I was waiting in line at the Manzanares Coffeehouse today here in Socorro, and overheard a customer mentioning Martha's Black Dog Coffeehouse, the business that used to be there.
I spoke up. “Hi, I'm your volunteer Martha's Black Dog history consultant. I was there the whole time.”
The man looked familiar, and said he thought he knew me. I introduced myself and he grinned.
It was Andy Horwitz, founder of Bow Wow Records, one of the greatest little record stores ever. It opened on Central Avenue in downtown Albuquerque, sometime in the 1980s, and the stock was outstandingly eclectic. Many are the gems that I picked out of his bins, and many were the pleasant hours I spent yakking with Andy about any and all kinds of music, from the best of the popular current stuff to the farthest corners of ethnic and forgotten music. He had reggae, he had African, he had Hawaiian music, not to mention the all-important rock and roll.
Andy was a veterinarian before he opened Bow Wow, hence the name. Today he was very professionally turned out in a sharp suit, on his way to do some work for a pharmaceuticals firm.
As we parted, he told me something that I didn't know, or didn't remember: I was his second customer at Bow Wow.
Sure, it was only a business, just like Martha's was only a business. To make money, to pay the bills, to survive. As I told Andy today, Martha often claimed that the only reason she opened a restaurant was so there was someplace she could hang out where they couldn't throw her out. But some businesses go beyond just making a living, and customers will always remember how they made up a slice of what we call home.