Talon News - Good Local News

By Annie Barnes

Elder Memories

Animas River Valley- Annie Barnes


By Annie Barnes as told to Alicia Sharp, TALON

I was called Ann Jean. I came to Aztec in 1975 with my husband Bruce. We came from Indiana and had never been west. We followed a friend out who we were in the house building business with in the Midwest. Our younger kid had just graduated high school so he came with us although he did not stay. We didn't know what in the world was Bloomfield. When I first saw the area I thought it was the ugliest place I ever seen compared to the Midwest. We traveled all over for 10 days to Silverton, Ouray , Canyon De Chelle, Mesa Verde, all over the boonies . We panned for gold and saw many petroglyph. Ten days later we were back here to live!

The culture, the food, the oil patch - everything different. A mystery. We bought an abandoned trailer court . There were a lot of power poles that needed repair. I saved the copper from them and with the proceeds from copper sale I bought cowboy boots. We named the trailer court The Westward Winds, now named Charo on 550. We put in 53 trees which now are huge trees. I hope the people appreciate them. We had one tenant who tied her dog to her bumper and the dog wrapped itself around a tree. She drove away and took out the tree. Unknown what happened to the dog. Since it was hard to be tough on the tenants we sold it. I went to work for Halliburton as an secretary. I had never been a secretary. I was like aunt or mom to the half dozen young engineers. When the patch went down in '83 we got a windfall and bought the corner where the Vanilla Moose is now. After we resided and re-roofed, it became The Ice Cream Machine. Someone came in and asked if we have this and so like they have at The Ice Cream Machine in Charleston? We were afraid we had stepped on someone's trademark. My husband had gotten an elk and we had it's head displayed in the building. Another customer said, " oh, you have a moose, you should call it The Chocolate Moose". We didn't have chocolate and it wasn't a moose but it too.

When my husband died in '98 people wondered what I was going to do. Go back to the Midwest? No. My daughter Pam took the ice cream shop over for 15 years and sold it last year. We know half the town. So many customers still greet me everywhere in town. It was fun and an education. 90 percent of people are great. It was good. I moved over here 3 years ago to senior apartments by the Aztec library. I go to the Senior Center daily. It's important to go there and intermingle. My mother moved here about 35 years ago. She was part of Senior Center. She was lovely and I hope I follow in her foot steps. She was well loved when she died 25 years ago. When I worked The Moose alone mother would come down evenings to protect me.

Working helped me find how good the people are. I had a few bitchers and two bounced checked in all those years. One guy complained about the hole in the soft serve ice cream and I told him to go to Dairy Queen. We have the same as Dairy Queen but add a secret ingredient. I'll never tell what. One guy guessed nutmeg. It is not. I made the brownies. I used to love brownies, bananas and ice cream. Not anymore. The guy who bought The Moose called me grandma and gave me a hug. My kids put my 80th birthday on The Moose sign and I didn't know until people wished me happy birthday at the grocery store. We had my 80th celebration there. One year I was elected to be one of the Aztec Soreheads. A big honor! (Annie is mother of four). I have good kids who never gave me trouble. My Pam and Beth are here and my Gretchen in California. My son passed away about 20 yrs ago from a brain tumor. I live with my two fuzzy children.


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