Sunday, 27 October 2013 19:19

Where's My Nickle, Where's My Dime?

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When Acequia Madre Elementary School opened in 1954, my little brother and I were transferred there from Carlos Gilbert.  I was in the 4th grade and he was in the 1st.  We knew a couple of kids who also were moved, but most of our classmates were unknown.  As outsiders, we were befriended by a few boys and girls and we were picked on by the rest.  This all eventually sorted itself out, but the first couple of months were scary.

The school was a 20 minute walk from our home on La Vereda.  My father dropped us off every morning and we walked home every afternoon.  The route was down a small path from Acequia Madre to Gormley’s store on Canyon Road, then down another path, crossing the back yards of a few homes, to the Santa Fe River.  We went over the river on a small footbridge, crossed Alameda, walked up a short road to Palace Avenue and arrived at home.

Since there was no cafeteria we took our lunches to school every day.  The more affluent kids had lunchboxes (mine was Hopalong Cassidy) while the less fortunate brought their lunches in brown paper or bread bags.  We originally took drinks in a small thermos, but they were easily broken and, after I destroyed the third one, my parents began giving us each a dime to buy a small cardboard container of milk.  It wasn’t long before we stopped buying the milk and instead used the money to buy candy at Gormley’s after school.  There were quite a few Acequia Madre kids there, none of whom we knew, and they let us know that, because we were rich, we should share our candy with them.  When we refused, we were threatened with mayhem, but Mr. Gormley would come to our rescue and send them packing.

Eventually the showdowns at Gormley’s ended and our adversaries took up a new tactic.  One day we arrived at the footbridge over the river and were met by a kid from my class and his 6th grade big brother.  They told us that, beginning the next day, we would have to pay them ten cents in order to cross the bridge and, if we didn’t, big brother would beat us up.  They weren’t totally greedy, since we had twenty cents between us, but we found ourselves in a position that was terrifying.  The next afternoon, we got to the bridge and there they were, asking “where’s my nickel, where’s my dime?”  We paid our toll and went home.

After about a week of this, we decided that it was time to tell our parents and ask them to bail us out.  The first thing that happened was that my dad grounded us for 2 weekends for blowing our milk money on candy.  The second thing he did was to tell us that, since we created this problem, it was up to us to solve it.  We didn’t sleep much that night.

When we approached the bridge the next day, we told our tormentors that we had no money.  They pushed us around a bit and threatened us with a beating if we tried to cross.  Instead, with them throwing rocks at us, we climbed down the 4 foot wall to the river, splashed across it, scrambled up the wall on the other side and ran like hell for home.

For the next 3 weeks, we walked the long way home.  Up Acequia Madre to Delgado Street, Delgado to Palace Avenue and then Palace up to La Vereda.  It took a good 15 minutes longer and had a long uphill stretch.  The Billy Goats Gruff would threaten us at school but they could do us no harm there.  We finally decided to try the short way again and, when we got to the bridge, there was no one there.  For the rest of our time at Acequia Madre we crossed that bridge without incident.  And we always drank our milk.

The bridge (pictured above) is still there.  The paths have been fenced, walled and otherwise made inaccessible by the current property owners.  There was a time in Santa Fe when people did not so jealously guard their land.  We were fortunate to be able to experience it.

Photo by my little brother, David Lord

September 13, 2013

--Mike Lord

Read 3163 times Last modified on Sunday, 17 November 2013 05:21
Mike Lord

4th generation Santa Fe Gringo.

4 comments

  • Comment Link Justus Eddy Saturday, 26 July 2014 23:25 posted by Justus Eddy

    Well done, Mike. I remember those days well....it was a blessed and scary time growing up there...I remember many times walking from the la vereda house to the little store at palace and alameda and being anxious about who might be around the next corner. Ah....the good old days.

  • Comment Link Jim Baca Tuesday, 29 October 2013 22:29 posted by Jim Baca

    Great story, Mike!

  • Comment Link Mike Lord Monday, 28 October 2013 21:33 posted by Mike Lord

    Hi Ed - you're correct. After Acequia Madre, I went to Harvey Jr. High and then St. Michaels.

  • Comment Link ed Saiz Monday, 28 October 2013 18:44 posted by ed Saiz

    Mike; Interesting story; I take it that you or your brother David
    never attended school in Tesuque; Did you or David attend
    Harvey Jr. High or Santa Fe High?

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