July 15, 2011 at 12:52 PM

Missing Santa Fe: Part I

"So, without further ado, here is #5 and #4 of the top five things I miss about Santa Fe..."

By José Smith

The Beans & Chile

José Smith is a writer, stay-at-home dad and fiend of excellent essays.

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I’m a sucker for lists. I like knowing what’s considered the best, the worst, what gravitates to the surface of someone’s opinion on any number of topics. From the best books, movies, music, kids’ toys, and travel destinations, to the always popular and fear-inducing lists like, unhealthiest cities, or most pesticide-ridden food. In a world where useful information is becoming a rarity, a list can provide order, guidance, an anchor in a sea of overwhelming data. 

Plus, everyone loves a good debate and what’s more debatable and thought provoking than someone’s ordering of this or that. I garner just as much pleasure denouncing lists as I do agreeing with them. Most importantly though, a healthy, well-talked-about list allows us to compare, to measure our own beliefs against others’, to pinpoint the finer details in life that draw us together, or in some cases, drive us apart. So, without further ado, here is #5 and #4 of the top five things I miss about Santa Fe. I’ll reveal #3 and #2 in my next post. 

#5  Coronado Lanes 

In general, I’m not that fond of bowling alleys. They’re a little over-stimulating for the average person and for the person with small kids that tend to mouth every object in sight (like mine do), they appear to be somewhat of a hotbed for germs. If there was still a bowling alley in Santa Fe I’m not sure I would even go to it right now anyway. 

Now, the bowling alley most people probably recall is the recently closed Silva Lanes that was on Rufina Circle, the one that had descended into a no-man's land of crime and shady goings-on. My own last recollection of Silva Lanes was a few summers ago, when, while driving a van for the city summer program, I cruised a van full of kids right in front of the bowling alley, past a giant taped-off crime scene, complete with dead body in open view. On the flip side though, I did meet my wife at Silva Lanes in the summer of 2000, so I can’t say that I don’t have one pretty darn good recollection of the place.

Yet, the bowling alley that I really miss is Coronado Lanes, which used to be on Cordova Rd., where the Santa Fe Baking Co. and Leishman’s currently reside. I lived in that neighborhood growing up and Coronado Lanes was a constant hang-out spot. We’d gravitate to it simply because it was there, soaking up all the sights and sounds--pins crashing, arcade blips and bleeps, excited chatter, greasy food being fried-up--that are found in a bowling alley. I think what makes Coronado Lanes a place that I really miss was its location to the heart of Santa Fe. Silva Lanes, while centrally located by Santa Fe’s current layout, always seemed far removed, one of those places you needed your parents to drive you to. Coronado Lanes was a slice of vintage Americana right in our backyards, a place of spontaneous and available recreation. 

#4 Museum Hill BMX Course

My next pick also harkens back to the days of my youth, when all a young boy really needed was a BMX, a fanny-pack, a walkman, and a cassette of Metallica’s Master of Puppets. Throw in an untamed dirt course of jumps, banked curves, and half-pipes and you’ve got that young boy’s equivalent of bliss. I’m referring to the BMX riding course that used to be just west of Camino Lejo, across from Museum Hill. I know that there are skate and bike parks around town now, which is a good thing, but this course as I remember it was raw, untended, and ridden by very few. And because these were also the days when we were allowed to roam and ride freely around town, untethered by overly anxious parents, this course belonged to us and only us. To put it simply, it was our private bastion of boyhood exploration, competitive tomfoolery, and all out freedom.

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