Native Writes: Three generations of Maroons

The end of May is a time of new beginnings. Baby calves cry for their mothers while older calves head for new homes, bird eggs develop life in nests and children excitedly pass to a higher grade, some in brand new schools.

It’s graduation time and, sadly, many Valley schools will have ceremonies at the same time this coming Saturday. Our vast home has many schools, but time has attached us all, either by blood or friendship. I will be at Alamosa High School, watching my 56th commencement and my oldest granddaughter receive her diploma.

I remember well my high school commencement. We had agreed that all of us would dress the same under our gowns. Mine was white, accessorized with a gold honor cord. Ours was the first year that Alamosa High School used them.

Unaccustomed to wearing “heels,” I wobbled my way into line. We were in alphabetical order and the boys wore maroon, with similar colored suits and shoes. This year’s class will wear maroon and black, the girls in maroon and the boys in black. I didn’t know this until I mentioned to my granddaughter that I loved her maroon gown.

Maroon and black? Change is inevitable.

Attending class reunions, I have watched my classmates grow and change. We all have. We were 18 in 1961 and most of us are showing our age. We’ve lost some classmates and many don’t feel the spirit any longer.

Alamosa High School was a different place in 1961. We studied in an old grey brick building that had burned once and was rebuilt. There were beautiful murals on the walls, a huge “A” on the curtains in the auditorium and “Uncle Tanoose,” a stuffed moose head, greeted people who entered to watch games.

Not too long ago, I had to explain to an adult in her 20’s  that Uncle Tanoose was a character on the Danny Thomas show. I should have anticipated the next questions: “Who’s Danny Thomas? You had TV back then?”

The old grey brick building we knew became the junior high. I’m not sure when junior high began being called “middle school,” but it did. I felt a strong attachment to the old building in which I completed my last four years of education, but the powers that be decided it would be demolished. The bas relief murals on the Safeway store are from that building.

We battled to have the old building/junior high named after educational icon Isaac P. Ortega and it was done. The name moved on when the new high school was built and the vacated building became the middle school.

All three of my sons graduated from that building. The school plays, band concerts and legendary “food fight” took place there. Uncle Tanoose went along, hanging above the gym door and showing his age. If too much cheering was called for and the “Maroon stomp” followed, one of his ears would fall off. I think he has gone on to the great Moose Nation of the past.

When the grandchildren began attending OMS, the nostalgia grew to include plays, band concerts and the “Rite of Passage,” which gave eighth graders a joyful send-off to high school. I think the food fight of 1980 was the only such event in that building.

The new AHS seemed big and sterile, then the third generation of my family began attending AHS.

My oldest granddaughter, Sara Gallegos, will graduate Saturday and I will feel the warmth of sentiment. I bought a “paver” commemorating the three generations and am looking forward to the continuation of family history – at that building, which will serve many more Maroons.

Moose Nation.