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A portrait of a dreamer

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By Kirsten Laskey

Dreams will only die if you allow them to; Ashley Pond’s life and accomplishments are proof of this. Sharon Snyder, a retired teacher and historian, explained Pond envisioned a ranch school for boys. He had arrived in New Mexico to recuperate from typhoid fever, which he contracted while serving in Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in Tampa, Fla. Pond stayed at a ranch in New Mexico and his experience working and living outdoors drove him to create a ranch school to provide the same experience for others.He bought some land in Shoemaker Canyon and fulfilled his dream. It didn’t last long. A flood destroyed the ranch school in 1904, but Pond’s dream was not ruined. He persevered and constructed a new ranch school in an area that is now known as Los Alamos.Pond’s determination to fulfill his dreams also motivated Snyder to share information about the first ranch school with the community during the Los Alamos Historical Society’s lecture series at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Fuller Lodge. The title of her talk is “Ashley Pond’s First Ranch School.”While the second ranch school eventually paved the way for the Manhattan Project and the development of Los Alamos, the first ranch school connected the residents in Santa Fe and the valley, Snyder said. For example, the school performed a musical every year and people throughout the area enjoyed the entertainment. “It was big deal,” she said.In additionally to “enhancing their lives,” the ranch school also provided jobs, Snyder said. It employed a full-time gardener, dairyman, wrangler and other employees.While both ranch schools are long-gone, the community can still learn a lot from Pond, Snyder said. “Ashley was a man of large dreams,” she said. “He wanted to start and did make a move in that direction to (have) an airport in Santa Fe. He got a pilot license in his late 50s’ or early 60s’, and his also organized the Santa Fe Fire Department.“He was civic-minded and he believed in working for his community and following through on his jobs,” Snyder added.Snyder said she was interested in discussing Pond because she is writing a biography about his daughter, Peggy Pond Church, who wrote a book that is considered a “Southwest clasic” titled “The House at Otowi Bridge.”She added she loves doing research and it seems counter productive to not share her findings with people. Not sharing information, and not helping others learn would seem sad, Snyder said.The lecture is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served after the lectures at 8:45 p.m.