Thursday, December 23, 2010

Accident on Highway 107 Results in Fatality

By John Larson

A rollover accident on Highway 107 resulted in the death of a Winston man last weekend. Magdalena Marshal Larry Cearley said Adam Peterson, 22, was returning home for Christmas from a tour of duty in Afghanistan when the accident occurred. He was serving in the Marines as a Lance Corporal at 29 Palms Marine Air Ground Combat Center in California.
According to the New Mexico State Police, officers responded Sunday, Dec. 19, to a single vehicle rollover off Highway 107, just south of Magdalena.
A press release from Lt. Eric Garcia said that the State Police believe the crash sometime occurred between Saturday night and early Sunday morning.
“The Office of the Medical Investigator will advise on time of death after an autopsy has been completed,” Garcia said in the release. “Alcohol and failure to wear seatbelts are contributing factors.”
The officers’ investigation showed Peterson was traveling southbound in his 1997 Ford pickup approaching a curve at mile marker 27 when he lost control. The pickup slid off the roadway and subsequently rolled nearly three times.
During the rolling momentum Peterson was thrown from the vehicle and killed when the vehicle came to rest on top of him, Garcia said.
Adam Peterson was a member of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Weapons Company, and conducted combat operations in Helmand and Farah provinces in Afghanistan from March through the end of October.
“He had lots of friends in the Magdalena and Socorro County area,” his father, Paul Peterson said by telephone Wednesday. “He will be missed by many.”
Before joining the Marines in 2008, Peterson was a wildland firefighter working with the U.S. Forest Service and New Mexico State Forestry.
Funeral services will be held at the Church of the Butte in Elephant Butte Monday, Dec. 27 at 11 a.m. including a Marine honor guard. Burial will follow at the Peterson family ranch in Winston.

Decision on Ordinance to Boost Economic Growth Delayed

By John Larson

The Magdalena Village Board decided Monday, Dec. 13, to table a decision on an ordinance designed to encourage economic development within the village limits.
Village attorney Tom Fitch told the trustees he read the ordinance and said it could be used as a tool to attract the type of businesses the community wanted.
“It appears to be one way of being able to offer businesses incentive to locate in Magdalena. A way of stimulating growth,” Fitch said. “Is that good? That’s the age old argument. It’s a judgment of what you want for this community.”
Trustee Barbara Baca said she was wary of opening the village up to the “wrong kind of growth. We don’t want to see a lot of influences coming in and taking all the power away from the people here.
“You’ll end up with people wanting to leave town,” Baca said.
Fitch said there were two aspects to consider. “First, if you do pass the ordinance you would have the Magdalena Community Development Commission to be an initial screen on each project. They would make recommendations to the board,” he said. “Number two, would you vote off on this support. The ordinance is a tool which allows you to do. So, if you have the tool do you use it?”
Trustee Diane Allen quizzed Fitch on several sections of the ordinance, objecting to the imposition of a village gross receipts tax of .25 percent earmarked for economic development projects. “As I read this we could impose another infrastructure project passed on people in the community as a local tax,” she said.
Fitch said, “The board is the one makes the final decision.”
The second objection Allen had was with a section of the ordinance which said that “policies and objectives of the county’s economic development plan shall receive priority,” including “projects which … meet the mission of New Mexico Tech and Very Large Array.”
Allen questioned why the village should give priority to New Mexico Tech and VLA projects. “As far as I’m concerned, this is not what I want,” she said.
Clerk Rita Broaddus said the ordinance, proposed by Tim Hagaman of the New Mexico Economic Development Department, “appears to be a boilerplate copy that can be used by any county or municipality, after appropriate changes are made.”
Broaddus said it appeared that that section was overlooked when Hagaman copied the version he submitted to the county.
Baca moved to table the issue indefinitely, and the board unanimously agreed.

Students get Head Start at Socorro School

By Patrick Jason Rodriguez

While attending Southwest Child Care in Albuquerque, T.J. Silva Jr., then 3 years old, spent most of his time inside his classroom at the daycare facility staring off into space and not interacting much with the other children and instructors.
“He’s a fast learner and pays attention at home,” said his mother, Sonya Silva, 23, “but they weren’t really teaching him anything there.”
T.J. Silva Sr., 24, added, “He got bored real easily.”
It wasn’t until the Silvas moved to Socorro a little more than a year ago that the childcare situation for T.J., now 4, improved. That was when his parents enrolled him at the Early Childhood Development Center in Socorro, the city’s lone Head Start-affiliated program.
And though the program is geared toward children ages 3 to 5, this is anything but a daycare facility.
Head Start program teachers must prepare a curriculum for their students and include a lesson plan consisting of reading stories, writing in journals, basic arithmetic, science projects, and hygiene awareness. Lead teachers must also have earned a Child Development Associate credential, and beginning in 2013 all teachers must have at least an associate’s degree.
A recent visit to the school on a Friday morning witnessed activities that were very much similar to your average elementary school: yellow school buses dropped children off in front of the school; parents, students, teachers and administrators crowded the corridors before class; there were announcements delivered by someone working in the front office over the public address system.
And then a few minutes later the school day officially began.
Lorie Padilla, who has worked at the Early Childhood Development Center for the past eight years, teaches 3 year olds and begins each school day by providing breakfast for her students, followed by a simple health evaluation of each student to check for signs of illness. She said that if any of the students show signs of illness, they are sent to the health office to have their temperature read. If the temperature reading is too high, the students are then sent home, said Padilla.
Another teacher of 3 year olds, Veronica Tsinajinnie, who has been teaching at the Early Childhood Development Center for the past three years, encouraged her students to listen to stories and then afterward ask questions.
The Federally-funded Head Start program came to fruition as included in the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, an initiative of then-President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, and then later was assigned to fall under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services. The program has gone through numerous changes since its inception, mostly recently in 2007 when then-President George W. Bush signed into law an amendment to the Economic Opportunity Act intended to help homeless children in the United States enroll into their locally-administered Head Start program.
Funding for the Head Start program comes from grant money. There are about 1,600 different Head Start programs across the United States, operating more than 48,000 classrooms. As of 2005, more than 22 million pre-school aged children have participated in Head Start since 1965.
The only other Head Start program in either Socorro or Catron Counties is at the Alamo Navajo Early Childhood Center in Magdalena, which is falls under the American Indian-Alaska native Head Start project.
Not every child may enroll into their local Head Start program. Aside from space restrictions, eligibility is largely geared toward children of low-income families, though each locally-operated Head Start program might include other admission criteria such as disability.
Head Start Programs are administered locally by nonprofit organizations, such as the Midwest New Mexico Community Action Program, which oversees the Early Head Start facilities in Valencia, Socorro, Catron, Cibola, and McKinley Counties.
There are seven classrooms at the Early Childhood Development Center, which uses a few buildings that once were part of the now-defunct Edward E. Torres Elementary School, and each classroom is assigned two teachers, including a teacher’s assistant. Many of the classrooms also receive help from family members who volunteer.
“The curriculum is excellent,” said Caroline Benjamins, a volunteer, whose grandchildren attend the Early Childhood Development Center. “There aren’t many quality childcare facilities around here (in Socorro), but there really needs to be.”

Pictured: T.J. Silva Jr., 4, shows his parents, T.J. Silva Sr. and Sonya Silva, his favorite toy inside his classroom at the Early Childhood Development Center in Socorro.

Photo by Patrick Jason Rodriguez


Magdalena Plays Host to Fashion Model Photo Shoot

By John Larson

The Village of Magdalena played host to six fashion models who were in town last week for a photo shoot for a Milwaukee-based department store chain.
The pictures will be featured in advertising mailings promoting the spring apparel line for The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. nationwide. The company operates 278 stores under various names in seven states.
Markus Barrington, senior photo producer for The Bon-Ton Stores, said Magdalena was chosen for the photo shoot because he knew the area well. Barrington is the son of Magdalena resident Tom Barrington, and grandson of the late Jacky Barrington, founder of the Mountain Mail.
“I’ve been coming here since I was young, visiting my grandmother. Many of my memories as a child were of her working on the newspaper,” Barrington said. “I’ve always felt like Magdalena was my second home.”
Another of Jacky’s grandchildren was part of the team. Gina Barrington, sister of Markus, was the hair and makeup stylist.
“We love coming back here to visit,” he said. “This the second time this year they’ve been in Magdalena. We spent a week here in April, using the Kelly area for backgrounds.”
Barrington said the rustic settings of the village were perfect backdrops for The Bon-Ton Stores’ 2011 spring mailer. The stock pens, Magdalena Peak and surrounding mountains were used as backdrops for the latest fashions.
Another member of the Bon-Ton crew, photographer Michael Bollitine, said the light in Magdalena was perfect for shooting pictures, and prefers the early morning.
“The light is the best in the morning. Toward the middle of the day we get shadows on the models’ faces.” he said.
Markus Barrington has been senior photo producer for Bon-Ton for four years. Before that he spent five years as a model and eventually becoming director of an agency representing models.

Tech Earns Forbes Ranking

Mountain Mail Reports

Forbes magazine recently ranked New Mexico Tech No. 20 for best colleges for women and members of racial or ethnic minorities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
The top spot was given to Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota (Winona, Minn.), followed by Westmont College (Santa Barbara, Calif.), Colorado College (Colorado Spring, Colo.), Christopher Newport University (Newport News, Va.), and the University of Colorado Denver.
In its rankings, the magazine excluded schools whose student body is made up almost entirely of female or minority students.

Thrift Store Celebrates 30th Year

By John Larson

Tierra de Segunda Thrift Store, located at the north end of the Smith’s shopping center, on Dec. 7 celebrated its 30th anniversary.
Sally Nelson, president of the nonprofit organization, said the need for the store is as great as ever.
“Right now we serve about 400 people on a regular basis. Last week for the 30th anniversary we had about 150 people come into store,” Nelson said.
Past president Lola McWhorter said volunteers are what make the business work.
“We started out originally to help the elderly, to make donations for Good Sam’s seniors,” McWhorter said. “Wanda Ramzel, one of the founders, helped open the store the same year Good Sam’s opened, 30 years ago.”
Founders of the organizations included Ramzel, Francis Senn, Evelyn Fite and the late Florence Kottlowski.
The group started out selling off racks set up at the fairgrounds before it was able to use two rooms in a residence near San Miguel Church in the early 1970s.
After a few years they moved to California Street, occupying the building currently housing the New Mexico Educators Credit Union. Before moving into its present location last year, the thrift store was located on Fisher Street.
“It represents the life blood of the community,” McWhorter said in an interview. “People who shop here … where are they going to go? Many can’t even afford to buy clothes at Wal-Mart.”
She said donations are always needed.
“We provide three services,” McWhorter said. “First, a place to get rid of clothes and items. Second, a place for people to shop. And third, the donations we make to help seniors.”
In addition to regular contributions to Good Sam’s, the store donates money to support the senior citizen centers in Socorro, Veguita and Magdalena, Socorro Village, Vista Montano, Meals On Wheels, C.P.A., La Vida Fields, and the DAV.
“The store continues to have a steadily increasing number of customers,” McWhorter said. “They come from Magdalena, Veguita, really all over the county, even from Reserve and Datil. “A lot of people buy their kids’ school clothes here each year. They can’t afford to go elsewhere,” she said.
The group has 27 active members, all who work on a volunteer basis.
“We do it because we enjoy it,” volunteer Susan Miller said.
The store also tries to have walkers, wheelchairs, and crutches on hand.

Pictured: Volunteers at the Tierra de Segunda Thrift Store on Tuesday, Dec. 14 (from left): Clarence Lopez, Della Benavidez, Lupe Lukesh, (an unidentified customer), Sally Nelson, Lola McWhorter, Wanda Ramzel, Cynthia Kopp, Estella Reichenbach, Jan Reed and Judy Muncy.

Photo by John Larson


Escape From Mexican Prison Could Affect us

Message from The Mountain Mail

In the early hours of the morning on Friday, Dec. 17, about 150 prisoners escaped from a Mexican prison close to the border just outside of Laredo, Texas. Authorities say they are investigating the possibility that employees were involved in releasing the prisoners.
What does this have to do with any of us in Socorro County? It is believed that a good number of those prisoners will end up passing through this area (and may already be in the area) by train or established walking trails to get to family in our area.
“It can be dangerous up and down the Middle Rio Grande Valley because the trains stop just about everywhere at one time or another,” said immigration officials. “There’s a possibility that unknowing families along the way, such as farm owners and residents close to the railway could come in contact with one of the escaped prisoners and experience a dangerous or deadly encounter.”
The Mountain Mail management and staff want to let everyone who lives along the railway close to Socorro and all the small villages up and down the Rio Grande Valley to be extra mindful of people who you do not recognize in your area. Those of you who live close to where trains make their stops should always keep your doors locked and always know who is knocking before you open your door. Leave outdoor lights on around your home at night. When walking to your vehicle outside your home, be aware of your surroundings. Only leave your car running for warming purposes in the mornings or evenings if you have the ability to lock it and unlock it with a spare key. It is not beyond these people to hide in the back seat of your car and wait for you to come outside.
Don’t let your children play outside without adult supervision, and never leave your kids in the car while you run back inside to get something that you may have forgotten.
Lastly, don’t hesitate to call the police the second you feel something is not right. Paying attention to detail can help authorities with their investigations. Keep your guard up at all times and teach your children to do the same.

OBITUARY: Wilfredo M. Mata

Willfredo “Fred” M. Mata, 82, passed away Saturday, December 18, 2010 at his home in Polvadera.
Fred was born on February 6, 1928 in Socorro to Olivero and Sinforosa (Madrid) Mata.
He is survived by his sons, Fred Mata; and Robert Mata; his daughters, Dina Mazon and husband, Kenny; Janet Valles and husband, Manny; Pamela Berringan and husband, Henry; and Eloisa Romero and husband Jason; seventeen grandchildren; twelve great grandchildren; three brothers, James Mata and wife, Patsy; Mike Mata and wife, Frances; and Danny Baca and wife, Elda; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Fred was a Socorro resident for 35 years after serving in the Military. He was a Veteran of the US Army.
Fred was preceded in death by his parents, one brother, David Baca, and one sister, Rosita Pena.
Cremation will take place but no formal services have been arranged at this time.
Those who wish to send condolences may do so at Services have been entrusted to: Daniels Family Funeral Services, 309 Garfield, Socorro, NM 87801 (575) 835-1530.

OBITUARY: Helen Isabel Hazard

Helen Isabel Hazard, 80, passed away Monday, December 20, 2010 in Socorro.
Helen was born on May 21, 1930 in Syracuse, New York, to Earl and Martha (Spinning) Ashton.
She is survived by her sons, David Hazard, Douglas Hazard, and Daniel Hazard; her sister, Jean Herzog; five grandchildren; nieces Deborah Murillo and husband George , Martha Jean Fairbanks and husband Robert ; nephew Robert Otis; and numerous other nieces and nephews.
Helen was a Socorro resident since the early 80’s. Helen enjoyed playing classical music on the piano which she did quite beautifully.
A Memorial Service will be held 2:00 pm, Wednesday December 29, 2010 at the Socorro Good Samaritan Village, 1203 Hwy 60 W.
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made in Helen’s honor to Socorro Good Samaritan Village, 1203 Hwy 60 W, Socorro, NM 87801 or the Socorro General Hospital Hospice, 1202 Hwy 60 W, Socorro, Nm 87801.
Those who wish to send condolences may do so at Services have been entrusted to: Daniels Family Funeral Services, 309 Garfield, Socorro, NM 87801 (575) 835-1530.

Effort to Have Trinity Named National Historic Park Grows

Mountain Mail Reports

The birthplace of the atomic bomb is open to the public for only two days each year. That could conceivably change.
A move is underway to have Trinity Site designated as a National Historic Park, which would allow visitors to enter the White Sands Missile Range site at Stallion Gate, conceivably on any day of the year when there is no missile test scheduled.
In its annual “Internet Christmas card,” the nonprofit Atomic Heritage Foundation is urging the National Park Service and the Department of Energy to again recommend a Manhattan Project National Historical Park to Congress.
The issue is expected to have strong bipartisan support from the congressional delegations of New Mexico, Tennessee and the state of Washington, according to the release.
“We are optimistic that the new Congress will officially designate the park at Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Hanford, Wash.,” the report said. “In addition, Manhattan Project sites such as the Trinity Site, Wendover Air Field, Utah, and others may become affiliated areas over time.”
Trinity Site, just off Highway 380, southeast of San Antonio, has long been viewed as the one “goose bump” site among those being considered because it is the site of the world’s first atomic bomb explosion. Other sites were largely manufacturing sites.
“The term ‘ground zero’ originated at Trinity Site, and has since become a part of the language,” said Ben Moffett, a retired public information officer for the National Park Service and a ground zero “survivor” as a resident of San Antonio when the bomb was exploded. “Viewing it, one gets the same chills as are produced at such other NPS areas as Little Bighorn Battlefield, Ford’s Theater, and Gettysburg, all part of the National Park System.”   Trinity Site has been excluded from recent legislation on the Manhattan Project, in part because it is already protected since it is within White Sands Missile Range, but also because of the fear that recognition of it as an NPS area will increase efforts to open it to the public more than two days a year as is now the case. Proponents of opening Trinity Site on a daily basis, claim that White Sands Missile Range officials can close the park on days when they need to for security reasons, just as they have done at White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo.
They also argue that costs would come from the Department of Interior’s NPS budget, not from the military budget.

OPINION: Message of Love for Humanity, Neighbor and Stranger

Can We Talk?
By Jack Fairweather

Just two days until Christmas 2010.
You can tell.
The sellers are playing Xmas music nonstop, the buyers (obedient consumers that they are) arise in the wee small hours to rush in order to hand over their dwindling cash supply for “bargains,” many of them are suffering from seasonal depression brought on by higher and higher prices, the knowledge that many of their neighbors faithfully follow the schedule of food pantries and semi-truck delivery of free food and the constant media barrage that tells them on one channel we’re all doomed and another that everything is improving and that next year will be better. Well, now, the preceding comments are cynical, aren’t they? Yes, they are. Sorry about that.
At this season, too, Christian ministers and pastors are attempting to come up with homilies (sermons) with which to assure their congregations of the truth of the basic Christmas message: Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary in the little town of Bethlehem, and that birth brought into the world a message of love and forgiveness.
Of course, we know very little of the actual birth of Jesus. There are two stories in the Bible. The New Testament books of Luke and Matthew have slightly different versions. Other accounts in the biblical canon speak of Jesus as an adult. People of faith, whether they view the Bible as the inerrant word of God or as history will continue to believe in the Christ and the message he brings. The central message, which resounds through the New Testament, is one of love for humanity; love from the Creator and love for neighbor and the stranger. That message was, apparently, known or sensed by the “magi,” the men from the East who were over-whelmed with joy, when they saw in the place a star that led them to the baby and Mary. They knelt down and paid him homage.
A great many people, individuals and groups, are concerned to pay extra attention to others during this season, giving gifts of clothing, food, money (if they have it this year) and demonstrating their opposition to systems of domination and oppression. In Ireland, citizens are taking two ambulances, a mini-bus, and a truck filled with 10 tons of humanitarian aid over 4,000 miles to Gaza in Palestine. Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin has described Gaza as an “open prison”. Other Irish citizens are flying to Cairo, Egypt, to meet up with the Irish convoy participants. On Dec. 27 they will attempt to enter Gaza and join Gazans and other International participants on the “Gaza Freedom March”. Bowing to pressure from Israel, Egyptian officials have already indicated the crossing may be blocked. However, the message of such an outpouring of concern over the situation in Palestine indicates the message of Jesus is alive and well, especially among the common people.
What else can be said about the birth celebrated at Christmas time? St. John Chrysostom, in the 4th century said in his Christmas homily, “What shall I say? And how shall I describe this birth to you? The Eternal One has become an infant…he now lies in a manger. For this He assumed my body, that I may become capable of His word, taking my form He gives me His spirit, and so, He bestowing and I receiving, He prepares me for the treasure of Life. He takes my form to sanctify me. He gives me His love that he may save me.”
As a Catholic Christian, I can’t think of much more to say.
Have a blessed Christmas.

OPINION: A Market Based Solution for a Market Caused Problem

The Pencil Warrior
By Dave Wheelock

Lock up your daughters. This might be the next good piece of advice for mothers and fathers of the so-called developing world, as they face the “market solution” to the worldwide problem of disappearing forests. For the industrialized countries of the northern hemisphere, those which invented and continue to advance the phenomenon of manmade global warming, the carbon offset scheme known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is a win-win. In return for cash payments to ostensibly preserve the carbon-absorbing quality of the global south’s remaining forests, corporations increasingly doing business as governments purchase the legal right to keep right on pumping pollutants into the sky.
Unfortunately for the indigenous people living in and around these forests, REDD represents the opportunity to relive the experiences of sisters and brothers elsewhere who have already learned what it means to be guilty of living anywhere near something that can be bought and sold. Unfortunately also for you and me, because these threatened life ways are undoubtedly the last ones successfully practicing sustainable life on planet Earth.
In case you missed it, the latest in an ongoing series of sessions of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in CancĂșn, Mexico, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 10. True to the form of UNFCC gatherings since the 1997 session in Japan produced the Kyoto Protocol – a treaty signed and ratified by nearly all the world’s governments, agreeing to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions – delegates from the more than 190 “parties” significantly squared off as “developed” versus “developing” countries.
Among developed nations, REDD, first introduced in 2000 by the United States (which remains virtually alone in not ratifying Kyoto), was all the rage in Cancun, a market solution to a market problem; i.e. the loss of profits that are likely to occur as a result of global meltdown. Or more optimistically I suppose, the mouth-watering prospect of being allowed to continue to produce the majority of greenhouse gases while simultaneously cashing in on a whole new and extremely lucrative market: trading in carbon offsets. The wonderfully natural function trees fulfill by reducing carbon concentrations in the atmosphere is now being sized up as just another billable service.
But just as with the Black Hills in what is now western South Dakota, there are the party poopers. Not so much among governmental leaders in South America, Africa, Indonesia, and other places where large, biologically diverse forests still stand. After all, those market-worshipping newcomers to the high plains of yesteryear could always manage to kidnap some poor resident who’d succumb to the right mixture of bribery, threats, or drunkenness long enough to sell that which he knew couldn’t be sold anyway.
Without a doubt, many so-called leaders of the so-called Third World can be counted on to support REDD. It’s the commoners who cause all the trouble.
In Cancun, Indigenous Environmental Network executive director Tom Goldtooth (Dine’ and Mdewakanton Dakota), had his United Nations-issued entrance credentials yanked on Dec. 8, the day after informally voicing in public his protest of the REDD model. Other opponents of the cash-for-trees program were also banned from official negotiations while still more were physically removed from the area.
In an interview the next day, Goldtooth gave his witness. “There’s (sic) institutions, there’s financiers, the governments of the North – they’re all invested in a carbon market scheme. And here in CancĂșn, the United Nations climate meeting is selling the sky to the highest bidder, using indigenous peoples’ forests to soak up their pollution instead of reducing emissions at its (sic) source.”
“Instead of reducing emissions at their source”? Now, now. If there’s one concept of the environmental justice movement that’s consistently underreported (other than environmental justice itself) it’s the notion that alternatives exist. Especially when those alternatives conflict with culturally embedded economic assumptions (or prospects for a killing). Nevertheless, for the intellectually daring, here are some observations paraphrased from the Indigenous Environmental Network’s ( Four Principles of Climate Justice:
“(The) production-consumption regime pursues profits without limit, separating human beings from nature. It establishes a mindset that seeks to dominate nature, turning everything into a commodity: the land, water, air (carbon), forests, agriculture, flora and fauna, biodiversity, genes and even indigenous traditional knowledge. The world must forge a new economic system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings.
“Climate justice calls upon governments, corporations and the peoples of the world to restore, reevaluate and strengthen the knowledge, wisdom and ancestral practices of Indigenous Peoples, affirmed in our experiences and the proposal for “Living in a Good Way”, recognizing Mother Earth as a living being with which we have an indivisible, interdependent, complementary and spiritual relationship.”
In this country, non-Natives have always laughed at Indians for saying corny things like “Mother Earth.” Nowadays, they’re tossing Indians for talking about new economic systems. Indians don’t say these things because they’ve been reading Marx. They just have fresh memories. And unlike some, realistic plans for the future.

Dave Wheelock, a member of the Oneida Nation, is a collegiate sports administrator and coach. His history degree is from the University of New Mexico. Reach him at Mr. Wheelock’s views do not necessarily represent those of the Mountain Mail.


OPINION: Who’s Running This Ship?

Magdalena Potluck
By Don Wiltshire

Are we on “Auto-Pilot” or is there really a group of people in charge of where we’re headed and what we’re supposed to do once we get there?
At some point in the two weeks before my column is due, two or more events, books or ideas will smash together in my head. This time it was the movie Titanic and several small news articles about the austerity measures being imposed on Ireland.
The recent bailout of Ireland’s banks, to the tune of €85 billion ($112 billion) will cost the average Irish citizen €12,500 ($16,460). In contrast, the average American citizen has only assumed a $10,000 bailout for our banks, auto industries and the too-big-to-fail corporations.
“Those in charge” of the economic situation in Ireland deemed it necessary to slash billions of Euros from social services, health care and infrastructure expenditures. Unemployment in Ireland is running at about 14 percent, and wages have been cut by 20 percent. The stoic Irish (bless them) have had about as much of this nonsense as they can stand and are about to take to the streets in massive demonstrations of civil unrest.
Watching Ireland is like looking at a mini-scale version of our own country. “Those in charge” are basically the same: the banks, the investment companies and the multinational corporations. The austerity measures being put in place are to insure that the appropriate amount of profits flow to those “in charge.”
The movie Titanic was also a metaphorical play in miniature of our own situation. The ship is sinking and the affluent assume their rightful position in the lifeboats while the lower class passengers remain locked below deck. This same assumption is also available in a “trickle down” format. I’ve read more than my fill of blogs about income inequity where the less fortunate are told to “stop their whining”; “if they had any smarts, they would be wealthy too”.
So just who is in charge of our ship? Who is steering our Titanic? Go ahead, call me a “conspiracy theorist” but a fairly solid guess is The Carlyle Group. Founded in 1987, it was named after the luxury New York hotel, a favorite of the company’s first investors, the Mellon family. The firm, valued at more than $13.5 billion, manages $88.6 billion of capital (other peoples’ money), making it, until this year, the largest private equity firm in the world. It’s called a “global alternative asset management firm, specializing in private equity.” It claims to have four fund “families”: buyout capital, growth capital, real estate, and leveraged finance investments. Sound like a club for the “big boys”? Indeed it is.
The home office is on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., right between the White House and the Capitol building. The cast of characters includes, or has included, former Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, former Secretary of State Jim Baker, former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, former White House budget director Dick Darman, former British Prime Minister John Major, former Philippines President Fidel Ramos and, oh yes, members of the bin Laden family.
So just how does this seemingly respectable model for an investment firm generate its billions of dollars with a 36 percent annual return? Basically it buys privately held companies or divisions of big public corporations that are deemed to be in the most lucrative of future niches. These new “cash cows” are then repackaged, polished up, pushed in the “right” direction then sold off for many times their purchase price, after, of course, the managing directors and Carlyle partners take their 20 percent cut.
What sort of crystal ball allows Carlyle to peer into the future and decide which company cow will give the richest milk? Carlucci seems to have a good handle on the $150 billion per year U.S. defense industry. Will many more tanks or drones or airport scanners be needed next year? Buy, invest, position, persuade and profit.
Not only are defense contractors, like United Defense, Magnavox, GDE, Vought and Booz Allen Hamilton, subject to the insatiable appetites of Carlyle, recent acquisitions have included the Hertz Corporation, HCR ManorCare (senior care facilities) and Dunkin’ Brands, makers of the all American favorites, coffee and donuts!
This directly from the pages of Carlyle’s glossy annual report: “Diverse teams with deep expertise focus on buyout, growth capital, energy and power, infrastructure, real estate, and credit alternative transactions, as well as distressed situations.” I guess that last phrase means us.
Because of its global reach, this also appears in the annual report: “Perhaps more than any other country, China has a greater number of assets that could grow dramatically in value.”
Carlyle has 27 offices worldwide, including Denver, New York, and Milan, Italy. Hmm, I wonder if Bruno Modena has positioned himself for maximum growth potential. We will all know soon enough.
This was probably not the most uplifting topic I could have picked for the Christmas column. To end on a more cheerful note, the Magdalena Public Library is busy planning many workshops and events of local interest. Watch the community bulletin board outside the library for dates and times.

If you have any comments, problems, solutions, upcoming events or extra life vests, contact me, Don Wiltshire at

EDITORIAL: ‘I Wish it was Christmas Today’

From The Editor
By Patrick Jason Rodriguez

“I Wish It Was Christmas Today” is a song that was first performed during a skit on Saturday Night Live a little more than 10 years ago. I heard it the other day when a friend of mine posted a linked to the video on their Facebook page.
I don’t get why the radio stations don’t play it. It seems they’ve been blaring the same stale holiday tunes since October (Yes, since October; obviously they started late this year). This whimsical song would certainly be a nice addition to anyone’s holiday playlist.
I finished my holiday gift buying this past Sunday. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I didn’t buy anything from any of the shops here locally, instead spending my money in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Los Lunas (for gas). I really do need to start shopping more in Socorro, and I don’t mean at Walmart. Though I know that’s where I will, indeed, end up shopping at. Sorry, but soy milk, among other things, is just so darn inexpensive there.
Seven lines left to say what I need to get off my chest (metaphorically). So. Here. It. Goes. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, solstice, Festivus, etc., and, of course, Happy New Year.

OPINION: Make Every Day Christmas

Just Thinking Out Loud
By Gary Jaramillo

So – how many grown people believe that a big fat guy named Santa really does come in the middle of the night and leave presents for all the little kids? Come on now – really? If you don’t still believe, you’ve lost a part of you. After all, we are all just bigger kids when all is said and done. We all still want the very best and coolest gifts, and if someone won’t buy them for us, we buy them for ourselves. There isn’t a person alive that wouldn’t give away everything they own to be a kid again and feel those feelings every time Christmas comes around each year. And if you say that you wouldn’t – you’re lying.
Every year I seem to have to fight my mixed emotions concerning Christmas and the Holidays. Around September I try to start hardening myself against the coming holidays. I tell myself, “I’m not buying anything this year for anyone – and I don’t need a damn thing either.” So there! Well, that worked for a couple of years and I have to admit I felt terrible about it after the holidays had past and I missed out on the things I had loved doing all of my life for Christmas. But now I have grandsons and it’s all brand new for me again. I sit with them on the floor at their house and get all excited about commercials for the coolest toys as both I’nyn and Bowyn yell, “I want that too, Grandpa.” I say “Okay-Okay,” and I’m ready to buy whatever they want. Oh boy, that’s the most wonderful feeling in the world – the way it used to feel – I can now feel all over again with my grandsons. My chest and head all full of silliness and excited about everything Christmas brings. I’m a kid again. Thanks big guy in the sky – you really know what you’re doing.
One thing I have realized, as well, is that our time in this place is definitely not forever. Forever is somewhere way down the road. We are only in a place called “right now”. And to me, that means do what you gotta do RIGHT NOW because forever is slowly creeping up on all of us – and there’s never a warning of when your “forever” begins.
I have that excitement in my belly again. Nervous about all of the wonderful things that Christmas brings. You know, like the little cookies and cakes and pies, carne adovado, tamales, posole, smiles from your mom and dad, visits from siblings and other family, the Christmas lights, and the hope that it all brings to our lives no matter our financial situation. It always seems something of a miracle that happens to make everyone’s Christmas just a little better. I’m an optimist no matter how low I get with my own life problems (and everyone has them), but I never give up – ever!
We got a kind of sign from Santa this year at the Mountain Mail. A young man by the name of Adam McGrath from Salt Point, N.Y., wrote a letter to Santa with a list of the things he wanted for Christmas. It was very simply addressed: To Santa at the North Pole – and nothing else. How it ended up here in Socorro and in The Mountain Mail P.O. Box is something we’ll never know. As luck would have it for little Adam, I just happen to love writing letters to children from Santa every year. Now we had no idea why we were picked to get little Adam’s letter to Santa, but there’s always a reason for everything. Sometimes we just never know what that reason is. So, I wrote a nice Santa letter with all the bells and whistles and holiday colors and Christmas joy along with it, and sent it to Adam back in Salt Point, N.Y. I hope he got his letter from Santa and it gave him a memory of Christmas and a story he can tell his grandchildren for the rest of his life. It took me all of 15 minutes to write his letter and make the paper and envelope dressy with Christmas decorations from the North Pole, and just maybe those 15 minutes will change Adam for a lifetime. If that’s the outcome, then I’m the one who has received a very special present indeed.
I hope my optimism and love for everyone who shares this planet with me rubs off on whoever I meet. We smile at one another but never really know how things are going, but what I do is try to spread a feeling of happiness. I still see the little kid faces on my friends who are now close to 60 years old, like me. I remember the days of playing in the street and the joy we all had in our friendships as kids even if we were poor and didn’t get much for Christmas. We had each other all year round and that was the real gift. Christmas was just an opportunity to feel even better about our lives. We were all happy with a little food, church, and being together as friends and family.
So, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with acting the fool with your kids and grandkids during Christmas time. Heck, there’s nothing wrong with living with joy, faith in your God and living with the hope of better things to come every moment of your time on this earth. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with hugging a friend and telling them you love them, every chance you get. To heck with popular polls and all of that snooty stuff that says we have to act the way “they’ say we have to. Who are “they”, anyway? Live your life filled with smiles, hugs, kisses, and hope – and pass those things on to everyone you love and care about. Tell a stranger in the store to have a great day – and they always smile and might think you’re a little crazy, but they do like it. We all need to reconnect and remember as kids we didn’t let invisible walls keep us apart.
Make everyday Christmas, and give that one special gift (love) as often as you wish. No wrapping, and all it costs is your will to share it with someone.
I’ll be thinking of everyone on Christmas Day, and I’ll be praying that your day is so very special.
Viva con el amor en el Corazon y la esperanza en su vida.
Feliz Navidad!

Armstrong’s Points Lift Lady Steers in OT

By Kyle Smith
For the Mountain Mail

Kameron Armstrong scooped in a layup and hit a crucial free-throw in the closing seconds of overtime as Magdalena came away with a 59-58 win over visiting Hatch Valley in a nondistrict girls basketball game on Saturday afternoon.
The Lady Bears lead 54-52 with 6.8 seconds left in regulation. The Lady Steers then moved the ball down the court quickly, setting up a layup by Alicia Armijo before time expired to tie it.
Hatch Valley opened the extra period with a 3-pointer, to make it 57-54. Magdalena then responded with a two-point jump shot to cut the deficit by one to make it 57-56.
After Armstrong made her layup, the Lady Bears hit a free-throw to tie the game at 58 with 30 seconds left.
Hatch Valley got the ball back but failed to capitalize on the opportunity when Alyssa Martinez missed two free-throws, the second try rebounded by Armstrong. Armstrong was then fouled who and sent to the free-throw line with 1.2 seconds left.
Armstrong made her first attempt and missed on the second try, but Armijo came down with the rebound to preserve the victory for the Lady Steers (5-5).
Nicah Montoya scored a game-high 14 points, Armstrong had 11, and Breann Baca chipped in with nine for Magdalena.
Shelbey carson scored a team-high 13 points for the Lady Bears (3-4).
Hatch Valley competes in Class 3A. The Lady Steers compete in Class 2A.
Both squads showed strong defense early in the game as Hatch Valley had a minuscule 7-6 lead after the first quarter.
Magdalena took a 20-17 lead into halftime.
The Lady Bears led 34-29 in the third quarter, which was the largest point advantage for either team on Saturday.
The Lady Steers next play on Jan. 13 when they play host to East Mountain.

Layup in Closing Seconds Overwhelms Socorro Boys

Mountain Mail Reports

Four seconds turned out to be the difference.
That’s the amount of time that was left in the fourth quarter when Erik Garcia drove the ball past two defenders and scooped in a layup to give Ojo Caliente Mesa Vista a 62-61 victory over Socorro in the first round of the 11th annual Ben Lujan Tournament at Pojoaque Valley High School on Monday night.
The game-winning basket was setup when Michael Contreras of the Warriors stepped out of bounds with the ball with a little more than 15 seconds left to play.
Jared Marquez had a game-high 29 points, including five 3-pointers, in the loss for Socorro (4-5), which trailed for much of the game, including a four-point deficit entering the fourth quarter.  Alejandro Lopez scored a team-high 15 points and Lorenzo Sanchez chipped in with 14 for the Trojans (6-3).
Socorro will have a couple weeks to recuperate from the loss. The Warriors next play on Jan. 4 against Ruidoso at home.

Lady Warriors Stymied by Tough Defense

Mountain Mail Reports

After going on a scoring surge in the first quarter, the Socorro offense couldn’t get much else going during a 55-40 loss to Taos in the first round of the 11th annual Ben Lujan Tournament at Pojoaque Valley High School on Monday.
The Lady Warriors scored 16 points in the opening quarter, but could only notch 14 more the rest of the way.
Samantha Sedillo scored a team-high 14 points and Jaden Jones added 10 for Socorro (2-5).
Mona Trujillo scored a game-high 16 and Mirasol Martinez chipped in with 11 for the Lady Tigers (5-3).
The Lady Warriors next play on Jan. 7 at Ruidoso.

Santa Gets Help From The Sheriff

“Elves and reindeer” from the Socorro County Sheriff’s Dept., Socorro County Emergency Services and Socorro City Police helped Santa Claus deliver an early Christmas to needy families in the county Wednesday. Food and toys were given out throughout the rural areas of Socorro County.

John Larson/Mountain Mail


Playing With a Holiday Breakfast Tradition

Fork Tender
By Nancy Newberry

I think cooking should be fun. It’s a good thing to remember during the holidays, when things can get hectic, and cooking can become – quite unnecessarily – a stress-inducing performance. I also think cooking should be, mostly, easy. I think that cooking gets more fun, and easier, the more you do it. Once you have tried and read a number of recipes, you begin to know just how far you can push a recipe. You begin to see patterns that you can experiment and play with, and create new things, spectacular successes and maybe the occasional flop – a small price to pay for greatness.
So let’s play with a holiday breakfast tradition – the breakfast casserole. I suggest this for two reasons: casseroles are easy to prepare ahead, and bake on a busy holiday morning. Also, I’ve just recently tasted a terrific variation on baked French toast, created by a Hop Canyon neighbor of mine. She’d been to the east coast and tried Anadama bread – dense yeast bread with molasses and corn meal – for the first time. She had the idea that it would make a nice French toast and then decided to invite a bunch of pals over, so she made it as a French toast casserole. We all loved it, so we’re sharing it with you.
It’s the perfect example of creating a new recipe from the pattern that is really a basic bread pudding. Bread, cubed or sliced, doused in an egg-milk mixture, rests overnight, and then you bake it. Easy, peasy! But the excitement is in the details: what kind of bread can you use? Should the casserole be sweet or savory? How far can basic bread pudding be pushed in new directions? Well, the answer is pretty far, indeed.
In this case, the Anadama bread is dark and rich, so spicing this casserole with cinnamon and maple syrup creates a gingerbread-like comfort dish. And there’s no reason to stop there: include a cup of wild blueberries before baking to add a contrasting tangy fruit flavor. Or you could begin with a few tablespoons of butter, a half cup of brown sugar, and two chopped pears in the bottom of the casserole dish, and it would be like French toast pear upside-down cake. And there’s no reason to experiment only with sweet ingredients. You could make a savory casserole using Pueblo bread, slices of smoked sausage, shredded cheese, and some chopped green chile.
So you can see where I’m going here. Don’t throw your recipes away, by any means. But take a risk in the kitchen, and see if you can come up with greatness. Any flavor combination that makes you think, “Oh, that sounds good,” is worth trying. Start with a basic pattern and create your own experiment. Keep notes; feed your friends. This is how great chefs are made, and if not great chefs, really good home cooks. And really happy friends.
This week’s recipes, then, are for Anadama bread, adapted from, and for the casserole as our Hop Canyon chef made it – it’s really nice served with a fruit salad, crispy bacon, and a dollop of Greek yogurt. And I’ve teased out a basic formula for the egg-milk mixture to pour over any type of bread so that you can go nuts making your own breakfast casseroles. Immortality is in your hands now, and if you come up with a great recipe that everyone swoons over, let me know. We’ll put you in the newspaper.

Anadama Bread

Prep time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Makes 1 loaf
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup molasses
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon salt
Bring ½ cup water and cornmeal to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until slightly thickened; about 5 minutes. Stir in butter and molasses; let stand until lukewarm.
Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add the flour, cornmeal mixture, and salt, stirring well to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Alternatively, mix and knead in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer using the dough hook.
Spray the dough with cooking spray, and place in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Deflate the dough and form into a loaf; place in the prepared pan. Cover and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.
Bake in the preheated oven until the top is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped, about 35 minutes.

Hop Canyon Anadama French Toast Casserole

Serves 8
Prep time: 8 hours 15 minutes
Bake time: 1 hour 15 minutes
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
6 eggs
2 cups milk or half and half
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 loaf Anadama bread, sliced 1/2 –inch thick
Melt butter with cinnamon and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and salt. Layer the Anadama bread slices in the baking pan. Pour the egg mixture over the top. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the casserole from refrigerator.
Bake in the preheated oven until set, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn out onto a platter to serve.
The Basic Formula
The basic formula is 1 egg to every 1/3 cup milk (or half and half), plus a pinch of salt. This will cover 2 slices of bread cut into cubes (about 2 cups cubes). Four times this basic formula is enough for an 8x8 inch pan; six times this recipe will make a 9x13 inch casserole. Add a little sugar, honey, or syrup, fruit, nuts, and spices to your sweet versions; Add loads of fresh herbs, cheeses, some vegetables, bacon, salami, or ham to savory variations.
Savory possibilities:
Sage, mushrooms, Swiss cheese, bacon.
Green chiles, Cheddar cheese, cilantro.
Sweet possibilities:
Apples, green chiles, pine nuts, cinnamon.
Pecans, pears, dried cranberries, cardamom.

Nancy Newberry arrived in Magdalena from Seattle about a year ago, where her DIY food exploits are, while not quite legendary, pretty daring. She has worked in coffee shops and deli kitchens, cooked for camps and field trips, and worked as a site producer for the #1 Food and Entertainment website on the web,

Holy Days Linked to Winter Solstice

Luna News
By Debbie Leschner

Religions worldwide observe many seasonal days of celebration during the month of December. As we shop and visit about, it is more and more common to hear friends, neighbors and strangers wish us “Happy Holidays”, and it is a fitting response with most religious holy days linked in some way to the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere.
Winter Solstice happened on Dec. 21. On that day, due to the earth’s tilt on its axis, the daytime hours were at a minimum in the northern hemisphere and the night time is at a maximum.
Season’s greetings are being shared in various ways to treat the celebrations of many faiths as diversely as mankind itself.
We should value the range of December celebrations, because it is evidence of the multiplicity of belief within our common earthly humanity. We should share a smile and above all, share respect, both within our own religious traditions and in reaching out to those of other faiths. Indeed we are celebrating the ability to inspire people to lead more ethical lives. Religious diversity is a very positive influence.


This winter season is bringing many of our Luna families together in very special ways. Dennis and Patti Swapp recently traveled with family to Las Vegas, Nev., to celebrate their youngest daughter Jessica’s marriage and enjoy a little time away. Congratulations from all of us to Jessica. I think it’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence that it also just happened to be National Finals Rodeo week.

Stan and Pam Thompson recently received the best Christmas present ever. Their 36th grandchild was born on Dec. 6. Milo Boyd Whatcott came into the world weighing 8 lbs., 8 oz. Grandma Pam reports their daughter Kendra, husband Russell and baby Milo are doing great.

Christmas Events and Services

The Catholic Church of Alpine, Ariz., is preparing to hold their Christmas Eve Mass on Friday, Dec. 24. For specific times for this year’s services, you may contact Becky Trujillo.

The Presbyterian Church of Alpine, Ariz., will hold its Christmas Eve Mass at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 24, and has extended a special invitation to everyone to attend the services. Flyers have been posted on the bulletin board for more information on this and weekly worship services and meeting times.

Genealogy Corner

Ever wonder how your early family might have spent their Christmas season celebrations? Christmas was not celebrated in the Colonial period at all like it is today. British Episcopalian settlers would go to church on Christmas Day and come home to a meal with family, but not necessarily a special meal. Christmas was viewed more as a religious activity.
A British Christmas was also more for adults than for children. Wealthy British colonists in the southern colonies would hold Christmas balls, featuring a burning Yule log from an oak tree. Fox hunting and other activities would follow in the 12 days after Christmas. Mistletoe, holly, and bay leaves were placed in vases in windows, according to old paintings.
Young British schoolboys would write “Christmas pieces” on paper with holiday borders, which would later become the infamous Christmas card.

Quote of the week:
“One kind word can warm three winter months.”
—Japanese Proverb quotes


Commission on Aging Publishes Cookbook

Quemado News
By Debbie Leschner

The Catron County Commission on Aging has printed a cookbook comprised of the favorite recipes of our local friends and neighbors. It is titled “County Cooking – Catron County Senior Favorites” and is available at the Senior Center for $12. A nice last-minute gift, or hostess gift. This will also be Diana’s last week, so be sure to stop in and wish her well in her new ventures. She will be truly missed.

Quemado Senior Center will hold pool practice on Tuesday, Dec. 28. Movie and popcorn on Wednesday, with quilting and bingo on Thursday.
Lunch for Monday – beef steak with gravy
Tuesday – chili relleno casserole
Wednesday – meatloaf with sauce
Thursday – hot dogs
Friday – pork posole.
All seniors are welcome. Please call the center at 773-4820 before 9 a.m. to make your lunch reservations.

With winter break it is a quit week for Quemado schools. This year’s Homecoming Queen is Tara Walker and Homecoming King is Garrett Williams; Homecoming Princess is Emily Farranti and Homecoming Prince is Hiram Fernandez.

Christmas is a time to remember the ones who light up our lives with friendship and laughter and fill our hearts with memories and love. From my family to yours, have a very Merry Christmas.

Sulky Sylvia is Gleeful Concerning the Arrival of Christmas

By Anne Sullivan

“Merry Christmas!” Sylvia shouted as she entered the house for breakfast.
“My, aren’t we cheery today,” I said, heading to the kitchen to pour kibble into her dish.
“It’s Christmas, that’s why I’m so joyous. Did Santa Claus come?” Sylvia wagged her tail with eagerness.
“Not yet. You’re a day early. He comes tonight. That is, if you and Gordo have been good.”
“I can’t answer for Gordo, but I’ve not only been good, I’ve been angelic. Isn’t Christmas wonderful?” she said as she dashed over to the tree instead of her breakfast. “The house looks so nice with all the cards we’ve received around the windows and doors. And the tree is a joy to behold with all those beautiful ornaments.” Sylvia smiled from ear to ear and wagged her tail as she admired the tree.
“Be careful with that tail of yours. Some of those beautiful ornaments are very old.”
“Like you, huh?” Sylvia’s smile widened into an enormous toothy grin.
“Like both of us,” I said, having the last word for once.
Sylvia trotted over to her dish in the kitchen and for a few minutes loud gobbling sounds rang through the room.
“Mmn, that was delectable. Thanks, boss,” she said, wiping her mouth with a paper napkin picturing a jolly Santa. “What a gorgeous day this is.”
“Excuse me, but are you Sylvia?” I asked as I sank into my comfortable chair. “You seem to be a new and different manifestation of the depressed dog named Sylvia that used to live here.”
“It’s me, boss,” she said, bouncing to my side. “I’m your loving dog, Sylvia. Don’t you recognize me?”
“You look like Sylvia but you certainly don’t talk like her. You’re full of sunshine and cheer. I’m not sure I can cope with a dog like that.”
“Get used to it, boss. This is the new me. And it’s all your fault.”
“How so?”
“You’re the one who was after me to join Christmas, to meet it face to face and conquer it.”
“I’m not aware I phrased it exactly that way.”
“Nevertheless, that was your intent. I simply followed your advice to banish my Christmas depression.”
“Well,” I tempered, taken aback by this revelation, “that’s wonderful. How are you planning to accomplish this?”
“Gordo and I are giving a Christmas party.”
“Not in my my house, you’re not.”
“Don’t worry, boss. It’ll be on the porch. Like your parties, it will be potluck so we won’t have to furnish all the food. Gordo’s out now inviting all the squirrels and chipmunks and deer and elk. The birds have already refused because they’re afraid he’ll eat them.”
“You’re not inviting the mice, I hope.”
“No, not the mice. After the way they behaved last year they’re rodenta non grata. But there’s more. We’ll have punch to drink and games to play and Santa will give a small present to everyone.”
”And who will be Santa?”
“Gordo and I thought you would. You’ll just have to wear something red. Your pajamas will do. You already have the white hair and the belly.”
I glowered at her. “I take issue with that and I certainly don’t have a white beard.”
“We’ll make you one with cotton or something. There’s a lot to do to get ready. We’ll put the Christmas tree out on the porch for the party. You can move it inside afterwards if you want. We’ll have dress up games and lots of food. This will be such fun. Why, this will be the best Christmas ever.”
One can always hope.

Datil Singer to Ride Float in Rose Parade

By Anne Sullivan
For the Mountain Mail

Windwalker Dorn is walking on air these days. And she has great tidings of joy for Datil and environs. She and her husband, Edoal Spirit Buffalo, and their 14-year-old daughter, Anagqus, will be riding on the One Nations float in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day.
How did this honor come about? According to Windwalker, “We were invited by Group Drule because in November we were winners of the Single Song of the Year Award at the Native American Music Awards held in Niagara Falls, N.Y. The song was called ‘Grandfather’ and it’s from our new album. We’ve won for two consecutive years. In 2009, we won the Gospel Inspiration Award for ‘Amazing Grace’ in Cherokee.”
Windwalker and family, who came to Datil from Pennsylvania six years ago, are what you could call multi-Tribal Native Americans. They belong to the Micmac Tribe from Maine and Canada, and they’re Cherokee from North Carolina and Lanape from Pennsylvania and New York.
Windwalker can be described as a singer with a stunning a cappella voice, a drummer, a story teller, a song writer, a masseuse, and a Generational Medicine Woman. Asked which was the most important to her, she challenged with, “You pick.” Having heard her sing, I pick the first.
She can also be described as a bubbling-over enthusiast. Flashing her enormous blue eyes which are becomingly set off by her jet-black hair, and scarcely pausing for breath, she had this to say: “I just learned that we’re – the whole family – going on a 10-day European Tour in July 2011. We’ll perform in England and Amsterdam and France, and some other cities, and we’ll end up in Germany. Oh, and we’re playing at the Old Taos Inn on Dec. 26. And we were just given a new tour bus. I was just in Socorro getting the paperwork settled on that.”
It looks like Windwalker and family are on their way. Come New Year’s Day, I’ll be looking for them in the Rose Bowl Parade.

Pictured: Edoal Spirit Buffalo and Windwalker at Pie Town

Photo by John Larson

Letters To Santa

The following letters came from Magdalena Elementary and Parkview Elementary.

Dear Santa,
My name is Britten Monte. I am 9 years old. Could you buy a present?
I want a Barbie Doll for Christmas.
Britten Monte

Dear Santa,
My name is Lazarus James Sanchez. I live on 505 9th Street in Magdalena. I am in Mrs. Rices 3rd grade. I am 8 years old and so far I have been learning about money. All I want for Christmas is a game for the computer.

Dear Santa,
My name is Libby Sedillo. I’m 8 and in 3rd grade and I have five friends. Cheyenne,
God, Catrina and you. I learned not to yell at my brother to be nice or I can’t play with the Wii. Thank you for all the presents you give to the children. Why do you like making toys and working all day long? What color are your eyes? How many Elves do you have? If I’m good will you give me snow on Chrismas day? Please wrap my present of Justin Beiber.
Libby S.

Santa Claus,
My name is Rose Secatero and I am 9 years old. I am in 3rd grade. What I learned in school is Reading and Math. I want you to give me an Ipod, a Gumball Machine and Laptop. Merry Christmas Santa.

Dear Santa Claus,
My name is Kasie Gallegos and my age is 9. I live in New Mexico 96 Chunky Road. I want my parents to be safe and I want an Ipod. What I learned in school is how to use multiplication charts and I learned new reader strategies.

Dear Santa,
My name is Mikhail Gonadonegro, I’m 10 years old and in 3rd grade. My teacher is nice to me. I have been nice to my mom and dad. If you see me nice could you give me 3 presents? I want an Ipod, PSP and S.C.A.R.E.
Mikhail G.

Dear Santa Claus,
My name is Keithan Minitrez and I am in 3rd Grade and 8 years old. I want a new bike and a new Laptop and Ipod. How are you? I am good and I am working hard Santa.
Keithan M.

My name is Cheyenne Sullivan. Thank you for everything. All I want for Christmas is to have fun with my family. Today my teacher said wed had to write four letters. I had never heard her say that. We’re going to write to Mr. Chambers, our Mom and our Dad and to a service man. We are studying how to write letters. If you are wondering my age, I am 9 years old. You can give me a dollhouse and a puzzle for my sister. One more thing, have a very Merry Christmas Santa.
Cheyenne Kelly Sullivan

Dear Santa Claus,
My name is Elijah and I’m 9 and in 3rd grade in Mrs. Rice’s class. I wonder how you get from house to house? What I would like is a helicopter with hope and joy. I learned a lot in school. I also learned how to be respectful. I think Christmas is about thankfulness. I hope you save a cookie for me.

Dear Santa,
Hi, I’m Jordan and my last name is Brannon. My parents are Rebecca and Jonathan. I’m in the 3rd grade. We have been studying animal classification and my teachers name is Mrs. Rice. This is what I want for Christmas. Play station games, a phone Case and touch brush.

Dear Santa,
I would really like to have a Play Station for Christmas. I have been a good boy. My name is Carlos. Merry Christmas Santa.
Your Friend,

Dear Santa,
I’ve been a very good boy and I would like a computer for my Christmas gift.

My friend Santa,
I have been a really good girl and I would like to have a Hannah Montana Blanket for Christmas please.
Your Friend,

Santa Claus,
I’m a good boy and I hope you can bring me a guitar for Christmas. Thank you Santa.

Dear Santa,
I’ve been a really good girl this year and would like and Ipod for Christmas if you can.
Your friend,

Dear Santa Claus,
I would like an Ipod for Christmas this year. My name is Mirella and I’ve been a good girl this year.
Your friend,

Dear Santa Claus,
My name is Lucy and I would like a Basketball for Christmas this year. I have Been a good girl this year.

Dear Santa,
My name is Catrina Otero. I’m 8 Years old and I’m in 3rd grade. I like Math, spelling and Science. I have 3 Friends. One Libby, the other Kasie and last one Cheyenne. I’m glad you can deliver presents to both big and small kids. I hope you can get me a Wii, phone and Blizzard maker.

Dear Santa Claus,
My name is Kaylena Ganadonegro and I’m 9 years old. I have four friends Rose, Britten, Gavin and Kasie.
All I want for Christmas is an Ipod and an Xbox 360.
Kaylena G.

Dear Santa,
My name is Josiah Piasso. I am in the 3rd grade and I’m 9 years old. In school I learn Math and Science. How are you doing today Santa? I am fine. What I want for Christmas is an Ipod, DVD player and a book. Merry Christmas to you Santa.
Josiah Piasso

Dear Santa,
I’m Kyle Julian and I’m 8 years old. I want a football and Ipod. If you get me three things I will be happy. How many Elves do you have? It’s probably so Relaxing for you, that’s why you never have to make toys cause they do it.

Dear Santa Claus,
My name is Gavin Apachito. I like to do Math and Science and reading. I’m doing good in school, Are you happy? I bet it’s fun going into peoples houses. I want an Ipod, Camera and Laptop

Dear Santa,
My name is Keanna Torres. I am in the 3rd grade and I am 8 years old. I would like for Christmas a Laptop, Ipod, crayons and a coloring book. Merry Christmas Santa.

Dear Santa,
I have been a very good boy. I would like a Piano for Christmas.
Your friend,

Dear Santa,
I have been a very good boy and I would like to have a nice present for Christmas.

Dear Santa Claus,
I have been a good boy and I would like to have a Superman Game for Christmas.
Your friend,

Santa Claus,
I’ve been a really good boy. I would like to have a Turtle for Christmas.

Dear Santa,
I have been a good and nice girl this year. Please bring me a Play Station for Christmas.
Your friend,

Dear Santa,
I have been a really good girl. I would like to have a Barbie Doll for me.

Dear Santa,
I’ve been a really good girl and would like a Rocking Horse and Ipod for Christmas.
My name is Angel and Merry Christmas Santa Claus.
Your friend,

Dear Santa Claus,
My name is Riley and I would like a computer and Guitar because I have been a good boy.

Dear Santa,
I have been a very good boy and I would like a Play Station for this Christmas.
Mary Louise

Dear Santa,
I’ve been a really good girl and would like to have a Rocking Horse and Computer for Christmas.

Dear Santa Claus,
I’m a good boy and would like an I Phone for Christmas this year. Thank you.

Dear Santa,
What I would like for Christmas is a dollhouse. I’ve been a good girl for most of the year, so maybe you might think about giving me a fake horse but it could walk. And that’s all I want!

State Police Shopping Spree

I had a blast on Saturday watching kids shop for Christmas gifts they would not have received if not for some caring people who live right here in Socorro. Organizers, volunteers and donors from here made this happen, and it doesn’t get any better than that, this time of year.
State Police employee Tina Arellin organized a shopping day at Walmart here in Socorro for 22 children along with help from State Police Capt. Mark Umprovitch, Officer Enrique Vega, and other State Police family volunteers.
Arellin said, “It’s the third year that we’ve organized something for Socorro families and their children.  We want to do something every year and it really makes us feel good to do whatever we can for people in need. We’re honored to help in any way we can with the children of Socorro.” 
After two months of planning, Arellin, her husband Manuel and son Matthew put the plan into action, which meant giving each child a gift card to shop with and a gift-wrapping party at the County Annex building with pizza and soda and other refreshments. 
It was a pleasure for me to follow the children and volunteers throughout Walmart, taking photos and watching the looks of such joy on the kids’ faces. I find as time passes as owner of the Mountain Mail, those are the moments that are truly the best in working at a newspaper. It’s great to know that there are people in Socorro who are always trying to help those less fortunate. Congratulations to Tina and her family, all of the volunteers, and the wonderful people who donated the money to make this Christmas gift party possible.
— Gary Jaramillo


Letters To Myscie: A Western Love Story By Suzanne E. Smith

Letters to Myscie is a true story. It reveals to us a “Yankee’s” view of the area and the times, and the impact it had on new comers.
Suzanne E. Smith

Part 15 of the series

Middle Camp, Magdalena N.M.
Friday 18th, 1883

My dear dear Myscie
I have just a few minutes before we start this morning which I will use in writing while the boys are harnessing up the horses. Mr. Cowles and myself came in last night. On Wednesday afternoon we started from the ranch; day before yesterday. Mr. Hoyt was with us. We were caught in a fearful rain & wind storm when about half (way) in here and were out in the whole of it. It lasted for about five hours. It was the worst stormI ever experienced. I was on horse back and was drenched through and through in five minutes after it began. Then came up a sleet and snowed as we came up into the mountains and I was nearly frozen to death. We should not have started at all until Friday or today only Mr. Hoyt; George was with us and he was anxious to get in here and take the coach for Socorro, and unless he came in that night he would not catch it for several days again. We came about ten miles from here and it was already dark so we decided to stop over night (Mr. C & I) with some miners who were camped about a mile & a half away & Geo took my pony and came on alone.
He got in here about midnight, and yesterday noon we started after drying our bedding and clothing which were all wet through when we came in here. We stoped last night here with Mr. Stots property where Jim is staying. Jim will go back with us for a few days. I guess he has no work and he can step right in just as well as not if he wishes to go. I have not heard from you since I wrote you from Socorro last Sunday. Our mail will come out to-day. We have it sent out every Friday so I expect there will be one from you sure. We will be in again in a few days. The boys are out at the door waiting for me now so good bye dear and I will write you again after I get out to the ranch.
Love untill then Your true and loving Joe

Friday May 25th '83 3.30 PM Magdalena Camp N.M.

My dear dear Myscie
  Here I am back again to the Magdalenas. I started this morning about 8 o'ck from the ranch on horse back and arrived here later about 2 o'ck this afternoon. The mail will not be in much before 5.30 so I will write a letter while I am waiting. I intended to have written before coming in and have actually started two evenings in succession but have been interrupted both times, so had to give it up. Yesterday I went out to Antelope Springs (Cowle's Ranch) to get some "grub". Most all our things are stored there. It is about 12 miles from where we were camped. I rode out but had to walk back for I had the horse's back packed so full there was no chance to ride. I got in about sun down and I tell you I was tired. After feeding the horse I went in and lay down a while. Jim got supper. After walking, then resting before supper and just as soon as I was through, I started to write and whenI had hardly finished a page, Jim was washing up the dishes, when I heard horses hoofs down the canon. It was dark but soon a man on horse back rode up out from amoung the trees into the light of our camp fire and inquired for Mr. Cowles. He said he was just out in Middle Camp, and had a special message for him. I told him he was not there; but had gone to Socorro to be gone several days. He had started that morning early, and that I would take the letter. He handed it to me. This broke up the writing for last night for we had to set about and get another supper for this man and after that to get packed and write to Mr. Cowles. By the time I was through it was time for me to turn in, for I had to rest for my journey today. We were up early this morning but I had a long hunt for my pony up in the mountains so, did not get a very early start after all. The man who brought the letter to Mr. Cowles stayed the night with us and drove in with me today.
We had a fine time this fore noon chasing a hurd of antelope out on the plain. I put chase to them for several miles for I thought I had wounded one. I fired at them twice but they were too far away, about six hundred yards when I tried it again.
Now perhaps you would like to know what Jim and I have been doing out here in the mountains this past week. Let me see. I wrote you a letter last Friday morning before we started from here. Jim and I have been all alone. Mr. C. did not come out until Sunday night when he brought me your letter written the 13th. The only one I have received since your wrote me just after the fire. You had not then received any of my letters written in Socorro. This was Jim's second trip out with me. He has written Annie all about it I guess, by what he said, so I will not try and describe as you may hear it all first hand. We have been busy all the week working on the huts. Putting up fire-places, beds, etc, etc. I will not stop to describe just now for Mrs. Stotts little girl just came in and told me the mail is here. So I will not have time to write much more for I must start back tonight and get as far as I can; for it is a long drive.
Did you get those pictures I sent you? One was of a mexican oven I told you I was going to send along. I will tell you about it and I will try to make time to do so, if I can find it. The other was a picture of Mr. Cowles camp last winter when he was out in the mines. Why I sent it was because "Dick" my pony is in it. You can see him on the right, he moved his head so it is not very plain. Mr. Cowles is the one sitting nearest in front with a rifle in his hand.
Have you seen Mrs. Hamilton yet? I can not write this time to her & have not yet written to Mother, poor woman. You must write for me Myscie. I must stop now. Please excuse this hand and I apologize for the letter Myscie dear, but I could truly not write at this time. Write me often please because I depend very much on them.
Your true and loving Joe.

The following post script was spiraled around the page, and it is quite possible that he did this because he was out of paper. Paper was not something that was easy to find way out on the ranch, (it probably had a greater purpose), and most cowboys weren’t writers.

I did not get any letter in there for Jim or myself. Oh I am so disappointed Myscie, it can't be you did not write they must have forgetten to have forwarded them from Socorro. Oh dear I could cry truly I feel so disapointed after coming so far purposely after, and I don't know when I can come in again.

The construction of the railroad to Magdalena was begun in 1883 and completed in 1885. Until that time the mail was transported by stage, which only ran a few days a week. The train ran from Socorro to Kelly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and returned on alternate days. From the ranch, it was a full day on horseback to Magdalena or Kelly. Neighbors would help each other by picking up mail, getting supplies and running errands, but it might take days to get mail even after it had arrived at the station.

Letters to Myscie, a Western Love Story written by Suzanne E. Smith, All rights reserved.

 All Photos©J.E. Smith Collection