Saturday, October 26, 2013

Old School Wrestling

One of the great memories I had of my Grandpa Carlos was of him inviting my brother and me to sit with him on his couch and watching wrestling on TV. My memory is fuzzy, but I believe we watched the big names of the time, like Andre the Giant and possibly Hulk Hogan, although that might have been after my grandpa died in 1980.

When I mentioned that memory to my Dad recently, he laughed and said that he had just talked with his cousin, Peggy, about his own memories of his father – my Grandpa Carlos – some 25 years earlier as THE wrestling fan in Los Alamos, where they lived at the time, in the 1950s.

Apparently, my Grandpa had the only TV, a black and white, in the neighborhood. My Dad remembers many of his neighbors gathering at the Gallegos home in Los Alamos to watch the professional wrestling matches televised from Albuquerque’s Civic Auditorium. His memory isn’t as fuzzy as mine. He remembers wrestling greats of the time like Bulldog Plechas and Ricky Romero. What he didn’t know at the time, just like I didn’t know in the late 1970s and early 1980s, was that “professional” wrestling was fake. I guess each generation eventually learns that lesson sooner or later.

Newspaper Ad - July 13, 1957

The reason my Dad mentioned the wrestling memory to his cousin is because her father, Ernie, used to fix TV’s back then. My Dad laughed as he thought about how his father helped and his Uncle Ernie C’ de Baca replace old tubes on the black and white TV. As the two men worked behind the TV, my Dad, probably a teen-ager at the time, stood in front of the TV holding a mirror so my Grandpa could see the screen. Uncle Ernie would say, “Carlos, is it working?”

As we talked about those memories, my Mom reminded us how her father, my Grandpa Louie, used to take her to the old Civic Auditorium to watch Bulldog Plechas wrestle. I bet he enjoyed taking his little Beatrice to those matches. Grandpa Louie was just as much as an introvert as I am, and he never cared to go to live sporting events because of the large crowds. But thinking back, he never hesitated to take us to Lobo football games or Connie Mack baseball games in Farmington.

I remember the Civic Auditorium that used to sit off I-25. I vaguely remember going to see the circus there. What great fun it would have been to go with Grandpa Louie to see a wrestling match, or to watch those matches with Grandpa Carlos on his popular TV.

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