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Two authors give aspects of life in ABQ a broader historical perspective

for the Journal

Recent books by two New Mexico authors draw attention to subjects ranging from the long history of the state’s largest city to a close-up of a historic building in the city’s Downtown.

For a guidebook with fewer than 200 pages, Roger M. Zimmerman’s “A History Lover’s Guide to Albuquerque” covers a lot of ground in text and photographs.

So by necessity it is a concise, informative book that traces the city’s origins to three pueblo villages of the Province of Tiguex.

Zimmerman said they contributed to the growth of what was to become a community before the arrival of conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado’s soldiers into the Middle Rio Grande Valley.

The book isn’t limited to the historical record. The introduction gives readers a related geologic historical profile of the area – the Sandia Crest, the relatively flat west-facing land below it on which Native Americans farmed, and the Rio Grande, “the major drainage river for the Rio Grande Rift.”

Zimmerman said his interest in the Duke City began when he became active in the Albuquerque Historical Society in 2012.

“I started collecting things on history, and in 2018 I was invited by Arcadia (Publishing) to write this book. I decided to collect enough material that I could do it,” he said. “I organized the book to meet their specifications.”

Zimmerman, a self-proclaimed history lover, credited historian Marc Simmons’ writings, especially his volume on Albuquerque through the 1970s, for providing essential background information for his guidebook.

Born in Rehoboth, the 83-year-old Zimmerman grew up at Mariano Lake Trading Post and later in Gallup. His first book was about Gallup’s Kitchen’s Opera House.

He was a civil engineering professor at New Mexico State University and retired from Sandia National Laboratories’ technical staff in 2000, although he remained a consultant for 11 more years.

Zimmerman will discuss and sign “A History Lover’s Guide to Albuquerque” at 2 p.m. today at Barnes & Noble, Cottonwood Corners, 3701-A Ellison NW, and at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Special Collections Public Library, 423 Central NE.

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Albuquerque’s KiMo Theatre at Fifth and Central NW was built in 1927 as a theater for first-run movies. Movie stars of the day showed up at screenings. The city purchased the KiMo 50 years later, and it is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

A major attraction of the book “KiMo Theatre: Fact & Folklore,” besides the films screened and variety of performers presented on the stage, is the visual appeal of the intricate Pueblo Deco architecture and artwork on the building’s exterior and in its interior public spaces.

The book’s final chapters suggest readers – and visitors – take a tour of the theater beginning with the outside front and then inside to the lobby, the mezzanine and the two stairways. In those areas are renderings of Native American symbols as well as posters, murals and sculptures fashioned by Carl Von Hassler, the artist hired by the original KiMo owners.

Jacqueline Murray Loring, a South Valley resident, is listed as the writer and editor of the volume, with Southwest Writers Workshop as “presenter.” However, other writers listed in the table of contents, contributed to the book’s three sections – the KiMo’s history, people’s memories and a tour of the theater. Each section is filled with accompanying black-and-white photographs.

The book could have benefited from more folklore and fewer facts.

BookS of the week review

Jacqueline Murray Loring