AZTEC — Edna Utton has seen a lot of changes in Aztec in the past 83 years.

Born Edna Smith and raised on Lover's Lane, Edna recently shared with The Daily Times several old family photos, including some dating back to the early 1900's and possibly before. She also shared her recollections of a vastly different Aztec than the one that exists today.

Utton recalls when Aztec used to consist of only two blocks, which contained just a few businesses such as Hoops Pharmacy, Eubanks Drug Store, the Harfield Crane grocery store and Clyde Hubbard's grocery store.

"Back then, if you were a kid and you stepped out of line, your mother knew about it before you got home," said Utton, who worked in the mid-40s as a soda jerk at Hoops Pharmacy. She also recalls a different work ethic at the time.

"I remember once a customer gave me a dime as a tip, and I was so indignant. I said to him, I work for a living and am getting paid. You don't have to give me anything else!'"

Edna's grandfather, Frank Townsend, came to this area after stowing away on a ship from England. He later started a trading post at Largo Canyon. Edna's father became a livestock inspector, and Edna claims that her mother, Avisa Townsend, was the first telephone operator in Aztec.

Local historian and author, Marilu Waybourn, believes this claim may be correct, but cannot verify it.

"I'm always uncomfortable saying definitively that someone was the first of anything, unless it can be proven," Waybourn said.


Waybourn recently published her book, "Aztec: Images of America," which is a photographic journey into the history of Aztec. She has researched some of Utton's photos and continues to archive photos that provide testimony to earlier days in San Juan County.

Utton and her husband lived in Virginia, Gallup and Roswell, before returning permanently to Aztec in 2004. While Utton acknowledges that Aztec is not the same town it was when she was a girl, she has noticed the continuing influx of seniors choosing the community as their home.

"We have a lot of retirees coming to Aztec because it's still a small town and is a really nice community," she said.

Do you have old photos of life in San Juan County you'd like to share? Send them to Leigh Irvin at The Daily Times, 201 N. Allen, Farmington, NM 87401, or e-mail them to Please include a description of the photos as well as your name, phone number and address, so we can contact you with any questions.