Friday, 15 June 2012 14:08

Backing up La Bajada

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From June New Mexico Magazine; photo used illustrate a letter from Margaret Dixon Brown stating that her mother, Martha Brown, said that motorists had to back up La Bajada so that the gravity feed fuel pumps in Model-Ts would work.


   My mother’s family immigrated to the United States from Wales in 1914. This is my grandfather Gardiner’s Naturalization certificate when he became a US citizen in 1922. Apparently eightt years of residence were required. My mother became a derivative American citizen by virtue of marrying my dad prior to 1922...

Tuesday, 05 June 2012 15:56

Chama, New Mexico

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One of my memories of growing up in Santa Fe was spending two weeks every July in Chama. We stayed at the Little Creel Lodge. It was on the chama river that my dad taught me how to fly fish. I still have the two bamboo fly rods we fished with on the river and on other streams and rivers in New Mexico and Colorado. Back in the 1950's there was no internal plumbing in the cabins. You had to go down primrose path to get to the outhouse. I once locked my sister Linda and a friend of hers in the outhouse. I finally told my mother what I had done. Did I get a whipping from my dad when he got home that night!! I can remember getting up early in the morning and going first to the ice house for blocks of ice to keep food fresh, and then to the coal bin for coal to stoke the stove with. I also remember the fields of alfalfa we would play hide and seek in for hours and the walks into the town of Chama to get ice cream cones on hot July afternoons.


The love of fishing that my father instilled in me as a young boy has remained with me all of my life. Over the years I have fished the waters of the 10,000 islands in southwest Florida, as well as streams and rivers in Colorado, Wyoming, Georgia, North Carolina and Louisiana. My wife Marilyn and I are going to Alaska this July to fish for salmon and trophy trout. I have never cast a line on the water when I haven't thought about my dad. Of all the places I have fished, my boyhood time on the chama river in northern New Mexico will forever be holiest in my heart and soul.

Doug Wycoff

Santa Fe High School-1964

Monday, 04 June 2012 14:16

Santero Artist Ramon Montes

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An artist steeped in tradition

Ana Maria Trujillo | The New Mexican, Posted: Saturday, May 30, 2009  

Ramon Montes

The living room in Ramon Montes' house near the Railyard is filled with original pieces by Montes himself. Wooden carvings of La Virgen de Guadalupe and the Stations of the Cross hang proudly. A few kachinas can be spotted if one looks carefully. Framed Christmas trees made from his late wife's jewelry are displayed on stands on the dining room table. 

It's his work as a santero and a mentor to young artists, his heritage and his amazing life story that earned him a spot as a Living Treasure. According to the Living Treasures Committee, Montes, who was born and raised in Santa Fe, is a "true Santa Fean." 

Montes, 90, has been an artist since he was a little boy, he said. He still works a few hours every day, creating new things. 

His late father was a wood carver. One day, he took the boy aside, gave him his first knife and taught Montes the trade. 

In addition to carving, Montes started working when he was just a little boy. 

"When I was about 6 or 7 years old, my brother and I used to sell The New Mexican, and once a week we used to sell the Nuevo Mexicano," Montes said. He earned enough money — $7 — to purchase part of his first communion suit. 

"I got all my nickels and dimes and quarters and I had enough money to buy my jacket and pants," Montes remembers with a laugh. "My father and mother bought the rest. 

"I always worked," Montes added. "I worked all my life." 

He eventually joined the Civil Conservation Corps to help provide for his family when his father was sick with cancer. Every time he would receive his $30 check, he would send $25 home and keep $5 for himself. After two years, Montes had to leave as per the organization's requirement, and wait six months before returning. Within that six months, though, his life changed drastically. 

His parents died, leaving Montes in charge of his six younger siblings. Both his work ethic and his carving skills were utilized during this time. He worked to provide for his siblings and carved toys for them for every holiday and celebration. 

He created so many beautiful toys and cribs, in excess of what he needed for his siblings, that he showed his work to a couple who owned a furniture store downtown [where the Hilton Hotel is now]. The owners asked him to bring over everything he had so they could sell it. Shortly after Montes took over all his work, there was an explosion at the store, killing the owners and destroying his work. 

"That was the end of my woodworking," Montes said. "Everything I had was gone. The poor man was so good to me and they both died." 

Montes entered the Army during World War II. Before he left New York, a priest gave him a rosary, with which he prayed fervently for his safe return. He made a promise that if he returned safely, he would make a pilgrimage to Chimayó — a promise he kept when he returned home [walking in his combat boots through trails over the hills before there was a road like today]. Montes still prays with the rosary, twice a day. 

Also, when he returned home, Montes' grandfather convinced him he should began to carve again — but this time to carve something more meaningful. Montes drew on his faith and began carving santos. His house is filled with art because he doesn't sell it. 

He said he's witnessed the drastic change of Santa Fe — which had only about

10,000 residents when he was a boy. In his neighborhood, which now includes the Railyard, only Spanish was spoken. 

He said he doesn't know why he was chosen to be Living Treasure, but "It's a big honor."


How Manifest Destiny continues to adversely affect the Western States

The following figures reflect the amounts in acreage and percentage of land owned by the federal government in the ten states with the most government land:

State                                         Acreage                                             Percentage

Alaska                                   171.8 million                                             47.0%

Nevada                                   56.1 million                                             79.3%

California                               44.8 million                                             44.7%

Utah                                       33.9 million                                              64.3%

Idaho                                      33.0 million                                              62.3%

Oregon                                   31.8 million                                             51.64%

Arizona                                   31.3 million                                             43.1%

Wyoming                               31.0 million                                              50.0%

New Mexico                          26.2 million                                             33.7%

Montana                                 25.5 million                                             27.3%

Washington                            12.0 million                                             28.0% 

The following figures reflect the amounts in acres and percentage of land owned by the federal government in the eleven states with the least government land:

State                                             Acreage                                             Percentage

Iowa                                         29.6 thousand                                             .08%

Delaware                                 1.9  Thousand                                             .15%

Connecticut                              6.9 thousand                                            .22%

Rhode Island                            3.1 thousand                                             .49%

New York                              196.6 Thousand                                            .64%

Kansas                                   349.7 thousand                                             .67%

Maine                                    193.2 thousand                                             .97%

Nebraska                              514.9 thousand                                            1.05%

Ohio                                      279.6 thousand                                            1.07%

Massachusetts                      52.1 thousand                                            1.04%

Texas                                        2.0 million                                                  1.2%

Is it any wonder that the Western States are so poor? Consider how much better off we would be if the government only controlled one percent of the land in these states. Severence Tax revenues? Property tax revenues? Other income syphoned off by the federal government which is unavailable to our states during the past 100 years?

Friday, 01 June 2012 17:47

The Pond and Rio Chiquito

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In 1846, Lieutenants William H. Emory and Jeremy F. Gilmer, attached to Kearney's Army of the West, made this map of Santa Fe.  It shows a spring-fed pond behind La Parroquia (later to become Archbishop Lamy's garden) and the drainage into the Rio Chiquito, which became Water Street.

In 1859, nineteen year old Santa Fean John Watts wrote the following in his diary:

Sunday, May 22.  "We arose at 5. O'clock - I took a walk by myself but Howe, Sallie, and Willie Rencher went to the fish pond and took a skiff ride - the ladies did not walk with them."

Wednesday, May 25.  "To day has been rather warm, but still pleasant.  Howe and I went over to see the ladies this evening and intended to go with them down to the fish pond and row them over the pond but it was to windy.  However we went down but could not get the oars and therefore had no ride - Willie was with us."

The pond was a source of water, bathing and entertainment - and it was right off of the Plaza.

--Mike Lord

Friday, 01 June 2012 16:39

The Old Santa Fe Trail - Col. Henry Inman

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In 1896, Col. Henry Inman published this book detailing his experiences on the Santa Fe Trail.  It is a comprehensive history of the Trail from the 1840s through the 1890s, when the coming of the railroad ended its usefulness.  The best single book about the Trail that I've read.  You can find it here:

Monday, 28 May 2012 17:42

Lt. DeForest Lord, Jr. - 1944

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My dad, Lt. DeForest Lord Jr., US Navy, 1944. He died in 1975 from a brain tumor, most likely caused by radiation exposure he received while working as a contract dentist in Los Alamos.

In May, 1946, there was an accident involving a sphere of plutonium encased by two hollow half spheres of beryllium.  The lead scientist, Louis Slotin, was using a screwdriver to gradually bring together the two halves of beryllium and measure the radiation increase.  The test was called “tickling the dragon’s tail” because it was so dangerous and was being observed by 7 others in the room.  The screwdriver slipped and the pieces made full contact.   A blue light filled the room and Slotin felt a wave of heat over his body.  He manually separated the spheres and the reaction stopped.  My father later told me that he was called in to remove fillings, crowns and all metal work from the teeth of the participants so that doctors and scientists could determine how much radiation they had received and because, as my mom told me, "they were so hot."  Slotin died 9 days after the incident.  The plutonium core had also been involved in a previous accident in August, 1945, that killed scientist Harry Daglian.  It became known as the Demon Core.

Dad was a delayed casualty of WWII and I miss him still.  Thanks for your service.

--Mike Lord

Louis Slotin arms Gadget 7 16 45

Once the Gadget was in place at the top of the 100-foot steel tower, Dr. Louis Slotin did the final arming to prepare it for the test scheduled for very early morning on July 16, 1945.

Saturday, 26 May 2012 22:34

Levi A. Hughes at NMMI

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