Craig Scott Mc Dole (“Cragie” to his close friends and “Goyo” to his Mexican buddies) passed away on Friday night April 17, 2015 at Echauri Hospital. This past year was a difficult one for him as a result of health reasons. But he never lost his humor, his laughter, his smile or his style. (Oh…did I mention those bright yellow shoes he loved to wear!)
Craig was born in Chicago, IL on July 10, 1947 and moved to Tampa, Florida with his family when he was seven years old. (His falling down the coal chute, one cold wintery morning at his grandmother’s house, might have had something to do with that familial, southerly migration!)
He graduated from Brandon High School, and often told the story of his Spanish teacher going around the class giving Spanish names to each student…”Mary you are Maria”, “Robert you are “Roberto”, and when he answered his name was “Craig”… she said “Caramba! From now on your name is Diego”. Of course he passed the class because the teacher (as did we all) fast fell in love with his effervescent – Love for Life – personality.
He went on to study art and design at the Sarasota Ringling School of Art – famous for its art and design program – and continued his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. Many were not familiar with the fact that he was an excellent artist and painter. Early on in this experience, as could have almost been predicted, he told his mother he wanted to become a clown… you know, with the Ringling Brothers Circus also in Sarasota. Suffice it to say, she put a quick stop to that!
After College he worked for some highly regarded design studios in Philadelphia and Washington DC, but Craig, “forever the free spirit”, was always hopping to events with his friends around the country, from Los Angeles to New York to Washington DC. He simply loved to travel, be adventurous and was never afraid to travel alone. He explored Europe, South America and Northern Africa. (Somewhere along these travels, he made a stop in Amsterdam where he ended up with a full length rabbit coat. And then there was that incident when he fell asleep on a train in West Berlin and somehow, undetected, ended up in communist East Berlin, where their authorities were not particularly pleased!)
By the way, some of those earlier mentioned friends were race horse owners and I (Steven, Craig’s Life Partner of more than 35 years) working at that time in the horse racing industry knew many of them – numerous of whom were friends of Craig’s. In January 1980 I was invited to go to a New Year’s Eve party in DC by a mutual friend. Not being the party type, I reluctantly agreed to meet at his Capitol Hill house, before going on to the party. But once I had arrived, they opened the door and there sat Craig, next to the fireplace.
With beautiful long blond hair parted in the middle, bronze toner on his face and “dressed to the nines” in a bright colored outfit, he was quite the sight to behold! We all went on to the party. But once there, the two of us stood in the kitchen and talked all night. From that night our lives were forever one, with us soon renting our first apartment together on Capitol Hill.
Our lives dramatically changed when in 1981 Craig was shot in the mouth by a robber at our front door necessitating many operations at Georgetown University Hospital. (Oh how he enjoyed telling people that at the same time he was in the hospital President Regan was on the floor above and James Brady on his floor.)
Shortly afterwards we moved and settled in Annapolis, Maryland buying our first house in October 1981 . . . the month we “closed” the mortgage rates hit an all-time high, never to have been surpassed! What fun experiences we shared and the surprises he provided – like the time when I returned from out of town work to have jaw drop in utter astonishment in seeing that he had demolished an entire exterior wall of the house in order to expand the living room. “Permit? We need a permit!” How he enjoyed fixing up, renovating and decorating houses. It became our modus operandi during our twenty some years living in and around Annapolis.
Craig worked in design for retail stores around the Washington Beltway and also owned and operated “The Gift Horse”, an upscale retail store on Maryland Avenue in Annapolis, between The State House and The Naval Academy. He sold The Gift Horse and decided to retire early . . . . OK, OK …he simply wanted us to enjoy life more, hence it seemed logical to simply quit working!
Craig loved his dog “Kirk”, a big, beautiful Springer Spaniel mix. He was part of our family for 15 years but was a little hyper around other dogs – and a few folks who acted like dogs! This nervous excitement was particularly manifest when Craig would take him to the veterinary. So the vet always provided Craig with a “calm down” pill for him to give to Kirk before arriving at the vet’s office. He would faithfully so comply – giving Kirk one-half of the pill and then taking the other half himself. That’s God’s honest truth!
In those days, I was a real estate lawyer and exhausted with my work pace and told Craig I wanted to retire early (OK – like him – quit working!) Craig agreed, but on the condition that we retire outside the United States. Appropriately, in all of our travels especially in Central and South America we had been searching for such a place. Although we had visited Mexico before, we never really thought about retiring here. A friend of Craig’s suggested he look up Mazatlan, but Craig by mistake found Manzanillo and there the story takes a turn.
On the internet it looked like a place that we might like…except, where was the darned power plant that kept being mentioned in all the articles? So in 2005 we booked a flight for the sole purpose of buying a retirement property. Remember we had never visited Manzanillo, we had but only one week and it was one of those extremely hot and humid weeks in July.
Craig booked a room at Hotel La Posada, because Lisa, one of the hotel owners, shared his Tampa connection. He woke me our first morning in Manzanillo loudly telling me to come look out the window at all the Navy Guys on the beach – it seemed like a return to Annapolis!
As we were looking for property, the hotel owner recommended we contact Candy King and the rest is retirement history. By Friday of that week we had submitted an offer to buy a condo over-looking Manzanillo Bay. On Saturday in a taxi on our way to the airport we received a call from Candy that our offer had been accepted – it was like being on HGTV!
By 2010 we were living in our newly build house on Club de Yates, overlooking the Santiago Bay and Pacific Ocean. We pinched ourselves every morning in reminder that it was not a dream.
What Craig enjoyed most about Mexico were his Mexican buddies, whether entertaining them at home, having his favorite drink with them at the local bar, cheering with them on a futbol game or playing and dancing along with them to Banda music – his favorite Mexican music. He was “Goyo” to them, saying that he was more Mexican then they were! Indeed, Craig was generous and never judged anyone based on their status in life.
He enjoyed life and left the worrying to me. I wrote in his USA obituary that Craig was like Peter Pan…he never wanted to grow up and, hence, he never did! Accordingly, it seems most apt that he was always singing the lyrics to the song from Peter Pan. ”I Don’t Want To Grow Up, I Don’t Want To Grow Up………..Not Me! Not I”.
I know this story started about “Craig”, then “Me”, then “We”…. but….the final story is the wonder and enjoyment of the “We”.
(Oh…did I mention the Yellow Shoes!)
Manzanillo Sun’s eMagazine written by local authors about living in Manzanillo and Mexico, since 2009