A choice, a democracy


The second of the seven cooperative principles, No. 2, Democratic member control, co-op membership elect their leaders (trustees), who collectively make decisions.

Unfortunately, while this is a great principle, if the election to the co-op board is uncontested, as was the case two and three years ago, democracy can’t work. Or just maybe, you’re all really happy with our Socorro Electric Cooperative and, therefore, a change isn’t required.

A survey by the Socorro Electric Co-op in 2018, 60 percent of members supported renewable energy, but that has yet to happen. So if you pay a SEC electric bill, live in Magdalena, District 2, or Socorro, District 3, you have only until the end of January to submit your name for a run for the co-op board.

Hopefully in April, we will have a choice, a democracy.

Ward B. McCartney III, Belen

Histories in the rubble


On Dec. 6, 2022, the demolition crew completed the leveling of the Caldwell Motor Company building, which was founded in 1947. This building had been vacant and subject to disintegration for many years. It was not until a structural engineer diagnosed that there was no hope to renovate and remodel and restructure the building.

But despite structural weakness, the building had a strong history, not only architecturally but also for small business people who came after World War II to start and flourish a business like Caldwell Motors, Gil’s Bakery, Eva Garcia Grocery, Sugar Bowl Lanes, Baca Auto Sales, Trembly’s Jewelry, Curl Beauty Shop, Culp’s Store, Stamp’s Music, Society Cleaners, Jennies’ Sundries and, please forgive me if I don’t mention any other small businesses that I have forgotten names of in a 75 year time period.

If you notice in the rubble there are what looked like adobe bricks, but in essence they are larger called terrónes, which are made a little differently than adobe as they are cut from wet riverbed mud and dried and are little larger than your regular Adobe which are put into smaller frames and dried.

I remember Caldwell Motors would put their cars inside their big showroom and it was always kind of very special to residents. Even car bumpers had carved Caldwell Motor into rear bumper.

My grandmother, Teresa Castillo Gilbert, was one to like anything modern. She had lived as a little girl in the territorial days (pre-statehood) of New Mexico and pretty ruggedly, too, so any kind of modern features like indoor heating, plumbing, or electrical, she would probably have said “Sure! the building is old so tear it down and build something more modern.”

I think after the leveling of the beautiful Alvarado Depot and Station in Albuquerque in the late 1960s and early 1970s made us think more about should we restore historical buildings in communities?

In 1979, a story appeared in the News-Bulletin about how before the police went out on a jewelry store robbery, stopped by Caldwell Motor Company to have his car repaired.

Another Belen historic marker was demolished Jan. 5, 2023. Gil’s Bakery was owned and managed by Gil Sanchez, and his brother, Aurelio Sanchez, was the baker and from a teenager’s and 20 something’s point of view (me on both counts), I’ve never had better glazed doughnuts than I had at Gil’s Bakery.

Gil’s Bakery was the go-to place for a sweet treat. Even wedding receptions were held in the little dining area just to the south of the main area where bread and doughnuts and pies and all good things baked were kept.

Perhaps the “how in preserving historical buildings”  is  like a pie that is divided into four delicious sections:

S: Seek financial backers

A: Announce future demolitions

V: Value community history in its buildings

E: Exchange ideas and opinions

Another loss of a small business building is hard on those of us who were born and raised in Belen and have lingering memories.

Susanna Rita Gilbert, Belen

Belen Historic Properties Review Board member

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