Monthly Archives: August 2011

Not another dam dedication

What was intended as a joyous occasion — a sign of real progress, with cake as the main course and punch as the chaser — might have instead appeared as an annoyance, if you read newspaper headlines.

Let me explain:

A recent issue of the Optic included a front-page photo spread on a ribbon-cutting for a the city’s newest diversion dam. About 50 city officials and townspeople boarded vans to go high up Gallinas Canyon, “to places some of you have never been before,” as Mayor Alfonso Ortiz expressed it.

He was right. My wife, Bonnie, and I had never seen Bradner or Peterson reservoirs. True, we’ve been by there, but the roads taken by the four intrepid city drivers were scarcely navigable by man or beast. Once we reached the summit of what might be called the “San Miguel County Nosebleed Section,” we saw wonderful, pristine sights, placid ponds, albeit a bit too dry for our tastes. Continue reading

Let’s hope hugs don’t vanish

We’re not discussing “tacky” here, just the warm, beneficial, feel-good, even therapeutic effects of what we’ve been doing since the dawn of time: hugging.

It’s something I grew into after several decades, but now, as an admittedly and increasingly emotional senior citizen, I’ve become much more of a hugger. A nasty old man? Never, just a hugger.

But let’s back up several decades. I believe that my late mother, Marie Trujillo, began realizing the preciousness of life when her first granddaughter, Stephanie came around. The fact that Stephanie’s mother, Dorothy, and her family lived in Phoenix made travel and family sightings a bit less frequent.

So seeing Steph became a joy, each visit ending with everyone’s lament, “I wish you didn’t have to leave so soon.” Continue reading

No one the twain did meet

HANNIBAL, MO. — “Tom! No answer. Tom! No answer. What’s gone with that boy, I wonder?” Is there a person in America who can’t place that partial exchange?

It comes from the opening lines of “Tom Sawyer,” a classic of American Literature, whose author everybody remembers as Mark Twain, The Mark Twain, the one-of-a-kind storyteller, humorist, observer of American life along the Mississippi.

Twain, who lived between 1835 and 1910, was prolific, having written, among other works, “Innocents Abroad,” “Roughing It,” “The Prince and the Pauper,” “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” Continue reading

Handwriting off the wall

Remember those looping, joined-up letters that for centuries have stood as signs of education and sophistication? We used to call that bit of artistry penmanship, or, so as not to offend anyone, let’s call it “penpersonship.”

It seems that handwriting, particularly the act or connecting letters, called cursive writing, was emphasized more in parochial schools than in the public sector. When I assisted in a summer journalism workshop at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, in the ‘80s and ‘90s, my director, Ray Newton, and I used to bet on which hand-written essays came from junior and senior applicants who attended parochial schools.

Penmanship constituted an important part of the curriculum at Immaculate Conception School, where all my family attended; a number of students received certificates for performing extra well. Of course, there were a few notable exceptions. Continue reading

That was back in oh-two

At what point will the term “turn of the century” refer to this century instead of last? To me the expression corresponds to the era when my dad, born in 1903, came around.

But we’ve been into the 21st century for 11 years, and technically, the few years past ought to be the real turn of the century.

In addition, for years I’ve heard people say things like, “Back in oh-2, when I was a kid …” It’s usually an exaggeration, one I used in class a number of times.

Jessie Farrington, a reader of this column, posed an interesting issue as she wrote, “I have said many times that ‘I retired from the Vet School in oh-1’ and that ‘my dog Jebediah died in oh-4 and Nelson (another pet) died in oh-5.’ Continue reading