Earlier this month I attended a business meeting in Albuquerque, a city I lived in from the age of 1 year old to about 12. My memories from when I was 12 are predictably spotty. But I *do* remember enough that I have an idea of the layout of the city. Or rather the center-city. The boundaries of the metro area have expanded significantly in 40 years. I remember my aunt and uncle (and my cousin who taught me piano) as living on a dirt road on the outskirts of town. Now that road is paved and surprising (to me at least) close to the city center. I purposely stayed at a hotel on Coors Blvd because I knew that we lived little more than a block west of that. But as the week progressed and I became familiar with the area, I realized that the terrain was not what I remembered. Checking Google I discovered that what I remember as Coors Blvd is now named “Old Coors Road SW”.
Here in no particular order are the highlights of what I remember of my childhood in Albuquerque:
1. The sand storms, oh the same storms! We lived on the West Mesa and the wind would whip up the sand so much that I would walk backwards to school so that my face would not get sand-blasted off. But walking backwards sure made it hard to dodge the tumbleweeds.
2. Chasing lizards in the fields to the west of our neighboorhood (now an area of high density housing) and my brother stomping on the wrong tumble weed. A swarm of angry bees erupted from the weed with mayhem on their little minds. I ran fast and managed not to get stung. David, however, was not so lucky and must of had 20 bites on his face and hands.
3. The only thing worse than getting hit by a tumbleweed while walking backwards to school, is seeing one roll by on fire!
4. Smoking bubble gum cigars.
5. Spending every 0.12 cents I ever got on the next Batman comic book.
6. Going to church in the desolate wasteland of Montgomery Blvd., with nothing else around for miles, seemingly. Now this area is very densely populated. Where did the arroyo go?
7. Going to grandma’s house on Lomas – now considered a “combat zone” from what I hear.
8. The yearly pow-wow at which I had to perform with my elemetary school class.
9. Going to the Bernalillo Indian reservation for pinion nuts, jumping beans and shopping for crafts. Man what a beat place that was. Now I hear there are casinos there and the reservation is rich. Sheesh.
10. The muddy Rio Grande… ok some things never change.
11. Riding the Southwest Santa Fe railroad train (where my grandfather worked) from Belen back into town. My favorite entertainment from those days. I saw a picture of the train station terminal building in a travel brochure while I was there. It looks absolutely unchanged from what I remember. They must be preserving it as a historical building.
12. Performing a backflip dismount at the apogee of a swing on the swing set of West Mesa Elementary School. I think I got in trouble for this when the feat was witnessed by the principal and it earned me a month of schoolyard cleanup duty.
We moved to Denver in 1968 which was a much different kettle of fish.