HUERFANO — Mary Santisstevan was born in Alamo Mining Camp in Huerfano County in 1924. Her father worked in the mine, and Mary had two sisters and four brothers who attended school in the Black Hills in a one-room school. Since that school only went to the eighth grade, they had to go to high school in Walsenburg. The family later moved to a ranch in Badito where they grew potatoes and vegetables. Everyone in the family would work in the fields; Mary sewed the sacks of potatoes shut before they were taken to market. Her father ran a sorter which was pulled by horses and would sort the potatoes by size. Mary cooked for the pickers during harvest which was hard since they were hearty eaters. The work was hard, and Mary did the harvest time cooking starting when she was only eleven years old. She met Joe Aldretti when she was 18 and they fell in love. They married and settled down to raise a family. Joe worked in a mine and was also an avid hunter. They had two children, a girl and a boy. Joe passed away at an early age, leaving Mary to support her two children. She went to work cleaning houses and doing odd jobs. Mary later met Ermer Andreatta, a local rancher and they married. He worked the ranch and they both drove school buses to supplement their income. Mary still loved to cook for her family and anyone that would stop by the house. When travelers stopped to get directions, she would happily feed them. She was famous for her bread and could cook elk and deer and other game. Mary also made her own wine. Mary and Ermer were active in the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Ermer was a veteran of World War II and served in the Army in Europe as a photographer. Mary was also active in the community and today is still in Cowbelles, which supports 4H Clubs, and in the local chapter of AARP. When Ermer passed away after 31 years of marriage, Mary stayed on and worked the ranch and took care of the crops and cattle as long as she could. At age 79 she moved in with her daughter and granddaughter. She has 12 grandchildren, numerous great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
Raton hosts training for field and wild land firefighters by Lillian Eva