Talon News - Good Local News

By Alicia Sharp

San Juan Valley Elder Memories

Don Strode



I have lived in Aztec for 10 yrs. After I lost three significant others from cancer while living in Phoenix my daughter said: " Dad come up here". My daughter has the Key Mortage block in Aztec. I did maintenance for her rentals. Those rentals are the best kept up in town.

I raised my kids in the construction business. We traipsed around alot. I kept the kids in the same place around 3 years at a time. All of them went to college. My son is a master electrician and contractor. Both girls own businesses. One of my girls got recruited to get a contract from BP Oil company which had rejected the contract because of the poor skills of a prior representative. She had the skills to reinstate that contract. They lived in Tucson going to college then came to Durango and one daughter came to Aztec. They found a home for me to buy here. It is a good view lot with right away to Rio Grande RR. What am I going to do with that?

I have worn many hats in power line construction, sales, miner equipment operator, art teacher and swim teacher. My daughter could dive off a 4 ft. diving board at one year old and her older sister dove off 21 ft. board at four. My son was on the swim team when he was seven. Once when they were little we were at the river and the older two were running some rapids. The little girl wanted to join by riding on the back of her brother. I was watching and they all had life jackets. "Save the kids!", a fisherman shouted when he saw them. He about drown after he went in and his waders filled. When I got him out he was still shouting "Save the kids!" but he calmed down when I told him the kids were standing right behind me.

Once when we lived in Gunnison, CO and the kids were young there was a winter storm. I heard some noise in the basement. The basement entrance was through a garage port that went from ground level to under the house. The kids had brought the horse into the basement! I found out when I almost broke my neck on the basement stairs. The first step down was broken because my son had ridden the horse up the stairs! The TV had lots of movies of cowboys riding horses in unlikely places so he had followed suit.

Now I help all the women at the Senior Center. They often are on their own at this time of life. I fix wheel chairs, walkers, automobiles, or tell them how to do something or a place to do it. I can fix almost anything except the crack of dawn and a broken heart. I got the Volunteer of the Year from the City of Aztec recently. I love the simplicity, friendly people, laid back atmosphere and the weather in Aztec. Aztec might be known for it's "bad drivers" but I have a million accident free miles as a bus driver and a hundred thousand accident free miles as a semi driver and people here are just fine drivers. We've got the same caliber drivers everywhere in US doing the same things.

I do a lot of art work, scroll saw work, and dancing every Friday in Aztec and Saturday in Farmington. My sweetheart Gladys Williams and I won first, second, and third place at the Senior Olympics dance contest. I've raised all the dogs, cats, kids and horses I'm going to. All I'm raising now is hell!


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