Bernie Torres was born and raised in Amalia, New Mexico. In 1963, after his family moved to Costilla, he started his own tradition of Dando Los Dias a tradition that dated back hundreds of years. Bernie is married to Gladys Torres. Bernie, Gladys and their kids, Brian and Jeff, also participate in this annual event. Bernie is a very active member of his community in Costilla and owns a successful trucking company.
Interview Date:April 11th, 2021 Interviewer: Chris Arellano Interview Location: Bernie Torres’ home in Costilla, New Mexico Topics covered: Bernie’slong history with Los Dias, music, community, local traditions, Costilla, Amalia
Listen to Part 1:
Listen to Part 2:
This interview is part of Northern New Mexico Music: Past and Present, a project of the nonprofit, Questa Creative Council, dedicated to strengthening community through arts, culture, history, and education. This project is supported in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and by the National Endowment for the Arts and Taos Community Foundation.
In this recording and images Flavio Cisneros shares a Letter that was written in February, 1925, requesting the marriage of his mother, Corina Gonzales (later Cisneros) to Francisco Cisneros. The letter was scribed on behalf of Francisco’s parents (Adelaida Montoya Cisneros and Gavino Cisneros who could not write) to Mclovio Gonzales and Rosita Velasquez Gonzales (Uncle and Grandmother of Corina Gonzales and her wards after her parents died in the flu epidemic in May 1918). The letter is written in phoenetic Spanish. Below are scans of the letter and its translation. (Click on any image to see enlarged versions.)
Celestina Arellano Martinez, originally from Costilla, owned two pairs of shoes; these were her “At Home Shoes.” They were shared by her granddaughter, Jeannie Sanchez Masters on July 8, 2018 at the VFW Hall in Questa at the “Community Memory and Story Sharing” event organized by Questa Stories and the Questa History Trail. Listen to Jeannie’s brief description in the audio recording below.
In the middle of summer 2018, when the land was bone dry and we dreamed of summer storms, the Gathering Memory: Object, Photos, and StoryCommunity Workshop was held at the Questa VFW Hall. How many people would come on a Sunday afternoon, organizers wondered? Twenty? Fifty?
On July 8, 2018, the VFW parking lot filled to overflowing and more than a hundred people filed in with objects of significance – photos, shoes, lamps, quilts, love letters – along with their stories.
Participants sharing their objects and photos on July 8 at the Gathering Memory Community Workshop. Click photo to enlarge.
Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez, former New Mexico State Historian and native son of Questa led the event, inviting participants to bring a special object that held a memory about a person, moment or place, or a photograph that could be used to tell a story. He asked that people bring the name of one ancestor whose life held special meaning to them. The idea behind these particular requests is that storytelling engages and strengthens a community’s sense of itself, that we all hold a piece of history, and that community members are community historians.
At the height of the event, the wished-for rain arrived; everyone applauded until their sounds were drowned out by the drumming of the torrential monsoon. The wealth of stories, and the depth of individual and community history shared that day was as heavy an outpouring as that summer rain.
Questa Stories was there as well, to collect local stories for the online community archive. (Thank you, Sarah Parker for your diligent recording and editing – pictured at left.) We scanned images, recorded audio and took photographs of people with their objects. Now our work is to collate this collection and release individual stories as blog posts.
The day after the event Gaea and Claire sat together in Claire’s yard to reflect on this experience and the potential and purpose of the Questa Stories Community Memory Project . They recorded this audio.
Audio Time Stamps 00:00 – Introduction 00:30 – Where did you grow up? 01:00 – What do you love about this place? 02:15 – Love of New Mexico, Discussion of Place 04:15 – What is Questa Stories? 06:20 – July 8 Gathering Memory Workshop, Rainstorm 06:45 – Extending an invitation to contribute stories, more description about Questa Stories 10:00 – Community Archive 10:30 – Diaspora Community 11:00 – Questa Stories includes surrounding communities – Cerro, La Lama, Costilla, Amalia 11:54 – End
The July 8 event was hosted by the Questa History & Community Trail (QuestaTrail.org) and its sponsors: New Mexico Humanities Council, Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area, and the National Park Service. The Questa History & Community Trail is a project of the Questa Creative Council, a non-profit organization (QuestaCreative.org).
This post has been re-posted on the Manitos blog, a digital Resolana (gathering place) for people, histories, and stories of northern New Mexico.
Kate was born and raised in Cerro, NM, went to school in Cerro, then Questa High School, was married at 18 and soon after became a mother of two children. She worked as a cashier for much of her life and then went into cooking, which she loves. She takes seriously her responsibilities as a mother and with her volunteer work in her community. At the time of the interview, she was the co-director of the North Central NM Food Pantry.
Date of Interview: June 14, 2018
Interviewers: Gaea McGahee and Claire Coté Location: Home of Kate Cisneros, Questa Topics: Life story, family, food pantry, community, traditional foods, family traditions, local traditions, traditional foods, food preservation, early memories, school, then and now, creativity with food
Flavio Cisneros is a retired history teacher, veteran, community leader and wonderful cook, committed to recreating traditional foods from his childhood in Questa.
Date of Interview: May 31, 2018
Interviewers: Gaea McGahee and Claire Cote Location: Home of Flavio Cisneros Topics: Life story, family, local oratorio, 1918 flu pandemic, traditional foods, local traditions, early memories, military service, education, life philosophy