This book is a Christian romance that spans the years from 1923 until 1946. The two main characters, Eleanor and Jim, live in a large house on a hill in Hancock, Missouri. They endure heartache and hardships along the way, all the while raising four beautiful daughters. Even though the majority of the family are Christians, Jim wants nothing to do with religion.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.29(d)|
Read an Excerpt
A Christian Romance
By Barbara J. Kacer
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 Barbara J. Kacer
All rights reserved.
"As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15
Jim Gaylord was a wealthy, big and brawny man, who could be rough when he needed to be, and many people thought him handsome as well. But if you really knew him, as his family and close associates did, you forgot all these traits as they were taken over by his power to dominate people. He had been born, as they say, with a silver spoon in his mouth, being the sole male heir to Thomas R. Gaylord, the founder and owner of Gaylord Department Stores. Starting with one small store in downtown Hancock, Missouri, during the early 1900's, Thomas and Grace Gaylord had built up a large business, while also raising four children, Jim and his three younger sisters. By the time Jim was ten years old the family had opened three more stores.
As he grew up, Jim worked in every area of each store, learning the business from the inside out, but he wasn't at all content with just this. After he graduated high school he enrolled at Missouri State University, where he studied Law. He didn't want to become a lawyer, but simply wanted to gain more knowledge in Accounting, Business Management and girls. The campus was located some sixty miles from Hancock, right near Springfield, so it was no problem to motor home each weekend with several of his buddies who lived near him in Hancock. However, while these friends lived near him, no one lived quite like him or any of the Gaylords. For the Gaylords lived on Temple Hill, which was actually such a large hill it sometimes seemed more like a mountain. Their huge, mansion type home sat atop the highest point of the hill; in fact, it was the only home up there.
Thomas Gaylord had built this beautiful home for his wife Grace, shortly after their marriage. He had taken out a large loan and even a second mortgage, but it had been worth it to see Grace's face when she first beheld it. Jim had been born just six months after they had moved into Temple Hill so he grew up taking the luxury of his home for granted.
He would venture home each weekend possible, with his mind full of facts and figures and once in a while he would look around and see some of the beauty of his home. But most of the time, he was too busy.
Although Grace and Thomas were growing older, they were still in their prime and the senior Mr. Gaylord was shrewd and calloused. He bestowed money and all kinds of material possessions on Jim and his daughters, but in turn wanted something from them, their love and respect. However, he didn't have much time to return that love or give them much attention.
In spite of this, all four children loved and respected their father. He was the boss. Therefore, Jim was working hard at college to prove to his dad that he could take over the business someday, as by then Gaylord Department Store had expanded to Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. And now Thomas Gaylord was dabbling in stocks and even had an oil well. Indeed, Jim had a silver spoon.
When Jim was in his third year of school he met blonde, vivacious Eleanor and immediately knew he wanted to marry her. She wasn't the type of girl you would fool around with either; you could kiss her but that was all. As much as he desired her, Jim knew he would get nowhere without marriage. But the main reason he wanted to marry her was because he was in love with her.
He brought Eleanor to Temple Hill one hot weekend in September 1921, when they were both 21 years old. He could see she was impressed with the splendor and extravagance of his home, but it proved to be a bad choice of weekends. It seemed Grace was too busy getting ready for her eldest daughter's wedding and didn't have the time for entertaining guests. Jim's sister Gloria was to be married in their garden, overlooking the grassy, steep slope jutting down to the fast moving Mississippi River, in just two weeks.
So, Jim had entertained Eleanor all weekend with stories of how the house on Temple Hill had originated and received its name. At first his dad had planned on having just two floors with servant's quarters on the lower level. But, as he made money he got so carried away the house began to expand even before it was started.
Hancock, situated on the Mississippi River, was the logical place to build as Jim's grandparents had lived just five miles outside of town for the past fifty years. They had died many years earlier but had lived to see their son and daughter-in-law build a business and home together.
Thomas had always loved to hunt and hike and as a young lad he remembered one particularly beautiful hilly area where his dad would always take him. One Sunday he packed Grace up in their horse-drawn buggy and they rode around looking for this special site. They were living in town then, behind the store, and Grace was suspicious that she was pregnant. She hadn't been feeling well for the past week and now, as Thomas led the horse up and down and around hills and curves, she began to get sick. It was much to her relief when they reached the top of a grass and pine tree covered hill, or to her it seemed more like a small mountain.
"Why, this is fantastic! It's so beautiful!" she exclaimed, even forgetting her nausea for a few moments. "Someone should build a temple of worship up here."
Thus it was when their house was completed it was called Temple Hill.
Eleanor had been interested and appreciative of Jim's storytelling as it made his home so much more interesting to her.
It was built like a fort, with stone and brick shaping the foundation and continuing up to the start of its shingled roof. It had a cupola or widow's walk on top of the left side of the house. A massive porch covered three quarters of the house and five columns stood on both sides of the massive front door which led into a big, impressive hallway. Curving around the front door and onto the side of the home were two large windows overlooking the mighty Mississippi River. Also on this side of the home stood another smaller door that led into a lower level with servant's quarters and a big wine cellar with abundant storage space. Large picture windows graced all three floors on this side of the house and french doors from the game room led out to a huge stone patio. Beyond the patio was a lovely garden sloping down towards the river and surrounded by low, brick walls.
The servant's quarters, for Ray and Louise, were located above the stables at the back of the house. They would leave the big house each night by way of a back door off the kitchen. After ascending a small porch and a short gravel path, they came to a carriage house, a large garage and the stables. A little farther down the path stood an old, unused outhouse, as several water closets had been added to the house at the turn of the century.
Several doors led off of the foyer in which hung a large, crystal chandelier, a full length mirror and a small hutch and table with a telephone. To the right, as you stepped down two stairs, was the living room; big, proper and carpeted in white, while all the furniture was upholstered in blue. Beyond the living room was a formal dining room and then the library with a huge, brick fireplace, leather couch and chairs to match.
To the left of the foyer was an office, spacious yet cozy with yet another fireplace. Here the rugs were brown and masculine. This was Thomas' room, later to be Jim's. Next came the large, sunny music room with its piano, organ and even a harp. A large picture window exposed the side of the house with its many trees; pines, weeping willows and oaks. If you looked hard enough you could see where the hilly ridge began to slope gradually toward the river. The front window of the room held more of the same with the flower garden seen out the back window. Jim and his sisters had all taken various music lessons from a private teacher who came to Temple Hill, just as Jim's children were to do later.
Behind the music room was another large area; the game room which was also used for all their parties and where they would hold Gloria's reception. An elegant bar lined one complete wall and several stools sat against it. The room also held a pool table and a ping pong table. French glass doors led outside to the immense, stone patio. Then the hallway led to the back of the house where a large kitchen and pantry were located.
As Thomas Gaylord loved horses, he kept six, one for each member of the family. He insisted on it even though Grace didn't ride. So even when the horseless carriage became popular and Thomas had two cars, he still kept his horses.
Because the stables were large, the quarters upstairs were more than adequate and comfortably housed Louise and Ray who, as man and wife, served in the capacity of housekeeper, cook, butler, as well as the family's chauffeur. Of course they also had help from Mollie and Paula, two maids who lived in the lower level of the house.
Upstairs in the main house, on the second floor, were four bedrooms with a bathroom in-between each two. These were besides the master suite which ran across the front width of the house and consisted of a large bedroom, sitting room, dressing room as well as its own bathroom. Each bedroom had a fireplace while on the third floor only two of the bedrooms had one. Therefore the other third floor bedrooms, being so difficult to heat, were only used in the summer months when needed.
Only two bathrooms graced the third floor which also held a small, dark storage area where Jim loved to explore. Even more fun was climbing up a steep, curved, open staircase leading from this room into the attic.
So Eleanor had seen all of Temple Hill and even came back two weeks later for Gloria's wedding.
Jim was one of the ushers and his younger sisters Carolyn and Char were bridesmaids. It was such a gala occasion. Thus, it was with champagne on his breath that Jim proposed to Eleanor that night after the happy couple left Temple Hill for their honeymoon in Europe, a present from Gloria's daddy.
Eleanor didn't take Jim's proposal seriously at first. After all, he had just been carried away by all the excitement of the ceremony and the festivities afterwards, so she didn't even bother giving him an answer.
But, as the school year progressed and he continued to pursue her, she was finally convinced he wanted her as his wife. She found him to be a dynamic, very appealing but domineering as well. She wasn't at all sure if she wanted to be dominated because she had always been her own woman, but she was putty in Jim's hands and she loved him.CHAPTER 2
Our citizenship is in heaven Philippians 3:20
Eleanor Jean Griffin was born on March 2, 1900, in Tulsa Oklahoma to parents old enough to be her grandparents. They had married late in life and had given up hope on having a family when Eleanor arrived fifteen years later. The Griffins were well off, owning their home, a large summer cottage and a row of apartment buildings.
Her mom, Rae Griffin, died when Eleanor was twelve, but Lowell Griffin had softened the blow by taking his daughter out of boarding school and travelling abroad with her for a year. This had put her back a year in school, which she later made up, but Mr. Griffin had been emphatic that the trip had helped them both to recover from their loved one's death. It had been enlightening, educational, fun and they had grown even closer to one another. Even though Lowell Griffin remarried a young widow just a few years after their trip, Eleanor always felt close to her father and most of that close bond came from travelling together for that year.
In June 1918, when Eleanor was eighteen years old, she made her social debut with the help of her stepmother, Cecily. Her slim, long-legged body and natural blonde, bobbed hair drew her much attention from all kinds of eligible males, but Eleanor hadn't been interested. She intended to go to Missouri State College and become a lawyer and she worked hard toward her goal those first two years at the university. She had many male friends but found none of them especially appealing; not until she met Jim Gaylord, that is.
She had heard his name mentioned many times by different girls in the dormitory and she had watched him play football, but had never really seen him up close or met him until their junior year. It was at a football victory celebration that she finally saw him and wondered, who is that handsome fellow?
The chemistry between them had been strong from the very beginning and although they had many things in common they had quarrels as well. Eleanor was headstrong and determined in her ways and Jim was used to getting his own way almost all of the time. She accused him of treating her like he most likely treated his younger sisters. "Do you think you are my boss?" she would ask him.
But making up was so much fun and many times she found her emotions getting out of control. If anyone could seduce her it would have been Jim, but she struggled with herself and he seemed to respect her for it. By the middle of their senior year, after several trips to Temple Hill, she knew Jim was the man that she had been saving herself for. Jim had persuaded her to forget about her dreams of becoming a lawyer and she could now look forward to one day being the mistress of that huge, overwhelmingly enchanting home, Temple Hill.
Mr. Griffin had been thrilled when Eleanor announced her engagement to Jim Gaylord.
"Eleanor certainly has outdone herself!" he exclaimed to his wife that same evening.
But Cecily was reluctant, being an independent sort herself, she answered, "That's wonderful news dear, but what about her career in law? Did she go to college for four years to end up doing nothing more than being a housewife?"
Eleanor eventually gave in easily to her father's wishes, prompted by Cecily and maybe, because she wanted a reprieve from Jim as well. She would work for a year in a prominent law office in Tulsa, while Jim slowly took over the reins of his father's business. At the end of a year Mr. Griffin would give his daughter a large, expensive wedding. Even without that promise however, Eleanor was thrilled!
It had taken quite a bit of coaxing and loving to persuade Jim that this was the best thing for both of them.
"I want you as my wife right now, he protested. Not a couple of hundred miles away working, when you don't have to!"
"But darling, it's what I want and need to do for myself!" "I need a breather before I'm a wife for the rest of my life. Besides, once we're married be prepared to have a large family!" she teased him.
Jim was finally convinced, especially since he really had no choice in the matter, and he reluctantly set up an apartment in Kansas City where he'd reside and run the business under the nose of his father's top aide, Jake Lareu. Eleanor would live with her dad and stepmother in Tulsa and they would be married in June 1923. She also promised Jim she would travel to Kansas City at least once for a visit, while he would motor to Tulsa whenever possible.
Before the year was over they were still engaged, but many things had changed. They had planned to build their own home right near Temple Hill, maybe right at the bottom of the hill in the valley. Jim had found several acres for sale and had drawn up plans for the new house within months of graduation.
But all plans were set aside when in November of 1922 Thomas Gaylord suffered a severe stroke. Jake Lareu was now indispensable to Jim who found himself travelling every few days between Kansas City, Chicago and St. Louis and eventually back to Hancock.
His first impulse was to stay at his father's side, as Thomas was at home in the master bedroom with a private nurse and a doctor coming in every day. Mrs. Gaylord never left his side, or so it seemed to the rest of the household, and Jim found her tired and pale each time he made it home. His father continued to go downhill and in December, right before Christmas, the doctor advised Grace Gaylord to call her daughters and son to their father's bedside.
Gloria, who was 8 months pregnant and terribly emotional, came with her husband from St. Louis. Carolyn was home from college for the holidays and Char, who was just sixteen was still at home and a sophomore in high school. Carolyn was devastated over her father's condition but was equally as excited about the engagement ring she wore.
Jim called Eleanor to come as well, "After all, you'll soon be part of this family and I need you, honey," he stammered over the phone. She had rushed to him as fast as possible, but arrived just a few hours too late. She found him in tears and they had held each other for a long time right in the middle of the train station where he picked her up.
During the ride from the station to Temple Hill, after he had gained his composure, he said something that really startled her. "Well Eleanor, it's happened too soon but Temple Hill is ours now. Mother will continue to live there but she'll be living with us, not us living with her. Honey, I'm now the master of Temple Hill!"
Excerpted from Temple Hill by Barbara J. Kacer. Copyright © 2016 Barbara J. Kacer. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.