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THE LAST TIME WE SAW OUR UNCLE OFFIE
The year was 1957. Uncle Offie and Aunt Margret were in town so they came over to see us at 519 Green Valley Road. He had mellowed in his old age. We had a nice visit. He knew that I was interested in our family history so he began telling us some stories about where we came from and what we did.
The Gutierrez name came from France between Leon and Orleans. In France it was Guthrié.
Two Gutiérrez brothers came over from Spain. Their sailing ship landed in Florida since they were in disfavor with the King. In those days all the good landings were in Mexico. Northern Spain had been their home. That was the region where they raised cattle. Florida was no place to raise cattle. To damn many trees and low brush. They headed West, didn’t like New Orleans, so they continued on to what is now New Mexico. One stayed along the Rio Grande near Albuquerque and the other settled in Chihuahua.
He spoke of the Gutiérrez’s last big cattle drive. This was in the days of the open range. The good grazing in those days was in eastern New Mexico on the edge of the great plains. This took place in the early 20’s. There was a drought that year and we needed to drive the cattle west through Tijeras Canyon and up toward Jemez where there was grass for the cattle to graze.
Maximiliano Gutierrez was blessed with five sons. He was in the cattle business and it was important to have sons to punch cows. Emiliano was one of the older sons. Natividad was everyone’s favorite uncle. Ofimiano was our grandfather. I remember Uncle Justo and Uncle Max.
The size of the herd numbered around 10,000. They counted the cattle as they crossed the old Alameda bridge. As they were going across the bridge the cattle were still coming down off the east mesa.
Cattle drives have been romanticized in the movies and on television but it was lots of hard work. Uncle Offie told us, “We lost a lot of cattle on that drive.” Our dad hated punching cows which why he chose to be a school teacher. His dad found him a job in a one room school house up in Irissari where he began teaching after finishing high school.
Another interesting story he told us was when he joined the US Army. The Army was still riding horses in those days and the Gutierrez’s were all good horsemen. They sent him down to Fort Bliss Texas. That was where he found out that they had a name for Spanish boys in the US Army. They called them, “Comprado y pagado.”
This is a carryover from the days leading up to The Great War. The country knew we were going to get involved in the European conflict. It was only a matter of time. The Army had a great Idea on how we could prepare the troops. The plan was presented to President Wilson.
It probably went something like this: “Mister President, I would like to have maneuvers in northern Mexico. Here is my plan: Lets pay Poncho Villa to ride across the border and shoot up Columbus, New Mexico. Then we send General Pershing down there to chase him around Northern Mexico.”
Needless to say, they never found him. General Pershing was able to inspire his troops since they were actually doing something. Much better than dividing up the troops into the Blue Army and the Red Army. That’s too much like child’s play.
The Mexicans now had a new name for those guys from the USA. The term Gringo comes from the American troops sitting around the fire at night singing, “Green grow the lilacs.”
Poncho Villa was not just a Mexican bandit. He was the general of the north during the revolution. Once the revolution was over, like most generals he was left to his own devices to make a living for himself and his troops
Jim Gutierrez 2016