Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Alice Bullock



Honored July 1985

Alice Bullock

"I can't remember when I couldn't read," said well-known Santa Fe author and teacher Alice Bullock. "We didn't have a lot of books because coal camp people didn't have a lot of money."

Her mother purchased the complete works of Charles Dickens from a traveling salesman, and "she was so disgusted because I had read them all before the first payment was due," Alice said.

Alice was born in Buck, Oklahoma in 1904. Her father worked as a stationary steam engineer, at the coal mines. When his wife was diagnosed as in danger of developing tuberculosis, he found a job in the high, dry climate of Gardiner, New Mexico, a mining town outside Raton. "We came out in 1912, the year the territory became a state," Alice recalled. "I was born in New Mexico at the age of eight.. In my heart, I'm a New Mexican."

She liked growing up in a coal camp. "We used to hitch up Old Blue, our horse," to go to Raton to buy groceries, a risky undertaking because mine employees were required to purchase their food from the company store. Had they been caught, her father would have lost his job, Alice said. Monday was wash day, and young Alice drew water from a well to do the family's laundry.

Alice attended school in Gardiner through eighth grade and at age eleven began working at the coal company's hospital. During the four years that she attended high school in Raton, she worked as a maid for a different family each year.

Her teaching career began in Elizabethtown in the 1920s, where she taught miners' children. Later she taught in tiny ranching and mining communities--Sofia, Optimo, Van Houten, and Gardiner. She met her husband, Dale Bullock, when he came to interview her for winning a teaching award. "If you were married, you weren't allowed to teach," she recalled. Her husband was the editor of the Raton Reporter, and because she couldn't teach after their marriage, Alice became interested in writing for the paper. Alice and Dale raised two daughters, Carlotta and Patricia.

The Bullocks moved to Santa Fe in 1941. Alice worked as secretary to the superintendent of schools. She also bought Corrine's Dress Shop, which she owned for several years, renaming it Bullock's of Santa Fe.

Her career as an author began when Alice was asked to write a history of the Santa Fe schools. For fifteen years, she reviewed books for the New Mexican. She could read an "ordinary book in two hours."

Please see Volume 1 for complete text.
Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes