For decades, Taylor’s Acre was a special corner of Colorado Springs near Fillmore Street and Templeton Gap Road.
It was a tiny farm surrounded by the city. A place roosters crowed, drowned out by the roar of traffic to nearby fast-food joints, pawn shops and medical office buildings. A place where passers-by were greeted by donkeys Twinkle Star and Applejuice and words of inspiration painted on a barn.
It was, to be precise, C. Bob and Dessie Taylor’s acre. It’s where they bought an old stone ranch house in 1960 and made it their home, raised their four boys and two daughters and where the kids raised hell with dance and pool parties.
It was a place of refuge, too, when cancer struck Dessie in 1971, when tragedy claimed daughter Dessie Bob in 1980 and then cancer took her beloved C. Bob in 1996 after 56 years of marriage.
I met Dessie in August 2002, sitting under her cottonless cottonwood tree. The matriarch of the Taylor clan was 82 then and melancholy.
I was curious about the big sign on the barn which declared: “What we do in life echoes in eternity.” Quickly I discovered the barn was just one of many signs that punctuated Dessie’s life.
As I walked to the gate, I was greeted by a small “Taylor’s Acre” sign.
And “Absolutely no city inspectors.”
Finally: “No Bibles.”
They were no-nonsense directives. Kind of like Dessie.
I asked about the barn and learned it was painted each summer with a new musing, proverb or exhortation.
The first went up in 1972 after Dessie survived a brain tumor even though doctors had given her just weeks to live. The clan threw a party and painted the barn: “We are proud to be Americans.”
The tradition was born.
Each year, the barn’s message changed, kind of the way the spider saved Wilbur the pig in “Charlotte’s Web.”
But we all know how the classic childrens’ book ended . . . Charlotte died.
Now, Taylor’s Acre is dying, as well.
Twinkle Star died years ago. In 2009, Dessie died too. She’d spent years of loneliness rattling around on her acre, longing for C. Bob and her children, now scattered.
Applejuice went to live on a farm in Fountain and the farmhouse was cleaned out of all her figurines with the words of love she gave C. Bob. Gone, too, are her ceramic turtles, C. Bob’s treasured rock collection and all the family photos.
There’s little to remind anyone of all the life that occurred on Taylor’s Acre.
Soon, nothing will be left. The property is for sale and plans call for a medical office building. (Here’s a link to the application filed with the city’s Land Use Review office.)
It makes the barn’s final painting so appropriate.
It’s painted in a sunset and inscribed: “Vaya con Dios.”
Go with God, indeed.