|Ludlow Massacre monument (Wikipedia)|
In my denim clothes and straw hat, I was feeling all southern-Colorado-native-ish, being about 20 years old and preoccupied with questions of authenticity and roots, even though — or because — for eight months a year I was also a student at a liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon. (The old pickup had Oregon plates, even while I carried a New Mexico driver's license.)
Then I saw them: two young guys hitchhiking on the south edge of Pueblo, and I figured to pick them up before some cop got after them for being on the interstate. They were from New Jersey, as I recall, going to Santa Fe — and I could get them closer.
We went down the road, talking about their journey West, etc., and to them I was just this guy from Taos with a faint northern-New Mexico accent (courtesy of the crew I was working with). And I decided that they should see Ludlow as part of their Western experience.
We took the lonely exit, bumped over the railroad tracks and past the United Mine Workers billboard over a little rise to the memorial: the statues, the picnic ground, the plaques.
I did not have to play history guide: the story is there.
And now my memory breaks down.
Did I make up some story to leave them out there on the prairie between Trinidad and Walsenburg?
The quickest way to Taos would have been US 160 west over La Veta Pass, then south. But to get there from Ludlow I would have had to drive back north to Walsenburg first.
And I have a memory of coming down the west side of La Veta Pass, getting panicky because the oil pressure light started flickering— worrying that the oil pump was failing (they rarely do). And driving south through San Luis and Questa, heart in mouth, not wanting to break down, only to learn later that it was merely the sending unit going bad that caused the warning light to flicker.
Or was the whole experience an example of road-hypnosis hallucination? I've had several of those over the years.
To be continued.