I was sad to see that the Merriam’s old house on Coronado Road is finally demolished. In about 1976 I was wandering around Corrales looking for a place to live and I stopped to chat over the fence with Gene Merriam. I asked him if his shed might be for rent and he said no, but he had a trailer hookup to the west of his house and if I had a trailer I was welcome to put it there.
I went out and found a sky blue travel trailer, got it hooked up and lived with Gene and his wife, Mary, for the next year. Gene had a couple of big greenhouses and he was making a living selling hydroponic tomatoes. His wife was a nurse. Gene and I would sit on a bench outside his shed after work, and he would tell stories and whittle.
His dad had owned the Nance Apple Farm, and it was supposed to go to Gene. But his dad sold the whole thing for $40 an acre to make ends meet. Gene told me when they moved into the house it had 12-foot ceilings and a dirt roof. He thought it was over 200 years old.
Inside, it was freezing even in the summer time. He and Mary set up scaffold inside and outside and used a two-man saw to cut through the terrones. They pushed the top four feet of wall onto the ground outside and dropped the vigas down, ending up with more practical ceiling heights.
They didn’t much like the linoleum on the floors so they scraped it up, and found more linoleum underneath. They got through six layers of linoleum before they reached dirt. They poured concrete floors instead. One time I asked Gene if he had seen a certain new office building in Albuquerque and he said, “Well, I’ve never been there.” I said “You’ve never been to Albuquerque?”
Gene said “I drove part way down 4th Street one time, but I didn’t care for it so I came home.” Corrales was different back then but there are still traces of it left. I wish I’d taken the time to go in and look before they tore the place down. I really liked hanging out in that kitchen. I hope there are still folks like Gene and Mary for my grandkids to discover when they get out on their own adventures.