Santa Fe (133)

Saturday, 28 November 2020 20:35

Christmas Windows In Santa Fe - 1960

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Before shopping malls, big box emporiums, and Amazon, Santa Fe stores like Sebastian's Firestone and Cartwright's Hardware carried a wide diversity of products.  In addition to tires, Sebastian's sold appliances, kitchen implements, toys, Lionel trains, fishing equipment, dishes, glassware, American Flyer bicycles, and Zenith radios and television sets.  The biggest downtown store was Sears, which sold everything.

I worked for Sebastian's Firestone store in 1960, when I was 15.  During the week before Thanksgiving, all of the Santa Fe downtown merchants covered their display windows on the inside and prepared for Christmas. That year, I was given the job of preparing the windows. Sebastian's had 2 of them and I was given free rein, as long as I presented a cross-section of what was inside. On one side I displayed snow tires, tire chains, a pyramid of motor oil cans, tools, windshield ice scrapers, an assortment of auto parts, and a bicycle.  Ah, but the other side was the most fun.  On the floor was a Christmas tree,surrounded by a running Lionel train set, complete with smoke coming out of the stack.  I leaned a Flexible Flyer sled against the wall and suspended model airplanes from the ceiling in an imaginary dogfight (Revell would send completed versions of their models with Christmas orders). There was a small table set with Christmas themed dishware, a corner with a fishing rod and lures, and as many of the season's most popular toys as possible.  A Barbie doll, an Easy-Bake oven, a Chatty Cathy doll, an Erector Set, a Radio Flyer wagon, and a set of Roy Rogers pistols.  In the center was the latest TV set from Zenith, which had a free-standing picture tube above the cabinet that contained the electronics.

The Friday after Thanksgiving, the windows were uncovered and Santa Fe came out to look.  I was in the window putting the train back on the tracks when some of my friends from St. Mike's came by and started giving me a hard time.  I went into the store, got one of the brand-new GI Joe dolls, and put him and Barbie in what you could describe as a compromising position.  They started laughing, not because I was so clever, but because they could see Mr. Sebastian behind me with a scowl on his face.  He was not amused and almost fired me on the spot.  But he chewed me out and I promised not to do it again.

One of the benefits of working there was that I learned how to assemble things.  Bikes, wagons, doll houses, trains, and the afore-mentioned TV set all came in boxes and had to be put together.  I was able to market my skills to my parent's friends and, for the next few years I spent Christmas Eve assembling the toys that they bought for their kids.  I would start around 10:00 and finish at 4:00 in the morning.

The Friday after Thanksgiving wasn't black like it is today. 

It was magical!

Wednesday, 01 July 2020 16:02

Santa Fe Plaza Obelisk History

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My View Oliver La Farge


Obelisk is a part of 'real' Santa Fe past


  • By Oliver La Farge
  • Jun 27, 2020


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In the 1950s and early '60s, my father, Oliver La Farge, had a weekly column in The New Mexican under Robert McKinney. For those who have forgotten, by that time, my father had been fighting for Indian rights, for their decent treatment and for the honoring of treaties for decades. As an anthropologist and advocate, he was widely considered America's foremost authority on Indian society and culture, which is one reason he decided to live in New Mexico, aside from the fact it was my mother's ancestral home.

The question of the obelisk first came up in the 1950s. This is what he had to say in 1961, taken from the book of his columns, The Man with the Calabash Pipe, edited by poet Winfield Townley Scott.

John Pen La Farge


"Some Folklore and a Monument"

From several sources I hear of a peculiar folklore of misinformation about the obelisk in the center of the Plaza. It is important that the truth be made known …

One false belief is that the monument landed in the Plaza because it was unwanted and there was nowhere else to stick it. This is obviously absurd. The monument was authorized by the territorial Legislature to celebrate the outcome of two serious wars; its cornerstone was laid in November 1867, with great pomp and ceremony, and it was carefully placed in the most honorable spot in New Mexico, in the center of the capital's Plaza, fronting what was then both the governor's mansion and the territorial capitol.

The other is that this monument celebrates Anglo-American achievements and has no meaning to Spanish-Americans. This belief is also entirely false. Its currency shows that too many of our Spanish-Americans have forgotten a proud chapter in their own history.

The monument is dedicated on two sides to those who died in the Civil War fighting for the Union, on the third side to those who died fighting the "savage Indians," meaning Navajos and Apaches.

Both wars were fought simultaneously. At the beginning of the Civil War, the bulk of regular army troops were withdrawn, to be replaced by volunteers. In short order New Mexico found itself in a pincers movement, with the Confederates striking from the southeast, the Navajos from the southwest, and the Mescaleros operating in between. … The bulk of the forces were Spanish-American, not only the enlisted men but the officers, of whom the highest was Lt. Col. J. Francisco Chaves.

 [V]olunteer they did, fought bravely against the "rebels" and provided the manpower that defeated them at Glorieta.

They went on fighting equally bravely under Chaves, Kit Carson, and others, in the long and difficult campaigns that pacified both the Mescaleros and the powerful Navajos, against whom the efforts of regulars had been unavailing …

On February 6, 1864, The New Mexican reported, "We have often and with much pleasure, received much warm recommendations … of volunteer (Spanish-American) soldiers … These men deserve high credit and consideration …"

Most of these men were born citizens of Mexico. In a time of crisis, they showed how completely they had adopted the United States … they established a glorious tradition, which they have continued in full force in the Spanish-American War, when they poured into the Rough Riders, the two World Wars, and the Korean War.

This, then, is what that little monument stands for. ...

I can see why a Texan might not be fond of this monument. A southerner or a Navajo might object to "rebel" and "savage" — expressions of the time, mementos of the honest feelings of that age. To Spanish-Americans, it should be one of their most cherished monuments, for it is they, above all, whom it celebrates.

Newcomers might be confused, but I am surprised that an old-timer … should think for a moment that the "savage Indians" referred to so sincerely … meant the Pueblos. So far as I know, hostilities with the Pueblos ended not long after the bloody (not "bloodless" as so often advertised) reconquest of New Mexico. From then until the Navajos were broken and signed the Treaty of 1868, Santa Fe and all New Mexico, including the Pueblos, were relentlessly harried, threatened with extinction, many settlements and pueblos wiped out by Navajos, Apaches, Kiowas, and Comanches…

These were the "savage Indians." No one even faintly conversant with New Mexico history could doubt to whom the territorial legislature was referring, or forget that Pueblo Indians were among the "heroes" who fought and are commemorated on the slab.

Under the Madison Avenue influence, we are getting to where we want even our history mad bland, sweetened, suited for consumption without any sensation whatsoever. The plaza monument is something else again, an authentic survival of frontier days, of the conditions of those times, of their simplicity and even other crudity.

You can decide to bury all traces of what Santa Fe once was and forget New Mexico's history was full of storms and violence. Personally, I prefer to keep a little of the real thing, to counterbalance the next ballet of whiskers and poke bonnets when we confuse our anniversaries with those of Square Corners, Ioway.

The monument refers to "savage Indians," it means exactly what it says, and furthermore, the term is accurate. That the white men … were often equally savage is beside the point…

The monument refers to "Rebels" in the same forthright manner….the word in their minds must have been "Tejanos". The common people of New Mexico were bitterly anti-Texan, hence devotedly pro-Union…

The monument is authentic, it is unpretentious, it is a true record of the important passage in New Mexico history. It is altogether too easy to brush such simple things aside, brushing our predecessors aside along with them…

For heaven's sake you who want to keep a little of the real Santa Fe, resist every move to remove these stones as you would resist having the bones of your ancestors ground into fertilizer for the capitol gardens.




Saturday, 01 February 2020 18:06

Agua Fria And The Albino Perez Monument Ghost Stories

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Bernardo C de Baca While I lived in the Agua Fria neighborhood. this was totally new to me. Corner of Agua Fria and Hickox...Anybody?


The Albino Perez monument, “a small boulder with a polished face and inscription lies enclosed within a rusting iron fence in the 1400 block of Agua Fria Street. The words carved in stone read: Governor Perez was assassinated on this spot on Aug. 9, 1837. Erected by sunshine Chapter, DAR, 1901”.

Celina Rael Garcia We grew up knowing what the marker was for. As kids walking home after dark we ran past the marker.

Celina Rael Garcia Several people told of El Hombre Largo. Have you heard that one? Folks had encounters with an apparition that carried a noose and as he approached you he grew to gigantic proportions. That was most common. Also back in the day when cars had running boards there was a man who swore that a figure jumped onto the running board as he was going down past the marker on Agua Fria, when he turned to look at it it had the face of a skeleton. The bar at the corner was owned by someone name Elias. Some of his customers told of encountering La Llorona there. I’ll try to dredge up more memories. Maybe I’ll publish something entitled Growing Up Scared Out Your Wits in Santa Fe.

Gloria Valdez I have one, or two Celina. You remember the big tree at the bottom of the hill going toward our house on Velarfe Lane (off Agua Fria)? Folks used to say that a man had been hanged there years back. Apparently, on occasion people said he would appear there. I'm happy to day I never saw him. But, at night going home I would run past that tree as fast as I could. Just in case he decided to make an appearance. Lol Also, since we lived right by the santa fe river, there were always takes of appearances by the Llorona. Again, I never saw her, but was always terrified she might appear.

Celina Rael Garcia Gloria Valdez I remember the tree. It was always so dark down the joya, we broke records running home after dark. The first time I heard the story of El Hombre Largo was from Lydia and Tomasa. They had gone to a movie at the Arco Theater on Hickox. As they walked home he appeared at the marker and grew taller as he approached them. They ran and somehow Tomasa lost her shoe and just left it. Both Lydia and Tomasa died in the past 5 years and I wish I’d recorded them telling the story.

Celina Rael Garcia Gloria Valdez Tomasa was over 100 when she passed, Lydia was close to 90.

Gloria Valdez Celina Rael Garcia my mom was a born story teller. She'd let us build a bonfire outside and roast corn on the cob and apples while she narrated her stories. Besides the hanged man and Llorona, she had many witches tales, which she said happened in the Pecos area. She and her sisters would hide and watch their goings on on the mountains above my Tia's house. While scary, we were always enthralled with her tales. Very interesting.

Josie Byers I was maybe 14,and my aunt Angelina and I had gone to the movies. We came home in a taxie,as she didnt h as ve a car. We got out of the cab,were opening the lock ,and we heard something wierd,like someone crying. We stood at the door and the crying got closer. It was scary cause we couldn't see anyone..anyway the crying sounded like it was coming down the street and we could hear it like it was passing right in front of us and passed and went down the street..
At that time it was when La Llorona was heard .

Josie Byers Celina Rael Garcia yes but this happen on Torcido street where my grampa lived .I dont think my auntie was married to Armando .

Celina Rael Garcia Josie Byers the Acequia Madre ran through there. There are a lot of Llorona sitings along the Acequia.

Josie Byers Celina Rael Garcia no Torcido is off Cerrillos road and goes to the street that goes to St Annes church and the next street is Agua Fria . The Y. I forgot te name of the street

Celina Rael Garcia Josie Byers the Acequia Madre runs from uptown all the way down to Siler Road. The arroyo that cuts through Torcido now Baca Street is the Acequia Madre.

Gloria Valdez People up and down Agua Fria claimed to have heard her. Never heard of anyone seeing her, tho.

Gloria Valdez Josie Byers once we were parked alongside the river at night (with boys) and we heard what appeared to be wailing. The boys claimed it was the Llorona. We all got scared and got away fast.

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