By Mary Davis
Another longtime resident is gone and will be greatly missed. Gilbert Lopez, whose death was reported in the August 21 Corrales Comment, was a font of information about Corrales, an electrical engineer, and a farmer almost to the end. Luckily for us he was also an artist who painted two large pictures of Corrales before World War II when the freeway, the bridges that span the Rio Grande today, and the paving of Corrales Road were far in the future. The painting was titled: “Threshing Wheat with a Threshing Machine, Summer 1935.” His other picture was of a water wheel that moved water from the old Corrales acequia to the family property. Both are safe at his home.
Happily he also left notes about where the threshing took place and who was doing the work. The location was his grandfather’s property located east of Corrales Road between Mariquita and Sanchez Roads; it’s now the Corrales Compound. He added that the property extended through the bosque to the river. The wheat sacker was Don Angelo Salce. The persons on the stack were Angelo Salce’s daughters Dulcelina, Ida and Lena. The person on the thresher cutting the wheat bundles loose was Gilbert’s uncle, Maxmillianlo (Max) Lopez. The person on the hay rake driving the team of mules —the bay was named Jenny and the black was Jack— was Gilbert himself.
He noted that “Three other stacks had already been threshed belonging to Don Juan Cristobal Lopez (my grandpa), Don José Griego and Don Victor Sandoval.” The man sitting on the tractor was the owner of the thresher. Gilbert didn’t know his name, only that “he was just following the wheat harvest.” His notes concluded with the information that “the wheat was mostly taken to the 4 Star Flour Mill, on South Second Street, next to the Santa Fe Railroad tracks, just south of Trumbull Avenue, about where now the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District service yard is located in Albuquerque.”
What a treasure! He proudly shared his genealogy: his parents were Perfecto Lopez and Anita Gonzales. Perfecto’s parents were Juan Cristobal Lopez and Anastacia Montoya, and Anita’s parents were Daniel Gonzales, brother of Herman Gonzales (Hector Gonzales’s father) and Rafaelita Sandoval from Cebolleta, north of Laguna Pueblo. Gilbert told us that his father, Perfecto, ran cattle and sheep near Cuba, and that his dad would often take him when he traveled to trade with the Navajos. He also remembered when the Navajos came to Corrales to trade; they would camp in their wagons for a week under the big cottonwood that stood by Gilbert’s old house (now demolished) near the Corrales Acequia not far north of the Old Church.
These memories of Gilbert Lopez were provided by Corrales Historical Society (CHS) Archives Committee. All of the “I didn’t know that!” articles previously published in this newspaper may be accessed at http://www.CorralesHistory.org/archives. Want to learn more? Explore the CHS website! New CHS members are always welcome.