Salazar reminisces on a century

Name: Filomena Sena Salazar
Age: 99, turning 100 on Monday
Born: July 5, 1904 in Sena
Hometown: Portales
Occupation: Retired housewife and mother
Family: Daughters, Bengina of Las Vegas, Paubulita of Albuquerque, Esquipulita “Skippy” of Portales and Deluvina of Moriarty and sons, Petrolino of Moriarty, Tomas of Sena, Armando of Jacinto and Santiago of Mortiarty.

Filomena Sena Salazar was born in 1904 in Northern New Mexico. She lived during the Great Depression as well as through two World Wars. She has lived through 18 U.S. presidents and has lived to see four generations after herself, including her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. A 100th birthday celebration was held for Salazar on Saturday at the National Guard Armory in Portales with a reception, mass and dance. She moved to Portales in 1983. Some of the questions below were answered with the help of Salazar’s daughter, Skippy.

What has been your secret to a long life?
“It’s my will to live and God. I do not want to die.”

Tell us something about your parents:
“My father was a sheepherder and my mother was a homemaker and they lived off the land in La Palma. Really it was in Jacinto, a ranch close to Encino, Clines Corner and the Flying J Ranch.”

Who is your hero:
“God!”

What is your greatest hope?
“For my family to be healthy and happy.”

What is your greatest fear:
“Fire and death.”

What has been your greatest individual accomplishment?
“Raising my family and living a long, healthy life.”

When you were a kid, what did you think you’d be doing as an adult?
“Being a mother and a housewife.”

If I could do anything again, I would:
“Walk and cook.” (She hasn’t walked since 1999).

What are your favorite TV shows, past and present:
“Old movies and rodeos. I especially like, ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘Andy Griffith.’ (Skippy said she wakes her up just to watch Lucy and Andy Griffith).”

What’s your favorite smell:
“Vanilla, anything that smells like vanilla.”

What’s your favorite taste:
“Vanilla.”

What would you want printed on your gravestone?
“Beloved mother, grandmother, great grandmother and great great-grandmother.”

What’s your favorite kind of music?
“Old Spanish gospel songs, especially those about San Antonio and Santa Rita.”

Tell us how you met your late husband, Antonio:
“We met at a dance in Aurora, New Mexico, and later got married at a church in Villanueva.”

Tell us about a time you were nervous:
“When my house caught on fire and burned down in December of 1976. We had to walk a mile to my son Santiago’s house.”

Who would you invite to your dinner party?
“All of my family and friends. The more the merrier.”

What is your most prized possession?
“That would be a big crochet blanket I made. It was the first thing I made when I moved to Portales. Also, my little pillow with my family tree.” (Skippy said the small pillow has a family tree embroidered on it with the names of Salazar’s daughters. She added that her mother doesn’t let anyone touch her blanket or pillow and sleeps on them. As for Salazar’s crochet blanket, it has a family tree on it and is composed of blocks made by each of her children’s families).

What was the happiest time of your life?
“It was during our first family reunion in Portales in the early 1990s. It was with all of the Salazars and Senas.”

Tell us something about your family history:
“I had two brothers and three sisters. They all had long lives. The oldest was my brother, Richard Sena, who lived to be 99 years old.”

Name something that gets better with age:
“I get spoiled by my family.”

What kinds of changes have you seen in the world over the past century?
“I have seen a lot of changes. For example, I used to cook on a wood stove and now we have a gas stove. There was no running water and no electricity. Our ceiling was made out of muslin and our floor was packed dirt. The restroom was an outhouse and we had woodburning heaters.”

– Compiled by Helena Rodriguez