Published Dec. 22, 2011

Copyright by The Colorado Springs Gazette

SIDE STREETS: Vaya con Dios, Dessie and C. Bob Taylor


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In this 2002 photo, Dessie Taylor, 82, posed with her donkey, Applejuice, in front of her barn and one of its famous murals, painted with an inspirational message. The family made it an annual tradition to paint a new mural on the barn. Photo by Bryan Oller / The Gazette

By Bill Vogrin


For years, Taylor’s Acre was a special corner of Colorado Springs.

It was a tiny farm at Fillmore Street and Templeton Gap Road 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 and made it their home in 1960, 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 Taylor clan matriarch was 82 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.

Then “No Trespassing.”

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.

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Dessie Taylor in 2002


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 in Fountain and the Taylor 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.

The little acre Dessie and C. Bob created and fought to preserve when city annexation came in 1980 soon will disappear. Like them.

It makes the barn’s final painting so appropriate.

It’s a sunset inscribed: “Vaya con Dios.”

Go with God, indeed.

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