Tag Archives: Albuquerque New Mexico

Memories of New Mexico~Part 15

11 Jun


Judy Wills



More random memories of New Mexico.


I have found some old newspaper clippings that my mother sent to us many years ago, about Albuquerque. And they reminded me of some of my growing-up years there.

I remember going downtown – especially from our church, which was very near downtown. It was located on the corner of Broadway and Central, directly across Broadway from the old Albuquerque High School. That High School was later relocated to another part of town, and the building sat vacant for many years. It was later totally gutted and turned into condominiums. It’s apparently quite “the place” to live in near downtown Albuquerque.


The old Albuquerque High School credit Google Search


However, back to going downtown from my church….


First Baptist Church, Albuquerque credit Google Search


It was a quick walk from the church. But to do so, you had to walk under the railroad tracks – and it was very deep ravine to walk through. It was also known by the locals as “the underpass.” I remember that, whenever there was a flash flood, or severe downpour (yes, we DO get those in semi-desert New Mexico), that ravine would flood, and cars were unable to pass through it.

One of the newspaper clippings mother sent is here. The car in the foreground is about to go into the underpass – you can see the “slant” to the road.



That’s the famous Route 66 you are looking down. Better known as Central Avenue in town. I love the old cars and buses. I remember the YMCA building there on the right. And remember my post about the old movie theaters in town? (Please see my post for May 7, 2017)   I mentioned the Sunshine Theater – and there it is on the left in this picture. I have scanned the picture, and “enhanced” it, so it is more easily recognizable.

I remember always liking the old railroad station there – just on the other side of the ravine and the railroad tracks. It was actually not just a station, but also a hotel. It was the Alvarado station, and here is an old “picture” of it.


Credit Google Search


Credit Google Search


And now a picture of the new station.


Rail and bus station Credit Google Search


The old one burned down in the 1970’s, and the new one was built to resemble the old one. It is in keeping with the pueblo style of architecture.

This other newspaper clipping is of the original Monte Vista Fire Station. I remember when it actually was a fire station. A new fire station has been built elsewhere, and the old one has been turned into a restaurant. It, too, is in keeping with the pueblo style architecture.



Fred and I have had a meal or two at this restaurant, and it’s quite good. While the fire station is located near what is called Nob Hill, it is not very far from the house where I grew up. And my elementary school was called Monte Vista Elementary School. So it was all quite close. And if you will see my post of May 7, 2017, you will see I mentioned the Lobo movie theater. This fire station restaurant is quite close to the Lobo theater.


Oh my, these are such fun memories for me!


~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~








Memories of New Mexico~Part 12

14 May


Judy Wills



One of my fondest memories is of the old KiMo Theater (we pronounced it kee’-mo) in downtown Albuquerque. According to Google Search, it was built in 1927, and opened on September 19 of that year.


Credit Google Search and Daniel Schwen photographer


U.S. Route 66 was Central Avenue through Albuquerque, east to west, the main street through town. The KiMo Theater, located on Central Avenue, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the New Mexico Register of Cultural Properties (credit Wikipedia).


Credit Google Search and On The Road with Jim and Mary


The KiMo Theater began to fall into disrepair after a stage fire in the early 1960’s, and the “exodus” of much of the downtown. The Theater was scheduled for demolition, but the city of Albuquerque bought the KiMo building in 1977, and restored it to its original glory. It is considered to be Pueblo Deco architecture style, which combines the Indian cultures of the Southwest with the flavor of Art Deco.



“The colorful Kimo building in downtown Albuquerque, done inside and out in Indian motif, is of interest to all new-comers.” Theatre Posts Credit Google search

According to Wikipedia, The word KiMo translated means “Mountain Lion” in the Tewa language. This word is also loosely translated to mean “king of its kind”….Due to the use of the name outside it’s native Tiwa culture, it is now a ‘dead’ word and is no longer used by native speakers.

I remember being fascinated by all the Indian symbols around the theater. The decorations were absolutely unique, and different from any other movie theater in town. I spent many movie hours in that theater.


Credit Google Search and Mark Bayes Photography

Credit Google Search and Alamy

Credit Google Search and Mygola

Credit Google Search and Trip Advisor

Credit Google Search and The wanderer.net

Credit Google Search and Getty Images

Credit Google Search

Credit Google Search and Trips Into History

Credit Google Search and Alamy


Although I don’t remember any mention of the theater being haunted, apparently KiMo has that reputation. Again, according to Wikipedia:

 For decades the KiMo has housed the spirit of a restless child. In August of 1951 a 6-year-old boy, Robert “Bobby” Darnall was attending a screening of an Abbott and Costello movie at the KiMo with his parents.

 Bobby was sitting in the balcony with friends when something on the screen frightened him. He ran down the stairwell just as a water heater or boiler in the basement under the lobby’s food concession counter exploded.

 More than a dozen people were injured in this accident. Bobby was rushed to a hospital but died en route.

 After his death his ghost returned to the KiMo theater. Bobby’s spirit quickly gained a reputation for impish behavior.

The KiMo Theater was beautifully restored in September, 2000 and is now a prime venue for concerts, civic events, and the performing arts. The theater’s resurgence represents the city’s recent upturn with new development and stores popping up throughout downtown. (Credit Cinema Treasures)

There has been a resurgence of “downtown” in many cities in recent years, and I’m glad to see it. Albuquerque wasn’t too large when I was young, and cruising “downtown” was one of our favorite things to do. It was especially fun at night – we would drive to the sand mesa to the west of town, turn around and drive slowly back to town, admiring the city lights all the time.

I was also in the Rainbow Girls organization, and our meetings were held in the Masonic Lodge, also located on Central Avenue, not far from the KiMo Theater.



I learned many years later that the Lodge had also been destroyed by fire. There was a lot of my history in downtown Albuquerque.


~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~


Memories of New Mexico~Part 11

7 May


Judy Wills



 More Random memories of New Mexico…

As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico from the time I was nearly four years old, until Fred and I married, and we moved to Fort Worth, Texas.

There were several movie theaters in town – surprising for a town the size of Albuquerque at that time. I remember the nearest one to me was the Lobo Theater – it was also close to the University of New Mexico (UNM), and their mascot is the lobo, so it was probably named for that. After closing in 2000, it was purchased by a church.


Credit to Google search – The Lobo Theater in 1938 photo courtesy of Dom Otero

Here’s a story I gleaned from Google Search:

Ms. Blanche Hatton, as the family story goes, was the manager of the Lobo. For about four decades.

Miss Hatton was closing the Lobo late one night (she was alone in the theater) when, with the “petty cash box” in hand, she was met with an armed intruder in the Lobo lobby.

“Give me the cash!” the robber demanded.

“You want the cash?” Miss Hatton asked. “Here,” she said, “take it!”

Miss Hatton hurled the cash box at the intruder. The weight of the contents of the box was sufficient to knock the pathetic, hapless robber unconscious. When the cops arrived, the bad guy was arrested, and Miss Hatton deposited the receipts early the next morning. By the way, she was close to eighty years old when she took out the punk who was 60 years her junior.


There was also the Hiland Theater. It was more “uptown” and closer to my high school, which was Highland High School. Seems like I remember going to movies there quite a bit in my high school years.


Credit Google Search


And there was the Sunshine Theater, which was right downtown. Downtown’s main street was Central Avenue, also known as U.S. Route 66. Yep, right through the middle of Albuquerque was U.S. Route 66. We really enjoyed when the song came out – I Got My Kicks on Route 66. It felt like we were part of history, or something.


Credit Google Search and Joe Vogel


The Sunshine was opened on May 1, 1924, and was Albuquerque’s first big movie palace. By the looks of those cars, this photo was taken about that time.

Another theater where I spent a lot of time, was the State movie theater. I’m not even sure this theater is still in existence. One comment I found said there was some water damage to the floor of the building and it was closed temporarily, some time ago. But it was a nice building when I was young, and a great place to spend an afternoon at the movies.


Credit Google Search and Don Lewis


Next time I’ll talk about one more movie theater – and one of my favorites in Albuquerque, so…..stay tuned!


~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~


Memories of New Mexico~Part 10

30 Apr


Judy Wills


 More random memories….


I remember going to what is called “Old Town” in downtown Albuquerque. It will always hold a special place in my heart. It has become quite a tourist attraction.


Credit Google Search

The official website states:

Centered around the plaza, Albuquerque’s Old Town encompasses about ten blocks of historic adobe buildings.


Just to be technical, this is what the back of this postcard I’ve scanned says:

Founded in 1706 by Don Francisco Cuervo y Valdes, he honored his patron saint, Francisco Xavier and the Duke of Alburquerque, Viceroy of New Spain, by called the villa San Francisco de Albqurquerque. The first “r” was later dropped, and the town became Albuquerque. The official website states: Square at the point where Spanish Governor Cuervo y Valdes officially founded Albuquerque in 1706.



There is a “plaza” in the center of Old Town with a gazebo – that is occasionally used as a bandstand. According to the official website: Plazas were a common feature of Spanish colonial towns.



The back of this scanned postcard informs us:

This view of Old Town Plaza shows the bandstand and the famous San Felipe de Neri Church, founded in 1706. The original adobe church was destroyed by fire. This church was built in 1793 and still serves the spiritual needs of Albuquerque.



 This scanned postcard tells:

Built in the early 1700’s, shortly after the villa of Albuquerque was founded, San Felipe still serves the spiritual needs of Old Albuquerque.

While the gazebo is at the center of a small “park,” the park is ringed with shops and eateries (and the church) that were former houses made into shops.


Karen and Janet in a shop in Old Town


There were two Mexican restaurants there, side by side, that were my favorites. It seemed like there was always a running competition between them. And at point in time, one would have the best food, and then later, the other one would have the best food. And we would never be able to tell which one was running high at the time we wanted to dine there.

Each of them had wonderful Indian/Mexican artwork on it’s walls. I seem to remember that both of them had living trees growing in several of the rooms. And I remember that, in the corner of the main entrance to La Placita (the Palace – actually it was the Governor’s Palace for a while), there was a small fireplace. They usually burned pine wood there, and the fragrance was wonderful! Perhaps they added something to make the smell so good, but that is a fragrance that I looked forward to inhaling.

The other restaurant was La Hacienda. I remember the Native Americans sitting under the canopy of the restaurants, along the street, with their beads and silver jewelry on display for sale to any and all who walked by. Perhaps this is not unique to the Indian/Mexican culture in Albuquerque (I think this tradition is also in Santa Fe). This scanned postcard tells us: Indians display their good for sale outside the famous La Placita Dining Room in Old Albuquerque.





They had some really beautiful things there, too. Here is a photo that I took, just before we headed to Germany for our second tour. It was June 1979, and our girls were quite young. In any case, this shows how the items for sale were arranged.


Janet looking at some Indian wares


Another event that took place in Old Town happened on my 18th birthday. It was on a Sunday that year, and we had gone to church, as usual. Following the service, there was a world-renown violinist that was to give a concert in our church that evening, and he was practicing in the sanctuary. Mom and Dad wanted to stay and listen for a while, since they would not be able to hear the concert. We stayed for 15 minutes or so, and then headed out. They asked me to drive from the church to Old Town, and we had planned to eat at La Placita. I let them out to get a table while I parked the car. When I entered the restaurant, the host led me through several rooms until we found our way into one of the larger rooms. As I turned the corner – about 12 of my best girlfriends began singing “Happy Birthday” to me! I was in shock! What a surprise my parents had planned for me! But a happy surprise, for sure.

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~











The Crest

15 Feb


Judy Wills



Growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I always took the mountains for granted. They were just part of the scene.


The Sandia Mountains are part of the Rocky Mountain chain, and are really majestic and beautiful, and I miss them, now that I live in flatland Florida. The mountains are quite wonderful all the time, but especially in the evening, when the sun is setting and they literally turn purple. Remember the line from “America the Beautiful” – you know:

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

Well, they really do turn purple! Amazing!

The top of Sandia Crest tops out at 10,678 feet above sea level – the highest point in Albuquerque. And it’s COLD up there – and breezy! We took our daughters there in the summer before we went to Germany – and we forgot to take sweaters with us!. As you can see from the pictures – we were FREEZING!


For a bit of information, I gleaned this from Wikipedia: Sandía means watermelon in Spanish, and is popularly believed to be a reference to the reddish color of the mountains at sunset. Also, when viewed from the west, the profile of the mountains is a long ridge, with a thin zone of green conifers near the top, suggesting the “rind” of the watermelon. However, as Robert Julyan notes, “the most likely explanation is the one believed by the Sandia Indians: the Spaniards, when they encountered the Pueblo in 1540, called it Sandia, because they thought the squash gourds growing there were watermelons, and the name Sandia soon was transferred to the mountains east of the pueblo.” He also notes that the Sandia Pueblo Indians call the mountain Bien Mur, “big mountain”.

There are two ways to get to the crest – driving or by the tram.It is reported to be the longest tramway in the world!


While we’ve driven the roads many times, we’ve only been up the tramway once – and it was quite a thrill! If you’re ever in Albuquerque, give it a try. Something you’ll never experience anywhere else.


But Albuquerque and the crest are known for other things, as well. I know that many people have heard of the winter snow skiing in Taos, New Mexico. But the best-kept secret is that some of the very best skiing is right there in the mountains of Albuquerque!


On a website I checked out recently, it said that there was a 23″ base of snow, and so far this year they’ve had 55″ of new snow! That should delight any ski enthusiast! I never got into skiing – little too expensive for me, and I’m a bit of a chicken. But many people have discovered that pleasure and ski right outside of town.

That’s the Albuquerque I know and love.


Daddy an Me

28 Sep


Judy Wills



Our family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, when I was nearly four years old. We moved so my Dad could take on the position of New Mexico Sunday School Secretary for the New Mexico Baptist Convention. He traveled a lot around the state, either starting up new Sunday Schools in churches in other towns, or encouraging the existing Sunday Schools. It was a job he absolutely loved to do, and was very good at it.

He was also responsible for setting up what were called “summer missionaries.”. That is, college students from around the state would come to Albuquerque to be “trained” in conducting Vacation Bible School, and then would go to different churches around the state for a week or so doing just that. It was a life-changing time for a lot of those college students – as well as for the children they interacted with.

The New Mexico Baptist Convention headquarters was in Albuquerque, and that’s where Daddy’s office was.


All of the leaders (called Secretaries) of Baptist interests were in that building. One lady, Eva Inlow, was involved with women’s ministries. Her father had been quite involved with Baptist work in the state for many years, and he had established a summer camp for children/young people in the mountains about two hours out of town. They named it after her father: Inlow Youth Camp. I spent many summers there, usually anywhere from two to four weeks each summer. My brother said he did, as well. It was a great place to have fun and learn stuff, and get close to God. I have so many fond memories of my time there.

In going through some old photos recently, I came upon the following two pictures, taken at Inlow. It was in 1949 when Daddy and I were on this horse. Unfortunately, I don’t have any memory of it. But, obviously, Daddy and I took a horse ride together. Looks like we were both having fun together! He grew up on a farm, so I suspect he knew how to handle a horse.

Daddy and me on the horse.  Mother in the doorway behind us

Daddy and me on the horse. Mother in the doorway behind us




While I don’t have any memory of this event, I do have some wonderful memories of being at Inlow Youth Camp. I remember meeting new people there. I remember as a teenager going with a group of other teens from my church. I guess we, essentially, grew up at that camp. The mountain scene was great – the air was fresh and clean. And it was a great time just to commune with God and get our heads on straight.

God has blessed me in so many ways, but being able to go to Inlow Youth Camp was one of the best.

My Southwest Adventure Part~4

13 Nov

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites



The next day I was tooling along across West Texas when, all of a sudden, I found myself 1on a 2-lane road out in the middle of nowhere.  I had not studied the map too closely, but thought I remembered that all I had to do was to stay on U.S. 84 (4-lane road) until I picked up I-40 at Santa Rosa, NM.   In reality, U.S. 60 had split off from U.S. 84 at Fort. Sumner, NM and I didn’t realize I had missed the turn.   I had traveled several miles without seeing a road sign of any kind, and began to worry about my being stranded on this lonely road that looked like it never ended.2

 Have you ever prayed for a road sign?  Well, I did.  And, a few miles later, God provided a U.S. 60 road sign, and I knew I was on the wrong road.  I stopped and checked the map closely, discovering that if I just continued on U.S. 60 to U.S. 285, I could still connect with I-40 at Clines Corners, NM, without having to do any backtracking.  Whew! What a relief, especially since I would have enough gas to get me there.  Somewhere along that desolate stretch of highway, I went thru Muleshoe, TX and Texico, NM as I slipped across the border into “The Land of Enchantment”, and finally to I-40.

Back on Interstate I-40 heading West, my next stop was Albuquerque, NM to visit my 3childhood friend, Leon, who still lives in the same house he did when we were growing up together in the mid-1940s.  We had a great time recalling our younger days and he introduced me to his cat, Rusty, and gave me a tour of his model circus railroad project.  Later he went with me to the National Nuclear Museum and the Ernie Pyle Library.  We experienced one of New Mexico’s dust storms late that afternoon, and I remembered how the wind could almost knock you over, and the wind driven sand could blast the paint off the front of your car and pit your windshield, if you were foolish enough to drive into one of those storms.  And, there was no way you could get your house windows closed tight enough to keep that fine sand from filtering into the house, and getting all over things.

The next day, after breakfast at Leon’s favorite restaurant, we toured the Sunset Memorial Park where his and my parents were buried.  I had made arrangements with a couple for lunch that day, and we met and visited over a great Chef’s Salad at the famous Frontier Restaurant across the street from the University of New Mexico, where DiVoran and my sister Judy had attended.  Of course, Norm is an R/C model airplane enthusiast like me, and his wife, Pat, is the sister of our Chiropractor in Florida, so we had lots to talk about.  What a joy it was to meet and get to know them.

After lunch, I decided to take a trip down memory lane by driving the length of Central Ave. (which was the 2-lane U.S. Route 66 when I lived there).  East of town, many of the 4motels I used to throw papers to were still in business, and the Highland Theater where DiVoran worked selling tickets was still there.  Leon told me he was a ticket taker and usher at the Highland Theater about the same time that DiVoran was working there, but he didn’t remember ever meeting her there.  The Ice Arena had been turned into part of a shopping center, and Highland High School, where DiVoran and I met, all those many years ago, was now three times as big as it was when we attended.  Further down Central, our football rivals, Albuquerque High School had been closed and converted into condos (of all things), while the First Baptist Church, which my folks and I attended all the years we lived there, had moved and their buildings were now empty and up for sale.  What a shock that was!



                                                                        —–To Be Continued—–


2 Jun


Judy Wills



Have you ever seen a hot-air balloon floating overhead?  Really neat, huh?  We’ve been enraptured with them for quite a while.  The sister of a friend and her new husband “escaped” from their outdoor wedding reception in a hot-air balloon.  How neat is that?

 We had heard about the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta for years, but had never attended one.  It was started after we married and moved away from Albuquerque.   In talking with Fred’s parents, we all decided to head to New Mexico for that great event that year, 2001.  It was the 30th anniversary of the Fiesta.  Fred’s youngest sister and her husband thought it would be fun to join us, as well.  So we made our hotel reservations, airplane reservations, and were getting quite excited.

And then….September 11, 2001 happened.

We were scheduled to fly out in early October, 2001.  After September 11, all flights in the U.S. were grounded.  We were afraid that our flight had been cancelled, as well.  But the grounding was lifted, and we were able to fly out as scheduled.  I’ve heard so many people say they have stopped flying after September 11 – they were just too afraid.  And my thought is…where is your faith?!  Much safer than traveling long distances in a car…etc.

In any case, we flew out as planned and arrived quite safely in Albuquerque, city of my heart.  We connected with the rest of the family, and began our Balloon Fiesta adventure.  It was absolutely wonderful!   Completely fascinating to watch the balloons go from flat on the ground, to upright, to up in the air in a matter of short minutes!  Breathtaking!

But the best day was the day of the Mass Ascension.  If I recall correctly, there were over 800 balloons going up that day.  They were laid out in a pattern, and went up in planned sequence.  But they did all go up.  And that was the day they had the different “shapes” to the balloons, as well.  A cow (Creamland Dairy)…



a Wells Fargo stage coach (as well as a piggy bank)…

















a beer stein…






Mr. Potato Head


Mr Potato Head

Mr Potato Head


Smokey the Bear…



Smokey the Bear

Smokey the Bear



a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Cone…



Ben and Jerry Ice Cream Cone

Ben and Jerry Ice Cream Cone



Tony the Tiger cereal….



Tony the Tiger

Tony the Tiger



a shoe (Famous Footwear)…



Famous Footwear

Famous Footwear


and a birthday cake congratulating the Fiesta on their 30th anniversary.



Happy 30th Birthday!

Happy 30th Birthday!


We were able to get down close to one of the balloons and watch as they readied it for take off.  Fascinating.



Getting Ready

Getting Ready

Fred has an aversion to large crowds, so it surprised him greatly to find how “uncrowded” this all felt.  As we recall, there were probably well over 100,000 people there!  Of course, it was held on one of the valley floors in Albuquerque, so that helped – lots of room to spare.

That evening, we went to one of the Indian casinos in town, and were able to watch a night-time ascension.  Really beautiful.










Rising Flag

But it is one of our fondest memories – one we recall and treasure.  One year, our oldest daughter and her husband gave us a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle of that event, and we had a great deal of fun putting it together.  Brought back great memories.






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