By Mary Davis

The story about the group photographed standing by the Territorial House in the
Dec. 9, 2022 Comment elicited more information and connections. Alpha
Russell named others in the photograph and how they came to be meeting at the
Territorial House. She recalled that the ones in the red shirts were part of an event
called the Corrales Cross Country Horse Race that started at the Territorial House,
looped through Corrales and returned to the Territorial House. The date was either
late 1972 or 1973 since Alpha helped organize the race soon after she settled in
Corrales in 1972.

A smiling Alpha stands second from left; beyond her are Arnold Bodmer,
John Dagucon (seated), and Chip Brenn. Next to Brenn is an unidentified child
and the three people identified by Pat Windisch—Diana Matheson’s boyfriend
(unfortunately still nameless), Pat, and Tommy Gentry. In front of them in the blue
shirt is Leo Korte. Alpha agreed with Pat that the children in front were Jesse
Rodefer, Tommy Gentry Jr., and Ben Rodefer. She also corrected my misspelling
of Rodefer. Alpha recalled that Arnold Bodmer was Swiss and a pianist, and that
John and Arnold played in Frank Larrabee’s band. She added that Chip Brenn
married Helen Steiner, who had previously been married to Frank Steiner. Frank
later owned Sunbelt Landscape (their son now owns it). More connections: Frank
was quoted in the Dec. 27 Comment article about the lack of senior living
facilities in Corrales.

Alpha Russell still lives in Corrales; for many years she gave lessons,
trained, coached and showed her own and customers’ horses. She was also the
staff photographer for the Rio Rancho Observer for a long time. She has been
active in the national Appaloosa Horse Club and is currently serving as the Stall
Manager for the Club’s National Show and their World show next fall.

Then came a second piece of Corrales history! Jen Northrup said the article
reminded her of an LP she owned, the cover of which shows The Big River Boys
band standing in front of the Territorial House where the record was recorded. The
album is now part of the CHS archives. The members of the band were Wayne
Shrubsall (banjo), Joe De Mar (mandolin), Hans Kayser (guitar and dobro), Don
Cooke (fiddle) and Lance Quadri (bass). They all did vocals. In an unexpected and
delightful connection, the designer of the album as well as its photographer was
Alpha Russell!

So, more connections to the people who helped write the Corrales story.

Connections are what history is all about. I learned this at my job in
Albuquerque that was all about history, not huge swaths of world or national
history but the story of that community. I absorbed local history through recording
the city’s historic buildings and learning about the people who lived and worked
there over the decades—figures like Mayor Clyde Tingley, rancher Salvador
Armijo, Judge John Simms, truck farmer Herman Blueher, grocer Alessandro
Matteucci, merchant Juan Cristobal Armijo, architects Charles Whittlesey and
Kate Nichols Chavez and many more—men and women who helped write the
story of Albuquerque. I enjoyed connecting current Albuquerque citizens to the
places connected to the lives of these earlier citizens through house tours, maps,
photograph exhibits, and books. I became convinced that knowing a community’s
history—connecting past and present, people and places—can lead to valuing and
loving it.

After I retired I was asked to survey Corrales buildings and their history, and
that led to getting to know the owners, individuals whose families helped create
our Corrales story. Corrales became for me not just a village of “galleries, shops,
restaurants, pubs” but a unique and treasured home, filled with connections to
places and people and their stories.

Information provided by Corrales Historical Society (CHS) Archives Committee. Want to learn more? Visit for all the exciting things the Historical Society has to offer. New CHS members are always welcome—find the connections!

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