An American Dream

Sam Maricellas

IF THERE IS A MORE CONTENTED MAN than Sam, I don’t need to meet him. Sam sets the bar.

He was 18 when he came to the United States.

He has done very well, and he is proud of that.

He is surrounded by many things and people he loves, including three daughters and four granddaughters.

He taught himself English, builds houses from scratch, restores Corvette Stingrays, and competes in team roping. Among many other things.

Maybe he is naturally happy, or maybe it just happened for him when everything else did.

I never got around to asking him that.

On buying a truck

So there’s a shortage of inventory in trucks. I had to order one because they don’t have trucks in stock. I wanted a Ford F-250 XLT Diesel. They told me six months. They say the problem is with the factory, that they have to build the truck. This takes a lot of time because they need to wait for a ship coming from China or Japan. They say we need to wait for that ship.

On coming to America

I came to America in 1988. I was in Albuquerque for a year and then Santa Fe because my older brother invited me here. I love Santa Fe. I came from Chihuahua, Mexico, a pretty small town. I like Santa Fe; it’s small too. At first, I still thought about Mexico, but I don’t anymore. I feel like an American. It’s been good here.

On family

My older brother and sister got here first, got here through the night. Then they brought the rest of the family: my younger brothers and my parents. So right now, all of my family is living here. It’s a big family – we are four brothers and four sisters, their families, and my parents.

My father still has a house in Mexico, a small farm where he grows corn, beans, and all that. Sometimes he rents the field. He’s 82 now. When I came to America, I came alone then went back and brought my wife Maricella. We’ve been married over 30 years. We have a big family. We’re all together. We go on vacations together. That makes me happy.

My daughters, my parents, all my brothers – we are living together, talking every day, having parties on the weekends. That’s what makes me most happy: all my family.

On work

When I first came to Albuquerque, I worked in a Chinese restaurant. Then I learned about building. I’d done a little bit in Mexico, and when I came to Santa Fe, I learned more skills from my older brothers. I also learned from other companies in town. I built our family house on our property, built the whole thing, but had to get a little help with plumbing and electricity. You need a license for that. I like building, and I’m still learning every day.

On the Corvette

After coming here and seeing American sports cars, I started to like them and dreamed of owning one. I had my eye on a dusty 1979 Corvette C3 my neighbor had in his yard for years. I saw that car before, in Mexico when I was young. He finally sold it to me, and I wanted to bring it back to life. I knew restorations wouldn’t be easy; I needed time, patience, and a lot of money.

One of my nephews has a body shop. So I installed a new engine, a fuel-injection carburetor, and new suspension and redid the interior and paint. It looks like a piece of artwork that I could take a summer cruise in. My daughters love that car. My wife says it’s pretty long, the front of the car – that’s why she doesn’t want to drive it.

On team roping

I grew up around farm animals and have been fascinated with horses ever since. When I moved to Santa Fe, I was introduced to the team roping sport and wanted to learn it. It requires a close relationship, a strong bond between cowboy and horse. Also close cooperation between the header, who ropes the horns, and heeler, who goes for the feet.

I was never taught to throw the rope, but I practiced. You have to focus your eyes and your mind on the feet of the steer while they’re running. And you have to practice with your horse to be on the same page. You have like three to five seconds to get the head or the feet. Before a competition, I have to practice two, three times a week. I have many things to learn before a competition. When I’m roping in competition, I invite my family and they all come.



Photo SFM