The House at Otowi Bridge: The Story of Edith Warner and Los Alamos

The House at Otowi Bridge: The Story of Edith Warner and Los Alamos

The House at Otowi Bridge: The Story of Edith Warner and Los Alamos

The House at Otowi Bridge: The Story of Edith Warner and Los Alamos

Synopsis

The haunting experiences of a shy Pennsylvania woman who opened a tearoom in her adobe home that became a haven for neighboring nuclear scientists and Indians alike.

Excerpt

I have been sitting in my garden this morning thinking of Edith Warner, how many years it has been since she died and how fast the world we knew has gone on changing. She lies in an Indian grave near the Pueblo of San Ildefonso, nothing over her but the earth hard as a bare heel, and the fragments of the clay pots that were broken over the grave according to the ancient custom of the Pueblos. The little house she lived in beside the bridge was already falling to pieces when I saw it last. The new bridge of towering rigid steel, with two lanes for the traffic that now speeds back and forth to Los Alamos, crosses the Rio Grande close to the wellhouse. The vines that used to hang there, their leaves so glossy and cool in the quivery summer heat, are a mass of clotted dry stems and tendrils. I suppose hardly anyone stops to listen to the river any more.

But I still see Edith standing in the doorway, her thin figure straight as an aspen in a mountain forest, her eyes lifted to the long dark rim of the mesa east of the river. She watches the sky for the northward flight of the wild geese, "that long silver V endlessly circling and reforming," to tell us of spring's sure return. The brown buckskin moccasins in which she moved so quietly about her busy days are lapped over at the ankles and fastened in the Navajo style with a silver button-the only concession to Indian costume she ever made. In memory I still see the worn scrubbed boards of the kitchen floor behind her, the old-fashioned range with its twin warming ovens and the woodbox near it that Tilano kept filled with sticks of knotted juniper. The copper kettle simmers on the stove and the house is filled with the warm smell of baking bread.

Old Tilano, who was nearly sixty when he came across the bridge from the pueblo to live with Edith at "the place where the river . . .

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