While the other stories had seemed so real the idea that they were just stories did
rest in one mind, however the thought of being buried alive by mistake did send a
chill down ones spine. Could this happen to me if I suddenly got sick and looked
like I was dead, even sitting next to the stove a cold sensation could be felt by one
impressionable young man or this little boy.
Mi abuelito, Salvador Chavez was rarely seen en la cocina de mi abuelita. While
several of his pictures hung on the wall or stood in a frame on the vanity in the
bedroom I would only see him for a short while twice a year when he would let
me say just visit.
Grandpa Chavez was one of a number of individuals that had received about 160
acres of land in an agreement to yield what were vast communities of property by
the members of massive colonias. It was not unusual to see many of these
communities encompassing 5 or 6 thousand acres. With the reinterpretation of
the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo by the Supreme Court of the land smaller
section of land were give those who joined in the agreement. Tens of thousands
of Mexican Americans in New Mexico lost their communally owned lands as
noted by Laura Gomez in her book Manifest Destiny. One of the ramifications of
this action was many of the Mexican American who had been subsistence
farmers and ranchers now were destining to become wage earners and laborers.
Like many in his situation mi abuelito had to find work away from his home and
in his case he would spend 10 months out of the year working as a sheepherder in
Grandpa spoke very little with the children his nietos or nietas and at times it
seemed that he spoke very little with those around him a very quiet somber man.
It was not surprising he could live alone in the small shepherds hut perhaps only
with the company of his dog or dogs. Mi abuelito held strong religious ties and
was a man of great faith so his bible was perhaps his source of conversation with
Our Lord first and family and friend second. I recall most of all when he spoke
of his prophecies of what they would as he knew it would be like in the future and
much has come to past in my lifetime.
While this may seem as unimportant to many the one that I recall most vivid was
when he spoke of the rise in the cost of bread. As I shared before most of the
bread we had was baked in the adobe horno behind la casa. On occasion mi
abuelita would send us to the tiny store down the road from la casa. I believe the
store was owned and run by either the Olivas's or Huertado's at least that is my
guess at this time. Sitting on a small hill part of the foundation was build up
about 4 or 5 feet on one side and the other side was level with the hill.
Steps led up to the porch where one could sit, dangle your legs and enjoy a bottle
of Indian Chief orange, grape or strawberry pop, a coke or suck on a Black Cow
caramel sucker. Inside the one room store was the counter and behind that
shelves that held assorted can goods and a few loafs of sliced bread. For fifteen
cents, if that much you could buy a loaf of bread, but mi abuelito spoke of the day
when it would cost 2 or 3 dollars for a loaf of bread. You could not image at that
time that this could ever come to past.
I was eleven years when a member of the Colorado State Patrol knock on the door
of our home in Derby, I was at home sick with my mom that eventful day. Mom
was asked if she was related to Salvador Chavez and when this was confirmed she
was told he was dead. Alone in the tiny shepherds hut that was mi abuelitos
home 10 months out of the year he passed away, one only can guess how long he
had been dead before being found.
The shepherds hut was a small hut on wheel perhaps no more then five feet wide
and eight feet long. The door was at the back with a small ladder to climb into
the hut and maybe a window on the side. On the side opposite of the door was a
lambs cage where injured lambs would be housed when caring for them. Usually
on top of the lambs cage was a straw mattress when the shepherd slept and off to
the side a table. At the very end next to the door was the stove that kept the thin
walled hut warm on cold nights or winter days.
Mi abuelito was transported I believe by train from Wyoming to New Mexico to
be buried in his Tramparos This would set up the last of the many stories and one
of the few share by mi abuelita en la cocina. She would have a few reflections of
her husband of many years, a husband that would spend so little time with her.
During one of his trip home where he would catch up on family business, paying
for instance the bill at the general store in Mora the county seat some 5 or 6
miles from Agua Negra.
It was during one of his last trips that he purchased two dozen plus candles at the
general store the kind one would see in the candle stands of the local Catholic
church. Mi abuelita shared with the now very small group sitting up late en la
cocina the request of her husband and this was that she light a candle each day
for thirty days after his death. With the sudden and unexpected death of mi
abuelito and the activities before and after the funeral the request by her husband
was forgotten and months passed before she was looking for some item in the
closet under the steps leading to the attic of la casa.
Mi abuelita informed the group that she spotted the box where the candles were
being stored and she suddenly remembered one of the last request of her
husband. Reaching for the box she carried it to a coffee table in the living room
and received a terrible shocked when she opened it. To her amazement she did
not see thirty candles but the remains of the melted was and the burnt out wicks
of each candle. The group listened in disbelief as grandma recounted this story,
was this true? Yes, it had to be because mi abuelita did not lie and this was the
last of the stories as we headed to the cold bedroom in the back of the house and
the bed with 3 or 4 quilts.
|HISTORIAS ALREDEDOR DE LA MESA
EN MIS ABUELAS COCINA
AGUA NEGRA, NEVO MEXICO
|OTHER IMAGES FOUND IN OR AROUND AGUA NEGRA
(HOLMAN) NEVO MEXICO