Dora Jeneatte Falduto is the daughter of Bruno and Margerite. She was
born in 1927, in Sopris, a small coal mining community just five miles west of
Trinidad along the Purgatoire River. Mamma and poppa Falduto had ten kids all
told, seven girls and three boys. Charles, a resident of Rocky Ford, passed away in
1995. Joe and Richard currently reside on the Ponderosa just west of Trinidad near
the old road to Sopris. Then there was Elvira, Laura (living in California), Isabel
(Anchorage, Alaska), Angie and Dora, and Antoinette and Cannella,
Like the good Samaritan that she is, Dora loves her family and friends with
an unending passion. She graduated from Lincoln High School in Sopris in 1945,
about the time that the great war was culminating. There were eleven of her cohorts
in that class of 45; Mary Dona, Amelia Cozalter, Elizabeth Antista, Ollene Polk,
Florence Gonzalez, Lillian Veceitio, Tony Cambruzzi, Frank Cerami, Bill Martini,
and Charles Langowski. She remembers them all well, and with much nostalgia.
Dora reminisced about one traumatic experience of her high school days. 'I
got expelled one time when Ms. Ida Day, our English literature teacher, assigned us
to read Shakespear's Macbeth in class," said Falduto. 'Frank Cerami, Tony
Cambruzzi, Richard Skufca, Charles Langowsld, and Bill Martini were in back of
the classroom telling dirty jokes that I overheard and I burst out laughing. So did a
few of the other girls who were in the class. She trotted us down to the office to be
taken care of by Mr. Fitzimmons (Warren B.) who was the superintendent. He asked
me what was going on, and I said 'they were saying dirty jokes.' He response was,'
you're just as guilty for laughing and enjoying them. Go home for three days.' All the
boys were also expelled. Emilia Coszalter was also expelled with me. A couple of
other girls denied that they heard anything and they were sent back to class."
She graduated with good marks, and earned a lifetime business scholarship
from the Midwest College of Commerce in Pueblo, Colorado. But young Dora could
not chase her dream of post- secondary education because of her commitment to help
support her large family. That was the stark economic reality of those old days. Even
though she had an enticing guaranteed scholarship, she still could not afford to pay
the balance of her educational expenses. So she went to work for the Mode-O-Day
Dress Factory in Trinidad where she specialized on the construction of the bodice of
the dress and sewing size and price tags onto an endless procession of garments. The
Trinidad factory shut its doors and moved its operation to several other states. Dora
was provided an offer to move out-of- state to work in one of the other stores, but she
chose not to. 'In fact," Dora mused, 'Trinidad was too far from Sopris."
Now unemployed, she spent her days watching the kids play baseball in
Sopris. One eventful day she was watching a game on the field located where the
new basketball gym was later built, directly across the street from the school.
Anthony Faoro, a science teacher in the high school, approached the affable Dora
and entreated her to meet the new superintendent, Eugene McGinn. The year was
1950. 'He had a big book that had my transcript in it," remembered Falduto. 'He
wanted to hire me for office work. He said, 'for what 1 need you for, you'll be fine.' 1
worked for a couple of hours a day to start. The school had a small budget Eventually it worked out to a full day of work. He kept teaching me more things about office management. All for $25.00 a month."
Eventually, then board member Bob Menapace convinced the school board
to increase her salary to $50.00 a month. She worked hard, day after day, and often
late into the evening. Many times she had to work on Saturdays and Sundays. "1
spent more time at school than 1 did at my house," remembered Falduto. "And we
had our light moments. One time a delivery driver called the office when Mr.
McGinn was there and 1 said over the phone, 'Art, is that you?' He accused me of
having a boyfriend, and from that point on his name for me was Art."
She labored fifteen years for the venerable Mr. McGinn. Until March of
1965. With the pending construction of the Trinidad Dam, the Sopris school was
annexed to the Trinidad school district. "I truly enjoyed it," mused Falduto. "And we
had a great teachers and coaches over the years. 1 fondly remember Stan Sagath,
Martin Anzoleni, Murray Franciscato, Wayne Spahr, Ralph Fausone, Jay Sebben. 1
have really been through a lot of educators. I've seen many come and go. Over the
years, I've worked with eight different administrators. 1 worked with them all the
time and they were all good to me. I was going to quit when mom died Martin
Anzoleni talked me into coming back. I'm glad 1 did. It was my salvation."
McGinn remained in Sopris the following year to complete the work of
closing the school. She was transferred to the Trinidad school district with the same
salary that she was earning when she departed Sopris, now a cool $200.00 a month.
In the Trinidad office, she worked with Leola Anderson who was the secretary of the
board, Denny Meece, the Business Manager, and Hugh Lynn, Superintendent. Her
first assignment was monitoring the lunch program and typing purchase orders and
business forms for Meece. After one year in Trinidad, she was again assigned to
McGinn, who was also transferred from Sopris to the Trinidad office as the Director
of Federal Programs. He specifically asked for the reliable Dora to work as his
Secretary in the old office at 240 North Convent Street. Here she assisted him for
another nine years. "It was my second pleasant go-around with Mr. McGinn," said
McGinn retired in 1974 and was replaced by Joe Bilotti. Dora hung on. She
worked with Bilotti until he retired in 1994 when Nancy Toupal took over the reins
of the program. She is currently the School District # I secretary as well as personal
secretary to Ms. Toupal.
"There is no better place to be," explained Falduto. "I just love working
with all the good people in the office and being in Trinidad. But when I think of
Sopris, that was something else. There is no place to compare, or a place that was
ever better than Sopris was. I had many wonderful friends and neighbors, and I still
enjoy visiting with them when I meet them on the street.'
Falduto remembers those old friends and neighbors as if it were yesterday;
Tony Cambruzzi, Pat Donachy, the Terry's, Phil "Camel" Shablo and his family,
Jimmy Martinez and "all the lovely girls in his family," Yvonne Sebben, Patti and
Beverly Sebben, the Leonetti girls, Donna and Connie, Louise (Regussa) Terry,
Gene and Elaine Vigil, the Barela's and Brunelli's and Bonato's, and the DeAngeles
"I could go on-and-on," mused Falduto. "There are too many to name them
all. I would like to include all the students from Sopris. They will be in my mind
forever. Every person who was younger than me always treated me with a lot of
respect. I truly enjoyed them all.
"I can remember Mrs. Terry, who was a big basketball fan. She would
always ask me who was going to win the cheerleading contest at the Trinidad State
Junior College tournament, and, of course, I didn't know. Pat Donachy coached me
into telling her, 'I know, but I just can't tell.' She quit asking me after that."
Dora recalled having a "nice old home" in Sopris before the family had to
relocate because of the construction of the dam. "I didn't want to move, even though
we would be moving into a better house. Dad died of a cardiac arrest four years after
we moved. We could never bring back our community no matter how hard we tried.
All the folks from all the little communities were great, Piedmont, Jerryville, St.
Thomas, Sopris Plaza, Longs Canyon.'
So for forty nine fruitful years, Falduto has labored diligently as a secretary
in the system of public schools in Sopris and Trinidad. Thirty four of those eventful
years have been experienced in the Trinidad school system. "The whole thing is, I
originally wanted to be a telephone operator," explained Dora. "Telephone
operators were then much in demand. But I have been very happy with my job.
That's why I keep coming back at my age. I just love the people and the work. I look
forward to each working day. But most important is the Lord who has given me good
health all these years."
And the highly personable secretary who has labored for close to a half
century for the schools in Sopris and Trinidad, not only praises her colleagues in the
educational profession, but also waxes eloquently about her family.
"I am really proud of a my family," said Falduto. "They have all done well.
My nephew Kirk Wade is a veterinarian. Kirk was the valedictorian of Trinidad
High. His younger brother Jason is his assistant. Kevin, his oldest brother, is an
insurance agent in Rocky Ford. My niece, Jody Gutierrez, works at the pharmacy at
the hospital, and another niece, Sherri Zimmerman, works at a bank in Odessa, Texas.
"I have a great family and a lot of old time friends and colleagues at work.
I would love to visit with all my friends at any time. I haven't yet decided when I'm
going to retire. It could be at the spur of the moment. So I invite all my friends to
come and visit me before I go.
"I welcome them all."