Joe Terry was born in Sopris, Colorado on October 14, 1940 to Sam and Carrie. Carrie was a child of the Passero family. Both Sam and Carrie were born in Sopris. Sam labored in the coal mines for most of his life. He was employed at the Valdez Mine until it ceased operations, back in 1960. Carrie was a busy housewife, and a good one at that. She fed my good buddy Camel (Shablo) and me a lot of tasty and filling meals over the years in her beckoning kitchen. Together Sam and Carrie nurtured seven children. Joe, born in Sopris, is the eldest. Then came Gary, Louis, Sam, Bernadette, Cathy, and Marco. Sister Lois, like her older brother, was born in Sopris too. The remainder of the Terry kids came into the world at the old Mt. San Rafael Hospital in Trinidad.
Sopris, Joe remembers, was a wonderful place to grow up. The Terry family lived just an alley away from Lincoln School where Joe completed the first twelve years of his education .. His excellent attendance record was, no doubt, due to the proximity of his house to the school. From their convenient locale, momma and poppa Terry were able to keep a watchful eye on their young brood. Under this kind of tight scrutiny, the Terry kids had few opportunities to ditch school.
"The thing I enjoyed most was the culture that we had growing up, the culture of the Spanish and Italian people who lived there," remembered Joe. "1 really believe they offered America more culture than any other group or nationality. It was a good mix of people. There was not a lot of prejudice in Sopris when 1 was a kid."
Some of his favorite running buddies during his school years, and some of the orneriest, were Phil [Camel] Shablo, Bob [Leo] Leonetti, Lloyd Sanchez, Mickey
Lucero, Bob [Turkey] Vigil, Don Falagrady, Tony Mincic, Mike Tamborelli, Robert
Zamborelelli, Tommy [Tomatoe] Martinez, Joe [Chinaman] Santistevan, and Guerino [Corky] Incitti.
And, as in most of small rural communities in America in the 1950's, the focus of the entire camp centered on Lincoln School. Parents were highly committed to their children's education and participated in all school activities. The academics were rigorous. And inter-school competition in sports was big time in old Sopris town. There was football, and basketball, and baseball, and, of course, the school band. Joe did well in all of these activities; all, maybe, with the exception of academics.
"I can remember playing the bass tuba in the school band," said Joe. "We also participated in the county band, forming a much larger group that would travel all over the county and state to present concerts. Mr. Snyder, then Mr. Joe Montoya were our band instructors. What I remember most about the band is marching in a parade in Trinidad for the then visiting Governor Johnson. That was a big deal for us.
"And football was great fun. There never was another team that was in better shape than we were because we had to run up and down LHS [the huge hill overlooking Sopris with the school letters LHS emblazoned with whitewash] hundreds of times. We had a perfect record. We never won a game in the two years we had a football program, but we were always in pretty damn good shape!
In baseball we beat them all but Maglia [Gerald] from Hoehne. He went on to pitch in the minor leagues. If we managed a foul ball off him it was a major victory. In basketball we were rinky-dinks too. We didn't have any height. There weren't too many Italians or Spanish kids back then that were very tall."
Terry graduated from Lincoln High with seventeen endearing classmates back in 1958: Leonetti, Shablo, Ernestine Medina, Joan Blasi, Ray Barela, Rita Maldonado, Fred Roybal, Barbera Ferri, Emily Garcia, Mike Butero, Antoinette Zamborelli, Lennie Hainlen, Antoinette Garcia, Vic Macchietto, Anna Martinez, and Ida DeBono. Anthony Faoro was the class sponsor; the venerable Eugene McGinn was the school principal.
And for Joe, his childhood experiences at Lincoln High School provide
"I can remember when we were freshman and the seniors made us bake them a cake for initiation," mused Joe. "Camel [Shablo] and Leo [Leonetti], and I baked the cake at my house and did a pretty good job. We also did a pretty good job of lacing the icing with ex-lax. Without a doubt, every one of the seniors who ate the cake, and most of them did, later found themselves to be in dire straits! They never asked us to bake them another cake.
"And when we were seniors, during initiation week, we made a kid by the name of Jim Velarde, a relative of the [Dan] Archuleta family, dress as a baby. He was from California, but living with the Archuleta's for the school year. We made him wear a diaper and role-playa baby for the whole week. The little guy snuck one in on us, though. He filled his baby bottle with beer and happily suckled on his bottle all day long.
"One time Mr. Faoro kicked me and my buddies out of class and made us stay in the coat room in the hallway just outside the classroom. We had our band instruments in there so we took them out and proceeded to attempt to mimic the New York Symphony. That made Faoro real mad. And it incensed Mr. McGinn. I would like to note that we never did that again. Enough said.
"Leo and Camel and I washed dishes (metal trays) in the cafeteria to pay for our lunches and would put them in the storage racks to dry without emptying the water from them. Whenever anyone pulled a tray out the rack they were soaked with water that would spill down on them. You can bet we got into trouble once again. And when Tommy [Tomato] Martinez parked his delivery pastry truck from Sayed's Bakery in front of the school, we looted his goodies with reckless abandon, leaving Tomato short stocked and in real deep trouble with his boss."
And then there was old man Louis Rocco, proprietor of Spooks Pool Hall. The memories of the pool hall for the mischievous raconteur are most lucid.
"That's where we met and spent a lot of evenings shooting pool and enjoying each other's company," Joe reminisced. "Spooks was our go-to guy. He was willing to help us with any kind of problem. Many times we borrowed money from him for anything we needed. He would graciously loan us his car if we needed transportation. He was our mentor and confidante. There wasn't anything he wouldn't do for us."
Joe moved on to further his education, studying for two years at Trinidad State Jr. College. He worked for Leone Construction for two years after completing his Trinidad State studies before moving on to Adams State College. At Adams State he earned a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. In 1965 he took a job teaching 4th grade at East Street School where he remained for one year. He and old buddy Joe Dionisio then enrolled in the Special Education program at the University of Denver. In 1966 he and Dionisio returned home and initiated the first Special Education program in the Trinidad school district, the Pacheco School in Jansen. In the meantime, Joe worked his way through D.U. during the summer months, eventually earning a Master's degree in Special Education in 1968.
And somewhere along the way, a yo~ng Joe Terry renewed his acquaintance, in a most inauspicious manner, with childhood neighbor, Louise Regusa. Louise was a pretty little lass who lived just across the alley from the Terry family in old Sopris. The beginning of their courtship was, one might say, quite coincidental. One eventful sunny Easter morning, Joe was driving down the alley that fronted his house, and near the tum to the main street he had to stop to allow pretty Louise to walk on by. After knowing her for her entire life, it finally dawned on him. Young Joe, it seems, experienced a major gestalt! And lo-and-behold, much to the amazement to all who knew him, and with much trepidation on his part, he finally asked her for a date. And the rest of the story is, as most of those who know them, know, quite exciting.
Joe and Louise were married July 5, 1969. Joe Jr. and ReGina were born in 1975 and 1980, respectively. Joe Jr. has completed a B.A. degree from Colorado University, and an M.A. from the University of Southern Colorado. He is now teaching in Pueblo, Colorado. ReGina is a second year student at Trinidad State.
Louise has been teaching in the Trinidad school district for the past seventeen years
as well and has been serving on the Trinidad School Board for nearly twenty years.
She is currently president of the board. "I couldn't have made a better decision than I did on that Easter morning," mused Terry. "I couldn't ask for a better family. I have been truly blessed" The ambitious Special Education teacher went on to teach two years in the
Colorado Springs school district, then eventually moved back to Trinidad, and, along with AI Sanchez, initiated the first work study program for special education students in the Trinidad school district. He resigned from teaching in 1971 and bought the
Corradino Auto Body Shop, which he operated for seven years. Joe sold the body shop and became a Farmer's Insurance Agent in 1978. And there, to this very day, he contentedly reposes, just as happy as a pea in a pod.
"Life's been so great, and Trinidad has been a wonderful place to live and
work," concluded Joe, now slightly older and a great deal wiser, "but my heart will
always belong to Sopris."