Centurian still rules the roost

By Thomas Garcia: QCS staff writer

An 80-year resident of Tucumcari celebrated her 100th birthday on Friday, with six generations of family.

Margarita Montano Pacheco has lived an interesting life since her birth on July 31, 1909, family members said.

So what is the secret to living 100 years? “I never smoked, drank and lived a good life,” Margarita said.

She moved to Tucumcari in 1929 when her husband, Don Luis Pacheco, came here to work for the railroad, said Raymond Pacheco, a 66-year-old son.

Rudy Pacheco, 65, said his mother has raised 10 children — five brothers and five sisters who were all born at home. She has also overseen the raising of six generations of family.

“That home is still standing today,” Rudy said. “It is at the corner of Seventh Street and Laughlin Avenue.”

The oldest child, Lucy Pacheco, helped raise her siblings after Don left.

“It was Mom and Lucy that raised us,” Raymond said. “Lucy was the enforcer. We all knew we had responsibilities but she made sure they got done.”

Margarita has shared many stories about family and her life with her children — a few have stuck out in their minds.

“Her dad knew Pancho Villa,” Raymond said. “I can still remember her talking about how our grandfather knew him.”

“She told us about living (near Alamogordo), when the first atomic bomb was detonated in New Mexico,” Raymond said. “She said ash fell from the sky and they were told not to go outside for awhile.”

One story in particular brings a smile to family members’ faces.

“She was thrown in jail once,” Lucy laughed. “She got in a fight at the ‘104,’ a dance club on the north side.”

Lucy said her mother was in jail for five hours until they could raise the $5 bail.

Raymond said the children would often tease their mom about the incident, and that would land them in trouble.

“She would go after me with the wash cloth,” Raymond said.

Family members said their mother was always big on discipline.

“She would get you if you were acting up. Make no mistake she would get you,” Raymond said.

They also remember the inspiration she provided.

“When I lived with my grandmother she told me, ‘To get far in life you need to say “yes sir, no ma’am” and be courteous,’” said James, a 37-year-old great-grandson.

Margarita has lost most of her sight and some of her hearing but that does not stop her from being active, said granddaughter Christina Aragon.

“She still goes to church on Saturday and out to dinner afterwards,” Christina said.

James said he can remember walking with his grandmother to Sears to pay a bill then going across the street to the Sands Dorsey for a soda.

“She walked everywhere,” Rudy said. “She never learned how to drive.”

Even now Margarita is close to her children and wants to make sure they are safe and sound.

“I got a whipping just a few weeks ago,” Rudy said with a laugh. “We went to Disneyland and did not tell her.” She became nervous and sick when she realized the family members were gone and she didn’t know where, they said.

“I asked my mom one time ‘When does it end, Mom?’” Raymond said. ‘“I am all grown up, have children of my own. When are you going to stop looking out for me?’”

Her reply:

“Never. You will always be my child.”