Submitted to the Optic
Rosita Gallegos, a native of Las Vegas for more than 70 years, celebrated her 104th birthday on Sunday, June 26.
A party was held in her honor at Vida Encantada Nursing and Rehab Center where she resides. More than 70 friends and family members gathered for the celebration. She was serenaded by Juan Ortega with the traditional birthday song, “Las Mañanitas,” as well as other Spanish songs. A luncheon buffet of Mexican food was served.
She was born in Canyon Largo, N.M., in 1907 – five years before New Mexico became a state. She has many memories and stories about growing up in a large family on the ranch.
The family worked and lived off the land, growing fruits and vegetables to can and dehydrate for winter. There wasn't much schooling in those days, so her parents also served as her teachers.
Hard work and honestly were the rule of those days. Rosita rode horses, learned how to sew, garden, chop wood, tend to the farm animals and even worked for the government.
When Rosita, or Rose, as she is called, was 15, she promised to wait for her future husband when his family moved to Montana. They saw each other occasionally after that, when his family traveled to Maes, N.M., to visit relatives. Many love letters were exchanged before Juan Isidro Gallegos arrived in Maes, with a large trunk full of kitchen and household items for his future wife. Juan and Rose were married on Feb. 10, 1935, in Wagon Mound, across the river from the family ranch. The trip by wagon was not an easy one. February can be cold and snowy — making the trip long. After three days of celebrations they were bound for life.
They built a house in Maes and started a family. They loved living close to relatives and friends, but they wanted their children to get an education — forcing them to relocate to the city. Las Vegas soon became their new home. While Juan worked at International Harvester on Railroad Avenue, Rosita got to work on building a house — and a house she built, one that started with one room and after a few years included several bedrooms and two kitchens – one with a wood burning stove and the other with a modern gas.
The family thanks the employees of Vida Encantada and Rosita's great-granddaughter, Pereece Gallegos who baked the birthday cake.