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Family and friends, working with kids and being a part of the Los Alamos community are the things that put a smile on the face of Theresa Dabney, store manager at Ruby K’s Bagel Shop.
Dabney has just come back to town and her job after six months in Denver, where she got to play Grandma for her youngest daughter’s new baby Jake. She is grateful for the fact that Ruby K’s owners, Ruby Alexander and Kelly Parker, let her have the time and then welcomed her back a few days ago.
Dabney has lived in Los Alamos since she was six weeks old, so she’s not a true native but she certainly feels like one, she said.
“Growing up, I honestly didn’t like it that much here,” Dabney says.
Like many others, she went away for a time during college, but came back to raise her family. She says that as a young person, she always wished there was more to do, but now she appreciates the peacefulness.
“You need to leave Los Alamos for a big city to truly appreciate it,” Dabney said, especially after her time in Denver.
Her children Traci, Dayna, Jamie and Audrey have all moved away, but she suspects they will be back when it comes time to raise their families.
Her house was always full of kids when hers were still at home, “at least a dozen,” she said.
“This is a great place to raise a family,” Dabney said.
She describes all four of her children as athletes and says that it was wonderful to be able to let them “put in their miles” running at night without fear of the street crime one might find in other places.
Before coming to work at Ruby K’s, Dabney managed Hill Diner.
Both of these recent jobs have put her in touch with young people and that is one of her greatest pleasures in working in restaurants, she said adding that she loves the energy she gets from teenagers and loves being a part of their lives.
“If I can be an extra ‘Mom’ to these kids, that’s what I want to do,” Dabney said.
She has seen many changes in the town since she was very young. Although she says “change is good,” she still misses the beauty of Los Alamos the way it was before the fire.
“I really miss the reservoir,” Dabney said. “My folks would drop us at the bottom of the road, on their way to work, and we’d hike up and make a day of it. We’d pack a lunch and go fishing – it was great.”
Dabney also fondly recalls her school days, when she attended both Cumbres and Pueblo, two schools that are no longer here.
Her favorite teacher was Mr. Higgins, who taught graphic arts and also was the basketball coach. Dabney also cites Rosemary Benton, who taught kindergarten to both Theresa and her husband Jim Dabney, as just a phenomenal woman and teacher. “That woman knows us by name – I only hope she remembers me as a cute little kid, not a feisty one,” Dabney joked.
Editor’s note: Carol A. Clark contributed to this story.