Benavidez Memories – Part 2

Written by Louise Benavidez Sanchez.  One in a collection by Allen Bachoroski, Local Historical Writer and author of “Tales Along the Highway of Legends”

My parents adopted a boy, when he was about 10 or 11 years old. They had baptized him his name was Felipe Sanchez. His parents died so my parents raised him. He was drafted into the service during the First World War. He was sent over-seas.

My mother was very worried about him. She was a very devout Catholic and prayed a lot for his safe return. Then my oldest brother Steve was drafted. So my mother made a promise to the baby Jesus, that if Felipe would come home safe and Steve would not have to go overseas, she would make a trip to Chimayo, New Mexico – where the Infant Jesus had appeared and performed many miracles – and make a donation of $100.

Well, it happened that the war ended and Felipe came home safely, and Steve didn’t have to go, so she, my dad, and my sisters, Mary and Josie made the trip to New Mexico. My mother went on her knees from the gate of the fence to the church, which is quite far from the church and she also made my sisters do the same.

I can remember when by brother, Felipe came home from the service. He was walking up the street on Convent in his soldier uniform. There was a small airplane flying overhead, throwing Hershey candy bars and some pamphlets. I don’t know what the pamphlets contained – I was only 5 years old, but I remember….

From Convent, we moved to West Second Street. Celio, Sophie and I went to Columbian School, which was located where Eckhart School is now. My dad would bring us to town on Sundays from the ranch, and take us back on Friday to work over the weekend. I remember him bringing us on a wagon once; I must have been about 6 or 7 years old. We had a lot of fun that day coming to Trinidad.

My mother was always cooking good things for us. She would watch us coming down the hill from Columbian School, and you could get the smell of the cookies or fresh bread or sopapillas that she would be making. She would give us a snack right away. She would always make us get out of our school clothes and into our work clothes. My mother would make all of our clothes, even our coats. She always made all of us girls beautiful white slips with crochet edging on them. She didn’t have a washing machine so she and my older sisters did the washing by hand.

My mother was a very generous person; she would share the vegetables that they raised at the ranch or milk, eggs, meat or butter with the neighbors. I remember one time, (it was during Lent) she fixed a lot of food and prepared a tray to take to a neighbor upstairs. This woman must have been a widow. She had 3 or 4 children; well, it had snowed a lot and it was icy. She barely got to the door, where she slipped and broke all the dishes with the food. She came in, prepared some more, and took her another tray.

We had neighbors all around us. There must have-been about eight families living in this big house, it faced north on West Second Street. It is on the corner of West Second and High Street. We had a real good friend who lived next door to us. Her name was Beatrice; she didn’t have any parents, and Sophie and I felt sorry for her. She lived with her aunt. One time we were at her house – we were there alone, Sophie, Beatrice and myself. Her aunt was visiting at our house and she had bought a big box of beautiful red delicious apples; she had put them behind a dresser. Each one of us took an apple; at that time, her aunt walked in and Sophie hid hers behind her back and started to sing: Tiddle, Diddle, Diddle Dumpling, My son John.” Her aunt said, “and you, Tiddle, Diddle Dumpling, My son John, what are you hiding there?”

As I was saying, we always felt very sorry for Beatrice because she was an orphan. We would say, ‘it must be terrible not to have a mother or father.’ We sort of had a premonition that something was going to happen. I remember telling my mother, “if you die, I’m going to get in the coffin and go with you.”

Well, on January 12, 1924 my oldest sister, Maxine was very sick, so my dad brought her to stay with my mother. That night, she felt much better, and she and my mother bathed my little brother, Joie and my niece, Sadie; both the kids had real curly hair. They curled their hair on their fingers.

The next day, Sunday, January 13, 1924, my mother woke my sisters, Mary and Maxine up, and told them, “if you want to see me die, you had better get up.” She had a heart attack and passed away at 6:00 a.m. My sister, Mary called us to get up; as we walked into my mother’s room, she breathed her last breath. My little brother, Joie was sleeping with her, he was crying. They couldn’t get a doctor to come; finally when Dr. Beshoar did come, she had already passed away. My sister sent us kids upstairs, when the Campbell Lewis Mortuary personnel came to pick her up. We watched through the window. They had put her in a long brown straw basket. It was the worst day of our lives.

It was quite a shock to my dad and sister, Josie and brothers, who were at the ranch. They couldn’t believe it was my mother that had died; they thought it was my sister, Maxine who was so sick at the time. My mother was only 46 years old. I remember when they brought her body home in the casket. It was a very pale grey color. She was dressed in a real pale pink negligee. The casket was open all the way, her slippers were a white satin. She had a beautiful casket cover, made of beautiful pink and lavender sweet peas. The Columbian School had sent the flowers. I can’t remember the funeral.

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