Our kids often heard that old expression: “Good things often come in small packages.” Yes, good things do come in small packages, and in this instance it is a book by a local author, and it is hot off the press, as they say.
“Blessings in Disguise” by our own well-known radio and community activist, J.P. Baca, is a must-read for anyone who wants to know more about many facets of our town, Las Vegas. This was not an easy book for Baca to write, I'm sure. He pours his heart out as he traces his early life here in the 1950s as a kid, through many almost tumultuous years as he became an adult, and always chasing a very elusive rainbow.
We learn about the struggles of a difficult life, and about the rewards that blessings, faith and hard work bring to families. Many of us, when confronted with seemingly insurmountable hurdles would have thrown in the towel, as they say, and quit. Not J.P.! He just kept marching, pushing on, picking himself up until he saw the light, the rewards and success only hard work and faith can bring to the ultimate goals in one’s life.
My neighbor and friend, Alma Gregory (who also writes for various publications) recently noted in a letter to the Optic that she valued the more-or-less historical columns Art Trujillo, Jesus Lopez, Rock Ulibarri and I wrote for the paper because they painted a picture of this Las Vegas area for her, a picture of the earlier years that molded our community into something unique. I agree with her. These columns give very different perspectives of an era a stranger in our midst would not have otherwise.
Oh, my — there is lots of history here, and the more of it we can record, the better, I say, for the generations yet to come. J.P. Baca's “Blessings in Disguise” must be added to this list of recorded history and events here as seen through many different eyes.
Someone said this book is a fast read, and yes, it is, partly because as you meet a very young boy who grew up in impoverished and seemingly impossible circumstances, you become immersed in that old idea: “What's next for J.P.?” For me that translates into, “I'll just read one more chapter tonight” and suddenly, three hours later I'm reading the very last chapter and saying “Wow!” This was no easy book to write, in so many different ways. And now I know J.P. was one of that horde of little kids that skated relentlessly almost every night on our fabulous Montezuma skating pond so long ago. My husband, Jim, was one of the 20-30 Club members who maintained the ice through all sorts of severe weather conditions, and he helped build the long lost cabin where skaters could warm up. This was a 20-30 Club project, not a JayCee project, but lots of the JayCees skated with all of us back then. I know J.P. will agree we do need our skating pond refurbished once again.
“Blessings in Disguise” needs to be a required reading for every high school student here and around the state, for that matter. There is a deeper meaning that takes front and center stage in this story, and if even just one student learns to turn his/her life around, it is worth it. I hope educators will pick up a copy, then suggest that schools use it as a teaching tool.
And, if you'd like to visit the Bacas in person, stop by during the afternoon on Saturday, Sept. 17 at Tome on the Range for a book-signing party.
Yes, we all have a story, and this one is pretty nifty, as the kid would say.
Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.