Written by Jennie Montoya Herman. One in a collection by Allen Bachoroski, Local Historical Writer and author of “Tales Along the Highway of Legends”
Maria Graciana Ritz was born in Trinchera, Colorado on March 6, 1911. Her mother was Inez Medina who was the daughter of Juan Medina and Lorencita Maestas who were married in 1905. This puts this side of the family as being in Las Animas County for over 100 years and thus receiving the Centennial Family Recognition. Inez married David Ritz and they lived in Trinchera. David was the son of Charles L. Ritz from Germany and Rumalda Bent. Her father was Charles Bent of New Mexico and co-founder of Bent’s Fort. After Charles was assassinated in New Mexico, Rumalda was raised with Kit Carson’s family.
Graciana Ritz’s first marriage was to Isidore Montoya and they had two children, Jennie and David. After Montoya’s death, Graciana remarried and they moved from Trinchera to Trinidad. Jennie was ten years old when they moved to Trinidad and in the summer of 1941 the children had to work to help the family. Jennie and Dave worked for Dixie Drive Inn that has been replaced with a gas station and eventually the White Spot Restaurant.
When the passenger train would pull into the Trinidad station, Jennie and Dave would run down and sell the passengers fresh hamburgers. On one memorable train stop, Jennie remembers selling lots of hamburgers to a train filled with soldiers. They were all on special assignment to protect an important passenger. When Jennie gets to the end of the train she finds a caboose platform with a man sitting with a blanket around his legs. She had to step onto the train to sell him a hamburger for the normal price of 25 cents and for her trouble he gave her a dollar tip. She said that he was a nice person who spoke gently, but she did not know who he was. That afternoon everyone was talking about the president of the United States being in town, but the next morning in school the teacher showed the class a newspaper picture of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Jennie recognized the man in the photo as the man with a blanket around his legs. She had served the President and got a tip from him.
Jennie had one son, Samuel Borrego and four daughters, Linda Marie Barela Cordesco King, Prudence Jane Barela Gettler, Celia Ann Jaramillo Shadbotl Rall and Shirley Ann Jaramillo Maldonado-Stanley. As of this writing Jennie has 15 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. Graciana had her picture taken with some of the children which shows five generations, but she died at 85 in Pueblo on November 18, 1996.
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