobby.

Between Juan, Bobby and Danny, they tried to short out the world-wide communication system.

Both Roger and Juanito took two weeks leave, Phillip broke his budget calling every night and tying up the barracks phone from West Point.

The Superior Court Calendar was cancelled for nearly a month!

It turned out that there really was an opening for a Math and Science teacher at the High School, Danny was hired immediately and they built a house very near Juan's.

Juan was in High Heaven, three grandchildren to spoil, right in his own backyard.

The next event was Phillip's Graduation from West Point. He graduated first in his classs.

Juan got everyone back there for the graduation ceremony, Now, he had only James to finish school. James was headed to Texas A&M, he had a scholarship to major in plant genetics.

The years seemed to fly by, Danny's boys were soon back in school and doing as well as their cousins before them.

Bobby and Charlotte came home on leave before he was transferred to Japan. First Lieutenant Robert Moralis proudly showed off his new son, Edward Juan to everyone in town.

All too soon, the young family headed to Japan for a two year assignment.

Danny became a favorite teacher at the High School, he had inherited his Dad's personality and teachers and students alike thought he walked on water!

The smelter thrived and they installed a wire mill to make electric wire. Another 70 people were hired, there wasn't a house to be found in Hurley!

A third shift was needed at the mine in order to keep up with the improved smelter.

It seemed only a few months when Bobby and his family returned from Japan.

Phillip was also visiting, he was a Rhodes Scholar and had just been promoted to first Lieutenant.

Bobby was sporting new Captain's Bars when they arrived. Charlotte was expecting again and Bobby was being posted to Beirut, so it was decided that she and Edward would stay with Juan while he was in Beirut.

His thirty days leave went by at lightning speed and Bobby had to go.

The entire family accompanied Bobby to Las Cruces, it was well they did.

Juan went back to watching the news intently for any hint of trouble wherever one of HIS boys were!

James was appointed Director of a new laboratory owned by the Department of Agriculture.

The Home was again full and a new wing was started. When completed, they would have a capacity for 600 boys!

It was Juan's policy that they would take any boy from anywhere.

There were even a few who came on their own, John Peters always had a few Custody Forms in his pocket!

One dramatic arrival took place shortly after Bobby left; Juan was enjoying a stroll around the ground of the Home when he heard, "Shhhhh, somebody will hear you." Just then a small child started crying.

Juan knew trouble when he heard it, so he went searching through the shrubbery.

Finally, near the vent outlet from the laundry, where it was a little warmer, he found a teen boy and a toddler.

The teen looked up and threw his arms around the small child, screaming, "NO, he is my son, you cannot take him from me!"

Juan knelt down, holding the teen to prevent him from running, "Son, I wouldn't take this child from you but I would take you both inside and feed you. Please, come with me?"

At that, the teen burst into tears, "You're Mr. Juan, aren't you?"

Juan replied, "I guess so, but please come inside and let us help you both." He gently picked up the small child and led the teen inside.

Once inside, he called Joe Greer, their newly hired ex-Navy Corpsman. He handed the child to Joe, telling the teen that Joe was a medic and he would check the baby out and clean him up.

The teen was uncertain until Joe said, "Come on, you can help" Joe took them into the First Aid Room and proceeded to undress the small child.

The little boy was surprisingly clean and well cared for.

Juan sat down with the teen and said, He is your son?"

The teen replied, "Yes Sir, I got a girl in trouble and she refused to keep our baby. They were going to give him away, I couldn't let that happen, he is MY SON!"

He continued, "Here, look, these are his birth papers – that is my name where it says Father!"

Juan asked, "How old are you son?"

The boy replied, "I will be 18 in two weeks."

Juan made a decision, "Son, we are going to keep you here until you are 18, then we will notify the authorities and tell them you are working here as a groundskeeper!"

He turned to Joe saying, "No record for two weeks!"

The teen flew into Juan's arms crying in relief. He related that some students at the University, where he had hid out for a couple of days, had told him about The Home and Mr. Juan.

He said that his name was Eric Halterman and he had named his son Eric, Jr. Eric would work keeping the grounds neat and trimmed until his retirement.

The little boy soon became a favorite of the boys, before he was 5 years old he was a fierce competitor on the ball field and would become a minor league hero after graduating from High School.

Charlotte had her baby, a little girl who sported the family curse, RED HAIR! They named her Gail Edwina and they were sure that they were going to be forced to fight off every boy in the county!

As it was, there WERE several fights to see who was going to baby-sit!

Bobby's tour in Beirut was extended, he was promoted to Major and was the Battalion Executive Officer.

With the news coming out of that awful place, Juan's nerves were worn nearly to a frazzle.

Phillip came home sporting new Captain's bars and assignment to the Pentagon.

Roger was transferred to the headquarters of the Department of the Interior and Juanito was elected County Sheriff. Carlos became the Elementary School Principal and Amanda Gorman retired as High School Principal and was replaced by David Fellows, a young combat veteran who Juan had hired a few years earlier as a Social Studies Teacher.

James completed requirements at the University of Arizona for his doctorate in Plant Genetics.

On a sleepy Sunday afternoon, towards the end of June, 1996 Juan was dozing on the new porch swing his children had given him for his 56 th birthday the day before.

A large black sedan drove up and a senior Navy Officer got out of the car, Juan's chest clutched in fear and he began to tremble, "Dear God, no" he silently screamed.

Lt. Colonel Robert Edward Moralis, USMC, had been killed in the bombing of the .Marine Barracks in Beirut.

Juan screamed and collapsed on the floor.

Anita had been in the kitchen talking with Charlotte, both women came running.

Charlotte and Juan had to be put to bed and sedated.

The outpouring of grief in that small town was at flood level.

The smelter shut down so that the employees might attend the funeral.

The High School JROTC Honor Guard and Colors Team, under the command of Juanito's son, Juan Robert Moralis led the solemn march from the rotunda of Moralis High School to the family plot located in the Hurley Cemetery.

Friends and dignitaries from all over the country flooded into Hurley.

Bobby's Brothers were the pallbearers and a distraught Juan had to be helped during the procession.

Charlotte clung to her babies and put on a strong front for their sakes.

It would be many months before either of them could regain their emotional balance.

Phillip, now a US Army Major, gave the eulogy, "Today we bury our Beloved Brother, Wonderful Son, Incredible Nephew and Friend beyond compare."

Turning to Charlotte, he continued, "As hard as this is, we know that Robert Edward Moralis lives on in his Wife and in his Children. He leaves a legacy of valor and integrity, honor and fidelity that will live on."

Then turning to Juan, he continued, "Bobby was a unique man, nurtured by his Father and sent forth in this world that the rest of us might be safe. Dad, that is not Bobby in the casket, it is only his husk. His essence is all around us, in the air, in the sky, in our people. Take joy that Bobby gave up his life so that the rest of us might remain safe in our beds tonight."

Phillip then knelt and kissed the casket of his beloved brother and said, "Goodbye for now, Brother."

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