“YOU BE PROUD OF WHO YOU ARE!” — An Interview with Rose Marie Sandoval & Jacquie Cattaneo: Part 2/2
By Bob Rosebrough
Jacquie’s father and grandfather were engineers for the Santa Fe Railway. Like so many of the men and women who built Gallup, their work was both hard and hazardous.
My uncle was going to take my grandfather’s fingers to school for show and tell. Jacquie says, “My father started out as a call boy, waking up railroaders and telling them to go to because there was no telephone. Then he was a fireman. And I asked him once, I said, ‘What was the longest period of time that you shoveled coal?’ And he said, ‘Seventeen hours straight.’
“He was really an amazing man. There was no formal education on either side of my family, but boy he was a stickler about his girls going to college.”
“Wonderful,” interjects Shorty.
Jacquie continues, “Well my grandfather, he was an engine man. I think he was an engineer until he was in this very bad accident and he had minimal fingers. He had his toes cut off. He was physically maimed from this accident. And I’ll never forget my uncle was going . . . oh dear . . . my uncle, Pat O’Sullivan, was going to take them to school for show and tell. Now that is a crazy Irishman!” Jacquie and Shorty both laugh. “It was right after the accident.”
A lion . . . where? Shorty had a close friend who lived at the Ceremonial grounds. “Her name was Josephine Lopez – my stand-by-me friend. Her people and mine were so close that we’d call each other ‘primos’ in those days. You never really knew who was your cousin and who wasn’t. She had an aunt who lived right behind Sunny Side School. We were walking by Mrs. Lopez’s house and there it was! A lion in a cage parked by her house! We ran home to give the news and I called one of my aunts and told her. She didn’t believe me and said, ‘Oh, Rose Marie, you’re so funny.’ The next thing we heard was that they let the lion loose and hunted him down. Poor animal. But a true story.”
“The whips would come out.” “So when Ceremonial would come, after the parade, we waited for the wagons to pass by and then tried to jump in the back of a wagon. The whips would come out by the driver and we laughed and thought, ‘Oh, what great fun!’ I had an uncle who had a burger stand that blared rock and roll music. We would just run amok and had a blast. When it got dark, Josephine and I would get past the guards and sneak into the back where the performers stayed and actually joined them in dancing the Yei Bi Chei and eating. My parents thought I was sleeping at Josephine’s house and same for her folks. Ceremonial was the greatest time on earth!”
“I wanted Gallup to remember this woman (Octavia Fellin) who brought couth to us.” Jacquie was drawn to art at a young age. She says, “Octavia Fellin always encouraged me. She had my first show in the library when I was eighteen years old. She had a great deal of influence on me and also on all of our lives. Octavia was one of the greatest gifts Gallup has ever had. I used to patch books at the library. She taught me the Dewey Decimal System before I was seven. She had me patching and stacking books and I was just fascinated with the books. She’d pay you a half a candy bar every week.” (Jacquie and Shorty laugh)
Shorty says, “Yeah, but look what she was doing for you.”
Jacquie has done eight hundred to a thousand portraits over the year. She talks about her favorite. “The neatest portrait I ever did was of Octavia because it was a total surprise. I was commissioned by John Pena. He wanted to immortalize Octavia. She knew nothing about it and we unveiled it in front of her at the Country Club at this big dinner. I’m so glad I did that because she will live on and she’s absolutely beautiful in it. I wanted to see that Gallup remembered this woman who brought couth to us.” Jacquie laughs.
Judging Ceremonial with Robert Redford. Jacquie started judging the painting category in the Ceremonial the year Robert Redford was a judge in 1981.
“Oh, I was the envy of every woman in town,” says Jacquie. Shorty laughs.
“Good lord! He was a very, very nice person and he was very quiet. He had gone to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, the same school that my son Paul went to for his masters in architecture. He studied art at Pratt. Pratt is probably one of the finest art schools around. It was great to judge with somebody with so much knowledge. And he did mainly pen and ink. He was very quiet, but he was emphatic about what he liked and it was not really the modern or the contemporary art. He was fascinated with the primitive paintings that the Indians, the Navajo especially, used to paint. And they were of one dimensional surface, and very realistic.”
Shorty’s family: Japanese, Mexican, Spanish, French, Navajo, Zuni & Laguna. Even by Gallup standards, the diversity of Shorty’s family is amazing. Her Japanese maternal grandfather, Konozo Mochimaru, “fought in the Russian War. He decided to come to the United States. He went through Mexico and met a young Mexicana there, my grandmother Maria Sanchez. They didn’t speak English at all. My dad’s father, grandpa Montoya came from Santa Fe. He met Nana Montoya who was French. My great-grandfather Dan was a Frenchman from Louisiana. He married my great-grandmother from Cubero and he also had children with Chief Manuelito’s daughter. So we have two sides to the family, but they all come together as one. So I’m Mexican, Japanese, French and Spanish. I have first cousins who are Navajo, Zuni and Laguna.
“My father was a very, very, very proud man of his heritage, which was French and Spanish. He always would tell me, ‘Always remember there is no one that is better than you, but you’re not better than anybody else.’ One of my father’s moments of pride came when I was elected to the Gallup City Council. Since he was connected to the City for many years, he had the utmost respect for the Council and what they stood for. He was proud and grateful.
“By having all these bloods in me, I’m very true and faithful to who I am because I don’t mind being myself and I’m very grateful for all of my ancestors. And the one thing it taught me is that you’re just proud of who you are and you stand by it and you respect it and you respect others.
“Gallup has this. Old Gallup has this. It’s loaded with such a mixture of people. It was a lot of the Indian connection too. He just told us, you know, ‘You be proud of who you are,’ and if it wasn’t for that little Japanese man, if it wasn’t for that little Mexican girl and that Spanish guy and the guy from Louisiana, I would not be here,” says Shorty.
“I love them, I honor them. I am so blessed to be who I am.”