Mildred O. Dunman-Lermuseaux
Mildred Lermuseaux turns 101
My grandmother is a wonderful role model. Mildred O. Dunman-Lermuseaux
was born in 1907 in Meno, Arkansas, the second child of Zaida and
Oscar Dunman. She never knew her father, who was killed in a hunting
accident before she was born. Eventually, her mother remarried and
moved to Plainview, Texas; then to Tajique, New Mexico; and by the
time she was a teenager, to Albuquerque.
Mildred attended school until the eighth grade and then worked
at the Presbyterian Good Samaritan tuberculosis center. She started
beauty school with one of her best friends and remembers those days
clearly, speaking of the cook at the Presbyterian Good Sam and the
many beaus she had. Grandmother’s mother was a dressmaker
and milliner and made beautiful clothes and hats for Mildred and
her sister. I can imagine her being quite the flirt in those youthful
days. There is a picture of her in her hat and coat, in a flirty
pose, and to prove nothing is lost in the genes, one of my sisters
has posed almost identically during our youth. My younger sisters
and I will always remember Grandma calling out to us from her kitchen
door and telling us to come in and have her curl our hair with a
curling iron, heated on her kitchen stove. We had the tightest curls
you could imagine, even if our hair was a little singed. That was
the closest I ever got to being Shirley Temple.
Grandma went on to meet the love of her life, my grandfather Victor
Lermuseaux, at a dance in Albuquerque. She has told me so many times
how much she was captivated by his big blue eyes and the dimple
in his chin. He was so handsome. He was born in Dawson, New Mexico
and later, lived in Bernalillo after his father died in the Hagan
mines. Mildred and Vic married in Bernalillo and lived there the
rest of their lives. They raised four children in the garage that
Victor’s mother had built for him after his father was killed.
Victor was a hard worker and had learned auto mechanics at several
schools. Mildred was a novice at housework and cooking, but dived
in and I can attest to her excellent skills at both. I grew up eating
her wonderful, fresh bread and pineapple cookies, and her house
She believed that idle hands were the devil’s workshop, and
to this day laments not being able to do more work around the house,
even at her age. She loved to sew—particularly quilts—and
made the most beautiful quilts with scraps of material she dared
not toss out. She mended every stitch of clothing the family wore.
She lived through the Depression and managed to scrounge food and
clothing from what little money came in, and she reused the paper
and plastic bags and foil scraps from the few grocery items they
Grandma has always had a great love of music. She says it keeps
her mind busy and her heart happy. She has worn out many tape and
CD players in the last few years. Her children played the saxophone,
ukulele, and the guitar, and that love of music was passed on to
me and my brothers and sisters as well. I remember marching in the
New Mexico State Fair parades for many of my high school years,
playing at the high school basketball games and holiday concerts,
and I know that music does lighten your heart.
My grandmother has always been a tower of strength and determination.
I remember her working from dawn ‘til dark outside in the
orchard, helping with planting and harvesting and learning to drive
a school bus so she could help with the family financial situation.
She loved driving those rowdy little kids from all around Bernalillo
in bus #20. She knew most of the families and their individual situations,
and managed to maintain tight control of her bus until she retired.
Often people stop when I am working in my yard to ask about Mrs.
Lermuseaux and tell me that she was their bus driver. She had a
strong sense of right and wrong and the power of hard work, and
I am sure she tried her best to instill that in the little children
she was responsible for during those ten- to thirty-minute drives
to school. I remember how much I loved playing in her school bus
while it was parked at her house, since I wasn’t able to ride
the bus to school myself.
Grandmother recalls, with mixed feelings, living at the ranch in
the Jemez Mountains. She loved fishing with Grandpa at Jemez Falls,
but it was hard to stay there. They lived in two rooms, had no water,
and had to haul it up from the creek. After Grandpa retired, they
spent the majority of their time there, tending a few head of cattle,
some quail, some rabbits, a large garden spot with acres of potatoes,
cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, parsnips, and other vegetables,
and would then return to Bernalillo to work their orchard. In those
days, there were few homes in the Jemez and nights were quiet and
completely dark. I remember how excited we all were when Dad and
Grandpa put in the indoor toilet and a shower! No more honey pot
or trekking up the hill in the dark to the outhouse, which never
had a door! Over the years, I grew to love the seclusion and enjoyed
the quiet sounds of nature. Long days working in the field in that
crisp mountain air and rich, black dirt gave me plenty of time for
reflection and dreaming—and adjusting my attitude, when necessary.
I treasure these memories and so many more of my Grandma Mildred.
I will always have the strong values she demonstrated to fall back
on in my times of need. I have loved and enjoyed her daily presence
in my life. She would be the first to remind me that no one is perfect
but we should certainly try to be. I only hope I can do justice
to her example of a life well-lived. She retorts with a sharp sense
of humor and then worries so about all our family and friends and
resists our efforts to get her to rest. She doesn’t want to
sleep her life away and miss a single thing. She continues to surprise
us with her modest amount of vanity, her daily ritual of putting
on face cream and lipstick. Then she says, if only she had some
chores to do, something to keep her hands busy, she would feel so
much better. She has been my second mother, and I have been blessed
to have her in my life.
Lorenzo Romero, 11, and his yearling mustang Angelito
Extreme Mustang Makeover
Alicia and Joe Romero own and operate Romero’s Thunder, a
multi-service equine business in Bernalillo. They are proud to announce
that The Mustang Heritage Foundation (MHF) has selected their son,
area horseman eleven-year-old Lorenzo Romero and his yearling mustang
Angelito to compete in the Extreme Mustang Makeover Mission 007:
Yearling Edition, during the Western States’ Wild Horse and
Burro Expo in Reno, Nevada. The Expo will be held from August 16
to 18 with a purse of $5,000. Lorenzo and Angelito have been working
together for a short time, and not only has Lorenzo accomplished
loading Angelito into a horse trailer, but has started taking him
places in it. Also, Lorenzo has him jumping over barrels on a lead,
and Angelito is under saddle. Angelito is too young to ride as yet,
but he took well to the saddle.
The Mustang Heritage Foundation (MHF) has a new mission: to place
for adoption more than two hundred yearling Mustangs, while at the
same time providing educational funding to youth, as well as cash
prizes to adults in the program.
Mission 007, aptly named for the foaling year of the mustangs,
is the yearling edition of the successful Extreme Mustang Makeover
first held in September 2007. The 2008 competition, to be held September
18 to 20 in Fort Worth, Texas, will feature two hundred of America’s
iconic mustangs and their trainers competing for a purse of $50,000,
with an additional $20,000 made available for the yearling edition.
The yearling edition will showcase the first opportunity for youth,
ages eighteen and under, to interact with and train a wild horse.
Mustang Heritage Foundation Director Patti Colbert said, “With
this new program, youth will be able to receive a yearling mustang
that they will gentle to a halter.” During competition, handlers
will receive scores based on the body condition of their American
Mustang, as well as their ability to handle the horse “in
hand” through a series of maneuvers, which include picking
up the horse’s feet, maneuvering the horse through obstacles,
and loading it into a trailer. Three skilled horsemen will judge
Mustang Heritage Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Bureau
of Land Management (BLM), created the Mustang Challenge event to
highlight the recognized value of mustangs through a national training
competition. The purpose is to showcase the beauty, versatility,
and trainability of these rugged horses that roam freely on public
lands throughout the West, where they are protected by the BLM under
Yearling mustangs will be available for adoption to the public
following each competition. For complete information regarding the
2008 Extreme Mustang Makeover, the competitions, and the adoption
of a wild mustang, visit www.extrememustangemakeover.com.