After chasing up on the local priest, Jackie and Ronnie eventually bought what is called El Prado de La Virgen – The Virgin’s Prarie. For the next couple of years, they employed all the young and not so young men in the village and as far away as Riaza, which in those days was as remote as Grado del Pico, to erect their house, and the kennels for Jackie’s stray dogs.
On 24th September, 1966, Jackie and Ronnie proudly inaugurated their country home, inviting family and friends from the American base in Torrejón and of course France. That big party was soon followed by a Thanksgiving Day’s feast, and the events of that day are worth putting down in words.
Jackie’s faithful maid was still with her, six years after naughty Noggie had led his owner to the enchanted spot where the American’s house was finally built. Alas, Pili was not to be faithful to Jackie for very long.
During the meal of roast turkey and peacan pie, Jackie noticed that Pili was no longer around to continue serving the table. But not only had Pili disappeared, but also Johnnie, Ronnie’s best buddy in the army. It wasn’t until a couple of hours had passed that both turned up hand in hand announcing to the astounded American gathering, their engagement!
Pili soon left Jackie’s household and married Johnnie, who spoke as much Spanish as Pili did English. Despite not having a language in common other than that of love, the couple lived out the rest of their lives blissfully together, travelling between the States and Spain.
There was a big age gap between the couple and unfortunately Johnnie was sadly taken away from Pili just a few years ago at the ripe old age of 86. His widow lives in Madrid, only going to Grado del Pico in the summer. She still recalls that Thanksgiving Day when she stole away from her señora and fell into the arms of Johnnie, her American soldier!
Who was to imagine that such a love story could ever have taken place in the remote and bucolic Grado del Pico in the sixties?