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An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988
  Around Town

The Thunderbird

Audience for a performance at The Thunderbird in Placitas

The Thunderbird: A February exhibit on a Placitas institution

—Tony Hull

For those who lived in Placitas in the early Seventies, the Thunderbird was more than a bar, it was an institution without the pretention of being anything but itself. It was a place to get together, pass the news, to dance, and even a place with a room for children to play. Located just east of the present Placitas post office, it was truly the community center in the best sense. 

It was also a place of music, and people would come from Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and beyond. A plate of green chile and beans could be had for 65 cents. Performers like John Lee Hooker, Earl Scruggs, The Last Mile Ramblers, Albert King Jr, Asleep at the Wheel, Tim Buckley, The Earl White Review, REO Speed Wagon, The Jonny Otis Show, Freddy King, Bo Diddley and Willie Nelson, not to mention poets Kell Robertson, Larry Goodell, and Bill Pearlman who also graced the stage. The list goes on.

The Placitas Mountaincraft & Soiree Society was originally formed at the Thunderbird Bar as a vehicle for events that went beyond the business of eating, drinking, and dancing. The Crafty Mountain Fair was the first of these, in December of 1972. It included a short operetta written and performed by the Oriental Blue Streak Band from Taos, in collaboration with various Thunderbird people. A dark and wobbly home movie of “The Barnfather” reveals several people in chicken costumes strutting on stage, surrounded by a crowded room of craft booths. There was also a fire-eating act and poetry from some of the regulars.

All good things come to an end. The original Thunderbird Bar crew that began it and made it famous had all moved on by summer of 1973, replaced by a new owner of the building. In 1976, what was left of the Thunderbird was burned to the ground in a sensational fire that, fortunately, injured no one.

The Collin Reading Room of the Placitas Community Library will feature a show of images from the Thunderbird, including magic posters of music and poetry performed there. Larry Goodell was helpful in compiling the exhibit.

The exhibit—a Placitas History Project production—will open on Saturday, February 4 and remain up through the month of February. There will be a reception and a chance for those who remember the Thunderbird to exchange stories between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 11. The Placitas Community Library is at 453 Hwy 165, Placitas, NM 87043, (505) 867-3355.

If you have stories or photographs of the Thunderbird, or of any aspect of Placitas during the Sixties or Seventies, please contact me at:

Placitas library welcomes new board members

—Anne Frost

The Placitas Community Library is delighted to announce the election of four new members to the Board of Directors. They are replacing outgoing Board members Gail Della Pelle, Norma Ruptier, Wayne Sandoval, and Bill Dunmire whose focus and activity are already missed.

Long-time Placiteña, Frances Sosa, has been deeply involved in several civic organizations including the Placitas Fire Brigade, Placitas Elementary School PTO and Advisory Board, Bernalillo High School PTO, and the PCL Young Adult Program. She works in Albuquerque as a paramedic and raises her children in Placitas. Frances brings a wealth of community contacts and awareness as well as enormous energy and creativity.

Lin Robinson recently served as President of Jardineros de Placitas and in several capacities at Haven House. She and her husband, Larry, author of the Library’s incorporation papers, have long been active supporters of PCL. As a retired attorney, she will provide guidance as the Library moves forward.

Karen Cox moved to Placitas with her new husband about four years ago and fell in love with the community, especially the library, which she describes as “amazing.” She is a retired CPA and long time bookseller. Her attention to detail, knowledge of finance and history in the book world are all assets the Library can use.

Susan Arreola, a recent addition to our community and retired academic, brings experience in community planning and a variety of skills in research, organization, and communication. This kind of experience, as well as her collaborative attitude and enthusiastic nature make her a welcome addition to the Board.

At its annual meeting, the PCL Board also elected officers for the coming year. Anne Frost, Susan Fullas, and Pat McCarty will serve as rotating Co-Chairs. Barbara Rockwell will step in as Treasurer and Connie Goodwin as Secretary. As the Placitas Library Board envisions the Library in the next five to ten years and begins a strategic plan to sustain the Library long term and fund Phase II of our building, each of these dynamic individuals will play vital and varied roles.

Children’s Art Program

 Jean Kolod will offer Picasso Art Appreciation Program on Saturday, February 18 starting at 10:30 a.m. Jean Kolod is one of our new volunteers to the Children’s Committee. She worked at the Detroit Museum of Art presenting programs to children. Jean will show posters of Picasso’s art work to the participants and lead an Interactive Visual Thinking discussion with the children. She will encourage them to talk about the shapes they see. They will then have the opportunity to look at their faces in hand mirrors and draw their own face, Picasso style, using simple shapes. This is a brand new type of program for our children and it is sure to be entertaining as well as educational. Books about Picasso will also be available for check-out.

February Events at the Placitas Community Library

  • Saturday, February 4, 1:00-4:00 p.m.: Chess Club; open to youth and adults
  • Monday, February 6, 4:00-6:00 p.m.: PCL Book Group #1
  • Tuesday, February 7, 3:00-5:00 p.m.: Third Rail Book Group—open to new members
  • Thursday, February 9, 10:00-11:30 a.m.: Pre-K Story Hour
  • Saturday, February 11, 1:00-4:00 p.m.: Larry Goddell and others on the Thunderbird Bar
  • Tuesday, February 14, 3:00 p.m.: Bilingual Story Hour
  • Wednesday, February 15, 7:00 p.m.: PCL Board meeting
  • Thursday, February 16, 6:30 p.m.: Placitas History Project
  • Saturday, February 18, 10:30 a.m.: Picasso Art Appreciation Program with Jean Kolod
  • Thursday, February 23, 10:00-11:30 a.m.: Pre-K Story Hour
  • Friday, February 24: 7:00 p.m.: Teen Game Night

Geology lecture rescheduled

The Friends of Coronado State Monument’s January presentation, “Geologic Quirks of the Sandias,” by Dirk Van Hart, will be repeated due to not only an overflow crowd, eager to hear the lecture, but also to an unfortunate equipment power failure during the presentation. The ever-popular Van Hart will give his entire presentation on March 18 at 2:00 p.m. A larger venue is still to be determined because of the sellout, standing-room-only crowd in attendance on January 18, at the DeLavy House—the Sandoval County Historical Society Museum—on Edmund Road in Bernalillo.

Check the March Signpost for information about where this presentation will be held. The lecture will be free for all attendants. For further information about events and activities at Coronado State Monument, visit the Friends of Coronado State Monument’s website at

Manuel Lopez presents “Spanish Buffalo Hunters (Los Ciboleros)”

—Coronado State Monument

On February 19, at 2:00, Manuel Lopez will present: Spanish Buffalo Hunters (Los Ciboleros) at the Sandoval Historical Society Museum.

Manuel Lopez is an independent historical interpreter who has been associated with EL Rancho de Las Golondrinas, the living history museum of an authentic Spanish Colonial rancho in Las Cienega, for about twenty years. Manuel will join us to relate wondrous tales of Los Ciboleros, the Spanish buffalo hunters of the 1700s and early 1800s. He’ll discuss the hunting methods, weapons, and adventures of these cazadores (hunters) who provided food for the growing New Mexican population as well as hides for the rich Santa Fe-Chihuahua trade. In competition with the Plains Indians, they sought buffalo meat and hides in the American Southwest, including Texas, beginning their journey from what is now Southeast Colorado and Northeast New Mexico.

Lecture Admission is $5 for adults and students and Friends of CSM will get in free. For more, call 505-792-4851 or visit

Sandoval County Historical Society Museum is located on Edmund Road & Hwy 550, in Bernalillo. From I-25, Exit 242, follow Highway 550 west, turn north between the new IHOP and the 66 Warrior Gas Station; follow the gravel road.

“It’s all about Water”

On Friday, February 10, from 4:45 to 10:00 p.m. and Saturday, February 11 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, Amigos Bravos, Food & Water Watch, and Sierra Club will sponsor “It’s all about Water” films and conversation at the South Broadway Cultural Center, 1025 Broadway Blvd. SW, in Albuquerque. Attendees are asked to bring water in a sustainable container. Light refreshments will be provided. The events are free. For further info, go to: for more information.
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