OVERHAUL: A History of Albuquerque's Locomotive Repair Shop
Historian Richard Flint shares how Albuquerque’s, expansive, now abandoned locomotive repair shops were once a driving force in the city’s economy and crucial in developing a middle class.
Frederick Hammersley Foundation.
New Mexico PBS Great Southwestern Arts & Education
Endowment Fund at the Albuquerque Community Foundation
...and Viewers Like You.
THIS TIME, ON COLORES!
HISTORIAN RICHARD FLINT SHARES HOW ALBUQUERQUE'S,
EXPANSIVE, NOW ABANDONDED LOCOMOTIVE REPAIR SHOPS
WERE ONCE A DRIVING FORCE IN THE CITY'S ECONOMY AND
CRUCIAL IN DEVELOPING A MIDDLE CLASS.
FROM VANDALISM TO ART FORM, THE MUSEUM OF GRAFFITI
PRESENTS THE EVOLUTION OF THE GENRE'S UNDENIABLE IMPACT.
CUBAN CARICATURIST AND PUBLISHER CONRADO WALTER
MASSAGUER LEFT AN INDELIBLE RECORD.
"SHE'S CRAZY: MENTAL HEALTH AND OTHER MYTHS",
USING THEATER TO SPEAK OUT ABOUT THE STIGMA
SURROUNDING MENTAL HEALTH.
IT'S ALL AHEAD ON COLORES!
OVERHAUL, KEEPING LOCOMOTIVES ON THE TRACKS.
>>Megan Kamerick: Thank you so much for joining us here on
The founding of the Albuquerque locomotive
repair shop in 1880 was a pivotal point in history.
How did it change this place?
>>Richard Flint: The big change was the arrival of
a completely different way of life.
Albuquerque until that point had been a very
small farming village.
Maybe 600 people maximum and when the shops arrived
in 1880, because they arrived with the train,
I mean they had to have service immediately.
An entirely different way of life arrived along with it so an
industrial way of life that was completely new to New Mexico.
>>Megan: So that's almost overnight this happens and
what does that mean for the people's way of life,
their standard of living?
>>Richard: Boy, well it was different for
different people because some people, some few,
really at the beginning, were able to get work at
the shops, mostly as laborers only, local
people but I think one of the important things from
our point of view is what happened to the local
population as a result of the longer term, result of
the coming of the railroad and the shops because that
created access to that same middle class that was
really occupied completely by foreign people when the
railroad first arrived but eventually locals got into that.
>>Megan: There was a strike in 1922.
How did that shift that kind of demographic of who
was in that skilled workforce?
>>Richard: Yeah, it was quite an amazing thing, so
it was a National Railroad Shop Workers strike.
The response of the railroad, they had
prepared for an eventuality like this and
their response was basically to fire strikers.
So they basically got rid of their skilled staff and
what that managed to do then is open up slots for
local Hispanics who were working at the shops but
in lower level positions.
They knew a lot of how to do the work, but they
could never get into those positions officially
because there was a real railroad bias against
Hispanics but that opened the door, and once they
were in, once more were in, and especially at
skilled levels, the company had a policy of
family hiring so they loved to hire family members
of reliable and good workers and that's what they did.
>>Megan: What was the locomotive repair shop like?
Can you give us an idea of the capacity
and why it was so important?
>>Richard: At the time, steam locomotives were very,
sort of, temperamental and fragile.
Even though they looked powerful and huge, they broke often.
If they didn't get repaired, one of the worst
things that could happen, and this happened
frequently, was boiler explosions.
A steam locomotive had to be completely overhauled,
that is, torn down to nuts and bolts and built back
up, literally to nuts and bolts and built back up
from nothing, about once every 18 months.
And so when you start with the Atchison Topeka in
Santa Fe having say 2,000 locomotives, that means
there are a lot of repairs that have to be being made.
>>Megan: And they had to make all the tools that
they used to do this or they had to machine the parts?
>>Richard: They did, they had to machine the parts because
there was no standardization of steam locomotive parts.
They had 26 servicing bays so they could be working
on 26 locomotives at a time.
Churn out something on the order of 42 complete
overhauls per month.
They had a big blacksmith shop here.
The reason was, if something was broken they
had to make a new one.
>>Megan: How did new technology like diesel
trains change everything yet again?
>>Richard: Oh wow, yeah, well, it was it was,
diesel was something that the company - ATSF, was
very interested in because they knew from the
beginning, when diesel began being used in Europe,
that this was, could make for a huge
economy for the company.
>>Megan: These were also safer right?
>>Richard: They were safer.
They were safer in the in the sense of, you didn't
have that problem of boiler explosions and
things like that, yes, absolutely.
And they were more reliable, less maintenance involved,
therefore less shop or fewer shop workers required.
So all those costs would suddenly be gone and
that's exactly what happened, after World War II,
immediately after World War II, in a period of about nine years.
But of course for the people who were working at
the shops it was a disaster because while all
the companies in the United States made that
switch about 250,000 railroad machinists lost their jobs.
>>Megan: That must have been decimating to the community.
>>Richard: Oh it was, it was.
Once the shops closed to maintenance of
all the money dried up.
The businesses went away, people started to move
away and urban renewal was resorted to, you know,
tear buildings down on the thoughts that
they would ultimately be replaced.
Many of them never were.
>>Megan: Why is it important to know this history?
>>Richard: I think for so many of us who live in
Albuquerque, it's hard to be able to explain why
Albuquerque is so different than other towns and
cities in New Mexico and I think the basic thing that is
different about Albuquerque is that industrial aspect.
So, and that came with the shops.
There was no such thing before that and it really
arrived in 1880 with the railroad and when that
kind of industrial activity began it only
encouraged other industrial activities.
So, smaller industrial operations moved in along the
They could ship things out and get
materials in on the railroad.
You can point to things like the Sandia labs,
for instance, I mean, I don't think the Sandia labs would have
been here if it was a little city like old town Albuquerque.
So, that is here because Albuquerque became the place it
did because of the shops and really the shops were it.
They were the big engine, economic engine of
Albuquerque for at least 75 years.
Nothing else was even close, biggest employer.
I mean, 2,000 employees at its peak.
Running three shifts during World War II, the
steam whistle going off four times a day,
everybody set their clocks by it, so I mean,
it was the heart of Albuquerque.
>>Megan: Richard flint, thank you so much for talking with us.
>>Richard: It's been a pleasure.
THE BIRTH OF A MOVEMENT.
My name is Alan Ket I'm the co-founder of the
Museum of Graffiti.
I'm the co-founder of the Museum of Graffiti in Miami, Florida.
The Museum of Graffiti is the only museum
of its kind in the world.
We give context to the walls that you might see
when you walk around this neighborhood.
One of the most important exhibitions that we
currently have on display is called style masters,
the birth of the graffiti art movement.
And that exhibition takes you from 1970 when this
was an art form, started by kids tagging their
names on the streets of New York City and
Philadelphia and Los Angeles, and shows how it
evolved from simple print writing on walls and on
trains to an art form that started to have style.
And then we go into the emergence of these artists
into the art galleries.
How did that happen?
Why did that happen?
You get to see original works of art created in the 1980s.
And we continue along this timeline to show the
emergence of this art form in Miami.
And we go through the 90's, 2000's.
Now, as it moves out of New York city
travels across the world...
here in America, goes onto freight trains and
crisscrosses all over the country and introduces
this youthful art form to audiences everywhere.
What separates graffiti from any other art form is
the desire for the mastery of letters, how to bend them
and tweak them and enlarge them and make them your own.
And so when some people talk about street art and they ask,
well, what's the difference between street art and graffiti?
Well street art has to do more with imagery.
Graffiti is about lettering.
So what we're looking at here is a site-specific
mural by DEFER from Los Angeles.
What we teach about every single day at the Museum
of Graffiti is how looking at each one of these walls
can give you context clues to where these artists are from.
For instance, in this wall, you can see how
DEFER incorporates inspiration of Los Angeles
gang graffiti by taking something that society
typically looks at as, as bitter or as violent,
he makes it beautiful.
And we like to compare this or contrast it to
this wall by JonOne.
And JonOne was a train painter.
He did huge pieces on the subways in New York City.
And it's so important to see how to graffiti writers who
are doing the same genre of art can have such a different take.
This is the world's largest art form.
It has practitioners all over the world.
That fact that it's sort of expanding and going
around the world and very open to anybody, picking
it up and adding something to it has started to
change the perception of this being purely a
vandal's movement to an art form that is
celebrated and accepted globally and desired globally.
Communities have woken up.
And that's where we are today, which is that
social norms and cultural norms have shifted just the
way that they've done in other areas of low-level crimes.
People are opening up and seeing the benefit to
including this type of art form within our community.
My personal history - I'm from New York city.
I started painting in Brooklyn, New York as a
teenager in the 1980s.
I painted exclusively, illegally painted the trains.
I painted the walls and I've gotten arrested.
It didn't dissuade me from being a participant
As a matter of fact, that made me sort of more entrenched.
And the Museum of Graffiti today is sort of the
project that I dreamed of.
And I was able to convince artists that normally
would not give their artwork to anybody to
allow me to have it because they trusted me.
They know me as a member of the community.
This art form has not been celebrated by museums in the
We had to make our own museum.
CARICATURE OF TIME AND PLACE.
My name is Francis Luca and I'm the Chief
Librarian here at the Wolfsonian,
Florida International University.
I'm the curator of this installation that's
looking at Conrado Walter Massaguer, a Cuban
publisher, art director, illustrator, and caricaturist.
He was born in Cuba in 1889, he actually left and
fled with his family when the Spaniards invaded
during one of the independence wars.
And so he grew up kind of by bi-culturally
and then multiculturally.
And so I think for that reason he was influenced
not only by the artwork in Cuba, but what was
happening in the modernist movement all around the world.
He actually introduced the modernist aesthetic to Cuba
with a lot of art deco designed covers for his magazines,
"Sociale" it was one of his most important magazines,
and that one aimed at an elite audience.
So this was designed to get the who's
who of Cuba interested in modernism.
He had an entire section in Sociale Magazine called
Massa-girls, which is a play on his name, sounds
like Massaguer, Massa-girl.
And what he was doing with that was showcasing this
new woman that had suddenly appeared first on
the American scene, and then he helped import into Cuba.
He loved beautiful young women.
He was a little bit of a machista in that way, but
so thrilled about their being so outspoken and liberated.
That I think was a little bit threatening to him as well.
So you sort of see that little bit of ambivalence
in these kinds of portraits.
He was also very famous for his caricatures.
In fact, that's how he's mostly known today.
And he did over the span of a lifetime, tens of thousands
of caricatures, and he did them in a very modernist style.
He said the best caricatures were done on
the sly with a furtive hand, where you're just
sketching them and they don't even know that
you're sketching them.
Some of his caricatures got him in a little bit of trouble.
He was not shy of expressing his disdain for
certain Cuban presidents.
You look at Machado sitting in the chair,
not so handsome, and then you look at the portrait
that's being done and it's, oh, he's young and handsome.
That's a completely different individual.
Massageur spent a lot of time working for the
tourism industry in Cuba, which began in 1919.
Since this exhibit focuses exclusively on the work of
Conrado Walter Massaguer, I wanted to sort of show him in
the context of some of the other contemporary caricaturists
from Latin America and so it's called Caricaturas.
Once Castro's revolutionaries seized
power, Massaguer continued to live in Cuba though in
relative obscurity until his death in 1965.
Here is someone who was the cultural ambassador for all
of these visitors, especially from the United States
and all of a sudden there are no visitors from the United States.
After 1959 he ends up working in the the Cuban
National Archives just spending out his remaining days there.
To me, the most important thing about this
exhibition is the fact that we can showcase this
artist who was well known, well-renowned in his
period, but has sort of been eclipsed because of
more than 50 years of strange relations between
Cuba and the United States, and his artwork
is reflective of this earlier of period,
this period of warm relations and cordial relations.
TELLING OUR STORIES.
Lexapro, Wellbutrin, Lithium capsules,
Tegretol, Seroquel, Risperdal, Paxil, Remeron,
Cymbalta and Dexedrine These are a few of my favorite things.
>>Sherry: When we first started writing this show,
our main mission was to reduce the stigma
surrounding mental health issues because nobody
talked about it and we wanted to get people talking.
And even though it was difficult at first, we decided,
well, if we want other people to talk about it,
we have to be willing to talk about it.
>>Cathy: We really felt things could have moved
more progressively and better in our lives,
had we been able to talk about it.
Come out and talk to other people about it and not
had people go "I knew she was crazy!"
So we thought, well, we should come out and tell our stories.
Uh, my mom falls into the category of self-medication.
She always said "I don't have a drinking problem.
I never drink before the cocktail hour."
No matter, it was a large glass filled with pure vodka.
She was feisty!
She rode horses and motorcycles and she was very funny.
And when she drank, her personality grew exponentially.
It was already pretty big.
But she could go from light to dark in a really short period
When I look back over my mom's entire lifetime,
through the lens of my own bipolar, I really believe
she was self-medicating her bipolar with alcohol.
Your family might have a history of mental illness
but if you mistake the addiction for the whole story,
you might never know.
That's right because one of the things they can
determine whether you are predisposed to developing
a mental illness is if you have a family history of it.
Well, insanity runs in my family.
It practically gallops.
Yeah, yeah, many, many years ago, my father was
first diagnosed with severe depression.
Now looking back on it with what I know now, I'm positive
that his diagnosis should have been bipolar disorder.
Because he had huge mood swings, huge high, high
highs and very low lows, and he drank a lot like
Cathy's mother, to kind of hide those symptoms.
The first time that my dad was hospitalized for
depression, my mother reached out to his family
to see if any of them had had any problems and come
to find out that all 3 of my dad's brothers had been
hospitalized for depression and/or anxiety
at one time or another.
All three, but nobody knew it because nobody talked about it.
As a matter of fact, my grandmother, the Queen
went so far as to say "Oh no, we've never
had any problems like that in this family",
ew, stigma, stigma, right?
Now my mother was never diagnosed with anything
other than codependency, which was my diagnosis for her.
But she too came from a family in which no one
talked about their problems.
Don't show the world your true face,
it's dangerous to let them really see.
It's better to be pretty and composed,
pretty and composed, in control.
So what's the legacy?
Am I doomed to pass this on to my family?
Making them feel bitter and alone, bitter and alone
Damage done, damage done.
Damage done, damage done.
>>Lynn: It's not often that you see a show that is this honest.
In theatre, the most important thing you can be is honest.
You have to make me believe that that story is real.
And that's what they do with this show.
And I, absolutely, blew me away.
I walked out of there so impressed by the bravery and the
You know they're putting their own hearts and souls
and their experiences on the line so that others
know that they're in this together.
I, like one in three women on this planet,
am a survivor of sexual violence.
Now, survivors of sexual violence very often
develop PTSD, but very few ever know that because of how
dismissed and unfortunately blamed the victim usually is.
Now the violence, of course, was of course,
traumatizing, but what really altered my life
forever was the nine month long investigation that followed,
during which I was interrogated,
bullied and blamed at every turn.
Daily, for nine months, I got asked by multiple men,
what were you wearing?
Were you drinking?
Are you sure you weren't flirting with him?
Or my personal favorite, this is an actual quote.
"A group of guys walked passed you while
you were walking with him down the street
and they all said you looked willing.
Why did they say that if you were truly in distress, as you
>>Erin: It is a feeling of absolute vulnerability
with these stories but I don't want the audience thinking
"I could never do that"
and put up a barrier between us and them.
It's not about bravery or strength or anything,
it's about choices, just choosing to believe that
no matter how uncomfortable it is so
worth the healing that comes after and the
conversation that can flow after.
>>Cathy: I hope they take home the idea that our
neighbors, our friends, our loved ones, are struggling.
We all know somebody who has mental health issues.
And we shouldn't be afraid to ask them directly and
honestly about how they are feeling.
>>Sherry: We hope our audiences take away the
fact that here are three people standing up in
front of you, who don't know you, and are telling
their stories and it's okay.
We hope that people will take away the fact that
there's no need for stigma.
Mental illness should be treated like any other illness.
And if people understand that,
they're going to be a lot more compassionate.
And we'll be free.
Come out of the closet about mental health.
And any other way you feel.
Stop the Stigma.
TO VIEW THIS AND OTHER COLORES PROGRAMS GO TO:
New Mexico PBS dot org and look for COLORES under
What We Do and Local Productions.
Also, LOOK FOR US ON FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM.
"UNTIL NEXT WEEK, THANK YOU FOR WATCHING."
Funding for COLORES was provided in part by:
Frederick Hammersley Foundation
New Mexico PBS Great Southwestern Arts & Education
Endowment Fund at the Albuquerque Community Foundation
and Viewers Like You.
(CLOSED CAPTIONING BY KNME-TV)
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