Friday, August 13, 2010

EDITORIAL: Remembering, Thanking All The Businesses

Just Thinking Out Loud...
By Gary Jaramillo

I look around my hometown as I move down California Street and get a little melancholy when I see those old familiar businesses that were such a big part of Socorro, no longer open to our public. The North and South Chevrons were kind of home away from home places to hang out at and have a cup of Joe or a Soda and catch up with neighbors and friends.
They just sat there like old buddies for decades inviting us in every day to gas up and fill up on the local Metote. Leo and Tony Montoya were a huge part of the feeling everyone had for those two stations for a very long time, then their extended families took them over for some time and then all in one fell swoop (like so many things happen these days) Robert’s Oil shut them down, never to be what they were or what they stood for in our little town ever again. How cool was it to be able to gas up and go inside and rib your old friends and act the fool? Sad it’s gone.
And life moves on. Thanks to the Montoya and Martinez Families for the years of friendship and giving all of us a place to be on a cold morning before work or a nice summer afternoon before we went home from work.
The Christmas Tree is closed now too. I don’t know why, but it seems such a shame. I enjoyed walking in to visit the nice ladies who always knew just what kind of Balloon Bouquet I needed and did beautiful work and delivered right away. It was a quaint little business with a good small town feel. I wish the owners luck in their new endeavors.
Tripp Jewelers was always a joy to visit because Mr. and Mrs. Tripp Senior and Karen were always right there to help you with anything you needed. Mrs. Tripp’s elegance and knowledge of fine jewelry of every kind and Mr. Tripp’s knowledge of fine watches and even the cheap kind I wear was something to behold. And what can I say about Karen Tripp?
Well, I’ve never met a sweeter lady who was always smiling and genuinely cared about me and my family and how we were all getting along. She battled some physical problems but I never saw her show anything but concern for others. The two Don’s – Sr. and Jr. are my friends and they, along with Rosie care just as much about Socorro and it’s people as the last great generation did. I see Mrs. Tripp and Karen from time to time at Good Sam and they are both still local treasures and the sweetest ladies you’d ever want to meet. I miss that fancy little Jewelry store and those fancy wonderful people who made it so much more than just a building.
Chicken! Who doesn’t love Fried Chicken. I remember when Jerry Gum brought KFC to Socorro and opened at the Gabaldon Shopping Center. He was always a soft spoken fellow, but a good friend to Socorro from the start. He married Dana and the rest, as they say, is history. KFC was probably the first big franchise other than McDonald’s in Socorro.
Man that chicken was good. Jerry and Dana built a bigger drive-up place on Bullock and California down the road a piece and opened a genuine big league KFC and did a wonderful job of building customers and even more friends throughout the years. They have been my friends for a very long time. I like that I can say that. They’ve got two great kids too, Keith and Melissa. The KFC’s chicken has been plucked (for now) but you can still visit with the Gum Family at the New Western Mercantile just down and across the street from the old KFC building now being rented by Robeltaco’s new restaurant.
Still breaks my heart every time I pass the Vagabond Restaurant building. Was that just the coolest place to eat and have fun or what? Gin and Tony Jue and their wonderful families brought some class to cuisine in Socorro many years ago and I never thought I would ever see it close. I still crave the special green chili Chinese plate that Mr. Jue invented for his special customers. Man alive – talk about great grub! And what neat people to have picked Socorro to move to and live. I must admit they had some really beautiful daughters too. Hey, I was in school and they were beautiful! What?
I have been driving by the Socorro Office Supply every day waiting for my lifelong friends to be there. He hasn’t been, and neither has his lovely wife Sonya. I know Blake lost his mother recently and I’m hoping that is the reason he hasn’t been there for awhile.
Maybe he’s just getting things in order? He’s worked so very hard all of his life. I know, I worked for him and beside him at Shirley’s Drive In when he took over the very tough job of managing probably the most popular business ever in Socorro. He has worked very hard at Socorro Office Supply since he bought it many years ago. I hope he comes back to the Plaza. He is part of what the Plaza is. If not, I wish him and Sonya and their children nothing but happiness, health and lots of laughter.
Well, time continues to sneak past us and we all have fabulous memories of special moments and people who shared all of those times in businesses past. What do we do when another closes or is replaced? We should feel thankful and remember something an old friend or business owner said that cracked you up and made you feel special for having the opportunity to live your life in such a special place with such special people.
The buildings and tenants might be gone, but the friendships and endearing memories still linger and bring joy to us when we decide to re-visit them in thought from time to time.
We’ll talk about other businesses and people who have made Socorro the neatest place to live, again in the near future. Until then, Shop Socorro every chance you have, and make some new memories with some really cool business owners – who care about you too!

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