Shus in Dilemma
When DID El Pasatiempo Begin?

By Will Shuster
(Reprinted from The Santa Fe Scene, August 9, 1958)

Charley Comfort called me last night and asked if I would write a story on "El Pasatiempo" for The Santa Fe Scene.

At six this morning I crawled out of bed and put on a pot of coffee. Now, three cups of coffee and an hour and a half later, after having waded through years of clippings, I find that I am faced with a dilemma. Of course, it is of no great importance, but still it bothers me. Was the first Pasatiempo held in the fall of 1924 or was it 1926 ? Quien sabe ? Some one must know. This fuzzy memory of mine is of no help, especially when it is confused by old Santa Fe New Mexican clippings some of which attribute it to the year of 1924, and others to 1926. Perhaps B. B. Dunne, Ina Cassidy, Ruth Alexander, Witter Bynner or some of the other old timers with sharper memories will know the answer. At any rate, in one of those years El Pasatiempo was born. following a Fiesta that had become a bit stilted and perhaps too commercial; in the opinion of quite a few of us;the artists and writers of Santa Fe hatched out an hilarious postFiesta fiesta, called El Pasatiempo. And Zozobra was born. The Hysterical parade, an obvious pun on the Fiesta's Historical pageant, came to life as did also the Pet Parade. If John Sloan were still alive, I am sure he would know the answer. It happened this way: closing the Fiesta, a street dance was to be held in front of the Old Palace. The Las Vegas Cowboy's Ban, in flaming orange angora chaps, were struggling with a longwinded composition, probably called "Custer's Last Stand." It went on and on. Fearing that the street dance would be called off on account of the lateness of the hour, two protest groups were organized; one staging noisy Indian dances, and the other, under Sloan's leadership, even noisier, doing a Salvation Army stunt. A sturdy, tough little officer, name forgotten, but one of the three or four that the city then had, stopped John and told him in Spanish-English to cease, desist and shut up. Understanding "shut up," John hotly retorted, "Try and shut me up," whereupon the officer seized Sloan by the throat and, momentarily shut him up. He also marched him off to the city's Jusgado, the medieval jail that used to be located on Water street in back of El Fidel Hotel. Somehow or other, a group of us managed to get him extricated from the dungeon, and subsequently held an indignation meeting in the back room of the old Spanish and Indian Trading Company, which was located opposite La Fonda where De Castro is now. There, sitting around on stacks of Indian blankets, under a dim pendant light bulb with the focal point a jug of moonshine in the center of the council circle, El Pasatiempo was born. Ideas flew thick and fast. Feverish activities followed and El Pasatiempo materialized in October. - - (Well, Charley, that isn't much about El Pasatiempo, but at least that is how it got started. Doggone it, I would still like to know; was it 1924, or 1926 ? ).


[So that Shus won't lose any more sleep wondering whether it was 1924 or 1926 when El Pasatiempo was injected into Fiesta, Mrs. Manuel Sanchez has recalled that the year she was Fiesta Queen; 1926 ;El Pasatiempo was already established as a part of the Fiesta activities. Therefore, the year of its inception was 1924, also at that same time Old Man Grouch, immediate ancestor of Zozobra, was conceived and burned behind the old Fire Dept.;Ed.]