Sunday, November 22, 2020

Men in Hats - Part Two

Joe Graves joins Juma Archuletta in this week’s edition of Men in Hats. Each of these special men left a gaping void in our little burg. By burg I mean Taos, NM.

Joe was a real mountain man, a self-reliant man of the earth. He was born in Carson, NM on what we Taoseños call the West Rim. It’s said that his father was born in Abiquiu, Georgia Keefe’s New Mexico home. There’s damn near nothing in Carson; a post office, an on again off again convenience store and the stone one room schoolhouse where Joe must have gone to grammar school. He was part cowboy, part miner, part craftsmen and a renowned water witch. He was also a born again Christian and a gentle soul. And at the same time Joe was a tough son of a bitch. According to his friend Lindsey Enderby, himself an epic Taos character, on one occasion Joe pulled his own abscessed tooth, carved a facsimile out of wood, and tied it in with fishing line. It’s safe to say there were no anesthetics involved. I was relieved to hear that when he had the money Joe replaced the temporary with a real chopper he bought in Puerto Palomas, Mexico. Dental tourism is the life blood of Palomas as I learned a year ago on a visit to Columbus, NM on the US side of the border. Columbus is best known as the site of a 1916 raid by Pancho Villa. And in 2011 the town made national news when federal helicopters swooped down to arrest Mayor Eddie Espinoza, the police chief and nine others for smuggling guns to drug cartels in Mexico.

Juma was my barber and good friend. He was the unofficial mayor of Taos whose barber shop was the place to catch up on the latest gossip. He was a bon vivant, a raconteur, a patron of the arts and an astute observer of the political world. At opening time (7am by the way) you'd see him ensconced in a barber chair with the New York Times spread before him. His shop was a bastion of manly men, irreverent commentary and of neatly stacked magazines of, ahem, educational value. Whenever I was away from Taos for more than a couple of weeks my ritual was an early morning visit to Juma’s for a cut and, more importantly, the latest on the murky world of Taos politics. Juma always knew who did what to whom and why they did it weeks before made the Taos News. I swear he could predict the future.

Juma, full name Emiliano Juma Archuleta also known as Raoul, chose to be a barber right out of high school in Animas, Colorado and pursued that dream in Denver in the early sixties.  He told me he had to get the hell out of Animas. He declared several times that he'd fold his tent when he had completed fifty years of barbering. He wanted to retire on his own terms, but the cancer didn't accommodate the dream. I had wanted to document the waning days of Juma’s shop aka Raoul’s Brotherhood of Love and floated the idea several times. Because he had been given a terminal cancer diagnosis, he worried that the story would really be about his decline and imminent demise, so he demurred, and I didn't press. 

And, credit where credit is due, he was one heck of a barber. He recounts that right out of barber school he went to work for a barber in a Denver hotel, maybe The Ambassador, and that he “was lucky” because his boss was “ a good cutter.” Gotta love the lingo. Juma was a really good cutter and a better friend.

Come to think of it I never saw Joe or Juma without a hat. Male pattern baldness may have been a factor.


Blacks Crossing said...

It was heartwarming to see both Joe Graves and Juma in Men in Hats - Part Two. Joe Graves witched our well and endeared himself to us by actually finding water. Your first photograph of Juma is superb - both in style and the way you rendered it. I suppose I have seen it before, or perhaps not. Regardless, it was a treat. Love your continuing story series for Shadow and Light, of which we get snippets here. The lives of these two men are fascinating! Muchas gracias, Amigo! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, regardless of where you are and how you spend it.

Steve Immel said...

Yeah, you've seen both of these guys in freestanding stories dating back as much as ten years. This series gives me a chance to link a dozen hatted men into an article for S&L which will be called Men in Hats. Truth be told I haven't been photographing all that much and this an easy article since the text has written and I have all the images in a folder.

BrainMan said...

Juma was my friend and barber for 30 years, from the time I was in college until he moved to Taos. He was excellent at his job, and I missed him so much after he moved that one day I dropped some acid and drove to Taos from Denver just to get a haircut. Of course, he didn't know I was coming, but when I surprised him and arrived he would have nothing short of having me for dinner and stay as a guest in his house that evening. Speaking of acid, he regularly kept me supplied for free- kind of odd, as he had all kinds of people, from policeman to freaks come to his shop. I miss him dearly, and keep a photo of him in his shop next to my desk. -NS

Elle Graves said...

I'm Joe's youngest Daughter. You captured Dad so well in these photos. Thank you for taking the time to Photograph him. You were very accurate in your words about him. I never heard my Dad even raise his voice, he was the gentlest person I've ever met, and also the toughest.