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World War II sailor; World War I veteran.
Do you recognize either of these men from Placitas?

Placitas History Project

—Bob Gajkowski

The coming together of three historic dates occurs this year: the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, the World War I Centenary marking the 100th Anniversary of the “Great War,”

and the 70th Anniversary of World War II. Each of these conflicts was momentous for our Nation. To the families of the young men and women—the participants in these horrific events—their countrymen owe a great debt of gratitude.

On April 25, at 2:00 p.m., the Placitas History Project will host “Honoring Our Veterans: the Civil War to Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day),” a presentation to honor those from Placitas who served in in these conflicts. Held at the Placitas Community Library, 453 Hwy 165.

Some 350 men and women from Sandoval County served with American Expeditionary Forces(AEF) in France during World War I. At present, ten Placitans are known to have been among those ranks. In World War II, over 2200 men and women from the County served; 51 Placitans are now known to have participated. Currently, 268 New Mexico Territory residents of the communities (Bernalillo, Placitas, Corrales, Algodones, and others that later became Sandoval County) are known to have fought in the Civil War.

Col.(ret.) David C de Baca of Bernalillo has been gathering names, photographs, military records and stories about these County veterans for sometime. His goal has been to gather information and photographs about each County veteran and to establish a permanent memorial to them here in Sandoval County. His program on April 25 will include a discussion of events of these wars and some of the twenty-four display boards currently available to be part of the memorial’s exhibits. These boards include some of the collected veterans’ photos and other information.

C de Baca encourages family members to gather photographs, military records, and stories about their family members and to bring them to the presentation so that they can be part of the memorial. Listings of Sandoval County Civil War to V-J Day veterans will be available at the presentation. Also, a representative of the Rio Grande Patriots Chapter, Folds of Honor Foundation, will provide information about that organization’s plans to offer scholarships to families of the Iraq—Afghanistan conflicts.


Joe Gonzales

Joe Gonzales

A fond remembrance of a library supporter and good friend

—Judy Gajkowski, Placitas Community Library

The Placitas Community Library lost a long-time friend and supporter when Joe Gonzales died on March 8. Joe was a Board Member during the Library’s early years, drawn by his love of books and the importance of introducing children to the joy of reading early in their lives. He was a well-known and well-liked resident of Placitas for decades, soft-spoken with an infectious smile, and always ready for new adventures.

Joe moved to Placitas 1969. He served on the Board of Sandia Prep for six years and was also an avid volunteer in their athletics department. These roles fostered his interest in learning and made establishing a library in Placitas a challenge he was more than happy to help take on. He loved the children’s programs and often brought his granddaughter, Anamaria, to the Library.

As a resident of the Village for a long time, Joe, and many of the other residents, often met at the Thunderbird Bar which was the gathering place of Placitas in the Sixties and Seventies. Joe often told stories of the parties, music, poetry readings, and conversations that took place there. He said that he, and others, lined up waiting for the Thunderbird to open, not because they wanted to drink, but because it was a place where you could talk to your neighbors, catch up on the latest news, hear great music, and dance. He especially loved dancing with Mary Ramsay who was known as the lady who baked bread in the Village. They remained good friends for decades.

One of our favorite memories of Joe was his appearance on the Library’s Forth of July Parade float in 2004. There, on a rocking chair in the center of a flatbed trailer, sat Joe, reading to a group of children. Joe had brought a huge, over-sized book, a prized part of his book collection. He was reminded that the parade in those days was a very wet event with water guns all along the route and that he might want to leave the prized book behind. He was really happy he’d heeded that advice but he enjoyed being a part of the parade, part of his community’s celebration.

Joe’s memory lives on in those who lived and worked with him. He will be missed. We will remember him and his part in making the Placitas Community Library the new “gathering place” for a community he loved

 
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