So, when we moved to Albuquerque, and I saw the name of a major north-south road, on the East side, called Juan Tabo, I was curious about this (apparently) Spanish gentleman. I figured he must have been very important in Albuquerque's history, especially considering all of the businesses also bearing his name.
I took Spanish in junior high and high school, so using the rules of pronunciation that I'd been taught, I figured this name was pronounced Juan Ta'bo, with the accent on "Ta." Nope, I was quickly corrected by my very nice neighbor, Lorraine. It is Juan Ta-Bo' - accent on "Bo." Ever since, I've been trying to figure out where this mysterious sort-of-Spanish-sounding name came from. And what I've learned is that it is an Albuquerque mystery.
As I suspected, people agree that the last name, Tabo, does not appear to be Spanish. But no one knows for sure who Juan was. Everyone, however, has a theory:
- Some people say Juan was a Pueblo Indian shepherd who pastured his sheep in that East Mountain area (near where the road is today), and that Tabo was his nickname, not his real last name.
- Some say he was a Spanish priest, but the name doesn't appear in early church records.
- Some old-timers here say that Juan was a guy from Carnuel who walked along the edge of town with his cows, sheep and a bunch of dogs, and sold tortillas and tamales to the townspeople. They say this shepherd's route later became a well-traveled road, and was named after Juan. The tough part of this theory, though, is that Juan Tabo Blvd. is located many miles from where "town" would have been back "in the days." I don't think he'd have had many tamale customers.
- Others claim that the name Tabo came from the Toboso Indians of Texas.
- I read one person's theory that Juan Tabo was the Spanish Conquistador Francisco Vazquez de Coronado's pet cat! (Not a likely theory, but someday, if I ever have a cat or dog, I think I might name it Juan Tabo.)
- Another person claims that Tabo is a Spanish word in the Philippines, meaning "cup made from coconut shell." Now that really clears things up, doesn't it?
I'll keep asking questions, but I've learned that Albuquerquians just seem to pick their favorite Tabo story and claim it as truth - or make up a new story to add to the collection. I might mention here, though, that if you come to Albuquerque to visit, you'll probably want to go to Juan Tabo Blvd., and take the cutoff up to the Juan Tabo Picnic Area. It's really a beautiful drive, especially in the evening when the sun is setting, no matter who it is named after!