For the most part this section has little to do with "model railroading". To justify in my own mind why I build the structures/buildings that I do, I come up with stories to explain particular scenes on the railroad. Most of the have stories have some facts associated with them. I use Lesley El Sondo Tempest, a reporter for the Chamita Gazette, as a means to tell the stories. I named her after Lesley Poling-Kempes. Lesley is an amazing author that lives in Northern New Mexico. Her books include:
The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened the West
Ladies of the Canyons: A League of Extraordinary Women and Their Adventures in the American Southwest
Georgia O'Keeffe and New Mexico: A Sense of Place
Canyon of Remembering
Photo History and Stories by the Chamita Gazette
In 1947 the Chamita Gazette, is the local and only newspaper in Rio Arriba County. The editor of the Gazette is Jose Cabeza de Vaca. Jose, originally from Texas, is a direct descendent of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. Álvar was an explorer born around the year 1490 in Extremadura, Castile, Spain. He was part of a Spanish expedition that landed in the current Tampa Bay Florida. This was around the year 1528. During the expedition most of his fellow explorers died. By September of 1528, he and the remaining explorers made it to what is now the American South West. Upon arrival, they settled down and lived with the natives for almost four years. Álvar ended up coming back to the southwest on numerous occasions at one point ending up in what is now Socorro New Mexico.
The Gazette had on staff two photographers Jose Roberto Dulce and Bruce Guillermos. Guillermos loved trains. He traveled up and down the Chile Verde Line taking photos. Dulce wasn't quite as driven to take photos of trains. He was more interested in the people that rode the trains and those that worked for the D&RGW. You will see many of their photos herein. The Chamita Gazette also had a female reporter named Lesley El Sondeo Tempest. She was the Lois Lane of Chamita. She was a tenacious reporter and was once arrested for trying to gain access to the Los Alamos Lab. This took place during WW II. What she didn’t realize is that the lab was working on the bomb. It was her belief that the federal government was hiding some kind of top-secret alien aircraft. Little did she know that in June of 1947, the very month and year that this railroad represents, an alien aircraft was being stored in a Roswell New Mexico hangar. You will be hearing from Lesley via her articles as this website progresses.
Note from Bob: As a retired NASA employee I can tell you that there is ample evidence that shows that the military is hiding alien aircraft. NOT! Darn.
Placing of Descanso for Alejandro Diego Gomez
Chamita Gazette – June 27th 1947
By Lesley El Sondeo Tempest
Photo by Jose Roberto Dulce
Friends of D&RGW Brakeman Alejandro Diego Gomez attended the placement of the Descanso adjacent to the track in the Chamita Yard yesterday where Alejandro tragically lost his life on Friday June 13th. Alejandro, a resident of Hernandez, was 32 years old and had been working for the railroad for ten years. In the all too common railroad accidents, Alejandro died of a head injury as he was setting the brakes on cars. While the exact cause of the accident is not know it is believed that he slipped and fell between the two cars and hit his head on the coupler.
Friar Juan of Capilla de San Jose, Chamita’s Majordomo George Hernandez, Chamita Station Agent Michael McCaffery, Engineer Bruce Williams and Fireman Chipper Thompson were in attendance. Williams and Thompson were crewing the locomotive at the time of the accident. As is the custom, nothing was said during the placement of the Descanso. Not in attendance were Alejandro’s wife, Maria, and their five children. No reason was given. (Note from Bob: the real reason is that I do not have a scale figure that would adequately do justice to mourning Hispanic looking women nor do I have five scale kids.)
In the way of explanation for those readers that do not know why a Descanso is place near the location of where a New Mexican lost his life, or what a Descanso is; a Descanso is a spirit/death marker, typically a cross or crosses, placed where someone, or multiple individuals, died. In New Mexico, and other parts of the Southwest, Descanos have been around since the Spanish settled here in the late 1500s. Descansos are deeply rooted in Southwestern culture. The word means, “resting place” and refers to the days when coffins were transported by horse and cart or carried by hand over the miles for burial. When the mourners rested for the evening along their journey, they erected markers made of stacked stones. The tradition has changed over the years to designate the site where the loss of life occurred and where the spirit of the deceased was released from the body. It isn’t unusual that during the “Day of the Dead” for family members or decedents of the dead to maintain the Descanso.
Photo as it appeared in the Gazette.
Theft at the CONOCO Gas Station
June 29th, 1947
Story by Lesley El Sondeo Tempest
Photos by Jose Dulce
Between 10:00 pm last night and 6:00 am this morning the CONOCO gas station on State Road 56 was robbed. The proprietor, Jorge Alvarez, said that the only things taken were pin-up posters that were hanging in Sniffing Wolf’s Garage. The posters belonged to Miguel Salazar. Miguel, the garage mechanic, is a WW II veteran. He served aboard the USS Capelin, SS-289, as a Machinist Mate. Fortunately he was transferred off of the Capelin in August 1943. In December of 1943 the Capelin was reported missing and presumed sunk while on patrol.
During his tour of duty Miguel was able to admass a large collection of pin-ups. Many of which were autographed. Miguel says that his collection has special meaning as he won half of it from a friend, Peter Grabnickas, in a poker game. Peter and the rest of the crew of the Capelin were lost at sea. Miguel provided a picture of his friend Peter in his bunk on the Capelin. Many of the missing pin-ups can be seen in the photo. When asked why he displayed the pin-ups in the garage Miguel said that his wife, Maria Lupita Francesca Salazar, would not allow him to keep them in their house. Missing pin-ups include Rita Hayward, Bety Grable, Lana Turner, Carole Landis, Lucille Ball, Veronica Lake, Katherine Hepburn, Jane Russell, Ingrid Bergman, Ida Lapino, Jean Harlow, and several others. Also taken were pin-up art including “Elvren Girls”, Zoe Mozert, and Alberto Vargas (Varga Girls).
When asked if he had any idea whom might have taken the pin-ups, Miguel stated that at first he thought that it might have been one of the guys that belong to the local hot rod club. He quickly discounted that idea. For the most part, club members are WW II veterans. They all have two things in common, pin-ups and fast cars. They call themselves El Bólido Caliente Amigos.
Jorge Alvarez has offered a $50 reward for the return of the pin-ups. He asks that the pin-ups be taken to the Chamita Gazette and be give to the Gazette Editor, Jose Cabeza de Vaca. He will have the reward money. No questions asked.
June 30th, 1947
Editors note to file
Subject: The Theft at the CONOCO Station
Yesterday Maria Lupita Francesca Salazar, the wife of Miguel Salazar, and a very devout Catholic, brought the pin-ups to the Chamita Station. When asked why she took the pin-ups and subsequently returned them she stated that they were sinful and caused men to have evil thoughts. Mrs. Salazar said that the reason for returning them was that her husband makes $1.10 an hour, they have three children and they’re expecting another. Fifty dollars will go a long way in taking care of her family.
This is a copy of the photograph provided by Miguel of his shipmate, Peter Grabnickas, aboard the Submarine USS Capelin.
The photo was taken in August 1943.
Note from Bob: The photo above is an actual photo taken aboard the submarine USS Capelin four months before it was sunk while on patrol. As I served aboard a submarine for 3 years and six months making six patrols aboard the USS Kamehameha (SSBN 642 B) and as I am quite familiar with how my shipmates adorned their bunks, I felt compelled to gin up the story about Miguel and his stolen pin-ups.