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    Understanding Adobe

Architectural Conservation  
2019 Galisteo Street, Suite N-10 A  
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505  
505/ 982.2448  •  877/ 982.2448  

Finding Adobe from the Back of the Bus
Edward Crocker

My mother came to northern New Mexico in 1944 while my dad was in Belgium fighting the Battle of the Bulge. She had been raised in southeastern Kansas by strict Pennsylvania-Dutch parents and had decided that she wanted to raise her family elsewhere. When dad got back to Fredonia on furlough he found a note on the door that essentially said "Hate Kansas, took the kid to New Mexico."

Dad hopped the Greyhound to Santa Fe and from there caught the Chama Valley Line to Abiquiu. He got off at Highway 68 and hitchhiked the final twelve miles to El Rito where mom had a job and was living in a little adobe house with my two-year-old sister. My father was a dark, wiry man with curly black hair. It wasn't until decades later when he was telling the story of his coming to New Mexico that we all realized that when the driver of the northbound coach had asked him to go to the back of the bus, it was not a logistical request.

Dad took mom and my sister back to Kansas when his furlough ended and returned for his final tour of duty in Europe. When he was discharged and came home he found a note similar to the first, only this time mom was determined; he had to choose. He chose wisely and together they made Santa Fe a wonderful home for my sister and me.

In those post-war years we, like many families, built a house, got a telephone, went to school, did our chores, played board games, and exuded pride in the first new car we ever owned, an Edsel. And in the fall, dad and I went hunting.

My father raised me to be a hunter but I had my fill of the blood part of the sport after killing one deer and one elk by the time I was thirteen. I still went hunting because I loved the connection with dad and his crusty old friends. It was great to walk around with a loaded rifle, miss every shot, eat pork 'n beans cold out of a can, freeze on one side and roast on the other in front of the gigantic campfires we built and, invariably, have to dig the truck out the mud.

The best hunt we ever had was just north of Abiquiu where the Gallina River enters the Chama. Dad had hunted the area frequently and on an early occasion had discovered some cliff dwellings in an inaccessible portion of the vertical, red Chinle Formation. He told no one and waited to go back until I was old enough to make an expedition of it.

We hauled hundreds of feet of old manila rope across the Chama and after the fording dad took out his old army binoculars and showed me our destination. "See that promontory about a mile up the canyon? Follow it north about two-thirds of the way to the end of the red wall. Now, imagine that you just caught me from behind with my pants down."

There it was, perfectly described, and just inside the right thigh was a little cave in which I could make out several earthen buildings. Later that day we had climbed up to the Bushy Basin member of the Morrison Formation, well above the cleft, and tossed our ropes over. Going back down we were able to scramble into a little shelter with four small buildings in it. Unforgettable.

I had already fallen in love with mud, in large part because of an earthen roof with cactus growing out it we once had on Agua Fria Street. On a fall day that began by tracing dad's first route into northern New Mexico in the back of a bus, that relationship became a lifelong affair.

Crocker Ltd
2019 Galisteo Street, Suite N-10 A  •  Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505
tel 505/ 982.2448  •  fax 505/ 995.9877
toll free 877/ 982.2448

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