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  Around Town


Old photo of Tawapa: (back) Tawapa Main House; (foreground) Keith Pleasenton's house

Tuapa, Tawapah, Tawapa, Towapa, Tooapa

—Tony Hull

Place and time has given Tawapa many names, even though they’re all the same—maybe that is a little part of the magic of the place. Built in the Sixties, Tawapa was bulldozed in the Nineties and, for all practical purposes, erased. Neighboring SunFarm still remains. Back in the day, people seemed to just arrive here, a destination without intent. Houses were built, food was grown, the rules being something like, “you want to eat, you work.” Not quite a commune, but a destination in the hippie travel lore of the period. Some came to get distance from the increasingly bizarre Ulysses at Lower Farm, others because it was the time to explore freedom, and visiting here was the way. Some would stay for a summer and others would stay for years.

The Vietnam War was affecting many of us. Music of Dylan and the Byrds resounded up the valley. Sometimes Bo Diddley would come and hang out and make music, and performance artist Meredith Monk would visit her sister Tracy. And there was a hill where people meditated together, and a great swimming hole, and the toll house, and the community kitchen by the creek, and the gardens. Neighbors who knew the ways of farming helped out, and others just came and gawked. Freedom was in the air while everything else was so fragile.

The sorry story of Mouser was the failed chance to save the place. But at least the story survives. I hope to hear more stories about the trips to the hot springs and the old outliers. I want to hear from those who still regard T—‘however you say it’—to be your home place.

I would like to invite all who have memories of this place to tell your stories, share your pictures. What did this time and place mean to you? I have heard from several people, including those who grew up here. I am told that there are many pictures, but I have seen few. Please look for them. They will be worth seeing again.

All I can offer is to be a catalyst—to listen, gather, and help collect your stories, your pictures, your memories. I go for morning walks past this place, and have a strong feeling for who lived here. I don’t want it forgotten. If enough of your pictures and stories come together, there will be an exhibit at the Placitas Community Library, with support of the Placitas History Project, as well as a reception for people to gather and tell stories. I hope those who were there will join me in producing this exhibit. This is to be an expression of your memories.

Contact me at: 505-771-8566 or at: with your pictures and   stories. I can make copies and get the originals back to you.

Share your stories in Placitas History Archives

—Bob Gajkowski

The Placitas History Project (PHP) has begun an initiative called Storytellers’ Oral History. With this program, all members of the greater Placitas community are invited to record on audio or video disks their Placitas stories, memories, and impressions. These will then become part of the Placitas Community Library’s Placitas History Archive. All participants are encouraged to gather photos, documents, and mementos to augment their stories. PHP will copy these items and return these items to the participants.

These story sessions will be held at the Library or another location anytime convenient to the individual. The sessions can be conducted with up to two people at a time. These sessions are intended to give each of us the opportunity to save our Placitas experiences and stories for our families and for future generations.

The Storytellers’ Oral History Initiative is fun and easy to do. Your children and grandchildren will be able to listen to your Placitas stories, hearing them directly from you. Call the Placitas Community Library at 867-3355 or stop by the Library’s circulation desk to leave your name, phone, and email address. A PHP member will contact you to answer any questions you have and to provide suggestions on how to make your story session a success. A time and place for your story session will be scheduled.

Friends of Coronado State Monument present April events

On April 15, young adult and children’s author, Joann Mazzio, will speak about her challenging research of the last few years into the history of the Kuaua Pueblo. She will soon publish her findings in a book entitled: Kuaua: A Prehistoric Pueblo on the Rio Grande. It is intended for tourists and as supplemental reading for New Mexico schools.

Mazzio became a writer in the 1980s after a career in aeronautical engineering, working for the Air Force Weapons Lab, Sandia Labs, as well as teaching math in New Mexico public schools. Today she is primarily known as a young people’s author.

Admission is five dollars. Students and Friends of Coronado are free.

The second event is on April 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with a $3.00 admission charge. In honor of Earth Day, Coronado State Monument Rangers will conduct a hands-on demonstration of adobe wall construction and adobe plastering aided by the Youth Conservation Corps team from the Town of Bernalillo. This will be an opportunity for the general public to observe how an adobe wall is constructed, as well as experience the labor-intensive effort needed to keep adobe walls plastered.

Rangers will also be conducting their annual spring cleaning of the ruins site. A Ranger-led crew of volunteers will focus on clearing away decade-old accumulations of tumbleweeds, dead brush, and other plant debris.

Bring a picnic lunch, and if you have a little extra energy to burn, pitch in with the clean-up to help the Rangers.

For information about the Monument, call 867-5351 or visit:

Under Charlie’s Covers holds book signing

On April 21, Rio Rancho mystery writer J.P. Hudson will unveil his latest mystery Warm-Up Kills from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Under Charlie’s Covers located at 120 E. Highway 550, next to Walgreens in Bernalillo. Warm Up Kills is Hudson’s fourth mystery and takes place in Rio Rancho. His other book titles are A Senior’s Moment, A Balloon Murder in New Mexico, and The Balloon Eye: Murder on the High Desert and Kidnapper’s Moon. All his books will be available for purchase and signing at discounted prices.

Corrales Historical Society invites US Senator Braithwaite

On April 12, at 7:00 p.m., former U.S. Senate staff member Karl Braithwaite will present “New Mexico’s Representation in the US Senate Over the Last Forty Years.” The event will be held at Old San Ysidro Church at 966 Old Church Road, across from Casa San Ysidro.

New Mexico may have one of the smallest populations in the nation, but through its representation in the US Senate, it’s been involved in some of the biggest issues this country has ever witnessed.

New Mexico has had six U.S. Senators that have dealt with the issues of the last forty years. What role did they play?  How did New Mexico fare under their representation? As a former US Senate staff member, Karl delivers an interesting inside look and perspective.

New Mexico’s senators have chaired key appropriation subcommittees, the Energy Committee, the Budget Committee, and served on many other committees during the last forty years and have they helped the nation and New Mexico deal with the huge variety of important issues.

Karl served as a staff member in the U.S. Senate from 1970-1980 and worked for all six Senators in other capacities during all the years covered by this talk. He was at Los Alamos National Laboratory for twenty-one years, most recently as Director of Government Relations. He currently works as Senior Manager for Government Relations at Sandia National Laboratories. He states, “Talks about history rarely make it to the modern era. This discussion will attempt to deal with recent history.”

For more information, call Jannie Dusseau at 505-890-5583.

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