Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Friend, Kyle

I hadn’t thought about Kyle for a long time. I usually think about him when something reminds me of my early Little League days. And thinking back to those days, I probably only knew Kyle for a short time – the length of one baseball season, really. But when you’re a kid, you can make friends that quickly. You can also lose friends just as quickly, usually when you move on to a new baseball team or a different class in school.

But when you’re just nine years old, you’re not supposed to lose a friend to a sudden death.

About a month ago, I was at the library looking up some genealogy records. One of the most basic types of records I rely upon for my research is an obituary. The genealogy room at the Main Library has a handy database that allows you to search for people’s names and obituaries in the Albuquerque Journal. For some reason that I can’t explain, it occurred to me to search for an obituary or news article about Kyle’s death. I sent a text message to my mom, and asked her if she remembered Kyle’s last name. She didn’t immediately remember, but a few days later, my dad told me that my mom finally remembered it was Enriquez. My dad asked me why I wanted to look up Kyle’s obituary. I didn’t really have an answer. I was curious. I had very specific memories of Kyle and his death, but I was just nine years old. Maybe there was more to the story.

This is what I remember. Kyle and I played on the same Pee Wee team, called the Robins, at North Valley Little League. I had other friends from that team; Marty Chavez would remain one of my best friends. But Kyle didn’t go to the same school as we did. We attended Ranchos Elementary, and I didn’t remember where Kyle went to school until I read his obituary. (He attended Alvarado Elementary, a few miles to the south of Ranchos, now called Los Ranchos.) I remember Kyle’s home just off 4th Street, with the huge trees lining both sides of the street and his house at the end, near or at the cul-de-sac. I remember spending the night there, at least once, and we either watched an episode of the TV show, SWAT, or we pretended we were elite police officers from SWAT, holding our rifles in the back of the cool black SWAT vehicle, racing to save a hostage at some crime scene.

But the memories that have haunted me over the years aren’t really memories at all, because I wasn’t present when they happened. In 1978, Kyle was at a bowling alley with his family and some friends. At some point, the kids left the bowling alley, I believe to go to a nearby convenience store, although I’m not 100-percent sure about that. While crossing a busy street, Kyle turned back for some reason, tripped on the pavement and was struck by a vehicle, killing him instantly. That’s what was always in the back of my mind. I have always thought that I was supposed to be with Kyle that night, but for some reason I couldn’t go with him. But my dad recently told me that wasn’t the case. He said he wouldn’t have let me go at that age.

The other memory that has been burned in my mind is of Kyle’s funeral, which I didn’t attend. My parents attended, and they probably felt I was too young to deal with it. I assume they told me about it, because I have always had this vivid picture in my head of Kyle in an open coffin, in his yellow Robins t-shirt, with his glove and a bat next to him.

Kyle has nothing to do with my genealogy, but he obviously left an indelible mark on my life. When I searched for his name, I found his obituary and a newspaper story, which basically confirmed what I remember. I didn’t know that he was struck by a teen-ager driving a truck. But the police said it was an accident, and the driver was not cited. I wonder how he dealt with the tragedy.

According to his obituary, Vincent (Kyle) Enriquez was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jesus Enriquez, who lived on Placitas, N.W. He had two sisters, Paula and Barbara. His grandparents were Mr. and Mrs. Carlos Salas and Mr. and Mrs. Juan Enriquez. He attended Alvarado Elementary School; was a member of the Cub Scouts, Pack #8, Den 5; and played baseball at North Valley Little League.

After finding the obituary and news article, I went to my shed and retrieved a box with my old Little League team pictures and a dozen or so home-run balls I kept. I found the team photos of the Robins from 1977, and while I was pretty sure I knew which one of the small boys was Kyle, I had to ask my parents for confirmation. My dad said Kyle was the only guero, or blonde-haired Hispanic, on the team. I reminded him that my friend Marty was also guero. In any case, both my mom and dad easily picked Kyle out of the photo. Later on, my dad told me that Kyle’s parents stopped by our old house; around the time I graduated from Valley High School, to see me. He said they only stayed about five minutes and left. I don’t recall that visit at all. I can’t imagine what they were thinking about when they saw me.

My daughters are 11 and 7 years old. My 7-year-old, Isabella, suddenly started asking to let friends spend the night at our house. Actually, she didn’t ask, she invited first. But when I think back to my care-free days and my friendships with Kyle and Marty, I see Bella’s viewpoint in a whole new light. I hope she appreciates the friends she’s making now, and never forgets them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chaves Roots Part V: Mother Village

Village of Seboyeta (c) Maxwell Museum
After Manuel Chaves married Josefa Baca in Belen in 1775, they had at least two children who would be among the first Spanish families to move to the western settlement of Cevolleta (little onion), later called Cebolleta, Zebolleta, and currently, Seboyeta. Jose and Rosalia Chaves were siblings and the children of Manuel Chaves and Josefa Baca when they were first mentioned in church records as living in Cevolleta.

It is not clear whether Jose was one of the original 30 families listed in the land grant decreed in 1800 by Spanish Governor Don Fernando Chacon. There was a Jose Chaves on that list. Another researcher concluded that it was a different Jose Chaves, citing land grant records produced later in the 19th Century. In any case, both Jose and Rosalia Chaves, ancestors of my maternal Grandfather Louis Chavez, married into the Gallegos family that can be traced down to my maternal Grandmother, Lola Gallegos.

Jose Chaves married Paula Gallego in 1817 at San Jose de Laguna, near Cebolleta. Paula Gallego was the daughter of Pasquala Gallego, who may have been the sister of Felipe Gallego, one of the original 30 settlers of Cebolleta. And Felipe Gallego was married to Rosalia Chaves, Jose’s sister. A lot of interesting (and confusing) connections, I know.

While it is clear that Felipe (also spelled Phelipe) Gallego was one of the first settlers, it is also clear that Jose and Rosalia Chaves were living in Cevolleta during its first harrowing years of existence, as told by a handful of historians.

Governor Chacon made the grant of land to the settlers “on the condition that they form a regular settlement and not abandon it under any pretext." That was easier said than done at the beginning of the 19th Century, when colonists were still being met with fierce resistance by natives of the land – in this case, the Navajo. While the settlers got along with the people of Laguna Pueblo, the Navajo fought back against the encroachment by the settlers.

The original families built a village with high adobe walls and a watch tower, or torreon, to guard against incursions from the Navajo, according to an account by Abe Peña, a longtime resident and author of Memories of Cibola. Likewise, the settlers of Cevolleta sometimes sent parties out to raid Navajo encampments and kidnap Navajo children.

In one of his newspaper columns about Seboyeta, Peña retold the story of a major attack by the Navajo in 1804, as originally told by Gary Tietjen, the author of the “Encounter of the Frontier,”  who wrote: “At one point in the battle, one brave woman, Doña Antonia Romero climbed to a housetop to see if all was well and was horrified to see a Navajo had just climbed over the wall. He was in act of drawing the bar of that great wooden door, hewn from ponderosa pine, while swarms of Navajos were waiting outside for the moment to break in. Snatching a heavy stone metate Doña Antonia lifted it above her head and brought it down with all her strength on the head of the man, killing him instantly. She thus proved herself worthy of her courageous husband, Don Domingo Baca. In the hand to hand combat Baca had seven lances driven into him. One cut across his stomach so wide that his bowels fell out. Grabbing a pillow he tied it around his abdomen and was able to continue fighting until the attack subsided. Afterwards he replaced his entrails and sewed up his own wounds."

Not long after the battle, the settlers decided to retreat from the village to nearby Laguna Pueblo, where they petitioned the Governor to allow them to abandon the settlement. But the Spanish government ordered them to return to Cevolleta and sent troops to help protect them. So they returned to the land that Abe Peña referred to as the Mother Village from which some of the children of the original Cevolleta settlers, including my Chaves and Gallego ancestors, eventually moved.

While at Cevolleta, Jose Chaves and Paula Gallego had four children: Antonio Jose, born in 1818; Jose Maria, born in 1821; Diego Antonio, born in 1823; and Jose Alejo, born in 1830. Their third-born, Diego Antonio Chaves, is my ancestor and the namesake for my Maternal Great-Grandfather, Juan Diego Antonio Chavez – the father of my Grandpa Louie.

Diego Antonio Chaves appears to have grown up in Cevolleta before moving on, getting married and serving in the Civil War, nearly 150 years ago.

As for Jose Chaves’ sister, Rosalia, she passed on the Chaves genes along with the Gallego name of her husband, Felipe, to seven children – Jose Pablo, Jose Manuel, Juan Severino, Maria Cruz, Josefa Victoria, Ana Maria and Adolfo. The first-born, Jose Pablo, is my ancestor and the namesake of my other maternal Great-Grandfather, Jose Pablo Gallegos – the father of my Grandma Lola.

Growing up, I only heard about my Grandpa Louie’s roots in Cubero and my Grandma Lola’s roots in nearby Grants. As far as I know, they weren’t aware of their common roots in Cevolleta. But like many old families in the area, most roots reach back to the Mother Village.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Pit

 The University of New Mexico basketball arena, better known as “The Pit,” will be on national display again today when the first round of the NCAA tournament starts. The Pit is one of the host sites for March Madness.

I have been to some great Lobo games over the years with vivid childhood memories of Kenny Page and Michael Cooper (before the three-point line), to my college days when Luc Longley showed spurts of greatness, but also frustrated fans with his easy-going ways; and Kelvin Scarborough and Darrell McGee who spent as much time playing pick-up games at Johnson Gym, where I worked as a student, as they did at The Pit, battling Tim Hardaway of UTEP. I also remember the epic battles between Kenny Thomas and Utah’s Keith Van Horn. I’ve seen a handful of NCAA tourney games featuring the likes of Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers and a game between UCLA and the New Mexico State Aggies. One of my favorite memories was the McDonald’s All -American Game at The Pit, which featured the best high school stars in 1988. That team included Alonzo Mourning, Christian Laettner and Billy Owens. I got to meet legendary UCLA Coach John Wooden as he watched the teams practice at Johnson Gym. I even got to see my basketball hero, Michael Jordan, play in an exhibition game at The Pit. Unfortunately, I did not get to attend the most famous game ever played at The Pit – the national championship in 1983 when North Carolina State upset Houston. But I do remember flying back from Washington D.C., where I traveled for an 8th-grade trip, and sitting next to an NBA scout who was on his way to Albuquerque for the Final Four.

So, what does this have to do with my family history? My maternal Grandfather, Louis Chavez, worked on the original construction of The Pit as an ironworker in 1966. I was always fascinated by that, but for some reason, I never asked him much about it. I thought it was ironic that he played a role in building the famous arena, but he never wanted to go to see live games. He didn’t like crowds and preferred to watch from the comfort of his home.

“The Pit was built in a 37-foot hole on Albuquerque’s Southeast Mesa,” according to a historical account of the arena that is featured alongside the photos on the concourse. “First the roof was constructed, then the hole was dug, and the arena built. The unique Behlen roof (338 by 300 feet) was set up by contractors and then 55,000 cubic yards of earth were removed. About 28,000 yards of concrete were poured in the initial construction, which allowed a seating capacity of 14,831. The cost – an incredibly economical $1.4 million.”

The Pit was expanded in 1975, at a cost of $2.2 million, and allowed for 18,018.
Over the course of more than four decades, The Pit became dated and not suited for big-time college tournaments. In 2009, UNM started a major overhaul of The Pit, which cost $60 million and actually reduced the number of seats to accommodate 40 suites. I was all in favor of a new arena, but skeptical about whether a modern version could hold on to the mystique and charm of the old arena that my Grandpa Louie helped build. In the end, I think the architects did a great job. The first game I attended in the new Pit, I was pleasantly surprised when I took a seat and still felt like I was in the old Pit, where there were no bad seats in the arena.

Sadly, I don’t get to too many games any more. I’m more likely to shuttling my daughters to soccer practice or gymnastics, than grabbing a Lobo Dog. But my wife, Yvette, and I go once or twice a season, usually with friends. And, of course we have to meet for a pre-game dinner at The Quarters on Yale Blvd., just east of The Pit.

Earlier this season, I caught a game on ESPN in which the TV personalities were showering praise on the renovated arena. They also showed some black-and-white photos on display on the concourse that chronicled the history of The Pit. I had seen some of the photos before, but a few caught my eye. Each one showed an ironworker doing some welding work on beams. I immediately thought of my grandpa.
University of Wisconsin practicing Thursday at The Pit

On Wednesday, I went to The Pit during lunch after I learned that the arena was open to the public for tournament practice sessions. I took my camera, found the photos of the ironworkers, and shot a few pics. Then I sat in Row 3 (if you’ve been to the Pit, you’ll know that the first row, which is at ground level, is actually the furthest distance from the floor, which is 45 rows below...thus, the name, “The Pit.”) I watched the University of Wisconsin practice for a while and the memories of years past came rushing in.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Bag of Cheetos

My 92-year-old Grandma Rise misses her home in Las Vegas. There’s no doubt about it. I can’t imagine living in one place for so long, then being forced to relocate to a rehab center some 120 miles away – never to see her home again.

But one of the nice things about her stay here in Albuquerque during the past 14 months has been the opportunity to meet and socialize with other people her age at the rehab center. She has made friends, and I love to hear my daughters and my dad talk about Grandma and her friends. If my dad took my Grandma a green chile burger, he had to also take one for one of her friends. My Grandma had to watch her intake of sweets, but every now and then, one of her friends would sneak her some ice cream under the dinner table, or they would exchange goodies like Cheetos. Sometimes they got caught, and my Grandma had to warn my Dad that he would get a call from the staff at the rehab center.

The sad thing about making friends at that age is you never know what’s going to happen. Last weekend, my Grandma’s friend, Juanita, passed away following complications after she fell and broke her hip. Another friend died last month. And that followed the death of my Grandma’s younger sister last fall.

I felt so bad when I found out about Juanita’s passing. I worry about my Grandma and how she will deal with the loss of her friends. I looked up Juanita’s obituary, and felt a loss for someone I didn’t even know. Juanita “Jennie” Rosa Hudson was also 92, a native of Cuba, N.M. and a lifelong resident of Martineztown in Albuquerque.  “Jennie loved to meet people; she touched many lives and made many friends in the city over the years,” according to her obituary. “Her greatest joys in life were playing bingo, walking every day and riding the city bus. She also took great pride in tending to her flowers every summer and she especially loved her roses.”

One of Juanita’s last requests was for her daughter to give my Grandma a bag of Cheetos, which she did on Monday.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Chavez Roots Part IV: Moving South

Don Fernando Duran y Chaves is considered the 2nd Progenitor of the Chaves family, because he was the only descendent of Pedro Duran y Chaves to move back to New Mexico following the Pueblo Revolt. It’s safe to assume that most long-time New Mexico Chavez families descend from Don Fernando.

Before returning to New Mexico, Don Fernando asked for a land grant in the Atrisco area where his father lived before the Pueblo Revolt. He received the 82,000 acre grant. But it’s the languag in his request to the Governor that is most interesting, because it suggests he was the son of Don Pedro Duran y Chaves II, and not Don Fernando I, as previously believed. On Oct. 28, 1692, “Don Fernando de Chaves requests… The tract is also on the Rio Grande, commonly called Atrisco, also of agricultural land with its acequia madre and this one in from the bluff where there is an old house in which Juan de Perea lived going down the riverside as far as some corrals which Colonel Juan Dominguez, my brother-in-law, had and on said tract my father, Don Pedro Duran y Chaves, lived and also some other persons by permission.” Ernest J. Sanchez, of Las Cruces, pointed out Don Fernando’s request in an article in 2001 that cited the translated Spanish Archives of New Mexico and a privately published history by Margaret Buxton called, “The Other Luna Family.”

In addition to the evidence that Don Fernando was the son of Don Pedro II, the 1692 request also suggests that Don Fernando was looking ahead to his return in New Mexico the following year, with plans to live in the Atrisco area, which was much further south than his El Tunque estancia that he called home before the Pueblo Revolt.

Following the return of colonists to Santa Fe, Don Fernando and his large family spent some time west of the villa near the Pueblo Quemado (present Agua Fria.) But soon after, they returned to the El Tunque estancia, which he had named Bernalillo (just north of present-day Bernalillo). During that time, Governor Vargas went from Santa Fe down to Bernalillo to lead an expedition against the Apaches. But Vargas died before the expedition, apparently at Don Fernando’s residence, because Don Fernando and his son, Bernardo, were listed as witnesses to the Governor’s last will and testament.

Within a few years, following the turn of the century and after the Apaches were driven out, Don Fernando’s sons started moving south. One son, Antonio Duran y Chaves, moved to Atrisco where he headed a squad. After the death of his eldest son in 1705, Don Fernando moved with the rest of his remaining family to Atrisco. He sold his Bernalillo property, the ancestral El Tunque estancia, to his brother-in-law, Manuel Baca, who already owned the estancia to the south (present-day Bernalillo) that he inherited from his own father, Cristóbal Baca.

Another of Fernando’s sons, Pedro Duran y Chaves, was one of the 12 families that founded the villa of Albuquerque.

Nicolás Duran y Chaves, like many of his brothers and sisters, also moved to Atrisco. And like his two older brothers, Antonio and Luis, Nicolás married one of three Montaño sisters – Juana Montaño in 1714. They had eight sons and four daughters.

Atrisco is on the west side of the Rio Grande, just south of the Villa of Alburquerque. Currently, Atrisco is part of the Albuquerque metro area. Colonists started re-settling Atrisco in 1703, building their haciendas along the Rio Grande where their sheep and cattle grazed on the grasses. About 200 people lived in the area by 1760, which was considered crowded at the time. That may be why Nicolás and Juana eventually moved further south to near Los Lunas and Belen. One of their 12 children included yet another Don Fernando Duran y Chaves, who is my ancestor.

This Don Fernando married Maria Quintana and they had several children of their own, who were mentioned in church records throughout the Rio Abajo region, including Isleta, Belen, Alameda and Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. Fernando is mentioned as “Bernardo” in many of the church records. Fray Angelico Chavez, whose research I am relying upon for most of what I know about the Chaves history, wrote that Fernando and Bernardo are the same person, as the two names were often interchanged. He cites as evidence the fact that the first-born daughter of Fernando and Maria Quintana identified him at her marriage as the son of Don Nicolás Duran y Chaves.

In any case, among the subsequent children of Don Fernando and Maria Quintana was Manuel Chaves, identified as español and thirty years of age in 1775 when he married Josefa Baca in Belen. As I said, I relied on Fray Chavez’s research for all of the Chaves ancestors up until this point. I linked all future Chavez ancestors on my maternal line, using a combination of church and census records, back to Manuel Chaves. In my next post, I’ll tell the story of Manuel’s son, Jose Chaves, and his move west.