No swimming—pool will open in July
The new Bernalillo swimming pool remained
closed through June because the town was unable to hire any
Red Cross-certified lifeguards. The Red Cross has been experiencing
problems with training-personnel illness and relocation, so
there is a lifeguard shortage throughout the area. The pools
at Santa Ana and Sandia Pueblos are closed for maintenance.
That left the Rio Grande as the only option for locals looking
to get wet and cool off.
Fortunately, according to town recreation
director Jason Soto, the town has scheduled training classes
for lifeguard applicants, and the pool should open in early
El Rinconcito español
Más vale poco bueno que mucho malo.
A little good is better than a lot of bad.
Si los años hicieran sabios, no habría viejos
If advancing years brought wisdom there wouldn’t be
Aunque salga de manos asquerosas, el dinero siempre huele
Though it may come from disgusting hands, money always smells
Submitted by SOS-panyol, Placitas—Spanish
instruction that focuses on oral communication skills, www.sospanyol.com.
Las Placitas Association offers visit to Scott
—KATE NELSON, LAS PLACITAS ASSOCIATION
Chuck and Sara Jane Scott's glorious garden was long a favorite
of the Las Placitas Association's former garden tours. While
LPA doesn't host the annual tours anymore, we're delighted
to offer a return trip—for free—to the Scott garden.
Join us at 9:00 a.m. on July 15 at their home off Tunnel
Springs Road in Placitas. While Chuck jokes that what you're
most likely to see is ravenous rabbits, deer, squirrels, and
chipmunks, you'll also see fruit trees, zinnias, waxleaf begonias,
and majestic ailanthuses—the tree of heaven. Chuck and
Sara Jane have been converting parts of their lawn to Xeriscape
and have much advice to share on that.
Besides the man-made environment, a stream runs through
the many-acred property, which also features a hiking trail.
The Scotts' property borders the national forest. Several
years ago, they placed twenty acres of it under a conservation
easement overseen by LPA to protect it from development. It's
a rare and lovely property, with cool and shady areas to simply
sit and relax in.
To get there, go south on Tunnel Springs Road (toward the
mountain) for four-tenths of a mile to La Puerta Trail. Turn
left on La Puerta and follow it all the way back to the Scotts'
Las Placitas Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated
to preserving open space and the environmental and cultural
aspects that make our community what it is.
1767 Placitas Land Grant a contemporary issue
Among his last acts on the last day of 1767, New Mexico Governor
Pedro Fermín de Mendinueta granted to a group of settlers
the lands now known as Placitas.
The people of the San Antonio de las Huertas community grant
wasted little time taking possession of the land and water
in a formal ceremony duly reported to the governor by the
visiting alcalde who ran the proceedings.
“I took them by the hand and they tore up weeds and
threw rocks and shouted three times, 'Long live the King,'”
the alcalde wrote in Spanish (paraphrased from a copy of the
document by former state historian Robert Tórrez).
“It's not just a quaint custom,” Tórrez
told a recent meeting of the Las Placitas Association. “It's
a public proclamation.
“You literally had to run your fingers through the dirt.”
Tórrez described an elaborate legal process requiring
settlers to organize themselves, petition the governor, and
demonstrate that they sought public lands not granted to other
Spaniards or to the Indian pueblos.
The settlers had started the grant process two years earlier
with a petition to the previous governor listing the residents
wanting to farm and graze the lands spread along Cañon
de Las Huertas and up the forested slopes of the Sandia Mountains.
The governor dispatched the alcalde of Santo Domingo to inspect
the land in the area known as Las Huertas and to consult with
“He was specifically not to prejudice the rights of
the pueblos,” Tórrez said. Despite occasional
lapses, Spanish law protected pueblo land grants preserving
the tribes as cultural entities, he added.
The alcalde certified to the governor that the requested
lands were public and that neighboring pueblos had not objected.
Nothing happened, however, and it took a second petition to
restart the process and win the governor's promise to extend
the eastern boundary of the tract, Placitas historian Suzanne
Sims Forrest wrote in a 1996 New Mexico Historical Review
The grant document was torn, and the eastern boundary of
the grant remained uncertain, she added.
Regardless, the residents lived if not prospered in their
fortified village into the 1820s when the now Mexican governor
ordered many smaller settlements abandoned due to problems
with Plains Indians and other marauders. Families moved back
to the grant by the early 1840s, establishing small villages
with plazas which gave the area its new name, Las Placitas.
Tórrez treaded carefully on the topic of how Spanish
and Mexican land grants evolved after the U.S. conquest of
1846 and a treaty offering a general guarantee protecting
the rights of former Mexican citizens. The burden of proving
grants fell on the people; very few grants survived wholly
intact; and others disappeared completely through means fair
and foul, creating disputes still being presented to Congress,
“In New Mexico, it's not a historical issue, it's
a contemporary issue,” Tórrez said. “Being
aware of the shenanigans allows us to understand the bitterness
in some areas.”
The name of attorney Thomas B. Catron, reputed head of the
Santa Fe Ring, appears in some of the more controversial disputes,
and it was he Placitas residents hired in the 1890s after
previous attempts to patent the Las Huertas grant had failed.
Catron succeeded, but the court took the forty-eight-thousand-acre
grant—130,000 acres by some claims—and confirmed
only the settlers' individual tracts, a total of 4,663 acres.
And Catron took a third of that as payment for his services,
land-grant member Tony Lucero told the Legislature's Land
Grant Committee in 2004. The many thousands of acres of common
lands used by grant residents for grazing and wood gathering
became public land and eventually national forest, he said.
One lawsuit attempting to partition the grant among its
member failed, according to Forrest's research, but in 1916
the Las Huertas Land Grant Association won court approval
to divide the land among members so it could be sold to cover
the costs of years of litigation.
Today the association controls about five hundred acres of
the original grant.
Rockin’ R to host cowboy celebration
The Rockin’ R Gallery in Placitas has been selected
as the official New Mexico site for a July 22 celebration
of National Day of the Cowboy.
Gary Roller, co-owner of the Rockin’ R said, “It’s
a real honor to be chosen to host this celebration in a state
like ours with such a strong Western culture. We plan to celebrate
Day of the Cowboy throughout the month, starting with our
July 8 chuck-wagon dinner and concert. July 22 will include
another chuck-wagon dinner, followed by two speaking performances.”
Roller said that the U.S. Senate passed a resolution designating
the fourth Saturday in July, the day already observed throughout
the country, as a day of celebration of cowboy heritage. For
more information, call 867-9595 or visit www.nationaldayofthecowboy.com.