Saturday, August 15, 2015

~ In Search of POP25 ~

" I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude" ~ Henry David Thoreau

Sebastian C. Griego, Blue Crossing CCC Camp about 1935.

It was never my idea to find the very spot where dad took the picture in front of petroglyphs seventy-five years ago that can be seen on page 25 of Los Griegos de La Joya.  

One night around the campfire at the Lone Pine Campground we began talking about our Family Book which had just been published.  Gilbert said, "Wouldn't it be cool if we took a picture in the very same spot where dad stood in front of those petroglyphs?"  I said "yes", but privately I did not feel it was possible.  It would be like finding a needle in a haystack blindfolded, with one arm tied behind your back. 

As we continued with our ride to Mammoth Lakes and Piute Ridge in April 2010, I slowly began to think about his question.  I decided then that it would be an admirable goal.  It was Gilbert's idea yet, this goal turned into my destiny.

Sebastian C. Griego (top left) at the Blue Crossing CCC Camp, 1935.

On my recent trip to the La Joya Fiestas in September 2010, I decided that I would find this exact spot.  I made a video documentary of that trip which was exciting but I did not find the location despite having many archeologists throughout New Mexico helping me.  I had many leads and I followed them all throughout New Mexico beginning with the ghost town of Chloride at the base of the Continental Divide, then onto the CCC camp at Elephant Butte, Truth or Consequences, Silver City, Gila Cliffs Dwellings National Monument, Glenwood, Apache Creek, and Reserve.   

When I stopped by the US Forest Service office in Reserve, New Mexico, Jeanne Schofer, an archaeologist met me; she had the picture of dad.  She had heard about me, and my motorcycle trip throughout New Mexico in search of petroglyphs.  She called it my "quest" and wanted to help. While I found thousands of petroglyphs, I did not find the exact ones.

After traveling some 2,600 miles, I went home without finding the exact spot.

Three days after I got home, I received an email from Peter Taylor, an archaeologist with the US Forest Service in Alpine, Arizona.  His message clearly said that he found the exact spot where the petroglyphs are located -- just between Alpine, Arizona, and Luna, New Mexico.  

Officially, it is called site AR0301010081 on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.  


Today there is a small country school called the Blue School which is on the site where the old CCC camp was located.  Without hesitation, Gilbert and I left California for Alpine, Arizona.  We followed his directions precisely:  "....go 3 miles east past Alpine, turn right and go south on a dirt road called Blue River Road for 19 miles.  At the end, cross a stream and you will find the Blue Crossing Campground.We crossed the stream cautiously with our bikes.  "At the campground, go north through a gate and the rocks before you are these exact petroglyphs that you are looking for" were Peter Taylor's words.   

I was excited but cautiously optimistic.

Robert Griego with a picture of our dad.

We did as Peter Taylor said, and although we were covered in dust after 19 miles on the dirt road, we found the exact spot (October 13, 2010) where dad had his picture taken.  We named our journey, "In Search of POP25" which means "Picture On Page 25" of our Family Book.  

In 1935, there were 200 men living at the Blue Crossing CCC camp where they worked hard for $30 a month building roads, campgrounds, bridges, lookout towers, and buildings for the US Forest Service and National Park Service.  Dad would be required by his contract to send home $25 monthly to help his family back in La Joya, New Mexico.  The CCC program was started by President Roosevelt to put millions of young men to work after the great depression.  

Thank you, Mr. Roosevelt.  

We believe that dad was working on the Blue Crossing Campground when he had his picture taken at the young age of 25.  Perhaps he sent the picture to his sister, Tita, and his mother, Alejandra Griego.  The picture was found in the New Mexico house that belonged to Tita [Griego] and Carlos Cordova who both passed long ago but not forgotten. 

Gilbert and Robert Griego.

They say that every picture tells a story and I made a video to document our efforts of this picture taken 75 years ago, and to celebrate with you the "Picture On Page 25" of Los Griegos de La Joya.

It was Gilbert's idea that turned into my destiny, A Ride into the Past, to honor these young men who helped build many of the roads, bridges, campgrounds that we still use today.

Sebastian C. Griego (picture below) is in the front row, kneeling, second from the left.  He appears to be holding something in his right hand.  It is likely his letter home with the pictures of the petroglyphs taken at the Blue Crossing Camp that day long ago and of course $25.  I can only imagine how happy his sister and mother must have been to hear from him.

Sebastian C. Griego, front row, second from left.

Yes, it was Gilbert's idea yet, this goal turned into my destiny. Two brothers have one common goal.

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