Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Tino Griego



Honored September 1988

Augustine 'Tino' Griego

One of Santa Fe's unique beloved figures, Augustine "Tino" Griego was born in 1927 and grew up along Palace Avenue.

Playing football and baseball and building a swimming hole in the Santa Fe River in the summertime with all the other kids, Tino distinguished himself early as an athlete by winning a Golden Gloves championship.

"We had to make a hardball out of rags and tape," he recalled. "We were all poor, but it was a great neighborhood, and I had a lot of friends."

Tragically, by the time he was in his teens, Tino was crippled by arthritis and confined to a wheelchair for life. He could only watch the others play football and baseball. After the doctor told him, "You will never walk again," Tino "gave up." But through the persistence of his friends, who visited him every day, he began going out again, playing catch from his wheelchair.

In 1947, he was asked to supervise a city youth center in his neighborhood. Reluctantly, he took the job as director of the Palace Avenue Youth Center at 827 East Palace on a one-month trial basis. Generations of kids later, he was still at it - encouraging and coaching the thousands of young people who came to his center. One by one, he added activities--Ping-Pong, basketball, horseshoes, a punching bag. Decades later, he said, "I'm still working for peanuts, but I'm happy and I love what I do."

Biography written by Richard McCord
Photo ©2003 by Steve Northrup