Sunday, September 16, 2012

The "J"

Here is a still-frame from the 1962 film Lonely Are the Brave, starring Kirk Douglas; the scene excerpted here was filmed on the West Mesa of Albuquerque.  As can be seen in the frame -- and just as there used to be a "U" (for "UNM") painted on a small peak in the Sandia foothills -- there once was a "J" painted on a small peak near the escarpment on the West Mesa.  (It stood for the "College of St. Joseph," a Catholic school later known as the University of Albuquerque, which closed in 1986 and whose facilities now house St. Pius X High School.)  The spot where Douglas is riding here (and it is Douglas, not a stand-in) is not far from the present-day location of our daughter Devery's house.  The "J" -- which is now erased, as is the "U" -- is a piece of local history that few Albuquerque residents know about now, although I remember it well from my childhood.  I especially like the fact that it's preserved, if only for a few seconds, in an old Hollywood film.

[Update 10/17/12: Here are a couple of photos from Google Earth.  The one on the left is an aerial view of the "J" -- note that the peak is very obviously an extinct volcano, and that the outline of the "J" is still visible on the eastern face.  The pic on the right is a broader view of the area, showing the location of the "J" relative to Devery's house, as well as the approximate location where the frame from Lonely Are the Brave was photographed.]