The Spit & Whittle Club grew from a group of village residents that met to reminisce about the old days. This is a free forum group and stories will be posted. Club benches are found at Casa Grande Trading Post on Waldo Street, at the Cerrillos Bar on First Street and on the Simoni Porch on First Street.
Motto: Take the time to reminisce
We had the first Spit & Whittle Club meeting in the old box car. Years ago, it had been pushed by a bulldozer 2 miles up the Galisteo River from Waldo. Four of us enjoyed an hour of sharing stories and it did not fail - when telling stories we all remembered the incidents differently. We all saw things from different perspectives. The teller always said his peace about the tale and what had happen. We laughed and had a great time. Periodic meetings are held when inspired. You can send your Cerrillos stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPIT AND WHITTLE CLUB Stories
Cerrillos is a railroad town. Many homes are made of
railroad ties and we all use many of the products that come from the train tracks like pieces of rail, spikes, insulators, ties. The Amtrak train comes through Cerrillos twice a day. Eastbound at 1:00pm and westbound around 4:00 pm, sometimes early, sometimes late. This Christmas, 2016, the east bound train came through. I could not believe what I was hearing. Usually a few horn blasts as it pass at 65 mph. This time on Christmas day, the engineer was feeling good and made the horn sound like Jingle Bells. I heard it and laughed, when he was in the middle of our village he did it again. Hoot, Hoot, Hoot - Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way. It sounded great and it made our Christmas a little more meaningful. We are a railroad town and we care! T. Brown
It is now 2016 and I want to tell you how the village saint in front of the Catholic church came into being. There used to be a beautiful tree in front of the church. One day someone with a chainsaw came and turned it into a statue. The statue was supposed to be of Jesus but to me it looks like a saint, a person who believes in what Jesus preached. It looked pretty good. I used to catch my friend in front of it cursing. I asked him one day why and he told me this. He was tired of replacing the rosary cross around the saints neck. I guess people were taking it. After 20 years the roots of the saint tree rotted and it fell over and the priest told someone to get rid of it. Fifteen years have passed and many people come into our shop asking about it. My friend who was always standing in front of it has just died. After his mass I dreamed of all that we had shared as friends. In my dream he said to go find it and put it back up. The next morning I started making phone calls. I found it. Someone had put it up at their home 7 miles away and he said that the village of Cerrillos could have it back. I was very excited and asked the new priest about it. He said okay. I took my wife and son to help me load it up. It is 12 feet tall. At my home I used 20 tubes of caulking to fill in the cracks and put it back together. I painted it with redwood stain. The head had been carved by a famous wood carver from the town Tesuque, Ben Ortega. I reinstalled the statue with my wife, son and Martin Perea. I screwed down the Rosary & belt so no one would take them. Many people stop to view it and take photos. Enclosed is a photo. What do you think? I like it. T. Brown
I wanted to write how my new ore mining car came to me. For many years I have been going to Garnet Ridge in the San Pedro mountains, south of Cerrillos on field trips with my gem club. By the old Spanish working mine, in the waste rock, part of an ore car was showing. I said to myself that if I could ever get it, I would rebuild it as a show piece. It finally happened. It took 10 years of seeing it. What happened was on my last field trip to Garnet Ridge we were shuttled from the parking area up to the collecting site. It was then that I noticed someone had dug the ore car out and didn't want it. All that remained was the bottom and front side of the ore car. As I could only stay a short while for the field trip I tried to get a ride down the mountain. No one was ready to leave so I had to walk the 1 1/2 miles back. My bucket was heavy with minerals and as I was straining to carry it I again came across the ore car. I then realized that I could leave my bucket there, get my truck and load up the mining car and the bucket. I got my second wind and ran down the mountain. I only got more excited about what was happening. It was my time to get it. I found someone to help me load it and departed. At home I showed my findings. Everyone laughed and said it was pointless to rebuild it. I measured what I would need and bought metal for the sides in Santa Fe and found 4 wheels in Durango, Colorado. I drove up there to get them. It was a great trip. It took me 5 days to put it back together. Enclosed is a photo. I just really enjoy having it at my museum here in Cerrillos. T. Brown
Rattle Snake Kid
This summer my son got bit by a rattlesnake. Here is what happened. My wife and I were going to take a 5 day trip into Colorado. We had made reservations and were going to a rock show. My son was going to watch our trading post, mining museum and petting zoo here in Cerrillos. Two days before leaving my son had dinner at his girlfriends house two doors down. Upon leaving at 10pm at night, in flip flops and shorts, in the complete dark, he stepped on a rattle snake that bit him in the ankle. The snake bit, then rattled. We think that he stepped on its tail. My son walked home and showed us the bite. It was at this point that I realized that I was going on the Colorado trip by myself. We got him to the hospital where they waited for hours to see how the poison would affect him. When the swelling started going up his leg they started the antivenom. He spent ten days in the hospital on antivenom. He is recovered now and there is no scarring. What I did when I came back from Colorado was to buy him a flashlight. I have never heard of anyone getting bit at night. It had been a wet month and there were many toads hopping around our village at night. Maybe the snake was feeding on them. On the way to the hospital my wife and son took a photo of the still coiled rattlesnake out in the road to show the doctor. I asked them both "why didn't you run over the snake". They never even thought about it. The snake is still out in the village. T. Brown
We try yearly to have a Fiesta in our village of Cerrillos. We have arts & crafts, music, free food, dancing, hay rides and horse rides for the kids. Two years ago my mining museum started sponsoring the Cerrillos Donkey race. It is one of the most interesting experiences that happens in New Mexico. The New Mexico Donkey Society is a group of people that adopt wayward donkeys. They take care of them. They have made Cerrillos their home with our dirt roads. We have 2 races that go 2 blocks long. The first is leading your donkey there and back. The second is riding the donkey and a return to the starting line. I hold up the $50 prize and $20 for second place. For the donkey that comes in last, the owner gets a bar of soap. This all happens quite quickly We all enjoy the fiesta so much. I cannot wait for next year. T. Brown
I have been living in New Mexico with my wife for quite a few years now. Hearing of the Thunderbird has always caught my interest. I wondered where did it come from, where was it, how did it get its name? It was in the summer of my 46th years in New Mexico that I finally saw my first Thunderbird. Driving down from Cuba, New Mexico to Bernalillo south of the Jemez mountains, a huge thunderstorm had formed and was letting out its water. It was a huge downpour with lots of thunder and lightening also called a micro burst or thunder bomb. As we drove closer towards it we noticed it had formed the shape of a bird It was a magnificent Thunderbird with wings as it poured its rain down upon us. I finally saw the Thunderbird. This is the only time that I have seen this so far. It made my day to finally understand where it came from. T. Brown
State Fair Pie
In 1997 my wife & I entered our peach pie made with fruit from our peach tree at the State Fair. We had to make it, cook it and drive 50 miles to enter it at a certain time. It was a work of love. There were many different categories for all the different pies. When we entered the peach pie we knew then that we had won a ribbon. The reason why. There were only 2 peach pies entered. We either got 1st or 2nd place. We got second place. I still enjoy looking at the ribbon many years later and telling the story. T. Brown
The last 3 years thousands of black crows have spent the winter flying over Cerrillos. Often there are a hundred birds congregated in the trees and on the fence around my animal pen. At sunrise every morning two thousand fly east from where they sleep 5 miles west of Cerrillos in a large grove of Russian Olive trees by a large spring. At sunset the sky is black with crows as they all fly west again to roost. I have been watching their habits and wanted to tell what I have seen. It is now the end of January and the birds are flying to Cerrillos very early in the morning. They seem to have paired up for nesting somewhere. The first thousand birds are now flying 2x2 and what I call flying and diving. They dive and shake their wings to their mate and fly into them. Once they fly over the next group of crows just fly in a huge flock. I am thinking that maybe they are all males. Three weeks ago when all the crows were in Cerrillos eating, something very strange happened. The flock of crows for some reason all cawed at the same time making a very strange noise that startled me. It was like 1 bird cawing but all of them together at once. It was loud and lasted for 5 minutes. It was nature at its finest. As I write this I have 25 crows in my animal pen eating the chickens food, making a racket. I sort of like them. It is live entertainment.
Lucky for Me
This spring, while working at one of our turquoise mines I was walking around looking for little pieces of color. I felt something soft and moving where I had stopped. I looked down and to my surprise I was standing on the head of a coiled rattlesnake. It was not rattling because it was early spring and he was still cold. Always being on guard, I did not think about what to do but sprang 20' in the air to get off of it. Another Olympic jump for Todd Brown. Lucky for me. You never know what will happen. T. Brown
I have been walking in the Cerrillos hills for 46 years. It used to be that the cattle had it so striped out from over grazing that the land would not hold wildlife, not even a rabbit. The cows are mostly gone now that we have a state park. The flora & fauna are returning. We have a good herd of deer, many coyotes, porcupines, raccoons, bears, rabbit and now badgers. About 6 years ago I started noticing the ripping up of cactus roots all over the hills north of Cerrillos. Large areas were being dug by something. It turns out to be a pair of badgers. This week while driving a dirt road in the area a small animal crossed in front of me. He looked at me and ran for 100 feet in front of my truck all the while turning to look back at me. It was a badger. He was about 20" long and 12" wide. He was so cute to see. I always wanted to see one. He turned off the road and went slowly up the hill. I really wanted to walk with him and follow but did not. It is good to know they are around.
Gold Stone Parade
The town of Madrid has it's annual Christmas parade. We being in the Turquoise Trail Merchants Association had made a float. We had spray painted pea gravel turquoise color and gold. We tossed them out from the float instead of candy. It worked well. A year later my friend from Madrid came to visit me in Cerrillos. He took out of his pocket a gold nugget that he said he had found in Madrid. He had carried it for a year. He thought that he was rich. I held the gold stone and told him of me spray painting pea gravel. The look on his face changed. He threw the colored pebble back on the ground. I said good luck next time. T. Brown
Party Time in the Mountains
This is a strange story that some people in Cerrillos used to do. In the evening on a cold winter night with a case of beer and a gallon of gas and really nothing to do. You drive into the mountains, pour a gallon of gas on a juniper tree, light it and watch the fire works as it burns. All while drinking your beer. To me, this is heartless. You should never do this to nature. We need to protect the trees, the animals and the desert. It's all we got. T. Brown
The Ocean Almost Got Me
In my youth, I thought I was stronger than the ocean. I lived on Fire Island at Oak Beach on the south shore of Long Island in New York. I was one with nature and the ocean. As a surfer the greatest thing was to ride the largest wave that you could. On a certain day during hurricane surf. I was seeking the largest wave. The ocean was going full blast, the waves were huge. I paddled out to ride a large one. The ocean was out of control and I was not ready for it. I was being pulled out into the ocean, never to be seen again. I realized I was going to die. I was really scared. I looked up and there it was, the big Kahuna. The largest wave I had ever seen. Since I was being pulled out into the ocean I decided to take this wave to get back to shore. It was at least 20' high. I paddled my board and was lifted up. I never stood up to ride it but held on as tight as I could to ride it out. I had only one chance. That was the clean up wave of a set of seven waves. The clean up is always the last wave of a set. That wave took me all the way to the beach. I kissed the sand and looked out at the ocean. I had made it. I almost died. To this day I live in New Mexico and remember that wave. T. Brown
I watch my Trading Post in Cerrillos. Last week I had a customer come in. He told me this; "I just got pulled over for speeding by the Sheriff. He asked me where I was going so fast. I told him I was heading to Madrid, 3 miles south of Cerrillos." The Sheriff told him he would let him off with a warning and to go visit my shop in Cerrillos." He told me this as he was buying something and I said "now I have to pay some to the Sheriff." We were all laughing about the situation. The customer did spend some money and said it was well worth it and cheaper than paying a speeding ticket. T. Brown
I have the Cerrillos Petting Zoo. Many stories I have of running it. Many years ago while sleeping on the night before Cinco de Mayo. I awoke to my goats screaming for their lives. It was 3:00 in the morning. I shined the flashlight at the animals and saw 2 people loading my goats into their truck. When I shined the flashlight, the thieves took off. I ran down the staircase and grabbed my keys. I was naked but took off after them in my car. I caught up with them doing 80 mph. I flashed my high beams but they would not stop. I then for some unknown reason started smashing my car into the side of their vehicle. The vehicle bumpers locked up and we flew off the road and stopped. I grabbed my 4 goats and put them in the back seat. I found the bandits hiding under a bush praying Hail Mary's. They were so scared as I was towering over them naked. I told them that they were my goats and you cannot have them. They said that they were sorry and asked if I could help them get unstuck. Both vehicles were stuck in a arroyo. I helped them get unstuck. They took off not helping me. I again caught up with them 4 miles up the road. I was quite mad now that they made me wreck my car. I asked for money but they said they didn't have any. I ripped off their tool box and was putting it into my trunk. They got mad and were coming at me. I threw it at them and said that I was calling the sheriff. I wrote down their license plate number. When I dialed 911 and told them my problem they told me that stealing goats at 3:00 in the morning was not an emergency. They did not come to help me. I drove home still naked and put the goats back in the pen. I was hammering out the fenders the next day when a sheriff showed up. I gave him the license plate number. He went and found them and told them not to do this again. I have never had another problem like this one again. I am always on guard and sleep with the window open. T. Brown
I run the Petting Zoo in Cerrillos. Many years ago I had a pair of peacocks but had to sell them. They screamed all day long and on moonlit nights. Everyone seemed to be after me to get rid of them. I started putting them in my barn at night and sometimes I would put a sock over their heads. This worked but they were hard to catch. The finale of getting rid of the peacocks was I had no roosters. I had already made it a rooster free zone. I had to sleep. My neighbors raised a few chickens and kept a rooster. It crowed all morning and half the day. At least 100 times in a day. I finally asked him to sell it to me. He almost did but when I said I would get rid of it, he said no. He got very upset and told me I had peacocks that were driving him crazy. The next day I sold the peacocks. He was right. He moved to a new house within a week and took his rooster. It sure is quiet around here now. There is still a rooster in town crowing. I sometimes hear him but he is 3 blocks away. I can live with that. T. Brown
Muslims in Cerrillos
I volunteer as the film liaison for Cerrillos. When a movie comes to town I help them with names and numbers if they want to talk to someone about filming a residential location. They usually make a donation to our community association. The donations help buy Christmas decorations and Santa come in December with presents for the kids. One spring a film company came and wanted to film in the hills west of town. The made their donation. One week later we heard all of this gun fire to the west. I was driving around town at lunch time. What I saw startled me. Down on first street were many people in Muslim robes. The women in burkas. They had taken over our town. They were from the movie. They were having lunch in one of the businesses on First Street. The movie was "Seal Team Six - Raid on Osama Bin Laden". The scene west of town was in a canyon with the Taliban shooting the Seal Team. I saw it on T.V. It was fun to watch. Hollywood does comes to Cerrillos.
Fishing in Yellowstone
I went to Yellowstone National Park in the early 90's. I had always wanted to see the hot springs. I did not have much money to go on. Much of it went to gas. I was enjoying the beauty of the area and getting hungry. I had this bright idea to go fishing and caught 4 trout in 5 minutes. As I caught the trout I would turn around with the fish on the pole and drop it in the hot springs. It cooked the fish in 1 minute. This was my lunch. Further down the road after lunch I saw the sign "No Fishing". Luckily no one saw me. I did not do this again and had a great time and enjoyed coming back to New Mexico. T. Brown
In the spring of 2014 the phone rang at 10:00 at night. It was the Search & Rescue group that looks for lost people. They asked me to help them find a lost hiker in the Cerrillos Hills. I met them at First & Rail Road in Cerrillos. They were already set up. They told me that I knew the hills the best and could help. I asked what the problem was. Two people were 2 miles west of Cerrillos and hiking. One of the hikers was quite old in his 80's. The other hiker about 40. The older hiker said that he knew the hills and lived 4 miles to the north of where they were and would hike back home. As it became dark, he never made it home and his friend called Search & Rescue and they called me. We all got in our vehicles and I put a plan together on the roads north of Cerrillos. I knew where he was going. I opened all the gates and we split up into 3 teams of searchers. As we drove the old mining roads we honked & called out. Sometimes we would listen for him to call out for help. We never heard anyone. By 1:30 in the morning we still did not find him and the search was called off for the night. At 3:00 in the morning, I received a call that he had only walked 1/2 mile to a trailer on private property. He was safe. The next morning I closed all the locked gates. He thought that he could walk home, but the sun was setting. He got lost and saw only one light that night and followed it to the trailer for help. It was very cold. He was lucky to make it. T.Brown
In September 2014 I went to a bottle show of old bottles. At one table I had a problem. It did not go well. I was standing there looking at the items. I always buy the glass caps from this vendor. I picked on up and it dropped. Somehow a foot away the vibration shook the table and two bottles touched and one broke. The vendor and I both looked at each other and shook our heads. He showed me the price on the broken bottle-$495 and I said WHAT? We talked and he told me what he paid for it. I gave him the $250, and I had the broken bottle. It hurt my wallet. I had to go to a ATM for more money to see the other tables. I glued the bottle together and have it on my shelf. I tell the story of what happened whenever I see that bottle. T.Brown
I am the preserve manager of the Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve near Cerrillos and Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve south of Santa Fe. One summer evening we went to do a bat count at the Ortiz preserve. A bat specialist and I drove up into the mountains and waited till sunset to count the bats with her detector and heat sensing camera. We also did a mine in the Cerrillos mining district. We were set up and after sunset when it got dark, the bats started coming out. You could see them on the heat sensing camera. We also started seeing mice moving around the mine entrance. Sometimes she would click on the flash light. After a few times I asked why and she told me this. Just recently she was counting the bats around mines near Silver City. Many mice were running around. When she put on the flashlight there were 6 rattlesnakes chasing the mice. The infrared heat sensing camera did not pick up the snakes because they were cold blooded. I was glad that she was checking the mine opening with the flashlight after hearing that. T.Brown
In the summer of 2013, a man in Santa Fe said he had buried a chest full of coins, gold and treasures worth several million dollars. He had cancer and wanted someone else to have his riches. He wrote a book called Thrill of the Chase. In it was a poem containing clues to the treasurer's location. I didn't really care about this until one day!
A detective from New York City had read the poem with the clues to where the treasurer was buried. He was quite interested and came to New Mexico to look for it. Following the clues he looked up ever person who had the name of Brown in Santa Fe. He had no luck looking for it. On his way to the airport he stopped in at my Trading Post and home. He stood there for a second and read the sign "Home of Todd & Patricia Brown". He walked in and showed me the clues from the poem. I stood there and looked at him and said, " I know where all these clues are". We went looking. I found an empty hole. Probably where it was half buried. The person who had buried the treasurer got cured from his cancer and must have dug it up. I did find it. It was just too late! Look it up - Forest Fenn's Treasure. T. Brown
A few years ago the town drunk took his mothers car for a ride. (In Cerrillos there is really no town drunk, we all take turns). On this one particular day I saw a car coming down the road thinking it was a customer. As it came closer the car started to weave. It hit the car down the street and bounced off it and started coming at the front porch of my shop. I ran into the shop as the car hit the porch beams and dislodged the porch. The person in the vehicle woke up and got out of the car and started walking away. I said "look at what you did". He said "I did not do that". The car was still stalled into the porch. His mother came to get the vehicle and drive it home. Three weeks later we got a check for $650 to fix our porch. You just never know what will happen next! T. Brown
In the summer of 2014 I went to the Santa Fe flea market. My friend, a vendor, had an unusual antique tool. for sale. I bought it. We both did not know what it was. I asked many people but no one knew. That summer I went to our family reunion in Nebraska. I showed it to an antique dealer there. He held it and scratched his head and said, " I don't know what it is but I have one too". I ended up buying his and now have two of them. I think they have something to do with old motor heads. As time goes by, we forget what things are. T.Brown
I worked for 20 years in Santa Fe as a carpenter. I built many homes, walls and fire places. I got so good at building that nothing could stop me. I was at work at 8:00 am sharp with my tools. I had to be, I had 6 children and payments. At one job where I was working, the walls were up and we had just put on the vigas (roof beam logs). We had to deck over them. One viga had to be cut off. It was hanging out over the wall. I said that I would do it. I started up my chain saw. I cut the end off. For some reason I was standing on the cut off piece. Down I went. I sure felt stupid. It was at the end of the day and I was tired You are never too good to make a mistake. T. Brown
I just turned 62 years old. I splurged on a present for our mining museum and bought the last mining car to come out of the San Pedro mine, 20 miles south of Cerrillos. Ten years ago all the mining cars and engine had been sold to a mine company in Mexico but this mining cart had been set up on a nearby property. It still works and dumps perfectly. It is a great honor for our mining museum in Cerrillos to have it on display.
No Ambulance For Me
A few years ago a good friend of mine came to see me. I want to tell you why. He had an ATV. He drank a lot and on one particular day was racing around Cerrillos across the tracks and wrecked. He was unconscious. Someone saw this happen and called 911. They came to help him out. He awoke in the ambulance. The first thing he said was "how much is this going to cost me." They said $750.00 to take you to the hospital in Santa Fe. He said "no way" and removed himself from the ambulance and laid in the dirt. They drove off without him. When he gathered himself together, he walked over to my home. He had broken his arm and was covered in blood. He told me this story. T. Brown
Last fall I asked a good friend to make me a whirly gig to give to my wife for a present. Three months had passed and I stopped in to see him. He had not even remember that I had ordered one. I was quite upset and came home to try my hand at making one. I made 15 whirly gigs and they all worked perfectly. I was so proud to see them work in the wind. I went to Santa Fe to show my friend. He had gone to school and learned how to make them. He stood there thinking as I showed him. He scratched his head and said to me. Your fan blades are on backwards. You will have to go on the other side of the equator, it will not work here. He was serious. I came back to Cerrillos and lined all fifteen whirly gigs on the overlook by my house. It was quite windy. All 15 worked perfectly. I am left handed and seem to make things backwards. Even my home is left handed. All the doors and windows open for a lefty. My poor wife. She is right handed. Love is blind I always say. T. Brown
I am a mason in Cerrillos Lodge #19. We recently got it together to go to Taos Lodge to get the traveling gavel. You need the Worshipful Master and four brothers to approach the Lodge for the gavel. We got there early and scoped it all out. We had a great meeting and we all met new masons. At the end of the meeting when the Taos Worshipful Master asks if anyone has anything for the good of masonry, our Cerrillos Worshipful Master stood up quite quickly and said yes. We were there for the gavel to take back to our Lodge. Another Lodge had come to the meeting for the same reason but they were late to arrive. The Taos Worshipful expressed this to all. We got the gavel. The other Lodge was quite upset and said bad things to us. We just said, "maybe next time boys." We still have the gavel displayed in our Lodge. We are so proud. T. Brown
Crazy Dave & the Train
Dave was a friend of mine. He would drink a lot and do drugs. A few years ago he came to visit me. He wasn't doing too good. He tried to kill himself. This is what he told me. The train was coming west bound through Cerrillos. He stood on the tracks and waited for the train. The train came and hit him and blew him off the tracks. He walked to my house a few blocks away. He was cured. He was so mad about his leather coat getting torn. His new idea was to sue the railroad and become rich. What an idea. T. Brown
Gold Ring I want to start my story or memory on something that happened to me. We live in a gold mining area around the base of the Ortiz Mountain’s, south of Cerrillos, where there is placer gold. Placer gold is fine gold, that has been washing down for millions of years. I told my wife that I would collect some and make her a gold ring. I was doing pretty good panning pieces from the mountains and I almost had enough. It was about then, in 1980, that I went to British Columbia & Alaska for a month. I went to Los Angeles from Cerrillos by bus and my friend Allen Siebert, President of the Los Angeles Adventurer’s Club, and I drove up to Vancouver, Canada. On the way north, Mount St. Helens blew her top. When we got into Canada we took a ferry to Prince Ruppert and up to Dease Lake to look for gold. There were too many mosquitoes to handle. It was a nightmare. I did pan in the main stream leading to Dease Lake. I also panned the Yukon River. Upon my return to Cerrillos I now had enough gold for the ring. I kept the gold in a small vial filled with water which magnifies it 7 times larger on a shelf in my store. The first winter storm froze the water and cracked the bottle. It rolled off the shelf and onto the floor. The sun light melted the ice and all the gold went down between the floor boards. My wife is still waiting for her gold ring! T. Brown
I have been walking the Cerrillos Hills and Ortiz Mountains for 45 years. On my first excursion into the Ortiz Mountains, I climbed to the top of the highest peak, Placer Peak. It gave me a 360 degree view to enjoy. I looked north towards my home 5 miles away and as the sun was setting I quickly started making my way home. I was very tired and dirty. Being young I could walk quickly and cover a lot of ground. As I neared the old gold town of Dolores, New Mexico I noticed a glint on the ground. I backed up and picked up this token. It said I could get a free bar of Palmolive soap. I did need a shower. To this day I still get Palmolive products and always enjoy a good hot shower. T.Brown
When I was younger, I had a horse and was quite good at riding. I would find strange spots to be aware of. One of these spots was south of Cerrillos along the river where there is an outcrop of rock. As I was riding one day I took the horse into that spot. The horse sank up to her belly. It was quicksand. I quickly got off and pulled the horse out. I had to startle it with a yell to get it out. I pulled and pulled and finally it became free. It was a close call. I never took the horse there again.
Twenty years later my friend and I were talking. He said that his ATV quad could go anywhere in the area. I said "not anywhere" and a bet for $20 was on. I walked and he drove. I pointed to the quicksand spot and said "you cannot drive over that". It all looked normal to him. He took off fast and when he reached that spot he started sinking. The ATV was disappearing. I said "where is my $20". He said "if you want the $20 here it is". He held it up and stood on the 4-wheeler seat as it was sinking. I had to help him get it out to receive my bet. Very scary place to go. Quicksand it is! Beware! T.Brown
I am the preserve manager the Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve for the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. The main office in Santa Fe received a request from a man to have his ashes spread in the Ortiz Mountains. The main office contacted me to go with his wife to pick out a suitable location. As we were starting to go up into the upper reaches of the preserve, the wife exclaimed stop. This is the place. She told me to put 3 rocks standing up in a line and that in 2 weeks she would be back with the ashes for the ceremony. After 2 weeks I met the funeral group at the gate and escorted them all to the site. The first thing that the wife said to me when we got there was "what are the three rocks there for?" I told her that she had requested them to mark the site. She did not remember. It was like her husband who's ashes we were spreading was speaking through her in his last request. The ceremony went quite well and his ashes have been spread. To this day whenever I drive pass the spot I always remember what happened. T.Brown
My Hitching Post
In the late 70's I had horses and would ride everyday. I was quite good. I never could afford horseshoes. I had a good saddle and always used a hackamore for head gear. On one particular day I had rode hard in the hills and was all pumped up by the time I got home. I tied up my horse on the hitching post in front of my trading post in Cerrillos. I walked inside and kissed my wife and said hello. Two customers walked in and said "excuse me sir, your horse took off with the hitching post down the street". Sure enough, that horse was gone. I found him a block away dragging the rail of the hitching post. My luck. T.Brown
Stuck in Snow
Many years ago my friend told me this story - It was winter and they were at the Valle Grande in the Jemez Mountains towards the west. It was getting dark and they wanted to take the short cut to Cerrillos, which is a dirt road east of where they were. They had been drinking and were not in their right minds. The road was chained closed for the winter. They saw no snow at this point. They cut the gate lock and proceeded to take the short cut. A mile down the road the snow had drifted and was 2 feet deep. The first truck that hit the snow got stuck. The other truck driver did not want to go in the deep snow and get stuck. Between them, they only had 2 four foot chains. This is what they came up with. They cut a 20 foot tree down and hooked up the 2 chains to the log. One chain went to the stuck truck and the other to the unstuck pickup. It worked, one pulled the other out. Both vehicles turned around and took the long way home. T.Brown
The electric meter reader comes to Cerrillos once a month to read the meter numbers. Sometimes he has to get out of his truck to gain access to them. Across town over the railroad tracks on a particular day, the meter man had to walk behind a home to get the numbers. All at once he fell through the rotten cover of a septic tank. Hours later he came over to my shop wanting to use a phone. He told me that he had been stuck in the hole for 2 hours and had just gotten out. He was totally covered and smelled badly. To this day he still reads the meters but watches where he walks. He also brings dog biscuits to calm down the dogs. T.Brown
This really happened. It was during a winter blizzard in Cerrillos, around 3 am in the morning I was awakened by the sound of Canadian Geese. A large flock, at least 200 of them. I got up and poked my head out the bedroom door. The snow and wind were galing. I looked out and could not believe what I was seeing. It was so windy that the large flock of geese were flying as fast as they could but were going backwards. The wind was so strong. They were only 30 or 40 feet above the ground. After 10 minutes of this situation, the birds veered off to the low hills to land. They rested there until morning. By then the storm had passed and they took off again heading west to the Rio Grande River. To me it seemed they were migrating south and had come down on the east side of the Rocky Mountains. They were flying west to the Rio Grande heading for their winter home in the Bosque south of Albuquerque.
Tunnels in Cerrillos
During prohibition some residents of Los Cerrillos found a way to circumvent the laws against alcohol. They dug tunnels from the Galisteo river to the cellars of some of the houses in the village. They were not dug very high as a lot of work was not the order of the day especially people looking forward to a drink! These entrepreneurs created a system of delivery by going through the Tabor property at the corner of First and River street to the then Martinez cellar (8 First Street) and eventually to the What Not Shop on First Street. Some time ago Mitch, owner of this establishment showed me the tunnel door in one of the two remaining cellars in the village. Most of the tunnels have collapsed over time. Daniel Tabor then living at the now vacant property told me of a backhoe falling into a hole in the yard. He said it was one of the tunnels.
The people of Cerrillos always find a way! T.Morin
I had a party at my house one day. I had been having a problem with a skunk hidden under my building. As we talked I said please help me get it out. I found a long narrow board. We sprayed water under the foundation and the skunk came out running. I chased him with the long board. I would swat the ground making him run faster away. I did not want him back again. All at one moment the skunk jumped up on his 2 front feet lifted his tail and sprayed me. I was covered. I returned to the party and I smelled so bad that everyone left and I was all alone. No one would come near me. My wife would not come near me. I used catsup to wash up with. I bathed 10 times. I smelled for 5 days but I never saw that skunk again.
In the mining district north of Cerrillos, there is a ghost town. I am the Sitewatch person for it and check it for illegal digging or stripping of artifacts. In the middle of the ruins there is a cistern, 8’x8’ by 10’ deep which I always check. I am worried that someone could get stuck down in there and not be able to get out. One summer month I was checking out the water cistern & town site. In the cistern were 2 very large rattle snakes. They gave me the look - to help them get out. They had been in there a while. I told them that I would be right back. I returned to Cerrillos and got a 12’ pole and put a hook on the end of it. I called my friend up and asked for his assistance. I told him that I had an idea how to remove the snakes. I would lower him down by his feet and he could grab them. He thought about this and said forget it. I was only kidding him. We returned to the cistern and I told the 2 snakes that I was going to hook them around the middle of their bodies and throw them out. They seemed to agree to this method. The first one went okay he landed on good ground. When I was tossing the second one out, the pole broke. He did land but in a cholla cactus. I saw that he felt no pain. They both got together and looked at me, thanked me and departed. They were glad to be free. I put 2 big posts in the cistern so that a person or snake or animal could crawl out if need be. T. Brown
Close Call Donkey I used to have 2 donkeys which I enjoyed very much as friends. The price of food was going up and my wife said one day to sell them. I found a buyer, a nice lady. One donkey was a female, the other was a gelded male. The male donkey was quite strong and had a mind of his own. I told the lady not to walk behind him because he would kick. She paid me for them and walked behind him anyway. He kicked her in the knee. Wow, that was a close call for me. I might have been sued or had a hospital bill to pay but she had paid me 10 seconds before the donkey kicked her. That was a close call. She loaded the donkeys and I never saw them again. T.Brown
I I have been working turquoise claims down in Hachita, New Mexico which is in the boot heel of New Mexico. At one mine we had dug down 5 feet deep dipping down into an old hole. There the ground started moving. We took off a little more dirt and there it was. A four foot fat rattlesnake hibernating. We had to move him. We could not mine with him there. Which one of us had the nerve to mess with him. Not me. My buddy, the hired help went over to it. Since it was early winter and the snake was hibernating, he moved slowly. My buddy grabbed him by the tail. I cautioned him to drag it down the hill 60 feet away where the snake did not move all afternoon. The sunlight warmed him up. He coiled. As we were leaving and the sun was setting, the rattlesnake started rattling his tail and moved. He came at us with his tail rattling in a straight line. It was scary. As he got closer we worried more. Still rattling, he slithered in front of us back into the tailing pile. He is still there. We will be going back to that mine in the spring. We hope he will be gone. T.Brown
I have been there, I have seen. The Great Niaca Crystal Caves. What beauty for the eyes to behold. Over 15 years ago I signed up for a trip to Mexico to see the giant Crystals of Niaca. I was told that I would get a phone call within the week vut nothing happened After a month I contacted someone else. The man that gave the field trip had died. We organized another fieldtrip. We were going to bring his ashes to his favorite haunts in Mexico. Six of us took off to the caves in Mexico. After crossing the border we started hitting his favorite spots. At each place we left some of his ashes. We finally made it to the Giant Crystal Cave and Cave of Swords. In Niaca, Mexico eight hours from the border there is a zinc mine owned by the Mexican government. Upon chasing the zinc ore they had to pump out the water. The crystals had grown in the water and were now dry. They are one half mile under ground. There is a mine road that circles down into the earth that we took. Upon hitting a pocket of zinc they broke through to the giant selenite crystals. You can only stay in the cave for 2 minutes at a time. You start sweating immediately and can get heat stroke. The crystals are very large, some 40 feet long. At the Cave of the Swords there are millions of sharp crystals of selenite. It is in another cave pocket. I have been there. We spread the last of his ashes, which was a pinch by the crystal cave as he had asked. It was an amazing adventure and I will always cherish that journey. T.Brown
King Honey Bee In the late 1980s I started raising Italian honey bees. I bought some used equipment and ordered a few hives. I started out with 3 hives and eventually had 15 hives. It was going well and I was extracting the honey and selling it. A few things I learned from doing bees. Up river at a private ranch I had the bees and cattle would scratch themselves and tip over the boxes. I started using baling wire to hold the boxes together. I started noticing roadrunner birds sitting at the entrance of the hive and eating the bees one by one. I noticed wasps stealing the honey. I heard of African killer bees coming north and mixing with the hives but I never saw this happen at this time. The honey bees were gathering up nectar and pollen around the area. I kept getting reports of people drinking beer & soda at the bar. While they would drink the bees would get the beer & soda for the nectar and sting the drinkers. I was getting worried about people being allergic to their stings and maybe getting sued. I would get stung sometimes 50 times in a minute when working the bees. It did help my muscles. One year, in 1995, I entered my honey at the State Fair in Albuquerque. It cost me $5.00 to enter. I had to go down a few days before the fair opened to enter it. My wife and I went to see if we had won. To my disbelief there were 2 ribbons on my jar of honey. First place and Best of Show. What do you think that you won for first place? My five dollars back. What kind of prize is that. I still have the check hanging up. I never cashed it. I sold the bees 4 months later, it was a good time to sell. I was worried that I would get sued. It was that Coke, Budweiser and Coors beer that made the honey # 1 at the State Fair. I love honey bees and would like to raise them again. T.Brown
Many years ago, my friend and I had a job removing a dead tree from the Cerrillos plaza. We had talked about how to do it. He would notch the tree and I would push it over. It seemed do-able. We drove up to the tree site. He started cutting it down. Wouldn't you know, the tree fell the other way right on top of the truck. It bent the bed a lot. The one thing good about it was that it was already loaded and ready to take away. Our luck.
Another time, while building the trading post and getting the adobe dirt to make adobes, we would drop the cliff of adobe mixture with shovels, then load it into the truck bed. It was very hard work. My friend came up with a novel idea. He drove his truck to the cliff of adobe dirt and used his shovel to drop the dirt into the bed of his truck. He dropped too much off and folded his truck bed in half. His reasoning for doing this was he would not have to hand load it by shovel. He had to get a new truck after that. T.Brown
In our village lives a very old man, he is in his 90's. He works very hard doing projects around his property every day. On a particular day I drove by and noticed that he was fixing his gate. It looked like he needed some boards and I offered to give him some of my lumber as a gift. When I went to my lumber pile I noticed I had only 2 pine boards and 1 oak board that would work. From living back east I knew that oak wood was very hard. It usually bends a nail. I dropped off the boards. The next day I checked on him. He had put up the pine boards but could not get a nail into the oak board. One week later as I was driving by he was still trying to get a nail into that board. I felt awful about doing this to him. He had never come across hard wood in carpentry. He did give up on that board after 6 days of trying to get a nail through it. He never used it. We have never talked about it. T.Brown
Beer For My Horses location site
When this movie company came to Cerrillos they made a donation to our community association. I put them in contact with all the private property owners to film at their locations. On the last day of filming the location scout came to me and asked if I knew anyone who had a garage that they could use to shoot in. I drove him around town and we looked at 10 different garages and I introduced the owners to the location scout. He said to me "I haven't found what I am looking for yet, don't you have a garage?" I said, "yes, I have a garage". We went to look at it and he said "this is perfect". They paid me to use it and in 1 hour the whole film crew was on my property. I had shown them every garage in town. I never even thought of my own garage. You just never know! T.Brown
We recently had our town Christmas Party at the Fire Station. Santa comes to town in the fire truck. He drives around town gathering up the kids to come see him and gives out his presents. Photos are taken and eventually the girls and wives are sitting on his lap. After all this he pointed to me and said "I have a problem" I said what is it. "Mrs. Claus is upset that I get to visit all the naughty girls at Christmas. She is so mad that she has taken away my Viagra. So you know what I did", he said. "I went to Wal-mart to the garden department and bought a box of miracle grow. I took 2 tablespoons and washed it down with a can of fix-a-flat!" He actually told me this. T.Brown
I walk the hills all the time. Many years ago in my early years I was north of Cerrillos walking cross country. I spotted a coyote chasing a cotton tail rabbit. You would not believe this but that rabbit ran up to me and stopped between my legs. I threw a rock at the coyote and petted the rabbit. He sure was lucky that day. T.Brown
The Blown Safe
Truck on Tracks
I want to tell you about a truck wreck on the railroad tracks in Cerrillos. I was relaxing with friends at my house when someone came into my shop saying an old man was stuck on the tracks. We loaded everyone into my truck to go check it out. The old man was waiting on First Street & Railroad Avenue. He pointed out with his hand & told us his truck was stuck on the tracks. We drove 1/4 mile up the track - east from Cerrillos. There was the truck across the tracks. We got out and I quickly got my friends to try to push it off. This did not work. Someone said, "put a chain on it and attach it to your truck". I really did not think this was a good idea. I did it anyway with a little coaxing. We hooked up the two trucks together. I revved up my truck. Nothing happened. At this moment I looked up and the westbound train was coming at us doing 70 mph. I freaked out. I unhooked the chains in record time. Everyone had jumped in my truck, and I drove as fast as I could to stay in front of the train. When we got to First Street, we were safe and I stopped to talk to the old man. He said "where is my truck?" I told him it would be here any second. We turned and the truck was sideways in front of the train engine which was doing 70 mph. It kept going until it hit the bridge. The old man stayed with me that night. He was 86 yrs old. He was from Mountainaire, New Mexico. He was lost. I called his daughter that night and found out where he lived. The engineer stopped the train at the bridge. He told me instead of driving down from the crash, that I should have driven up, towards the upcoming train. The no-impact zone, he said. I now have the railroad phone number to stop the train, next time. T.Brown
Quite a long time ago, a friend who used to live in Cerrillos was remodeling his house and was doing really good. He was putting in kitchen cabinets and had just picked them up in Santa Fe. He was driving them all around town, showing them to everyone. They did look quite nice. After 5 times around town he crossed the railroad tracks and paraded the cabinets there. But when crossing the tracks the westbound freight train hit the rear end of his truck in a flash. The train took all the new cabinets, scattering them down the tracks. It happened so fast that he kept driving on 2 wheels for more than 20 feet. He did not know what had happened. We all heard the train hit the truck. He was lucky to be alive. He had to get another truck and new cabinets. T.Brown
The Little Chalchihuitl Turquoise Mine
Thirty-eight years ago I was walking in a New Mexico snow storm and was taking the long way home around Grand Central Mountain in the Cerrillos Mining District. I came across a vein of brilliant green stone and decided to stop and work off some of the vein. I worked with a hammer and screw driver and took out about 2 lbs of rough natural turquoise. I covered it up and headed for home. I worked that 2-lbs up and it kept us fed through the winter. Still dreaming of the green color turquoise I had found that day, I decided to file for a mining claim with the Bureau of Land Management on that same spot I found thirty eight years ago. Today myself, my family and many of my friends have all helped me in working the vein. We have been getting great green natural turquoise stones which I make into cabachons and set in sterling silver. We sell the jewelry in our Cerillos shop. The green color comes from the iron content in the soil where the turquoise is mined. We love the color and hope you do too! - Todd & Pat Brown
In the early 1970's I lived in a house coming into Cerrillos we called "Casa Loma" - house on the hill. It overlooked the railroad tracks and highway. On one particular morning a long freight train stopped in front of the house and we came out to watch it from the front doorway. One of the boxcars had doors slightly cracked open and two people popped their heads out. They jumped down from the boxcar and ran up to our front door. They were quite hungry and wanted some water. We gave them pancakes & coffee left over from breakfast. They had gotten on somewhere in California. The train was starting up and they ran down the hill to get back on the freight car. As they were saying Thank you, I said, what's in that boxcar. They said frozen meat, we'll throw some off. After the train picked up speed and left, my wife went down to the tracks and picked up 4 packages of meat. We were imagining great big thick steaks but the labels said Ox-tails. We looked up ox-tails in Joy of Cooking and found out they were used for soup. We had good soup for a while that winter. T.Brown
The freight train in the 1990's would go through Cerrillos four or five times a day doing 65 mph. One mile west of Cerrillos is a very large rock outcrop called Devil's Throne. The train must slow down here. It is on a curve and the rocks fall on the tracks. In the 90's there was a shortage of corn syrup for a time. The freight cars that carry the syrup were only half full because of the shortage. Water in a tank car moves back & forth. Corn syrup moves sideways (side to side). Since the freight car tank was only half full, it had room to schlosh around. Coming around that turn tipped the 2 half full syrup cars on their side. Two boxcars full of packaged Coors beer went. Three oil tankers tipped also. The whole town watched the cleanup of the wreck that night. It was eerie. All the lights, equipment, people and shadows in the darkness. Four days later, the trains started coming through again. They had to clean up the tipped freight cars and replace many of the ties and rails. T.Brown
Donkey in a Hole
I have the Cerrillos Petting Zoo in Cerrillos. Many people come to see, feed and share with the animals. A few years ago when we had donkeys, my gelded donkey "Burritto" ran out of the yard and down the street. I waited for him to return but he didn't come back right away. A few hours later my neighbor two doors down & across the street came over. He said that when he had returned from Santa Fe he was startled to see my donkey in a hole in his yard. I went over to see what he meant and we saw the donkey in his yard, in an old septic pit that no one knew was there and was no longer being used. The donkey had fallen through the plywood roof and it was just the size & width of the donkey. I didn't believe it. How was I going to get him out of this pit? I put a rope around his neck and had 2 people at ground level to pull. I talked to the donkey and told him to stay calm. I slipped myself into the hole with him and lifted his 2 front legs onto the ledge and said pull. Everyone strained. All hell let loose. He did come right out and I did not get kicked. He trotted home, glad to be free. T.Brown
Owls versus Goats and Chickens
I raise animals to show them to the public. Many people come to feed them at my Cerrillos Petting Zoo. I want to tell you a few owl incidents that have happened so far. I like owls and respect their presence. On one dark stormy night after my goats had their babies, I awoke hearing the bah of the goats. I quickly knew that something was wrong. I ran down the stair and grabbed a flashlight. I did not believe what I was seeing. A male Great Horned owl had one of the baby goats 6-feet in the air, hanging from his talons. He was trying to fly away with it. As I yelled out; the owl dropped it back into the pen. The baby goat was okay. I put all the babies back in the barn and was more on guard into the nights.
Another late night I was relaxing in my living room when I heard a chicken crying out. I ran out & into the barn with a light. A very large great horned owl was clawing the chicken to death. I yelled at him but nothing happened. I started kicking the owl. He would not surrender his meal. We went at it the owl and I in that barn. He finally took off and I was left with a dead chicken. I prepared the chicken and we had it for lunch the next day. T.Brown
When I came to Cerrillos in 1970 the Tiffany Restaurant was going strong. The two ladies opened it in the 60's and hired many people from town. The Melodrama became the pride of the restaurant. The 4 star business made Cerrillos a better place. Buses & Cadillacs would come into town filled with people who wanted to eat there and its reputation grew. They had a player piano, an ornate old bar and a famous bean soup. The newly arrived hippies in the village were not allowed into the restaurant. It was embarrassing.
One time they decided to group together and 20 hippies went into the restaurant. The sheriff was called and everyone was arrested and taken into Santa Fe to jail. I did not participate in this. The owners, after many years, were getting old & tired. They leased the restaurant to a nephew and his wife. He did not seem to have a go for it and had a failing business quite quickly. The bartender he had hired was asked to burn down the restaurant so he could collect the insurance money. Twice he tried. Gasoline on the roof did not work. The second time was gasoline in the cellar. This time it ignited and the place went up in flames. The funny thing here was - during the fire the hippies worked very hard getting out the two owner's furniture and possessions. Everything was put out into the road. After the home was emptied the bar from the house was brought out to the center of the road. Everyone had a free drink on the house as we watched Tiffanies Restaurant burn down. Today it remains an empty lot at the intersection of First and Main Street and only memories exist. I was there to tell the story.
Good Time in Tombstone
Leaving Cerrillos to visit my good friend and mining buddy in Bisbee, Arizona, my wife and I stayed in Bisbee for 3 days. We were mining in the Santa Rita mountains for Chrysocolla for our shop. On a Saturday night we visited Tombstone, Arizona. We partied at Big Nose Kates Bar. We had a grand old time. We got a little tipsy. Upon leaving my friend was sitting in the back of the vehicle. He said that he wasn't feeling well and could I put down the window quickly. It wasn't quick enough. He relieved himself inside the vehicle and finally out the window. I stopped the truck and all 3 of us sat on the curb on Main Street in Tombstone. It was very quiet, nothing was happening. My friend finally looked up and said to me " I lost my denture teeth". He had spit them out the window while relieving himself. At that moment all three of us turned our heads down the street and there they were, shining in the moon light, in the center of the road. His pearly whites. His teeth. He quickly ran to get them and put them back in place. It was an amazing moment in time. The moonlight shinning so very bright - on those pearly whites.
The third Sunday of March is the annual feast day for our church saint, Saint Joseph. Many people go to the mass and after the mass is finished the Saint is brought from the church up Main street and back. This year 2012, the Matachinas (religious dancers) came to visit and went first in front of the parading of the Saint. There were 2 guitars, a fiddle and 13 dancing Matachinas. After the parade, the whole village ate lunch together. I was there, it was a special moment for all of us in town. T.Brown
I have the Cerrillos Petting Zoo in Cerrillos. I have been showing my animals to the public for 40 years. One day a lady came in and said to me, "That is duck abuse, the dock does not have any water to swim in." I only had a watering bowl for it. I had the duck for over 2 years. I thought about this and she might have been right. Up the river from our town is a ranch that has a large pond. I called the owners and said I had a duck for their pond. I drove over with the duck and let him out at the pond. He swam to the middle and I thought I had made a good decision. Within one minute their dog jumped into the pond, swam out and ate the duck. It was safer at my petting zoo with a bowl of water. T.Brown
I am the preserve manager at the last natural wetlands in La Cienega. I got a call one day from people visiting the preserve. They were having a lovely walk and stopped to rest at one of the picnic tables under a cotton wood tree. They both started hearing some snorting and looked up; about 10 ft above their heads was a bear in a tree. He was only a cub and was waking up. Enclosed is a photo of the bear. No telling where he is now. T.Brown
Jack Nicholson's visit
I was sitting in my shop, the Casa Grande Trading Post and waiting for someone to show up as a customer. On a windy, winters day I had what I call a quick customer. He drove up, came in from the wind and looked around for 30 seconds and left. Another minute later another person showed up and said to me "do you know who that was?" I said no. He said it was Jack Nicholson, the movie star. Did not really mean much to me - he did not buy anything. T.Brown
Madrid Christmas Parade
A few years ago I went to the Madrid Christmas parade. The town is 3 miles south of Cerrillos and was full of people. My wife was going to drive a float for Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway behind the stage coach. It was a great afternoon. Right in the middle of the parade was a sheriff car with his lights and sirens going on and off. As he passed by me we could see a young man in the backseat. He was in handcuffs and waving to the onlookers. It took some time but I realized that the sheriff was trying to pass everyone and head up the highway to the jail. We had all thought he was part of the parade as a sheriff car fit in with the string of Madrid fire trucks. T.Brown
I have the mining museum in Cerrillos. I have three stories of Japanese tourists to tell. A bus stopped in front of my shop and 25 people came in one day. They all went into the museum and said nothing to me. After fifteen minutes they all came out and went back onto the bus. No one payed me admission. They were all from Japan and must not have understood the sign saying $2 admission. "My luck" I call it.
On a snowy day one Japanese tourist came into the shop and went into the museum. After 30 minutes I checked on him. I could not believe what I was seeing. He had stacked a huge pile of the antiques from the museum in the middle of the room. "How much" he said. I told him nothing in the museum was for sale and put everything back in place. "You just never know".
On a hot day a Japanese tourist came in with a magazine and pointed to a picture in an article. He could not speak English and I not Japanese. It took a while but finally I realized what he wanted. A tour to the Turquoise mines. I grabbed 2 cold beers and we were off. When we got there he took photos and we enjoyed the beauty of the hills together. We both could not speak to each other but that did not stop us from enjoying the moments together. T.Brown
Many years ago, the highway department redid the highway outside of our town. It was repaved and refenced. The new fencing was placed on metal posts. The old wood fence posts were pulled out and just left along the fence line. I use firewood to heat my home and realized the abandoned posts would be good for winter. My wife and I would gather about 100 each night and started making a pile. We ended up with over 1,000 cedar posts. For the last few years we cut up about 75 posts per winter. We still had a lot, probably 5 years to go. One night at 4:00 in the morning, for some reason, unknown to me. Someone put a propane bottle torch in the midst of the pile. Why, we may never know. I think we have a pyro- maniac in our village who likes setting fires. As the fire in the pile flared up to 30' high, and we got a call into 911. The whole town showed up to see the big fire and it was growing. The flames licked up to 50' into the sky. It was quite a sight to see. It was God! To this I say it was only a wood pile. My children came to help clean up the debris. I have replaced the lost wood and have refenced my property higher. I reflect on this old saying "what the days conceal, the years reveal". Maybe I will know why, someday! T.Brown
Black Buoy #13
I grew up on the ocean. We had a winter home on the north shore of Long Island. In the summer we had a cottage on the south shore. Oak Beach was an island near Fire Island on the south shore. I learned sailing, fishing, clamming, water skiing, surfing, spear fishing and boating there.
On a hot summer evening, many years ago, my father asked me late at night to go sailing in our 16' sailboat. The full moon had come up and the night was calm with not much wind. We were sailing in the Fire Island inlet. We had sailed to the mouth of the inlet where the Atlantic Ocean started about 2 miles out. My father was feeling good and asked me if I wanted to steer. He went out to the front of the boat and said "aim for the full moon". This I did. Out on the deck, in the front of the boat he was singing Moon River. It sounded quite nice. What happened next you would not believe. My father screamed "Jesus Christ". Black buoy #13 was right in front of us. It was a can buoy, without lights, 12 feet tall & 4 feet wide and bobbing up and down. My father grabbed the mask and pulled himself up sideways like a flag blowing in the wind. He used his feet to push off the buoy as it hit the boat. This sort of worked. We glanced off the buoy and had little damage. I learned patience & kindness at this moment. My father was not mad at me for hitting the buoy. We sailed home with our story to tell and went to bed. What had happened was - I was steering at the full moon, the wind was slow but the current was fast and pulled us over into the buoy. It was very scary for me that this happened when I was so young. It has made me a better man to this day. T.Brown
Watching the Trading Post in Cerrillos
My wife and I and all my good friends have help me build our Trading Post in Cerrillos, New Mexico. It is a 28 room adobe made of 65,000 adobe bricks. It is called Casa Grande Trading Post. We try to keep it open every day. It also houses the Cerrillos Petting Zoo and Cerrillos Turquoise Mining Museum also. We sell Turquoise products from our mining claims. We also have a rock, bottle and gift shop. Many days I sit watching the shop. I want to tell you of a few unique moments that I have had. Last year a man arrived and after 20 minutes came up to the counter with a red rock. I said $2.00 please. He was overjoyed to purchase it. As he was closing the front door he said to me. "I hope this is a good piece of turquoise, I am color blind". It was a red rock. I didn't want to lose the sale and he was already out the door. $2.00 is $2.00. I told my wife what happened and she was mad at me for not saying anything to him. Another time a man came into the shop with a cane. He proceeded to hit and move everything in the shop with it. He totally rearranged the shop. As he left he said "Thank you, I am blind". My luck! Many people ask me where our bathroom facilities are. I say "out front, end of the building". Four times already they have gone out the door, across the street to my neighbors house. I don't know why they do this. This spring a goose wondered up from First Street, it came up to the door, looked in and honked. Two times already when I go to sit on the front porch, snakes are there. There are many stories to tell here and it keeps happening every day. I just sit and watch it all happen.
I was 16 years old when Woodstock happened. I worked one week stocking shelves at a grocery store to buy the ticket for 3 days of Peace and music. I had a ride to Woodstock in upstate New York. I lived in Huntington which is 35 miles east of New York City on the north shore of Long Island. The six of us left at 12 pm on a Friday to get to Woodstock to beat all the traffic there. There was so many people that the New York Freeway was closed. We got within 1 1/2 miles of the concert. It was very crowded. When we got to the gate I had my ticket ready. It was already paid for. I stood there in disbelief as everyone tore down the fence to the concert. It was now a free concert. So much for the ticket. The first night it was nice - 24 hour music. Everyone who I would listen to in music was there. Sly and the Family Stone, The Who, Ravi Shankar, Country Joe & the Fish, Janis Joplin, Crosby, Stills & Nash. That Friday evening all was well. When the sun came up the clouds started rolling in. It started to rain and rained for the next 2 days. It was a mud pit. It was not nice. No water, no food. It seemed like everyone was on LSD, drugs and stoned. I was still drug free myself. I would walk around seeing what was happening. I passed by the hospital tent and food kitchen and saw a group of people helping others. It was the Hog Farm commune from New Mexico volunteering their services. This inspired me and helped me to get to New Mexico. By Sunday mid morning, everyone was leaving to return to their lives. At 11:00 am on Sunday, Jimmy Hendricks started to play to all the garbage left behind. There were few people left. He played the Star Spangled Banner to the garbage. It was sad. I stood there in the middle of it all looking around. It was overwhelming. To this day I still try to pick up garbage to make it a better world. Woodstock lives on in me to this day. I still have not made it to the Hog Farm in Penasco, New Mexico. I live in Cerrillos, the best village in New Mexico. T.Brown
In the spring of 2012 I was sitting, watching my shop. I noticed my llama's ears perk up. That means - be on guard. I looked over to see what he was watching. There, at the junction of the Galisteo River and San Marcos arroyo, southwest of town and about 1/8 mile away was a very large dark black, nasty looking dust devil. I studied it only for a second because it started coming towards my house. I quickly shut the kitchen door and locked it. I stood there ready for it to hit. I did take a small peak through the door. It was still coming at me. It came swirling down the road in front of my store and kept going. There was an adobe shed two blocks over. Three people were busy talking and enjoying the day. For some unknown reason that dust devil swirled over the top of that shed. It blew the roof off and dropped the adobe wall on top of one of the people. He was under the weight of the whole adobe wall. They uncovered him and called the ambulance. The dust devil had broken his back. He was in the hospital two weeks. One month later as he walked quite slowly around at our village fiesta, I talked to him. I told him that I saw it come into town. He told me this, when the dust devil hit the roof of the shed, one adobe hit him on the head which made him fall over sideways against the wall. As he lay on his side, the whole adobe wall collapsed over him. He said that he would have died if he was not sideways. You just never know what is going to happen in our walk through life! T.Brown
It happened my 60th Birthday. I have been living in Cerrillos for 42 years now. I came here when I was 17. I had run away from home in Huntington, New York. I like Cerrillos. It is away from the hustle and bustle of life. For the past few years we have celebrated my birthday with a Cerrillos Chile cook-off . Everyone was invited. All the best chile cooks came. There were tables set, 3 bands, twinkling lights and we partied into the night. I won 4th place for my red chile mole. The winning entry was a 3 layer chile. Nothing was left and all were filled. I received many gifts and kisses from the girls. 60 years of loving life, I have had a full life. My beautiful wife Patricia has given me 6 children and now 6 grandchildren. Life has been quite interesting and a great adventure. Every day I wake up ready for a new one. Bring it on! Life is good. T.Brown
This is not the smartest thing that I have ever done! My friend and I left Cerrillos to go to Yellowstone in Wyoming. On the way up there he saw the Grand Teton Mountains south of the park. He was quite a hiker and decided he wanted to climb to the top of one of the highest peaks. I tried to talk him out if it but he was insistent. I pleaded for him to just take a picture of it but this would not do. He told me to wait in the car, he would go at it alone. This sounded even stupider to me. I said that I would go along but I really did not want to. We got to the ranger station to get the permit to climb. Throughout the office were newspaper stories of people that had died, gotten lost or had accidents while climbing. To me it looked like we were next. When we started on our hike and I thought that I knew what I was doing but really did all the wrong things. We left our packs & heavy shirts about 3/4 way up to lighten our load. It then took about 6 hours to climb up Disapointment Peak. It was very strenuous and there were no trails to follow. We made it to the top and stayed for an hour. It was very beautiful and had a great view. It often got very windy. There was a forest that we climbed over. The trees were 60 feet tall but were laying along the ground. The wind had made them grow sideways. A storm was blowing in. Lots of thunder, lightning and rain. I said let's go and he finally agreed. That was the moment I realized our mistake. We had scrambled up the rocky mountain and did not mark our trail. How could we get back down? At one point we could see our backpacks. After one hour trying to get down but not finding a trail, I saw a downed tree, 60 ft long. It had fallen two levels down. We decided to try to climb down this tree. It was very dangerous, a very slow 60 foot shimmy. We did reach our packs & shirts. It was now dark and we ran down the existing trail to the vehicle. I sure was glad to be off that mountain. The lesson learned there was "when you climb (scramble) up a mountain you must mark your trail with rocks and sticks, so that you know your way back". We had dinner that night at the Grand Teton Lodge. I had a stiff shot of whiskey and was glad that we were still alive. I learned my lesson. I just wanted to take a photo of it to start with. Not climb to the mountain top. T.Brown
This just happened to me in mid March 2014. I was heading south out of Santa Fe. I had reached La Bajada Mesa. Two days before the wind was very strong and coming from the east. It had blown thousands of tumbleweeds on the west side of the Interstate. As I was driving, a very strong wind came up blowing east. To my amazement a dust devil of thousands of tumbleweeds formed in front of me as I was driving. I had to stop on the Interstate as the Tumbleweed Vortex surrounded me and I was in the stillness of God. Thousands of tumbleweeds were flying around me into the sky. I had my moment of peace of mind. I drove out of the spinning tumbleweeds and kept going on my journey. T.Brown
My neighbors live an organic, quiet, and well lived life. They try to be one with the land and let nature take its course while working in their garden but a funny thing happened to them. They left the house for an hour to hear a lecture about the tamarisk leaf beetle. They knew nothing of it until they found a note on their door. It noted the time a pest control company had sprayed their house. The company had come 10 minutes after they left for the lecture. A neighbor had just moved in down the street and wanted their new home sprayed for bugs. Their address had the same number but was on a different street. The new people had said the company could go ahead and spray if they were not home. No problem. The spray company sent someone out that did not know the streets of Cerrillos. They went to the wrong address, opened the front gate, hopped over the high backyard fence and sprayed eight gallons around the perimeter of our neighbors fence, windows and doors. They left the bill on the door with the list of chemicals they used and left. Luckily the garden was not too near to these perimeters. But what a shock to our neighbors when they came home. As I write this, they are hoping to again someday see the return of some of their favorite friends: darkling beetles and pumpkin spiders. They worked for many years to have a healthy home and it only took minutes for that to be threatened. You just never know what is about to happen living in Cerrillos. T. Brown
I watch my Trading Post in Cerrillos. Things get really slow sometimes. Two men showed up. One went into the museum, the other went outside for a minute and came back in and went into the museum. It was a windy cold day and I started making a fire. I lit the fire and heard the store door close. They drove away quite quickly without paying the museum admission. I thought about what happened and decided to drive downtown and see if I could get my museum entrance payment. I caught up with them and rolled down the window. They looked quite mean and nasty. I said, "you did not pay me". The driver opened up his truck door and I said to myself "here we go". The passenger quickly handed me a $5 bill and said he was sorry. I said "no problem" and drove back to the shop. What I have to do to make $2.00. T.Brown