RIO GRANDE SAND IN YOUR SHOES
I knew that marrying a doctor would involve a life filled with caring and concern for others, and with some hardship and uncertainty along the way. I also saw it as a life filled with adventure. Dr. Sam Ziegler provided me and our family with all of this, for his was a life guided by a true sense of compassion and purpose. During World War II, we were a transitory family at first, managing endless moves from Ohio to Georgia and then California with our two young sons. Eventually, Sam was ordered overseas. He served as a medical officer in the Philippines and later in Japan, during the Occupation. While Sam was overseas, I stayed in California with my parents and our children.
Sam’s entire tour of duty seemed to renew a deep-seated aspiration to devote his life and medical career to mission work. Much of this purpose was inspired by the work of his father, Rev. Samuel G. Ziegler, General Secretary of Foreign Missions for the United Brethren Church. Sam had often talked about Africa and the mission work of David Livingstone and Albert Schweitzer. Coincidentally, Sam’s father mentioned in several of his letters a great need for medical care in northern New Mexico. He told Sam that Arthur and Phoebe Pack of Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu were interested in building a hospital in the area under the supervision of the United Brethren Church.
While still overseas, Sam received yet another letter from his father saying the Packs were very serious about building a hospital, and noted that the site would be in a “frontier area of the old west.” Sam’s interest seemed to grow, and after his discharge from the service, we agreed to meet the Packs to discuss the creation of a much needed hospital facility.
It was clear to me that the opportunity being offered to Sam was very important to him. He could not contain his enthusiasm when telling me that here was a chance to be of service in a meaningful way and to play a major role in the development of a community hospital from its inception. It would also allow him to establish his own practice in an area vitally in need of medical services. Sam said we would be going to a small town called Española. He qualified this statement by saying that the town was located just “north of Santa Fe.”
I was not certain the challenge offered Sam was as inviting to the other members of the Ziegler family! The village of Española I saw in 1946, on our first trip west, was a small assemblage of several cantinas, a gas station or two, one mercantile and one small grocery. This was a very different community from the one to which I was accustomed, having grown up in the college town of Westerville, Ohio. We then met with Arthur and Phoebe Pack. Their enthusiasm for the hospital project and their sense of well-being in the area provided me with a more positive outlook for our future.
The tale that unfolds in this book emerged from our decision to settle in Española. Over the years, Sam and I became involved not only with the hospital, but also with the community of Española and the surrounding area, and we had many adventures and came to know many wonderful people along the way. We often considered writing a memoir, and we finally commenced this work in 1987 with the help of our son, Norman, and his wife, Judy. That memoir became the story of our families and of our upbringing, with much about our lives before coming to New Mexico. It was first printed in June of 1999 in a limited private edition under the title For The Soul Is Dead That Slumbers.*
Sam is now gone, having passed away in July of 2000. Since his death, I have been concerned with shortening that large original volume to a manageable size suitable for the general reader, with a focus on our lives and activities in Española and northern New Mexico. However, I did not really know how to get started. The task seemed daunting to me all by myself. My son, Norman, who had worked so hard pulling the original Memoir together, said he now needed time to devote to his own family and work. The Memoir thus sat dormant for some time.
Over a year ago now, two good friends, Hal and Mary Beth Shymkus, who were interested in the history of northern New Mexico and Rio Arriba, read the original 660-page Memoir. They learned of my desire to rework the material, and while at lunch one day, casually inquired if I were still interested. I said that I was. Hal and Mary Beth then offered to help. They were both genuinely interested in the work, and felt that it made a real contribution to the history of our area. They also believed that the material itself and the story it told were worthy of publication.
I then contacted Norman to ask how he felt about this development. He was busy working full-time and much involved with his own family in Denver, Colorado. He said that it would be fine for us to proceed ahead. He would need to be involved again only with the final reworking of the text, after selection had been made of material to be included.
So began a long labor with Hal and Mary Beth. I was delighted to work with them. I knew something of Hal’s background in journalism. He had been the editor of a local newspaper in his hometown in Illinois, and for many years advertising director for a large company by the name of Cummins in Columbus, Indiana. In addition, he had done a good deal of fiction and non-fiction writing for publications such as Sports Afield, Field & Stream, and New Mexico Magazine. Mary Beth herself had a professional background as a marketing and public relations director. I felt I would be in good hands working with them.
At Hal’s direction, I provided him and Mary Beth with copies of the material from the original Memoir which focused on our lives and activities in New Mexico. They read through this material once again and chose sections they felt were most important and interesting. When their initial work was complete, they brought this material to me, and we began to meet weekly and sometimes twice a week, for several hours at a time. We decided early on, at Hal’s suggestion, that the edited book should speak with one voice only, which would be mine. The original work speaks with two voices, Sam’s and mine, as we both had much to say from our own perspectives. Mary Beth was wonderful throughout all our discussions in making notes and providing reasoned judgments about what material should be included.
These edited chapters were then typed into a “coherent” book with which I could work. Annie Lovato, an attractive young woman whom I had met, helped with this initial work and also typed a more finished manuscript. Annie was working as a pharmacy technician while pursuing her degree in pharmacy, but she found time to help and was very dependable and capable.
Another person who came to my aid was my great-grandson, Patrick Day. He is a handsome and intelligent fourteen year-old who solved my computer problems about how to handle the manuscript. Patrick also joined in some of the early proofing of the material being typed.
With a “revised” manuscript in hand, I then contacted Norman again with questions about how to proceed from this point. He was now in a different place in his life and said he would be happy to help get the book ready for publication. We worked steadily together, mostly by computer and e-mail, over the next several months. There was still a good deal of reworking and editing of material to be done, along with the final polishing of the writing itself. This was really Norman’s work to do, because he had put so much work into the original chapters and he knew the material so well.
The volume at hand offers a picture of Sam’s and my activities as we settled in Española and became involved with the community and its people, with whom we have been privileged to be associated over these many years. My hope is that this work offers a contribution to the historical literature of northern New Mexico, and recognizes many of the people who have contributed to its development.