Meet Carlton Senior Living spotlight resident, Charlotte Gonzales – Charlotte, known to family and friends as “Tuttie” (pronounced “Tootie”) is from the small town of Las Vegas in northern New Mexico. The colorful history of her birth town surely influenced Charlotte’s pent for festivity and appreciation for flair. Las Vegas is a traditional Spanish Colonial style town with a central plaza. The townsfolk live both Latin (“Norteños”) and Cowboy (ranching families) culture, which is evident in their music, social gatherings, and rustic way of life. They are predominantly Catholic people, and fiercely patriotic. Charlotte’s mother was a hard-working woman who was spiritual, a healer, and one of few white women allowed into the Indian reservations where she practiced healing and tarot card reading. Her father was a musician, who wrote music and played several instruments, bringing much festivity and enjoyment to the community of northern New Mexico and Southwestern Colorado.
Born October 24, 1935, Charlotte married at the young age of fourteen and soon started raising her family of six daughters and one son in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Music and dancing was an important part of Charlotte’s life, and her family fondly remembers their father encouraging Charlotte to sing on the 4-hour drive from Albuquerque to Raton, New Mexico to visit grandparents. Indeed, Charlotte’s voice was beautiful and her favorite Spanish and country western songs could be heard down the street, delightfully combined with the wafting smell of her home cooking — flour tortillas, sopaipillas, pinto beans, “calabazas,” chile verde with tender braised pork chunks, empanaditas, biscochitos, roasted green chile peppers, sweet “natias” pudding — all traditional New Mexico foods. Charlotte cooked fresh, delicious meals every day for her large family. Charlotte would play music, dance in the living room, and taught all her children to be good dancers.
Raising seven children and keeping them all in line could not have been easy for a young mother. Charlotte was strict, but she also knew how to play. She used to make doll clothes for her daughter’s toys and taught them how to bathe their babies (dolls). She would hang blankets over the clothesline so they could play “house.” Charlotte often took her children to the zoo, to the parades, and encouraged outdoor activities. Charlotte appreciated showmanship and fully embraced the New Mexico culture and cowboy attitude. For the New Mexico State Fair Parade, she dressed her son in cowboy boots with spurs, a vest, guns and holster, and cowboy hat.
One of Charlotte’s favorite hobbies was costume making. She made all of her children’s Halloween costumes herself, and when her oldest daughter married, Charlotte had crafted the beaded head-piece for the veil, ring-bearer pillow, and bible cover, which were so beautiful that a bridal store asked her to do this professionally. As Charlotte’s children grew up and left the home, Charlotte continued with her love of costume making and her talent kept improving.
In 1967 Charlotte and her husband moved their family from New Mexico to California, and coincidently she lived across the street from Carlton Senior Living Downtown Pleasant Hill – right here on Cleveland Road. In the early 1990’s Charlotte moved back to Las Vegas, New Mexico. Charlotte moved to Carlton in July 2018 a few years after her husband passed away, where she enjoys the community and staff, and her frequent visits from close by family members, as well as local friends.
Charlotte has a terrific sense of humor and jokes with anyone willing to entertain her colorful sense of being. She is truly a New Mexico girl!
Written by Celina Gonzales, daughter of Charlotte Gonzales
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