Sunday, March 24, 2024

Eddie's Rosemary


As we walked to the Albuquerque Museum from the Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town we strolled along the east wall of the hotel and spied the largest rosemary bush in the Western Hemisphere or so it seemed. As we ogled the 20-foot-wide behemoth a sturdy Hispanic gentleman in a crisp uniform with the name Heritage Hotels on his shirt stopped for a visit. At first our conversation was about the about the huge rosemary plant and how it could flourish against a wall and six inches above a dirt path lined with river stones. We wondered how much water the plant must take. Eddie told us that “We water it three times a day during the summer. I installed a drip system that has valves that spread the water over the whole plant.”

Eddie and his epic Rosemary

We asked Eddie if he headed up the landscaping at the hotel and the Hotel Chaco next door. He said, “No. I’m the number two man. My boss is a younger guy who gives orders but doesn’t do any real work.”

He told us he started landscaping as a teenager in Bernalillo just north of Albuquerque. We guessed Eddie was sixty or give or take. So, he’d been gardening and landscaping for more than forty years. Eddie knew his plants and his pride in his work was palpable. Eddie was a gentleman.

“My wife left me when my kids were little. I couldn’t take care of them and work to support us. So, my folks let me build a little house behind theirs and my mom took care of the children. She was a saint.”

“My mom liked to gamble so I’d take her to play the slots at the Santa Ana Star Casino in Bernalillo. That’s where we always went. I’d take her gambling because that’s what she loved to do the most. One time I had a hot streak where I won $2,500 on the slots and almost immediately I won another $5,000. It was crazy. I always gave her half so she could keep playing. The same thing happened in Bingo, and she got half. She deserved it for everything she did for me.”

He pointed at all the properties nearby that were owned by Heritage Hotels and it was everything in sight. “The owner Mr. Long wants to build another hotel across the street. We just opened The Clyde in the old Hilton downtown. And he owns El Monte Sagrado in Taos and the Inn at Loretto in Santa Fe. He owns a lot of first-class hotels all over New Mexico. We keep growing. He’s the real deal.”

We commented that we knew the properties and that they were the top hotels in each town.

“Yeah. Mr. Long knows what he wants and has the savvy and bucks to make it happen. He wants his properties to be the best. He’s demanding boss but it’s good to be part of something you can proud of.”

As I’ve noted many times in these pages, a first brief encounter can lead to a life story or an intimate snippet. It’s a miracle of sorts. How Eddie went from describing how he cares for the giant rosemary bush to sharing a nugget from his life is a mystery. There was no segue from botany to single parenthood. Yet the most important thing bubbles up to a total stranger. Unprompted and guileless.

It has happened dozens of times and counting.

1 comment:

Blacks Crossing said...

Thanks for this morning's brief encounter blog, and for sharing Eddie's beautiful face and smile with us. We know that rosemary well, having spent ample time at the Hotel Albuquerque during yearly tango festivals. Never saw him on those weekends but I am certainly glad you did and got some of the story of him and his mother, the saint indeed with a penchant for gambling. Eddie's face indicates he shares and you captured that beautifully.