A C O L L E C T I O N O F W O N D E R S
" I am a historian that researches history, lectures on history and sells history for my
living," explains Jeff Hengesbaugh, whose original passion was for the American Fur
Trade that opened up the West. But, he says that since moving to Glorieta, NM and
creating CALABAZA he has shifted his emphasis to Spanish, Mexican and New Mexican artifacts, as well as items from the early American Frontier.
And indeed, when you walk through the multitude of rooms that fill Jeff's home/showroom, you feel that you're entering another age. The magnificent hide canoe in the first room takes center stage. "It was possibly used in the fur trade on the upper Missouri in the 1850's," notes Jeff, creating a visual picture of this rough- skinned craft plying the tributaries of the Missouri bringing pelts to forts and
trading posts along the way.
Each artifact has a story and Jeff is at the ready to spin its heritage. "Most of the challenge," says Jeff," is to hook up a relic with its past to do determine its' value." Recently he found a cannon and cannon balls in Texas, rusting away as yard art. After a lot of research he uncovered a strong possibility that it was abandoned by Santa Ana's forces in their hasty retreat after the fall of the Alamo.
I asked Jeff about his clients: "You'd be surprised by all of the closet history buffs and buyers; they come from all walks of life. I also work with tv/movie people if they need items for their sets or historical advice."
My absolute favorite piece in his collection is the 1941 half-ton, cranberry red Chevy panel truck used to haul nitro and dynamite around open-pit copper mines in Arizona.
Jeff indulged my photography whimsy by letting me add a decorative
hood ornament for this shot.
"It sat fallow for decades when I purchased it in the eighties to travel west, "explains Jeff. "They told me the wood was so saturated with nitro that a chicken could have pecked at it and blown the truck to El Paso," he adds. Currently the van is on the set for the tv show - Manhattan Project - the story of the nuclear bomb development in Los Alamos, NM.
Thanks Jeff for the lovely tour and thank you Roseta Santiago for introducing me to your old friend and to his remarkable trove of photographic possibilities.
C A L A B A Z A
"Calabaza is Spanish for pumpkin or squash. I got the idea from a 19th century Arizona rancher named Pete Kitchen, living deep in Apache country. He had to fortify his ranch house against constant threats...It was just as challenging her in
Glorieta when I first dug in years ago. He called his place
Calabaza and I took the name from him." JH
Tell him CHASING sent you!
Below is a great read about Jeff...
IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A GENUINE JAMES P. BECKWOURTH
RIFLE, JEFF'S GOT ONE.