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Professor Mikey- The Early Years

A friend’s photograph, from the early years of our marriage – at the first stop in my career in academia, teaching at Trinidad State Junior College.  A T-shirt that came in a Christmas package from my mother that is recognizable, as is the Oldsmobile.  The photograph is a bit out of focus, and I suspect that, over the years, the memories are also a bit out of focus.

At Trinidad State, with an entire department dedicated to gunsmithing, and the NRA Whittington center just across the pass in Raton, my hobby interest in firearms could grow.  As a teacher, when Kelly Vigil asked, “Why can’t we do it this way?” I had the time, and reason to answer the question – when I had been designing irrigation systems, I had just done things as I had been taught.  As a teacher, I had time and space to discover why.

Below the college library was a place of magic – earlier TSJC had offered an Associate’s program in museum management.  While the degree was no longer offered, the practical museum was still there – and the artifacts and bones from the Folsom excavations were mine to inspect and appreciate, just because I was the one faculty member interested in archaeology of the Southwest.

As I look at my own artifacts, I notice my switchblade – given to me by my student Gonzalo, “that you might have something to remember me.”  I remember Gonzalo, and his story how his mother, a pregnant teenager from southern Mexico had crossed Mexico that she could give birth in El Paso, getting him birthright US citizenship before she was sent back south by la migra.

My dentist, whose office had once been occupied by Bat Masterson, a half-block away from a saloon that was once damaged by Cary Nation’s hatchet in a temperance rally.  A few miles to the north, Ludlow, bloody Ludlow, where the striking miners fought back as their tents were targeted by the machine guns of Colorado’s National Guard. 

Perhaps the memories are no more out of focus than the photograph.