Spit & Whittle Club Stories

Motto: Take the time to reminisce
The Spit & Whittle Club grew from residents who met to reminisce about the old days. This is a free forum group and the posts are stories that have been told. Story telling benches can be found at Casa Grande Trading Post on Waldo Street, at the Cerrillos Bar on First Street and under the Simoni Portal on First Street. 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 and 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 brownp52@yahoo.com.


Our Turquoise Fireplace
In 1975 we started building our home and Trading Post in Cerrillos. After may years it has developed into a 28 room hacienda. We have the Casa Grande Trading Post, Cerrillos Turquoise Mining Museum and Cerrillos Petting Zoo. We see many people every day. This place gets used. When we were young, we made 65,000 adobe bricks in front of the shop and over the edge of the cliff. At first we built six rooms to live in. We had four children then, six all together. The first room was the trading post. At first we had nothing in the shop. I found a fence post and said a few words over it. Then dug a hole in the center of the room and set the post. The Trading Post was born. We then went into the Cerrillos Hills to the many Turquoise mines. We gathered up 2 truckloads of rough turquoise. I started building the Turquoise fireplace at once. As I built it I wire brushed the rock to make it clean. When finished it glowed of beauty. That night and for a week after, I lit the fireplace, still having a dirt floor in the room and the post still in the ground. I read Albert Einstein's book on Relativity, E=mc2 by the light of its glow. I did not understand any of it, but I did finish reading it. I love that fireplace. We have nine fireplaces on the property now and I built two more Turquoise fireplaces since building mine. One is at Poverty Flats and one is at Santo Domingo Pueblo in a house across the river. The fireplaces work great and many stories are told around them. We call them Indian TV. We make 40 different products now and the shop and museum are full of products and amazing things that we have collected. We love life. ~T. Brown

My First Piano Concert
In my youth I was playing with my friends one day. We were running from our homemade fort in the woods through the neighborhood. We ran into one of the neighbors houses. I ran past my first piano. I stopped and walked back to play it. I loved the music from it. It inspired me. Now many years later I have a piano in my home. I try to play it everyday. I only play what my ears want to hear. I can not and will not play other peoples songs. Every piano I see, I must play it. I even played at Worcester Cathedral in England. My first concert I gave was at the Legal Tender steak house in Lamy, New Mexico. The restaurant and bar was really hopping. I had a great meal and desert and saw the old grand piano not being played. I asked the house manager if I could play. This was a big moment for me. I played for 20 minutes as everyone was eating, talking and laughing with friends. In my loneliness I played my songs to myself. When I was done I stood up and everyone started clapping. My first concert. What a thrill! For payment they gave me a shot of rye whiskey. ~ T. Brown

Golden Gate Bridge
In the winter of 2019 my wife and I went to California to see our daughter; our son and his wife and 2 of our grandchildren. We crossed the Mojave Desert. It was awesome. When we got to Tehachapi Pass we crossed over the mountain and were spellbound by how green the valley was. It was a different world. On the way to Arroyo Grande we saw miles of vegetables growing along with oranges and grapes. We could not believe the bounty of it all. We spent 4 days on the ocean having a great time with our family.  Our plan was to continue our drive along the coast on US1. We really enjoyed it. We got to San Francisco, the city of my wife's birth, and went to Fisherman's Wharf. We rented a boat with my old friend as the pilot. I steered the whole time. We went out 1 mile past the Golden Gate Bridge. As we approached the bridge my friend said to be careful. I asked why and he said that on one of his tours someone had jumped off the bridge and missed the boat by 10 feet. He said that last summer 2 people jumped and missed the boat by 20 feet. We got past without incident. Beyond the bridge the ocean was quite large with waves. We returned to the dock and parted ways. My wife and I saw the sea lions on Pier 39. We left the city and crossed the bridge to continue our drive up the coast to Mendocino. The weather was changing and we rented a room overlooking the ocean. It was very fine. We came back to New Mexico through the Redwoods. We crossed the Sierra Nevada's. It was raining and flooding and snow was deep on the sides of the road. We barely got through. We went to Virginia City, south of Reno. It is an old mining town. We drove further west to Salt Lake City and down to Las Vegas, and Laughlin. We returned on Interstate 40 to New Mexico. We had a great time and are ready to go again. ~T. Brown

The Drum House
On a Sunday afternoon in 1954, when I was about 8 years old, my parents loaded my 2 younger sisters and myself into the family car and drove to Cerrillos to visit the Drum family. After we'd been there a bit, Mrs. Drum escorted us to an upstairs bedroom where built into a wall was an upright adult size coffin with a cross attached to the lid. None of us kids had ever seen a real coffin before, but knew them from movies. While we were looking at the coffin, the lid slowly creaked open exposing a jet black interior and an upright skeleton which started to move wildly. We were scared witless and ran screaming from the room but could hear laughter from my mother and Mrs. Drum who both stayed behind. All this time Mr. Drum was nowhere to be seen. After much crying and shrieking they came downstairs to try and calm us down. They offered an explanation and encouraged us to come back upstairs into the adjoining room. Mr. Drum was in the room with a grin from ear to ear. He showed us how he could open the coffin lid from the adjoining room and cause the skeleton to jump up and down. That afternoon is burned in my memory forever. (Note: The house burned down in the early 70s. It was the old green house behind the smelter.)

Another item of Cerrillos lore: My grandfather was a part-time prospector from Santa Fe. He prospected all over Northern New Mexico and used to come to the Cerrillos area in the winter months to avoid the snow and ice north of Santa Fe. He told me on one trip he went to what was left of the smelter and with a screwdriver and prospectors pick he pulled out about 50 pounds of melted fused lead that had dripped or escaped out of the furnaces. He knew from avid mineralogy reading that silver is often associated with lead. He sent a sample out for assay and was extremely delighted he did so. As it turned out, he had about 17 pounds of silver blended into the lead! At the time, silver was selling for $1.20 per ounce and 17 pounds was approximately 238 troy ounces. So an afternoon at the smelter gave him $285 which in the 1940's was a lot of dinero. Better than the best day upholstering, this was his day job. As it turned out maybe the most money, he ever made prospecting!     ~Frank Fritzges

My Bottle Story
In the late winter of 2017 my son and I filed a new 20-acre claim in the Cerrillos mining district. A claim is where you can dig for minerals  but no one else can. People can still walk over the land. We had been working a hole and doing quite well. At the north end of the claim is a silver mine and turquoise mine. We started raking the waste rock at the Turquoise mine to look for missed pieces of color. Around two feet down we came across
a small fire pit, on the side of the pit was a large rock. As we dug to the right of the rock we came across a piece of purple glass. We raked and found more of the pieces and realized it had been a large jar. It was a great find. We gathered the pieces and took them home. We glued the pieces together and have it to enjoy. What it looked like was when the fire was going, the bottle was put on the large rock by the fire to heat up the contents. It probably had soup in it. After having lunch the bottle was left to be covered by the waste rock. The bottle is from the 1880's and has been buried for 140 years. ~T. Brown

Truchas Story
I read many books in the winter time and came across this story from the 1770's told by Juan Lopez.
  He began by explaining that long ago all the houses of Truchas were connected to make on large building, which could be closed up with all the villagers and their animals safe inside it in the event of Indian attack. Those were hard days, he said. You had to be constantly on guard against the Comanche's. They were always jealous of what the Spanish people had in their villages: good houses, horses, plenty of meat and grain, sometimes some wine.
   One day the Indians caught the people of Truchas by surprise. They said, "Now you have to leave. We are taking your village. If you don't go away and let us have this place, we will kill all of you."
   Well said Juan Lopez, it was very clear that the people of Truchas had to do what the Comanche's told them. They went away, but they did not go far. What the Indians did not know was that the Trucheros were prepared for just such an event to occur. When they had built the village years before, the men of Truchas had been smart enough to put strong locks on all the doors and windows. The peculiar thing about those locks was that they could be securely fastened not just from the inside, but from the outside of the building as well.
   That night while the Indians feasted and drank and celebrated their victory, the people of Truchas crept back through the darkness to their village. Silently they threw the locks and barred the windows and doors so that the Indians could not get out. Then a few of the men climbed onto the flat roof of the building, and ristras of chile were handed up to them.
   It was a cold night and the Indians had made a fire in every fireplace. The men on the roof separated and each one quietly tiptoed over to a different chimney and dropped the chiles down. Then he put a board over it to keep the smoke from coming out, and waited.
   The effect was like tear gas. As anyone knows who has roasted chiles, the pepper releases a terrible gas when it burns. It irritates the eyes, nose, and mouth; it burns the throat and lungs. Pretty soon the Indians were in a panic. They ran for the doors, but they could not open them. They ran to the windows, but there was not way to get air. The smoke of burning chilies filled the rooms, and the Indians were blinded, choking, unable to breathe. They screamed to be let out.
   The Trucheros said, "Will you do what we say?"
   The Indians had to say yes.
   The men opened a place for the Indians to throw out their weapons, and once that was done, they told the Indians that they would let them live only on the conditions that they go away and never make trouble for the village again. The Indians who were still coughing and choking from the smoke of the chiles, were only too happy to agree, and they swiftly disappeared into the night, never again to be seen or heard of in those parts.
"And that is how the people of Truchas outsmarted the Comanche's and won back their village. ~T. Brown

Powder House
Galisteo Street

At the beginning of the 1880s many Santa Feans believed that their part of New Mexico was on the verge of a mining boom " Reports of rich gold and silver strikes in the Cerrillos district" led to a feeling that mineral development at Carbonateville, Bonanza City, and other camps now long forgotten would make the southern part of the county one of the territory's great mining centers. Plaza merchants were well aware that exploitation of the resources at Cerrillos and elsewhere would bring a strong demand for mining equipment and supplies, including blasting powder. But because of its unstable composition, stocking that item presented a difficult storage problem. To prevent explosive disasters in Santa Fe, representatives of the aptly named Hazard Powder Company, a Connecticut corporation, sought a suitable location for an explosives repository well away from the center of town. On July 3, 1880, the company purchased from leading businessman James L. Johnson a one-acre lot east of the Galisteo road and a mile south of the Plaza. Although the old road has turned into busy Galisteo Street and the location is now part of a residential neighborhood, in 1880 the only structure nearby was Johnson's slaughterhouse, which stood a few hundred feet to the west. Using rough-dressed, native sandstone, local masons constructed a small pitch-roofed building suitable for storing powder. A heavy wooden door reinforced with sheet iron formed the entrance, the only opening in the eighteen-inch thick walls. One of Santa Fe's best-known mercantile houses, Spiegelberg Brothers, acted as agent for the Hazard Company and assumed responsibility for managing the Powder House. As part of a corporate reorganization, the Hazard Company transferred title to the Powder House to a subsidiary of E.I. DuPont de Nemours Company in 1909. For the next thirty years the chemical and explosives giant retained ownership of the building while local hardware dealers looked after its operation. In 1939 the property was purchased by a Santa Fe mining man, Joseph Byrne, who also owned a trucking company and a petroleum distribution business. Fortunately it remains today to recall the boundless optimism that characterized the hardy miners of New Mexico's frontier. ~Historic Santa Fe Foundation

Frankie, the Sulcata Tortise
One night in late July, Frankie, the sulcata tortoise broke down his gate and escaped. Our phone number is written on his carapace in fingernail polish and he has a tracking antenna on his back. The next day I was on a walk with the dogs on the old mining road behind our house. 
I was on my way back home when I looked up at the dirt road ahead and who do I see waddling down it but Frankie as casual as pie. I laughed so hard I almost fell over. I mean, what are the freaking odds I'd run into him like that!? Our house borders over 5000 acres of open space land. He could have gone anywhere, and in fact I thought he had gone in the opposite direction. But there he was, and there I was, about a mile from home. I took the retractable dog leash and tied it to his leg and then to a tree because he would have been gone in a New York minute. I ran home, the four dogs trailing behind me. My husband Archie was in DC and in the middle of a job. I called Todd Brown in Cerrillos, who instantly became my dear "Angel in a Hawaiian Shirt". The mining road has 5 padlocks and only those who have mining claims (for turquoise) can access the road.  Todd being one of them. Todd drove me all the way down the long, worn,  bumpy road. At first I thought Frankie had gotten loose from the dog leash but no, there he was resting in the shade of a juniper tree. We loaded Frankie in the back of his car and drove back to the trading post, where his wonderful wife carried on the rescue. She followed me back to my house and then she and I - butch womanly women that we are - hoisted Frankie out of the car and carried him back into the safety of his pen. ~ I love our community. Todd didn't even bat an eye when I needed him to come to my rescue. And neither did Pat. Our community just does for each other. What a blessing to live here. Thanks y'all! ~Alexis

The Long Walk
The Navajo Nation was retracing the long walk of their ancestors from Navajo land to Fort Sumner 150 years ago, with a marathon run that came through Cerrillos. They stayed overnight in our village at the church parish hall on a Sunday in May, 2018. I was invited to a prayer ceremony the next day at 6:30 in the morning as president of our community association, where I was presented with a flag of the Navajo Nation, a pin and a photo opp with the runners and the vice president of the Nation. We all prayed together and honored the Long Walk of their people. They told me that they really enjoyed our village of Cerrillos.  The runners ran one at a time from Fort Sumner, New Mexico and will end up at Window Rock, Arizona - 403 miles. They called it Running for Resilience. They impressed me a lot with their kindness and respect for all people.  ~T. Brown

Coyote Smart
I watch my trading post in Cerrillos. Many people tell me stories of their lives. Last week a man came in from Taos and we talked about the Gorge Bridge. He said 5 people had jumped this year already. You either see them jump or find their car abandoned. The highway department put up suicide hotline phones. If you use one the sheriff will be there in two minutes. He'll either arrest you or take you to the hospital. As we talked he told me what he had seen. There were many people looking over the bridge on both sides at the spectacular view of the gorge and river. As he turned around he stood there in disbelief to see a male coyote walking down the center strip of the highway without a care in the world. He never looked up but walked by quickly. No one looked or even saw him. It saved him many hours to climb down the canyon, cross the raging river and back up the other side. He just took the highway bridge. He was quite smart. ~T. Brown

Miners Xmas Dinner
We spend many hours at our Turquoise mines in the sun, wind and cold. The way of the desert to be sure. We build up our appetites. My wife and I are members of the Albuquerque Gem & Mineral Club. We try to go on the field trips and to monthly meetings at the museum of Natural History in Albuquerque. The club holds its annual Xmas dinner at the museum. Two years ago as we were waiting to eat, the rock club president gave a speech. He said my wife and I had made the first RSVP reservation and that meant that we got to enter the food line first. Now that is luck. This year we went again for the dinner. I was telling a few members about getting to eat first two years ago. I thought it was something to talk about. Again the rock club president gave his welcoming speech and again said that we were the first ones to RSVP. What luck was this. He called us up along with the whole table sitting with us.  My wife and I were quite hungry, we had waited all day for this Xmas dinner. There we stood with 110 members behind us staring at 10 tables put end to end full of food. We had Rudy's BBQ at the first table, 40 lbs of brisket with two gallons of sauce. Then the vegetables, stews, bread and finally the 2 tables of desserts, pies, cakes & cookies. It was the best feast that we ever attended. We started on each side of the long table, picking and choosing what we liked, finally making it back to our table to enjoy a great dinner. It was truly a blessing - enjoying and sharing with everyone in the mineral club. ~ T. Brown

Jingle Bell Train
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 4:00pm, 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 passes 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

Village Saint
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

Ore Car
I wanted to write how my new ore 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 mine, in the waste rock,  part of an ore car was showing. I said to myself that if I could ever get it out I would rebuild it as a show piece. It finally happened. 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.  All that remained was the bottom and front side of the ore car. I could only stay a short while for the field trip and tried to get a ride down the mountain. No one was ready to leave so I had to walk the 1/2 mile back. My bucket was heavy with rock and I was straining to carry it. Once again I came across the ore car. I then realized that I could leave my bucket there, go get my truck and load up the mining car and the bucket. I got a 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 some friends my findings. Everyone laughed and said it was pointless to rebuild it. I had a plan and measured what I would need to make metal sides. I found 4 wheels in Durango, Colorado and drove up there to get them. It was a great trip. It took me 5 days to put it back together. I 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

Donkey Races
We have a yearly Fiesta in our village of Cerrillos with arts & crafts, music, free food, dancing, hay rides and horse rides for the kids. Two years ago I had the idea to to sponsor 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. On Fiesta I have my mining museum sponsor two races that go 2 blocks long. The first is to lead your donkey up and back. The second race is to ride the donkey up the street and 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 lived in New Mexico with my wife for quite a few years. Hearing about the Thunderbird has always caught my interest. I wondered where it come from and how it got its name? It was in the summer of my 46th year in New Mexico that I finally saw my first Thunderbird.  We were driving down from Cuba 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, that is also called a micro burst or thunder bomb. As we drove closer to it my wife saw it forming into 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 one so far. It made my day to finally understand where it came from. ~T. Brown

State Fair Pie
In 1997 my wife & I entered a peach pie at the State Fair made with fruit from our peach tree. We had to make it, cook it, and then drive 50 miles to enter it by a certain time. It was a work of love. There were many different categories for all the fruit pies. When we entered the peach pie we knew that we had won a ribbon. The reason why? Of all the pies that had been entered there were only 2 peach pies. 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

Black Crows
The last few years thousands of black crows have spent the winter flying over Cerrillos. Sometimes 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. ~T. Brown

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. ~T.Brown

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

Speeding Ticket
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

Stolen Goats
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 again. I am always on guard and sleep with the window open. ~T. Brown

Screaming Peacocks
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

Cerrillos Fiesta
Our village fiesta comes and go's. Sometimes we have it and sometimes not. We started having the fiesta in 2012 again. It is the best day in Cerrillos. Everything is free. The food, music, the rides and the exhibits. I always in my mind start the fiesta and go to the bar at 11:00 to buy a drink for everyone. The first 2 years did cost me. But last year I went to start the fiesta by buying the drinks and everyone refused. I said what is the problem. Many answered "we have diabetes and cannot drink anymore".  I realized by luck of not having to buy everyone a drink. I went into the bar and had a shot of whiskey for myself. After I came out the fiesta started. I t was a great party. We all had a good time. Viva La Fiesta. ~T. Brown

Muslims in Cerrillos
I volunteer as the film liaison for Cerrillos. When a movie comes to town I help 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 comes in December with presents for the kids. One spring a movie company came and wanted to film in the hills west of town. They made their donation. One week later we heard lots of gun fire to the west. I was driving around town at lunch time. What I saw startled me. Down on First Street were men in Muslim robes and women in burkas. They had taken over our town. They were from the movie. They were having lunch in one of the buildings 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. ~T. Brown 

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

Lost Hiker
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 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

Broken Bottle
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

Mine Rattlers
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

Buried Treasure
In the summer of 2013, a man in Santa Fe said he had buried a chest full of coins, gold and treasure 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 treasurers 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 treasure was buried. He was quite interested and came to New Mexico to look for it. Following the clues he looked up every 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 buried. The person who had buried the treasure 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  (** 2020 UPDATE: The treasure has been found.)

Town Drunk
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

Lost Antique
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

Viga Story
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

Mining Cart
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. ~T. Brown

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

Whirly Gigs
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

Traveling Gavel
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
Free Bar of Soap
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
Ash Spreading
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
Meter Man
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
Flying Backwards
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. ~T. Brown
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
Skunk Spray
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. PU. ~T. Brown

Two Rattlesnakes
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
Mine Rattler                                                                                                              
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 
Great Crystal Cave

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
A cold rain breaks on the black slate
but we inside are warm and safe.
The turf fire smolders in the iron grate.
High above the cottage walls
the curlews mournful ripple calls,
seeks shelter from the storm tossed marsh.
Down by the dark lake the foxes bark
as ice creeps along the rocky shore.
A bitter wind rattles through the frozen reeds.
The silver trout silent in the starlit deep
I shiver on the cusp of sleep.
They call me out to lonely peaks.
To untrod moors where spirits speak
to converse with those who have found peace.
~H. Hackett
X Marks the Spot
When I was a younger man I used to farm on the Rio Grande at Santo Domingo Pueblo. I farmed across the river from the village. I grew corn, melons, squash, chile, beans and onions. I had started my mining museum here in Cerrillos. My good friend with whom I had farmed with sold me a hay rake and plow that he used to use in the fields. They had been pulled with horses. I thought that I was smart when I asked him to sign a receipt. He did. I tied down the equipment onto my 1948 flatbed Chevy and headed back to Cerrillos 25 miles away. I took the west side river road through Cochiti Pueblo. Of course the Cochiti Tribal Police stopped me. The officer asked me where I got the farm equipment. I told him from whom and said I had a receipt also. I handed it to him to see. He said all there was for a signature was an X. I said "what"? and got pretty upset that I might loose the equipment. The officer saw how upset I was and told me he knew I was telling the truth. He let me go on. My friend had just put an X on the receipt. I was not ready for this and it caught me off guard. To this day whenever I show those pieces of farm equipment, I tell this story. X marks the Spot. ~T. Brown
Dead Cow
Thirty years ago many more cows were around Cerrillos. They would come into our town to eat the gardens. There was not much for them to eat in the hills. The hills were overgrazed. People would chase them off their properties. They still do to this day. One day I saw 3 cows standing on the tracks on First Street. The East bound train was coming, blowing its whistle. The cows didn't know what was happening but 2 cows made it off the track in time. The third one got hit by the train doing 65 mph. That cow was shot 20 feet to the side of the tracks. It stood up, looked around and fell dead with all four legs up in the air. ~T. Brown
20' Jump
My good friend wanted to see what an old mine in the Cerrillos mining district looked like. I said that we could go up into the mountains and see one. We finally got to the place I wanted to show him. I told him to crawl down to the small opening and look around while down there. As he was starting down I also said "watch out for
rattlesnakes". Before I finished the sentence, the tail of a rattler was shaking. My friend looked at me and flew 20' out of that hole. He was shaking in his boots. We both looked down the hole and sure enough there was a 5' rattler staring back at us. To this day he retells the story and as time goes by it is getting larger to tell... At first I set him up. Then it was a 7' rattler. Now it is a den of vipers that I sent him into. I visited the mine recently and there was nothing there at all when I looked around. A good story tellers' story keeps growing larger as time goes by. ~T. Brown
Where Are My Garbage Cans?
Many years ago, my next door neighbor was coming up with ideas on how to make money. One day he came over and said he was starting a trash service. The local dump is 8 miles away and it sounded like a good idea to me and I was his first customer. He said that for $15 he would take all my garbage away. We loaded up my outside trash containers and all our inside containers. For outside containers I had four 55 gallon drums and I had some old, very nice cans for the inside. One was copper, two were old nail containers and two were nice vanity baskets. I waited all day for him to return. At sunset I went over to his house and asked "where are my trash cans". He stood there for a moment and replied "I threw everything out. I have nothing for you, everything went to the dump". I had to find 9 new garbage cans and never used his service again. To this day I laugh about this story. ~T. Brown
Museum Gate Entrance
I recently had 2 Japanese guests at my museum in Cerrillos. I enjoy them as guests and always give them a multilingual Turquoise Trail Byway brochure and a free pass to the museum. I told them "free museum". They did not speak much English and did not seem to understand, so I pointed to the gate of the museum and waved them to "go ahead". I guess they hadn't seen a double hinged gate and not knowing to push it open, they got on their knees and crawled under the gate. They were so humble to go in. They enjoyed the museum very much and thanked me and went on their way. You never know! ~T. Brown
Lost Engine
I live on the west end of town, overlooking the San Marcos arroyo. I have a great view of the passing trains. You get very in tune when the trains are coming through. Freight trains used to come through around 8-9 times a day plus the east & west bound Amtrak.  Twenty-five years ago on a particular early evening, I heard the whistle of the freight train going eastbound, which is an uphill grade. It passed by at 65 mph which was normal. About 10 minutes later I heard another train going westbound downhill. But the funny thing was there was no engine  noise - no whistle. I couldn't believe my eyes, the train cars had no engine attached. It was doing about 40 mph.  Five minutes later the engine going backwards was traveling about 100 mph trying to catchethe runaway train. It caught up with it, for one hour later, the whole train came back through. It really did happen! ~T. Brown
Is Cerrillos a Fellini village?
About ten years ago when dogs dozed in the street and the pace of life was slow an interesting man by the name of Nappi lived in town. He owned a gold mine in Alaska which he had been trying to sell for some time. While he was being patient about a sale he liked to attend the occasional used vehicle auction in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. One day I spotted his pickup truck stopped at the corner of Main and First streets. As he proceeded toward his home I realized the jumble of wheels in the bed as an assortment of bicycles. I gave it no further thought until about ten days later I discovered every kid in town had a bicycle, one of those old types with streamers on the handles and back pedal brakes. Nappi had bought the lot at auction and repaired them as gifts for the village children! Strange and wonderful things happen in Cerrillos. Twelve years have passed now since circus signs appeared on posts around town announcing an extraordinary two-day event called One Railroad Circus. It appears that an all women trapeze group living in town on Railroad Avenue decided to present a show for the village of Cerrillos. On the appointed day the locals arrived to a stage set with high wire and other circus apparatus in place. There was straw bale seating for the audience, a pop corn concession and a ticket taker. The show included stilt clowns and life scale puppets of lions and tigers who terrorized the audience. Home grown entertainment by locals for locals as I found out they didn’t advertise elsewhere. The group did the show again the following year and went on to other venues in Santa Fe and beyond. Strange and wonderful things happen in Cerrillos! A Fellini village? ~T. Morin

Mountain Lion
I went to Albion, California to visit a friend who has an old wood salmon fishing boat. I have gone a few times already. I like to help fix up the boat. My friend lives in the middle of the Albion River on a 2-story house boat and the salmon boat is tied to it. We have gone fishing down the coast to San Francisco and sell the salmon we catch at Fisherman's wharf. I love the drive through the redwoods from Santa Rosa to Jenner on Rt 116. I stop and gather redwood sticks to make into walking sticks and sell them in my shop here in Cerrillos. They sell quite well and on one of my gathering trips I stopped to pick up redwood sticks. I love to sing prayer songs in the redwoods, it is so still and timeless. I get to be with myself and enjoy the grandeur of the forest. As I was singing I looked up and 20 feet in front of me was a very large mountain lion. He was about my size and looked hungry. He was eyeing me. What did I do? I kept singing and walked backwards to the vehicle. I got in safely, locked the door and drove past him. I think he liked my singing! That encounter was a little to close for me! ~T. Brown
Timex Deer
In the late 1980's many people in Cerrillos would go deer hunting in the mountains. We would go and get a $20 license for 2 weeks of hunting. You could get a male deer of 150 lbs for $20 if you were a good hunter. During the season everyone would share stories and knew who had been sucessful bagging his limit. On a late in the day hunt, friends were coming back to Cerrillos on the dirt road south of Madrid. It had been a long day for them. They told me this story, it went like this. "We were coming back to Cerrillos. Our friend from Santa Fe had his new truck and he was driving. We were 1/2 mile west of Hwy 14 on the dirt road and had not seen a buck. We had just put on our headlights and there on the side of the road was the biggest 12-point buck we had ever seen. All our guns were still loaded. We backed up 50 feet and all started shooting at it. Nothing happened. It just stood there. Had we missed? Were we such bad shots? At that moment 20 Game & Fish agents came out of the trees. They arrested all of us. It was a Timex deer. Takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. They confiscated the new truck and ticketed everyone. It was a setup. You are not allowed to have ammo in your gun or hunt after sunset."  I thought it quite a story. I did myself get a 4-point buck that year. I still have the mount hanging up in my kitchen. Did you know this? The way that you mount a head of your buck, is the moment that your eyes meet each other. The moment that the hunt was on. ~T. Brown
Coiled Snake
My wife & I love to walk the hills. We have grandchildren now. We  like to show them the beauty of nature. One summer evening my wife wanted to take flashlights and walk at dusk with one of our grandsons. I did not think this was a good idea so I decided to go along. We parked the truck by the head of the trail. We were in shorts and light clothing. About 100 feet up the trail we met a bicyclist and his dog coming down the trail. We jumped back to get out of their way. We said hello and they kept going downhill. We walked 10 feet further and there in the middle of the trail was a tightly coiled rattle snake. We were only two feet in front of him, almost on top of it when I heard the rattles. I jerked my grandson back quickly and jumped back myself. I dropped the flashlight on the snake. We needed a long stick to get to the flashlight. I think what happened was the bicyclist ran over the snake; then he coiled and we immediately walked upon him. He did not strike and we did not go any further. We did not finish our walk, but came home and counted our blessings.
T. Brown
Pure White Arch
I want to tell you of a place of great beauty that is worth seeing. In the area around Cerrillos there is a lot of windblown and weathered sandstone. The best area of sandstone is the pure white arch. It is 20 ft across & 15 ft high. It is located in a one-acre formation of sandstone. To get to it you go to the Cochiti exit on I-25 and walk one mile east. The volcano flow heated the sandstone into pure white rock. It is a holy place to visit and enjoy.
Den of Vipers
In the high mountains around Cerrillos is a place that is very special. I have been going to it for many years and it is a hard place to get to. It is an old mine that goes 75 feet straight into the side of a mountain. Inside the mine adit is where rattlesnakes will hibernate. When I was last there, 3 balls of snakes were staying warm - waiting for spring to arrive. It is a special place.  I wish them well. T.Brown
Bent Trucks
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
Oak Board
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
Santa's Problem
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

Rabbit Friend
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
One of the curiouser relics to be seen in Cerrillos lies rusting on the ground, on the side of Waldo Street, outside of the Turquoise Mining Museum. It’s lying on its side, its guts spilling onto the ground. People look at it with puzzlement and pass it by, unable to reckon on it. It sort of looks like a smashed pottery-firing oven but it sure ain’t that. What it is is a safe. The door is missing and the frame is all twisted, but there’s no doubt it was once a safe. Today what you see is the rusting remains of a blown safe. How did it get blown? Giant powder? Dynamite? In a town where it seems there are more stories about things than there are things, someone was sure to know the story behind that blown safe? Nope. You would think it must’ve made the papers? Looked for it. Nada. So for thirty years, year after year, the weeds on Waldo Street sprouted green and faded away around the battered hulk of that old blown safe, and the true story behind it, which no one thought but had to be better than any made-up tale, remained untold. That was until one day not long ago when it was just too cold fer spittin’ or whittlin’ outside, I was looking through the McNulty papers at the State Archives in Santa Fe and ran across an old receipt. The paper was written by Abraham Staab, dated November 3, 1907, to James P. McNulty, acknowledging the receipt of $475 in exchange for three lots and their houses in Cerrillos – those same buildings that would later be the home of the Tiffany Saloon and Restaurant – and there it was, written plain on the receipt; “Also one iron safe (combination lost).“ So what do you expect that old miner McNulty did back in 1907 once he got his hands on that “...one iron safe (combination lost)”? More importantly, what do you think he found inside it? Next time the weather gets uno poco mas salubrious and we get a quorum on the Spit’n’Whittle bench, we’re going to come up with the best rest-of-this-story we can come up with, and then we’ll declare that the gospel truth. Myself, I’m thinking it had to be gold. Ptooie... ~B. Baxter
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
Kitchen cabinets
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
Ox-Tail Soup
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 Great Devil's Throne Train Wreck
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
Tiffany Restaurant
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. ~T. Brown

St. Joseph Feast Day
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

My Duck
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 
Baby Bear                                                  
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
Japanese Tourists
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
Wood Pile Fire
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.
Woodstock Trip
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
Dark Dust Devil
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 
60th Birthday
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
Grand Teton Hike
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 
Tumbleweed Vortex
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
Bug Sprayer
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
Unpaid Admission
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