Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More Memories

My email seems to be working again, although the last four days were lost to cyber-space. Toby said that he sent me a "test email" on Monday, but it came back "undeliverable."

I have heard from Jesse via my Hotmail. She was taking surfing lessons and going snorkeling and loving "paradise."

In yesterday’s comments, Buck asked if we did any sledding down our driveway in the winter rather than the little red wagon of summer. I can only remember one winter that we visited the cabin up Bitter Creek. Dad did make us a sled which we spent lots of time on. I also remember that we were not prepared for playing in deep snow – no snow boots or winter clothing. I remember being very cold and wet. Getting to the cabin was difficult because the road was not maintained. Most of the cabins including ours were not winterized. The cabin was built on US Forest Service Land with a 99-year lease. The lease stipulated that the cabins would not be year around homes – they were for vacations – not permanent dwellings. Most of the cabins up Bitter Creek have now been winterized and the roads are maintained all the way to Bitter Creek Guest Ranch (about 2 miles). Still, it can be tricky getting up Bitter Creek road.

The Red River Ski area was not built until about 1960. RR had been a mining town first and a gambling town second. It did not make the turn to family resort town until the late 50’s followed by ski resort in the 60’s. Old oil derricks were used as the chairlift towersup the main mountain. The beginner slope had a rope tow and a palma lift and a ski lodge. The roads in and out of RR were tricky in the summer time, but winter travel was down right scary. In 1964 Bobcat Pass was built – it paved the way for winter visitors. Before that, winter fun was pretty much limited. There was only a handful of people who lived in RR year around. As the ski resort grew, so did the winter population. We moved to RR in 1968 (maybe it was 67) after buying the Green Mountain Lodge. Craig and I went to school in Questa. Both Mom and Dad had several side jobs besides running the lodge in order to make ends meet. Life was hard even back then. I believe it was not long after we moved there that the RR ski lodge burnt down. I remember Dad was one of the volunteer firemen. Someone gave him a little party hat to wear to protect his head from cinders. The whole bottom of the ski lodge flooded. The firemen were running around with the electricity still on – water, electricity, and fire - so many dangers and so much mercy! Making a living was tough in RR, so Dad eventually moved us back to Texas. We would spend our entire summer in RR and then go back for about a month during the busy part of the ski season. RR was dead any other time, and there was not much reason to be there.

Besides the RR Ski Area, there was also a little ski area called Powder Puff. It had a rope tow, a small chairlift, and a palma lift. Dad worked at PP during the winter so Craig, Pete, and I skied there quite a bit. I remember LBJ’s daughters coming to ski there and causing quite a stir. At night, PP had two trolley cars that carried sledders and their inner tubes/sleds up the slope. It was great nightime sledding.

The town of Red River really started growing in the early 70’s. I remember townsfolk debating the problem of building the town before the ski area was large enough to support it. Which comes first the ski area or the town. Since most of the ski area was on Forest Service Land and getting the government to okay expansion difficult, the town grew first. Condominiums went up everywhere replacing the summer cabins that the first lodge owners had built. RR had been a mining town first and a gambling town second. It did not make the turn to family resort town until the late 50’s followed by ski resort. The ski area grew as it was able to acquire more land from the FS. Water rights were also a problem in NM – water to make snow. The snow making facilities put RR on the map with advertisement that said, "It snowed last night in Red River." The oil derricks were replaced in the late 70’s. More lifts and trails were not really added until the 90’s.

When Toby and I moved back to RR in 1986, there was a town debate on re-paving the State Highway that is the Main St in RR. Parking and sidewalks were the big issue. Businesses were all in an uproar over the change that was inevitable. The town finally got the sidewalks and gutters and paved parking in place about 2000. Change often came slowly, but it does come. Some of us still do not like all the changes, but some are for the best – I guess. I still miss the quaint little town that RR was back in the late 60’s and early 70’s and the people who stood the test of time.


Buck said...

I was impressed with RR, Lou, when I went up there a couple of times in the summer. It's good to hear the history, too, since all I've seen is the "resort town" that sprang up in the '90s forward. What a great place to grow up!

Junk Diva said...

You have been very reminiscent these days, your making me that way. Great history lesson.

I loved the little town I grew up in, (pop. 150, mostly relatives) reminds me of Mayberry. Everyone set on there front porch of an evening. Everyone knew everybody else and all there doings. We rode our bikes all over that town, even after. No fear, great place.

Course of Perfection said...

I also thoroughly enjoyed the history in your story. Nice.

Mrs. Bear said...

Missing home!!! Makes me think of Winnie and the Tall Pine. Tree sap in my kids hair was just a way of life.

Bag Blog said...

I don't think that I am really missing RR - because RR is not quite the same as it was back in the 60s and 70s. Maybe I'm missing those peaceful childhood days. Maybe I need to go see Anny and Bear.

Anonymous said...

Another great post, Sister. Nice chronology of RR from mining to family resort town. Interesting thought that we're maybe more nostalgic for a time in life than the place, since so many people from so many places (including the posts here) comment about similar experiences. I do love that smell of pine and the freedom we had in roaming in and around a little mountain town off the beaten path.