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Monday, March 8, 2021

Tales of An Old Adobe

Our city has a little neighboring village to the south, Mesilla, or as we say here, "Old Mesilla." It actually butts up against Las Cruces, but has its own governance, post office, police force, and so on. Mesilla is what I like to call a "mixed" area. It has a few million-dollar homes, many expensive homes, a wonderful tourist square anchored by San Albino Basilica (shown in an earlier post) and then what could be called shacks on a good day.

Now, that has made me think of the song "Once in a Lifetime" by the Talking Heads. One line goes, "And you may find youself living in a shotgun shack." Well, I'd LOVE to live in a little shotgun house, but a nicely finished one, thank you, not a shack.

One problem is that since most structures are very old, the place is a historic district, with strict and crazy rules. It's hard to improve homes for those on a budget, so they fall more and more into disrepair as they are passed down generation from generation. As that song then says, "Same as it ever was, same as it ever was."

The building where I worked before COVID hit has been everything from a jail to a tortilla factory and was built in the 1830's. Now it's a snotty "media" company. I had no idea, when I interviewed, that the structure DID NOT CONTAIN A BATHROOM OR ANY RUNNING WATER. Nor did it have cooling or heating, because the systems broke and the owners would not pay to repair them. 

Adobes have thick, thick walls, but thick walls are not enough when it is 105 degrees out or 30 degrees out. It was miserable, winter and summer.

Inside, the ceiling was palm fronds held in by vigas -- big pine beams. The fronds rained down stuff all the time. Dry rot, I guess. And roaches. Cockroaches. The walls were whitewashed adobe, and the floor was bricks, no mortar, just old bricks on dirt. The floor was like a topographical map, with hills and valleys, a couple of cliffs, and was very difficult to walk on. Windows were old glass beginning to sag, etched with the memories of hundreds of strong dust storms. I couldn't find what, but something was eating the adobe inside, by the corners of the windows. They would eat it, and leave tiny round balls of adobe mud. I mean tiny, tiny spheres, like non-pariels you find on candy, but even smaller. Adobe is reinforced mud, if you've forgotten. 

It was haunted, of course. The first thing I felt when I arrived there was that a back portion of the building had an unusual presence, an unhappy presence. And I'll say no more lest someone get scared. Seriously. I will save that tale for autumn. 

Some old, old structures I would love to redo as a home, but not that one. It was just too far gone inside.

Here are a couple of pictures I took of the building. I hung the ristras up when I worked there (long ropes of dried chiles). I so dreaded the outhouse, the second picture. It was just awful. Yet sometimes I would take pity on tourists, ladies of a certain age, who most urgently asked me if they could go in...even an outhouse is better than nothing! They'd often shriek, however, when a denizen of the foul room would scurry out within their line of vision. And the awful windows, very nerve-wracking in a bathroom.

old building in mesilla new mexico adobe

outhouse in old mesilla new mexico


And speaking of jobs, today was the first day of my new job, once again as a legal secretary, and I will say no more at this time! Except that I am grateful to have a job.

Anyone else ever work in a weird or haunted structure?

Kind regards,

Holly, The Merry Olde Dame


21 comments :

  1. It looks like a jail in a movie!

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    1. It used to be a jail! I part of why it has a bad vibe! Woo hoo, lunch hour for this working lady! Visiting the blogs!

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  2. Hope your first day goes well. That other place you described... I think I'll pass on that! -Jenn

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    1. I like strange stuff but it was too uncomfortable! But then I think of the desert pioneers who lived there. Tough people.

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  3. Oh you were braver than me no way could I work in that place.
    I hope your first day went well and you are enjoying your job.
    Cathy

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    1. Thank you Cathy, the first days of a job I always find difficult. Then it gets better! Hope your day is going well!

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  4. Hope all goes well for you and that you have a good first day. Not sure that the place you describe would have suited me...scary times!

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    1. Thank you, MM. I am very grateful to have a job. It was a scary place, not the least because I was scared I'd fall on the wavy floor and break a hip!

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  5. I can't wait for your story in the fall. Some buildings definitely leave one with a bad feeling.

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    1. So right, Emma. There is a vibe in most places, good or bad!

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  6. No, never worked in a haunted facility, but some homes I've been in seemed "out of normal".

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  7. You are going to make us wait, till Halloween???????

    Oh no!

    You just can't be that cruel!

    Please... Please... Please... Pretty please... Don't make us wait that long, to tell us, of the haunted part.

    Please....

    Gentle hugs,
    💮 💮 🎀 💮 💮

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  8. And Preservation Groups are all well and good. But when their Rules, make the buildings with in their jurisdiction, fall down for want of renewing.... They are beyond ridiculous!!!

    Gentle hugs,
    💮 💮 🎀 💮 💮

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  9. I hope your first day went well and that the rest of the people who work there are nice. I'd hate to work with unpleasant co-workers.

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  10. Our antique store is haunted. Cannot wait until Autumn for your ghost story as I love them! Goof luck at your new job. Janice

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  11. I'm hoping your new job has started well in a building that has running water and flush toilets.
    You always have the best stories!!!

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  12. Thank you for the pictures. Your bit of the country is so foreign and romantic to me. Outhouse notwithstanding.

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  13. Please make a "practice" run on the story....you can "re-run" it in the fall!!! There is an old mansion not too far from us that has a story and history unto itself (the TB Scott Mansion). It has fascinated me since I first saw it as a child and then captivated me when I learned its "full story." I did a post on it several years ago....And a few weeks back, learned it is slated for demolition. Such a wretched shame. It was built with the very finest of craftsmanship from Europe, and now to be demolished....because it was "cursed" and to escape the curse, was deeded to some nuns, who in turn gave it to a hospital that did not keep its promises and let the place go to ruin. Sorry to have digressed...but your mention of curses...and of old homes that are neglected in historic districts....combined in the perfect storm of my memories. Hardest day of the new job down....it's only going to get easier from here. ~Robin~

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  14. Oh my.. please share the spooky story with us. Autumn is long , long away.

    The area you live is much different in the style and structure of homes from my Wisconsin. I am enjoying learning from you.
    Continue on with more stories please. :-)

    I am excited to hear more about your new job.

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  15. I left a long comment and it disappeared. I'm frustrated, and will be back soon after I get something hot (like coffee) to drink.

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  16. I even took a short nap and feel much better. First, I hope you like your new job. I realize the first few days can be confusing, but I hope you have great co-workers and bosses.

    I feel sorry for what you had to go through in your last job. I worked in a factory for years and in summer the temperature inside the building was stifling. Add to that the heat generated off the machines made it even worse. At least we had clean indoor plumbing and access to a cold water fountain.

    I loved the door on that building. It is beautiful. It's too bad Historical Societies and building codes can be so restrictive. There should be some allowances, but I am well aware of the added cost when you start a project. We voted on a bond for updating schools in my city and a couple of the schools were on the National, State, and City Historical Registry. The schools were all upgraded to include air conditioning. The windows in one of the schools had to be replaced because the old ones leaked so much, the AC would have gone outside. Th windows had to meet a certain historical code. They had to look the same as the old windows, but had to function with a certain R value. I thought of that when I saw a photo of the building you worked in. How very expensive just replacing the old windows would cost.

    Again, I look forward to learning more about your new job and how well you like/dislike it.

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