Thursday, July 21, 2011

Oh Pueblo!

Texas Roadhouse and They Are Great!
 Pueblo, I have heard a lot about this place in Colorado. I had in my head that this was probably the ugliest town in the whole state. Our hotel looked nice and we had a wonderful dinner at the Texas Roadhouse. We knew ahead of time that The Texas Roadhouse dishes-out large portions, so Steve and I split our dinner. Perfect--I still left a whole baked potato with everything on it. This place even had the "pickle-os" that we'd heard so much about. Yep. I liked 'em.

We had taken pictures of the breathtaking sunset and still the place looked a bit like a prairie town but it did have some hills. It didn't take me long before I was hinting at a bit of dessert not desert, and it was that too, but something sweet.

Prettiest Picture of Pueblo
 "YES!" Yogurt, it would be perfect and found ourselves downtown in the evening in old town and I have to admit, was really becoming quite a (somewhat) restored place, with the river-walk and small shops. I loved it. I could tell there was a boardwalk back in the old days. The sidewalk and the store fronts don't meet together in any fashion, easy to figure. There's a step-up or two, to enter each business. That's scary for Steve and I, because in Southern California, I don't think I know of one town that has these kinds of entrances. It took a lot to remember to step-down and then down again, in the dark. One mistaken step could've been one very jolting experience to say the least. Please Pueblo, you need better downtown lights.  I looked at the tall buildings and for a minute thought of my great grandfather, Emmett Charles O'Connor the Irish railroad worker and probably his father, Charles O'Connor and my great, great grandmother Mary McCarty, and they must have come right where I was standing for  groceries, haircuts, or for a stroll downtown.  It felt a bit weird to stand in a spot and to ponder all of those "maybes"

My great great grandmother, Mary Ellen McCarty

Morning: July 18th
And then, we woke-up! Oh Dustin, I'm so sorry you were here in Pueblo for so long on your mission. This is where Dustin was a Zone Leader and he did travel a lot, but out his window was the non-working and rusty steel mill and the old railroad yards.

The Newer East Side of Old Downtown

 Pueblo was industrial city, but it must be worse because so much has stopped. The depression in our economy makes this all plain and simple ... big city, ugly. I know my son did a huge amount of missionary of work here, but it was darn hard. I did get the traditional Christmas card with he and his companion (backs to the camera) in the snow just walking down railroad tracks. I didn't realize, but should have known. My great grandfather was a railroad worker and was here in Pueblo for years and unbeknownst to my son, Dustin passed his cemetery everyday. Emmett Charles O'Connor is buried in the Catholic cemetery just a couple blocks from where Dustin was living.

 Great Grandpa O'Connor's name is spelled wrong.
It's Emmett (not "L") Charles O'Connor 
and the cause of his death was lip cancer.

Lesson: Do not smoke or chew tobacco!

Section 55 and in the center and a couple rows back from the lane

I wonder how many times Dustin passed-by the orphanage that held his own favorite great-grandfather, Frank Charles O'Connor.

This is the gate to the orphanage and just blocks from
where my son served the end-part of his mission.
How many times did Dustin pass-by here? I'm guessing, many

Grandpa Leprechaun (Dustin's own made-up name for
my very short Irish grandpa) Grandpa O'Connor was
known as "Grandpa Leprechaun" by my children.

Steve and I visited the Sacred Heart Orphanage. A description of it would be, in my head, a place of torture and a scary place for very young boys that happened to be of the wrong nationality, Irish. My census records shows my grandfather and my two uncles with their names and listed as only 11 years old, (my grandfather) Uncle Everett as 8 years old, and Uncle Jess, as only 3 years old.

How My Children Remember my Grandfather and his two brothers.

 The picture above is Grandpa O'Connor, Jess O'Connor. and Everett O'Connor (He's got his silly face going) but I used this picture because that's how we all remember him. So funny...he had some really crazy stories about growing-up. He didn't talk about sad stuff except the time when he had a freezing cold rear-end and he opened his long underwear and backed into to tall hot heating stove. Uncle Everett has Chicago, Ill. burnt on his butt, backwards. He was serious and we tried to all be serious until he said, "Do you want to see it?" and we burst out laughing. My Uncle Everett was branded!

Sacred Heart Orphanage (not good)

As I look as the pictures of the orphanage I can just imagine that the little Asian children were treated equally harsh, but weren't as feisty as my grandfather and my two uncles. They lived there while their dad worked and their dad paid for their keep. I don't think he knew how abused the children were that lived there. I have to add here that the children that were the offspring of the nuns (and had German names) like the German nuns, they were treated very differently. The boys lived at the top of the orphanage, the very top, because my grandfather and uncles kept trying to escape. Grandpa O'Connor said they would OFTEN slide down the rain gutters and try and get over the high fence around the yard.

See On The Side of The Building, how small the rain gutters were.

My grandfather and uncles were on the 4th floor at the top.
 I can't even imagine the treatment they must have had, to try and go down those cold rain gutters, four stories off the ground. Uncle Jess, especially. Three years old! *gasp* There were truly angels watching over them.  The brothers were not successful in their escapes. I read a story about another who had been a child resident at the same orphanage on She also told of the horrible stories that she had endured there. I never doubted my family, but it makes me sad to hear so many had such a sad childhood and endured the abuse from mean-spirited nuns and priests.

The Sacred Heart Orphanage is an apartment house now, and I was asked if I wanted to go inside. I should've gone. But, seeing how tall this place was and the danger my two uncles and grandfather went through so often to get-out, I don't think my heart was strong enough. I cried for them. There's a happy part to this because someone in the family  had connections with a Bishop in the Catholic Church. My mom (this is my mom's father) said that a Bishop and believed to be Grandpa O'Connor's uncle, lived in Chicago. The boys were pulled-out of there and sent to Palisade, Colorado and transferred to the orphanage there. My grandfather talked of the orphanage in Palisade like it was finally his family. He said the French nuns were completely different. The nuns were sweet and caring and he loved it there. Grandpa said he had great memories of his stay there. Of course, it wasn't a long stay because in a couple years he had to go to work in the silver mines as a teenager. Once you're a teenager, you're on your own.

I was writing, my daughter text messages about the nuns in Pueblo,
and my spell check changed the nuns to "Ninjas" not far-off!

It was still burning hot outside and not fun walking through all the cemeteries in the whole town. I felt blessed to find Emmett O'Connor and thankfully he was easy to find in Section 55. The date of death was 1924, and the desk had his exact place on their computer. I was grateful for the office helping us. No kidding, this was the last place to find him because it was the only cemetery left in town we had not scoured and I wasn't to keen in the hot sun. Does 106 degrees just float across all the central states, all summer?

Yes, my missionary went up on the high bridge
As we were leaving and going on to Canon City, I remembered that Dustin loved Canon City. I had originally had a vision of the most horrid of places, housing of so many of the most old and now, the most recent notorious of prisoners. I thought it was a place of just big prisons. Here again, I should have studied more about Canon City, Colorado.  I recalled that my uncle, Frank O'Connor Jr. said that some of our great, great uncles were stone cutters and stone masons and worked in Canon City, Colorado at the turn of the century. I did find their names on the Internet and yes, there's still O'Connors that live there. I know why this town is known for it's workmanship on the buildings.

Only thought prisons were here. Old home that housed the warden
What a gorgeous town! I'm very proud of the elaborate craftsmanship that my family left for us to enjoy and appreciate. The whole town seemed to be cut of pale limestone rock. It's was like sunshine and really a beautiful town. This whole place was filled-to-the-brim with tourists.

The canyon had another surprise. The Arkansas River, again! Is this maybe the headwaters of the river? We have seen a lot of this river. Back a few years ago, we crossed it to see Bree in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  I think I need to find more information on where it starts and where all this water comes from. Now there's rafting, and horseback riding, hiking trails, and tours everywhere.

NOT AFRAID and I know why!

Wildlife is everywhere and fill the mountains and they're not afraid, even the big raptor birds.Did I see an actual Bald Eagle? I don't know what all of them were, but it was wonderful. I think we met a Marmot or was it a Woodchuck? Oh, then it could be Ground Hog?

Canyonland scenery is picturesque and that's an understatement because nowadays one place gets a dozen shots from my Canon Camera. I've gotta' slow-down or really delete. The mountains are fantastic and the forest is like real 3-D! I don't think I should describe it that way but the Blue Spruce and the green pines and then the Aspens together--there are no words to describe Southwestern Colorado.

The barns, oh the barns! So different and unique. I think I've decided that Colorado has the best in the west!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, I was doing some research on this Sacred Heart Orphanage and found your travel blog. Fun, but what was really exciting was that you are descended from Emmett O'Connor. This family is my main interest!

Tell me, do you know the full name of the wife and mother to Frank, Everet and Jess? And any other information (I see censuses list her as Ida Belle but some family trees state she is Ida Adame who died in 1913.

I have a long story to tell and looking to find an ending. Would you mind emailing me and maybe you can help me find the right Ida Adams. Thank you
Elaine Homan,