John Dennis Fitzgerald of Price, Utah had three dreams in life. He wanted to be a professional musician, a writer, and to see the world. By the time he was 48 he had achieved two of dreams. Yet the dream that mattered most, being a writer, eluded him.
It wasn't for lack of trying. He had spent years writing for newspapers. He had more than 300 short stories in print under his name or a pen name, but it wasn't enough. He'd even holed himself up in cabin in Denver ambitiously trying to write a novel. Near starvation killed that dream.
"It got down to one Thanksgiving Day when my wife and I had pancakes without syrup for our Thanksgiving dinner. I hocked my typewriter, swore I would never write again, and I got a job in a bank."
What John didn't know was his dream story was just around the corner. Unfortunately, death needed to take a hand for the dream to materialize.
Death Takes a Hand
August 6, 1940, Mrs. Thomas Fitzgerald, of Price, Utah, died. She had been a widow for three years. Likely three years, too long, if you asked her. Her beloved Thomas, had passed away in 1937. They had been a dynamic couple in their community. Their tiny town had blossomed abundantly since they first met. In every aspect they had contributed to the towns successful growth and development.
Their son John Dennis had lived with the experiences so long, he was blind to the story potential their lives had. Mamma, as her family called her, had seen the potential and asked him when he was around 13 years old to someday write the story of "the little people who built the West." However, John had completely forgotten her request. Fate though had not forgotten. Destiny would make its play after Mrs. Fitzgerald's funeral.
Following the service the six Fitzgerald children would participate in the necessary ritual of clearing out the house. The home their parents had lived in was not the same one John and his older siblings had lived in. That house was long gone. This house had been his parents in later years. Perhaps his younger siblings had lived there but by 1940 they both lived on their own. The job of clearing seemed pretty straightforward. That was until they found "Five trunks of souvenirs, carefully labeled." As the siblings unpacked the contents the latent story that John was destined to write came to the surface. All the bygone treasures ignited the memories needed to keep his promise to Mamma. Unfortunately, a world war was rising and book writing would be shelved for another decade and a half.
A Family History
John had taken copious notes of the contents of the trunks. While they were unpacking he and his siblings told the stories to match the items. By the end of the house cleaning trip, John had a pack of notes. He gave them to his sister, Belle. She had the highest education in the family. She was a school teacher. And of course was the oldest sibling. It was only right that she keep them. When she moved, she sent them to John. John took them and determined that they should be typed as a family history for his nieces and nephews. One night, when his wife was reading the typed notes, she mentioned they would make a great story. After some thought, John agreed. He took a chance on a dream he had abandoned years before. This time the result was different. In November of 1955, John Dennis Fitzgerald fulfilled his final dream. His first book in a Western family saga, Papa Married a Mormon was published and became a publishing house bestseller.
Is to share the history that inspired his works. I hope you will follow along.