Taos County, New Mexico
Crucita Romero

Crucita Romero, Taos Pueblo, Living Treasurers
By Scott Sloan, For The Taos News, October 12, 2001

Crucita Romero's picture is known throughout the world. She has been photographed for magazines, encyclopedias and travel books, to name a few. She has also appeared in several feature films, as well as a music video by Brian Setzer.

"I can't say how many times I've been photographed," she said.

Romero is probably best known as the proprietor of Crucita's Curio Shop and Bakery, which is located at the northern end of Taos Pueblo. She is now in her eighth decade at the store, which is known for its oven-baked bread, as well as the handmade bead work, mica pottery, drums jewelry and other handcrafted items.

"People come here regularly. She has customers from all over the world who regularly come back," said Crucita's daughter, Valentina Romero.

As a young girl of 15, Romero began working at the shop, which was then owned by her uncle, Albert Lujan, who was himself a renowned artist. Much of what Crucita learned about business and art came from him.

"I used to help him with his work. I'd put the pieces in boxes for him when he finished. I took over the store in my late twenties," she remembers.

She and her husband, Ben H. Romero, had four children -- Valentina, who works for the pueblo governor's office, Margie, Richard and Lupe, now deceased. She also has 11 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

Romero's continued involvement with her shop has fueled the growth of her reputation -- first among her neighbors, then throughout the region. Both Romero and her store are known throughout the world, as tourists make regular stops to buy her pottery, or just exchange a few words with her.

After so many decades, she still oversees the store, making her among the longest-running proprietors of a business in the state. But she said the years have caused her to do less than she once did.

"My children help out, but I still bake the bread," she said.

Having been born and raised on the pueblo, she has been an active member of the community all of her life. People who know her still draw inspiration from her. Recently, she participated in a film produced by the New Mexico Secretary of State's office. In light of the tragic events of Sept. 11, the state is producing a video with a theme of courage, inspiration and unity. Officials asked Romero to be a part of the project.

Those who know her best understand why she was asked.

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© Karen Mitchell