Palabras Pintorescas - History in the making

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By Editha Bartley

Yes, that was me you saw roaming through our pasture, following leader dog, Tinta, recently. We continue to investigate and try to figure out what is going on with our almost summertime weather (the very warm temperatures) and the lack of snow in our vast mountain chain. Sometimes I wonder if this is the start of yet another dust bowl. Ken Burns surely did a masterful job portraying the last one recently on PBS channel.

And, much to my surprise, last week’s KFUN history lesson with Jesus Lopez and his guest, Dorothy Simpson, had a lengthy discussion about my illustrious father, Doc Gellenthien, and my birth place, Valmora Sanatorium, that hospital complex just four miles down the Mora River from Watrous. Dorothy wrote, “Hovels, Haciendas and Housecalls,” the book about my father. We often visit about the many stories that were left out of the book (it would take a thousand pages to recount all of them!) She told Jesus a story about how Doc cured her daughter who had a sore throat. He didn’t look at her throat. He quickly figured out she was bluffing (as most kids like to do) so he opened up his big desk drawer, pulled out a lollipop and told her she was cured.

Obviously old doctors can’t be fooled, and our three kids quickly learned that lesson as well.

Doc was a student of healing all his life. He never, ever questioned any kind of alternative healing and often suggested to a patient that was self-medicating with old fashioned remedies to continue, along with the prescribed medications he recommended.

Doc visited St. Anne de Beaupres shrine in Canada when he was at Saranac Lake early in his career. He walked the stations of the cross there and came away with a real sense of healing.

I have walked both the Lourdes, France and St. Anne stations of the cross as well, and have walked the true route of Jerusalem, and I know there is something magical, something healing there. I also know many of our long-term tuberculosis patients would walk up to the Valmora spring where the fresh water bubbled out from the massive rock cliffs there. They always felt a sense of healing there. How I wish those rocks would talk! Dustbowls, flood, fires, they have survived thorough so many threatening events.

Doc would tell you healing is an art, but the healing has to begin with you. If you think you will get well, you have just increased your chances by a lot.

And now this holiday time of the year I love to visit our very old, beautiful adobe churches, now decorated for Christmas. The glow of many candles, the fresh scent of pine, spruce and fir boughs, and the beautiful saints dressed in their finest always paint a picture of hope, peace and healing with me. And in case you hadn’t noticed living in northern New Mexico. May the snowstorms come soon and congrats to Jesus on his weekly history lessons, both in print and on the radio. You always make history fun, and that is what counts.

Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.