Chronicle highlights, 1984 – 2006, Guy and Marcia Wood

(Chronicle file photo)

Blame it on a summer 1983 family vacation in gorgeous Northern New Mexico and a bit of serendipity.

It seemed like fate that Guy and I bought the Sangre de Cristo Chronicle March 1, 1984.

We’d been publishing two newspapers in Canon City, Colorado and by coincidence I’d met two very bright Moreno Valley daughters, Lori Gallagher and Barbie Torres, boarding students at St. Scholastica Academy in Canon City.

While I was serving as adviser for their student newspaper, Lori often told stories about the newspaper her brother Joe had founded in the beautiful Moreno Valley of New Mexico. Barbie talked of her parents and her father Joe Torres’ deep valley roots.

It wasn’t until after we began negotiating in 1983 to buy The Chronicle that it clicked… this was Lori’s brother’s paper.

Joe Gallagher had merged his monthly publications The Moreno Valley Lantern and The Red River Prospector into the Sangre de Cristo Chronicle in 1975. But he was ready for city lights and moved in 1979 to Houston to publish an oil newsletter.

His mother Laurelle and father Bill stepped in and continued the weekly editions. They nurtured the paper until passing the reins to us on March 1, 1984.

We knew the hard knocks of publishing. We began our careers at the daily Ann Arbor (Michigan) News, then started a weekly, Aspen Today, for a group of Aspen investors, and owned the two Canon City papers 10 years before arriving in the valley with our two children.

We were lucky to have knowledgeable staffers including reporter Joe Haukebo of Angel Fire and ad rep Jody Hubbell Thome of Eagle Nest who helped us pick up where the Gallaghers left off.

We soon hired more locals, designer and cartoonist Charlotte Hollis and typesetter/paste-up helpers Susan Zeller and Judy Palmer, all of Cimarron. Red River’s Katy Wallace Pierce helped out as a stringer.

Every 168 hours we all churned out a new edition in the Mini Mart Plaza office space. Sometimes we felt like hamsters spinning on a wheel. But we squeezed in a little laughter and some potluck Fridays.

There were mountains of community news to gather stretching from Angel Fire to Red River, Eagle Nest to Cimarron.

News and features to write. Ads to sell and create. Photos to develop. Facts to check. Corrections to be made. Weekly and special section deliveries. Editorials to craft. Always fighting for open government and better communities.

Guy kept the paper on course as well as selling ads. I juggled news and ad sales and loved my Thursdays in Red River.

I usually spent more than the ad revenues I brought in and loved my stops at Millers Crossing visiting with Judy and John, and Ted Calhoun at Der Markt, Johnny Brunson at Calhoun Real Estate, Ilse Woerndle at Sitzmark Sports, Ann Tompkin at Patricks, Bill and Annette Gill at Texas Reds, and many more.

My newsgathering meant stops at Red River Town Hall visiting with Town Clerk Judy Brunson (also the town gardener with Lottie Tweed), Town Manager Jake Pierce, the Chamber office full of helpful ladies and news tips.

A swing through Eagle Nest peddling ads, gathering news. Stops at the Laguna Vista visiting Bert and Karol Clemens, the bank and Caroline Kenner, Bennie Jo Fulton’s café, a weekly hug from Zella and Tom Duncan at Zella’s Kitchen Shop, Town Hall and Cathy Coppey plus a chat with Mayor Johnny Dahl.

I’m pretty sure Guy and other ad reps hit up everyone in Angel Fire!

Our first generation Compugraphic computerized typesetter spit out type on rolls of paper that had to be waxed, pasted onto page-size grid sheets called “flats” and trimmed with X-acto knives.

Black Lake’s Marian Shuter was expert at building pages and balancing the books.

Creating ads the cut and paste way was especially tedious. The entire production was hand crafted.

After everything was proofed and corrected Tuesdays (sometimes slimy mud puppies joined us from the sewage pond out back), we’d make a mad dash to Taos at 5:20 p.m. (ideally) to catch the 6 p.m. bus to Albuquerque and the printer. A couple times Angel Fire police chief Bill Conley led the way to the blinking light.

Sometimes we chased after the bus. If we couldn’t catch up, we’d drive on to Albuquerque and back. “Marcia, you’ve got to stop caressing the pages,” Guy often chided.

The production process became a breeze with a scanner and Macintosh computers at our new Centro Plaza office. Black Lake’s Debbie Maloch was our design whiz. She created award winning Summer and Winter Enchantment and Land and Home magazines, weekly Chronicles and countless eye-catching ads.

Son Chris Wood, a college summer staffer, and then news editor Ellen Miller-Goins of Red River brought us into the modern age in 1996 while Guy and I were off vacationing. They laid out the paper electronically. It wasn’t long before we stopped chasing the bus and sent Chronicle pages via the internet to the printer.

Nadine Ashcraft was our proofreader about then. Her goal was “the perfect paper.” Though we tried hard, typos always managed to creep in.

Those were the years of reporters Jo Bynum, Jessica Johnson, Yasmin Hahn. Of Jamie Archuleta and Kim Poynter selling ads.

Each of our wonderful kids took a turn at Chronicle management. Heather kept the weekly editions churning and updated Guy’s business procedures while we traveled in Europe on an extended vacation cut short by 9/11. Chris worked in all areas of the paper, masterminded the Land and Home real estate magazine and saw it through its first issues.

Our talented employees helped The Chronicle win 14 New Mexico Press General Excellence awards and dozens of awards in almost every NMPA Better Newspaper competition category.

While publishing, we rode the roller coaster of Angel Fire resort ownership. Like countless business people, we quickly learned that the Angel Fire greater community’s well being was inextricably linked to the well being of the resort.

There were good years. And bad, especially when the resort was plunging into bankruptcy.

By broadening our base buying and publishing two weekly papers in southwest Colorado from 1990 to 1995 we survived.

By broadening our base buying and publishing two weekly papers in southwest Colorado from 1990 to 1995 we survived.

We published 1,144 editions of the Chronicle.

It’s been 9 years since we sold. Among our best memories are the Community Pages we produced to boost community causes. Locals and subscribers alike pitched in, signing their names and making donations.

Together we funded Angel Fire village ice rescue equipment, helped buy wildland gear for the Angel Fire fire department, bought books for the Eagle Nest Elementary School, and more.

Best of all are the enduring friendships we made.

It was our privilege to chronicle your lives, 1984 to 2006.