Talon News - Good Local News

By Brenda Landdeck


Abe's Celebrates 60 Years Serving the Fishing Community


September 21, 2018

Tim Chavez and Jay Walden.

Photos and Story by Brenda Landdeck, TALON

When Patsy was about 15 years old, Abe Chavez plopped down next to her at a dance. The dark-haired petite lady with a twinkle in her eye, a smile on her face and lots of love in her heart recalled meeting her future husband. Patsy set out to know this young man who stole her heart at first sight. He was the cutest boy she had ever seen! Her love for her husband radiates on her face when she speaks of him. Instantly, she knew he was the man she would marry.

Soon the couple would make history at Navajo Dam. They started a family and opened Abe's. Fast-forward Abe's Bait Shop celebrated 60 years serving the community on August 18, 2018.

Hospitality and honesty is the most important aspect of their mom and pop business that grew into a motel, restaurant, gas station, RV Park and boat storage facility over the years. Patsy Chavez said, "It was nothing we did. It was the good Lord blessing us."

In 1958, Abe purchased the old Farmington Train Depot and moved it to be the first bait shop. The days were hard. Some days they made only five dollars. The Chavez's struggled to make an honest living and raise three small children. One day during the construction of Navajo Dam, a security guard from the construction site spotted the lanterns of the bait shop and mistook the business for a brothel. That made Abe rather upset, there wasn't electricity available at the time, the lanterns simply lit the shop at night.

Angry Abe, son of the boxer known as The Farmington Flash went to the dam and demanded to speak with the man's supervisor. The offending worker was fired. On the upside of the unfortunate incident, it brought neeeded attention to the struggling business. It changed their lives. Suddenly Abe and Patsy got busy, real busy.

While the building of the dam, businesses associated with the construction needed a post office. Local big-wigs liked the couple, and decided Patsy should run the new post office, since they were the only real residents at the time. Patsy accepted the position. To her surprise, her training included the dumping of two big mail sacks on the floor. That is how Patsy Chavez became the first and youngest Post Master at Navajo Dam. She continued for the next 23 years.

Abe's is wonderful place to stop, step back in time and enjoy a peaceful day on the San Juan River fishing in the sandstone canyons that look like giant stairs going to heaven. Abe has always shared his fishing expertise and many people have loved stopping to hear about the best equipment, techniques and of course fishing spots on the river or to just show the catch of the day. People come from around the world to fish the World-Famous Quality Waters. Annually about 80,000 trout are stocked in a four-and-a-half-mile span below the dam. Hundreds of articles have been written over the years about these honest friendly people living by the river in peace.

The fishing stories are wonderful at Abe's! And still going strong, Mike Strange of Rio Rancho stopped with his nine-pound Pike! Author Jay Walden who runs the cash register is also available some days to chat, his books are available for purchase.

Tim Chavez, Abe's youngest son who runs Born N Raised guide service, pointed to the sandstone bluff that resembles Abraham Lincoln's silhouette to big brother Randy Chavez. Honest Abe has been watching over the place! Randy's daughter Sarah runs the restaurant and is the master of the tasty green chili cheese enchiladas.

Tim and Randy Chavez, Abe's Sons.

Abe is also a master artist who uses what was on the land to make amazing art. All the carved fish in the restaurant he made by hand. Blue ribbons from the county fair on Elk Antler Lamps decorate the rustic eatery. Once Abe rolled a huge boulder across the yard, it sits beautifully polished in his living room. Using a brilliant imagination Abe designed a beautiful home on the same land that has been in his family several hundred years beside the river he always fished and knew better than anyone. At this stage of his life, Abe enjoys watching wild turkeys fly with his wife at home beside the San Juan River with lots of loving family close by. Patsy and Abe celebrated 64 years of marriage June 5th. Thank You Honest Abe Chavez for your beautiful family and 60 years of good memories for the community on the San Juan River at Navajo Dam!


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