I came to New Mexico in 1962 from Iowa with my Mom, Dad, brother, Arch, 8, and my little sister Maggie, 1. She will be 60 on August 6, just thought I’d put that in here. We all knew what we believed to be floods. When the rivers had too much rain in Iowa, they swelled and ran over the banks, sometimes flooding cabins along the riverbanks. None of us had seen, “Flash Floods.” When I got to Albuquerque, I was a sophomore at Manzano High, a brand spanking new school. It had that new school smell like a new car. Heck, even the cafeteria food smelled good. Bill was a junior when I was a sophomore, but we never met. Bill was a native-born boy, so he knew New Mexico water.
Soon I made friends and one girl, Barbara, was crazy about horses. She even had two boarded at a stable clear at the end of Juan Tabo past Central. It was down in the mouth of the canyon. It is still there, but it is now a church campground with big cottonwood trees. Her mom dropped us off and we had two hours to roam. Barb asked if I could ride and I assured her I had ridden Lady on my friend Liz’s farm and at Girl Scout camp. Good enough. They put me on a horse bigger than a house and with a western saddle. The horn was bigger than I was at the time. We only had English saddles in Iowa. Oh well, off we went. We rode in the sandy bottom of the arroyo. Arroyo was a new word for me, and I was proud to use it. It was June and it was hot. I did not have a hat, but I did have a cotton blouse and Levis. Pretty soon a few raindrops hit me on the head. The cloud cover and sudden wind was cool. Barb yelled back at me, “Come on, Jo. Quick!” I had been following her and chatting. We did not seem to hurry. I did not spur my horse since I was not wearing spurs. Barb cut to a lower bank of the arroyo and pushed her horse up it. The sprinkling felt good. It had been extremely hot. Again, she turned and yelled, “Jo, come now!” There was fear in her voice, and I thought there was a rattlesnake somewhere and kicked the horse up the bank. “Barb, I didn’t think horses could climb so well.”
“They had better, look behind you.”
I heard the rush of water first and then where we had been it looked like Niagara Falls was coming down. Water filled to the top of the arroyo and we moved back up on the road of Old 66. “Where did all that water come from?” I asked like the stupid tourist I was. “The entire Sandia Mountains drain into these arroyos. You cannot play in them and we should not have been riding in them. Don’t tell my Mom.” And I never did, but I did tell my family plenty. New Mexico water.
Twenty years later, we had just moved to Edgewood, when my sons, Will, 12 and Tom, 10, were riding with me from Albuquerque to Tijeras. It was sprinkling in town and as I got to Carnuel, it was pouring. I decided to turn around on Old 66 where the crosses are up on the hill. The ground looked level. Will was in the front seat and Tom in the back. I dropped my car into a four-foot hole dug out by the water. “Open your window and get out.” Will did and hung onto the car to get onto the road. Tom asked, “Mom, which toys should I take?” I grabbed him by the front of the shirt and tossed him out the window. He made it. When I tried to go out the window, the car started to tip over on me and fill with water. Two guys with a hook and a rope steadied the car, I opened the door, letting in the water and I got out. I was cold and afraid, and I hugged my kids as it poured. Big dummy me. I never got those guys’ names as they hauled my car up on the road; it would not start for another three hours. It was a mess, but we got home. All I could think of was, God bless good Samaritans. I thanked them at the time, and they are lost, but not forgotten by me.
Last week Bill and I traveled to Ribs at Cedar Crest to eat outside and it was great. Then it started to sprinkle and then pour as we headed home. Without shame or embarrassment, I pulled over with Bill’s concurrence, and we sat it out in a parking lot before coming down to I-40. I have been in Edgewood 35 years and if you do not get smarter… well, shame on you. For you natives, transplanted or born here, you know the hazards. For you “newbies” reading this, do so carefully. Maybe take notes. Roaring Mouse with my bumbershoot up and out.
From 1966 to 1971, Jo attended the University of New Mexico and Memphis State University, earning degrees in Communications, English, Journalism, Speech and Drama with history minors. At UNM, her hero was Tony Hillerman. She taught high school and middle school in city, country, and private schools for 30 years. Roaring Mouse is in its 25 th year. She can be reached at email@example.com