Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Summer at Ojo Caliente

One summer, probably between my first and second grade? Maybe the year before, Dad was working on a highway in northern New Mexico. He built a little house trailer and away we went to camp the entire summer. We stayed near a village named Ojo Caliente, though in my memory there are lots more trees than you see in these pictures. We were probably camped among scrub pine. I have an idea that the people in the picture with dad and the dump truck were relatives who came to visit. He has

the look of being one of Anna and Gus Yarbro's sons. Maybe the one that lived with Mom and Dad when we were in Altas, Oklahoma when I was still a baby and Ronnie was just beginning to walk.

The fellow standing behind Dad (who is seated) with his hands on his hips looks very like Gus. I think he's the same fellow with the cowboy hat in his hand in front of the dump truck. As a Yarbro, he would have worn a Stetson.

Ronnie is walking right in front of the wheel of the tanker truck. That was our water supply. There was no electricity to our trailer, though there may have been a light plant down at the camp center. They built a platform so there could be dancing on special occasions.

The fellow on the bulldozer is not Dad. I think he must have been running a shovel or a dragline, because his oiler, Joe Gray was there at Ojo with us. He loved dad. He was a Mexican and called Dad Jeemy. His wife, Romelia, made flour tortillas every morning, and I always tried to be there when she was cooking them.

Back to the bulldozer. I looked at that picture, and the name Blackie came to my mind. Do you remember him, Ron?

That was a magical summer. Full of adventure and freedom. One day a truck carrying lettuce and other veggies turned over, and we all OD'd on lettuce. Mom gave us a salt shaker full of sugar, and we'd sprinkle it on the leaves, roll them up, and eat them. I can still taste it!

I can still remember the harrowing ride on a lowboy trailer to another town where the fellows were supposed to play baseball. The whole little camp community piled on the trailer and off we went on a shortcut through the mountains. It was a gravel road with hairpin turns so sharp that the truck would have to back up and jockey around to get around them. By the time we finally arrived, the game was over.

The construction company that Dad worked for was owned by Royal Skousen. I still have a picture that his wife did for my mother, a very pretty picture done in pastels on fine grade sandpaper of a path through a woods.

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