Rudolfo Anaya is a renowned writer with a long list of published novels, short stories, essays and even poems. His best known work was also his first novel, Bless Me, Ultima. Published in 1972, the novel tells the fascinating story of Antonio, a young boy growing up in rural New Mexico in the 1940s.
The coming of age novel that is today recognized as a classic of Chicano literature explores themes of identity, religion, family, and culture. In 2012 the drama that centered on the relationship between a young boy, and an elderly medicine woman who helps him contend with the battle between good and evil that rages in his village was made into a movie.
Lots of lessons have been learned over the course of the past sixty five years. Counted among those lessons is the realization that learning leads to an awareness about how little I know. A recent introduction to the work of Rudolfo Anaya is but one example.
A few weeks ago I was attending a conference in Vail, Colorado. My presentation was about the twisted path that lead to the writing of numerous books, the creation of Jim Hinckley’s America, and how Route 66 was the thread that tied it all together.
At the conferences cocktail hour I met Ray Lucero of the Katie Adamson Conservation Fund, and a discussion about Route 66 ensued as he was from Albuquerque. As it turned out he also had a connection with Santa Rosa, New Mexico, a Route 66 community known for the legendary Blue Hole.
His uncle was Rudolfo Anya who spent his childhood in Santa Rosa. The town figures prominently in Bless Me, Ultima. And along an alignment of Route 66 near the city’s beautiful lake in Bless Me Ultima Park is a life-sized statue of Rudolfo Anaya designed and sculpted by Reynaldo Rivera that was dedicated in 2008.
With a bit of embarrassment I had to admit my ignorance about Anaya. I vaguely knew the name and had heard about his novel. That oversight is being rectified as I have ordered a copy of his famous novel.
According to Britannica, Anaya was born in Pastura, New Mexico, in 1937, but spent some childhood years in Santa Rosa. In those years the traffic that flowed along Route 66 ensured diversity and vibrancy even in small rural communities. And that obviously influenced Anaya’s imagination and curiosity about the world.
Anya’s statue is only one feature that honors the authors work. In the park there is a brick wall with a bas relief showcasing a detailed depiction of scenes from the Bless Me, Ultima story. It is an illustrated map of Santa Rosa on the Pecos River.
Pa always told me that if a man wasn’t careful, he would learn something new every day. He was right. I was in Colorado to learn about trends in technology, for networking, and for some inispiration. And I learned about a fascinating author, an interesting conservation organization with a Route 66 connection, and I was given another reason to visit Santa Rosa.
If you are ever in New Mexico motoring west, or east, on iconic Route 66, I highly recommend a stop in Santa Rosa and a visit to this beautiful park. It is a great way to learn more about Anaya and his novel. And it is an opportunity to learn more about an amzing little town that is simply known as the home of the Blue Hole.
That’s all for this week. But Jim HInckley’s America is built on my gift for telling people where to go, and my passion for sharing America’s story. So, rest assured, I will be telling more sotries in future posts.