Friday, August 4, 2017

OLD CLOVIS: FROM THE MISTS OF TIME

"There has always been a drug store..on that corner".....Unknown



Someone, maybe it was esteemed Editor 
David Stevens  (CNJ), posted this photo
recently on FB. It is the ever-present drug
store on Clovis' Main Street at Fourth Street,
in some unnamed year...

"Ever-present" meaning there was always 
a drug store on that corner, as if it was the
heart-beat of downtown, tho' the stores 
did have several names, over time...

Did it finally become...Cretney's?

(Someone wrote recently that there is a
church there now, but  I don't know about 
that.)

When we moved to Clovis that hot Great
Depression summer of 1938 to own and
operate the Magic Steam Laundry, the 
drug store on that corner was THE FOX 
DRUG.

There were small signs over the entrances
with cool little black running FOXES...like
silhouettes almost. 

There was a large lunch room over in
the far right back corner with tables and
maybe waitresses., as well as a long soda 
fountain counter out in the store running
from west to east up to the front...

On the far north side, toward Anthony's 
was a fine news stand facing Main Street.
They sold kids' comic books for 15 cents
each.

There was a pharmacy in back by the
rear exit onto Fourth.

In our simple little pre-war city, KICA
Radio was a big thing! Grady Maples
and R.B. McAlister operated the station.

It broadcast a men's quartet, singing 
Southern Gospel each day at 
12:45-1:00 p.m. from Fox. There was 
a piano up front by the slanted door at 
the corner...and they rolled it onto the 
sidewalk and broadcast from right there.

My uncle sang first tenor in that quartet.

The Fox Drug was a handy place for little
Clovis kids whose big entertainment was 
walking through every store in town, but
with no money to buy anything.

In through the news stand, up and down 
the aisles and out the back door onto
Fourth. That was the "drill."

Robert Stebnins, CHS '51, remembers a
women's dress shop back behind Fox
Drug, abutting the alley. He thinks it was
"Doreen's."

There WAS such a business there for 
years, and I salute Robert for his memory...
of the store's name. I didn't recall that.

But sit down for this one. There was also
once a small barber shop back there...and 
It was there either before Doreen's or at 
the same time.

I know, for that's where I got my first-ever
store-boughten haircut. One Saturday night
Dad took me in there. (Stores in those early
times stayed open until 9 or 10 on Saturday
nights.) For your info, I was age five.

The name of the Barber Shop escapes me
but it was run by a short little man named Mr.
Jenks. My barber was a tall rather handsome
man named Mr. Nolan.

(In 1961 when we moved to Albuquerque 
and I sought out a barber shop, I stopped
in at the Princess Jeanne Addition barber
shop and in the subsequent conversation
discovered the young man cutting my hair
was named Nolan. His father cut hair in
Clovis, once.)

That was an interesting corner, Fourth and
Main...there was a Woolworths on the SE,
a Barry Hardware on the NE, May's Jewelry
was south of Fox Drug on the SW corner.

On that grand and fateful Saturday afternoon,
circa AUGUST 15, 1945, about 4 p.m. when
I wandered out of the beloved LYCEUM 
THEATER into the bright and blinding 
sunshine, traffic was stopped on Main 
Street.

There was a KICA RADIO VAN parked 
catty-wompus under the stop light almost 
in front of Barry Hardware... the loud speaker
was announcing: "TODAY, THE JAPANESE
HAVE SURRENDERED. WWII IS OVER."

I stood there stunned. 

I thought and it's true: "Thank God, no more
wars."

My twelve-year-old heart was fed up with that
war----
      We kids had gathered all kinds of old
        rubber ties, scrap metal, paper, 
         grease, glass and bought 10 cent
           war stamps...

       When we were rather small we had
         watched during hot summers, 
            and heard the B24's as
           they droned around town, 
             training to head to Europe...
                some 55,000 never 
                  came home.

        At the laundry we did thousands
          of bundles of clean uniforms
             for the men at the Clovis 
               Air Base...I met them all...

         Yes, that FOX DRUG STORE corner
            does bring back memories
               of life as it happened decades
                 ago...it was just as real as
                   life is today, and just as
                     important to us, then...

            When I walk Main Street, or
              drag it today, even if only
                 in memory...I get a deep
                   feeling of reverence
                      for times, and friends...
                          long-passed.
                 
---------------------
MIL
28 JUNE 17

Thursday, August 3, 2017

FILL OUT THEM AWFUL FORMS?


An event of life occurred...a very real and
    sad one
an important person left us...as happens 
    along the way

Adjustments had to be made---requiring
     forms...legal forms, bank ones,
                   gov't. stuff,
ownership changes, and I don't  know
     whatall

And they  came in by the scads, even 
        weighing down the lady
     post-person...almost
And these forms were designed and printed
        with tiny, light gray, unreadable
     print (to anyone over forty)

And I, in my second career, 25 years
    long, 
I had who had "lived and died" by filling out
     sales forms....
and could do them practically
      blindfolded...expertly...
and amazingly deftly...

Seemed to hit a brick wall...with these
                monsters---maybe it
     was....my age...and my eyes
          or patience...or was it
I needed a better magnifying glass...
      It was stressful, big time

I sent 'em back and others came...these 
    too had to be
magnified...then I got BE to help, and
     she today made 22 copies
for record...and we mailed those suckers
      in...

Prayer: "O Lord...may we someday live
     with Thee in Heavenly Places...
and may all forms-to-be-filled-out...
       go
to the other place.". Amen.
***************
18 JULY 17
MILFILL 

"HOW DID I WIND UP....OUT THERE?"

THE ACTUAL WINDMILL
AT OUR HOME PLACE


        Photo, MRM, 1969
There I was
              out there in nowhere...
alone, 
    amidst three hundred-twenty
 acres---a wheat-stubble 
     field, with whited, dried, crusty
              soil---parched  by 
    the sun...and filled with 
                   healthy green weeds
getting taller by the day...and
         sucking water up...

There I was, at ninety-five degree
      noonday, sun fading my 
blue $2.95 work shirt... I was
     breathing hot tractor fumes
         as all air seemed 
to hang and not move, except
        to follow the tractor 

The worst thing was the crowd
     of hangers-on, 
following the tractor dust cloud---
      Insects I never even knew
           existed plus gnats of 
all sizes...flies...bugs...horse flies...
     helicopter-like-big-flies...and
unnamed vicious flyers...
             and hoverers...

all seeking my eyes, ears, and nose!
      all buzzing different tunes, 
             tones and pitches---
one breed practicing crash dives
                 on my neck!

Yes, there I was, merely a tiny, hot
      insignificant and unimportant
speck...as seen from the cosmos...

on a big orange Case tractor, with
     wide front wheels, and a
mind of its own, almost like a 
     feisty horse

My trusty and loved companion 
     was the water bag bought 
          at Barry Hardware
for $3.75 and it was hanging there 
     on the Power-Take-Off,                   
             three-fourths
      empty, caked with mud
and the water remaining was hot---
          you could count on it---
       
       the windmill was a quarter
mile off and only vaguely seen thru
           the rising heat waves...

and it was not turning at all
      there being not a wisp of a
              breeze

Way on the other side of the 
        half section ---barely---
thru the heat waves could be seen
     Dad on his identical orange 
          Case Wheatland tractor...

At maybe 3 mph it took forever 
     to do a "round," and meet
and see---Who had the freshest
               water bag...?

He'd have a good John Ruskin
     all lit up, making his day 
          fun...but I was only 
       fifteen, and aging too slowly
for fun stuff

How did I wind up, out there---working...
     when many of my peers were
                    in town
catching rays at the pool...
               or watching
       a good "Tarzan" or "Lash La Rue"
movie at the Lyceum?

I think it was because people had to
      WORK in those simpler times
          and if you got something
              you had to earn it.

Good days in the grand old USA!
******************
Mil
1JULY 2017

THE GHOSTLY SENTINEL



In those far Southern Parts
      down towards
           Cancer, when you're
headed for Capricorn

the people are a bit strange
        (and gossipy...and love
to talk at hardware stores, and
              church picnics)
and there seems to be 
                     richly abounding
in those humid parts:
                "Lore Galore"

and Old Wives' Tales...
     especially after a glass of
that Southern Nectar, 
        so favored by the wimmin'

O, their yarns and best story 
        always seems to be
    about the mythical, ghostly,
retired scientist, who loved
       gardens, peach trees, 
and all things green...

He knew his stuff and his 
                 invented
        Bug Juices had about
   eradicated all the 
insects within a mile of his
          beloved acres...

They say, these wimmin'---
     that this rakish, sort of
   handsome and graceful
old timer...

is so protective of his plants
       and gardens and herbs
and  fruit trees...

that he walks his grounds 
     all night long, almost

and the story is that he may 
      curl up in that mysterious
                Red Barn 
(into which no mortal has ever
       ventured)
and grab a few winks.

They wind up their stories at 
    these social events, saying:
"He keeps the coons and the 
       feral dogs and the wild
pigs offen his little farm,

and if you get up real early 
   with the sun and peek over 
              the fence
you MAY see him.
          patrolling his rows,
and somehow looking 
         ghostly.

Oh yes, tales abound down
       toward Capricorn....

and who knows if they're 
              True
or not.
******************
MIL
21JULY 17

A SUNDAY MORNING MOON...BY A WHITE WINGED DOVE!



This beautiful, peaceful, quiet Sunday
     morning with the sun barely
up, and the light still sparse

I was sitting at my writing place, and
     as oft is the case...looking 
out at the rising dawn

Wanting to do a bit of writing...
          WHEN, "BONK--THUMP"

A white-wing dove big as a 
       bantam rooster landed
          right on the window bar
     next to the grain...

O he was a work of art--- gray,
      with black-feather accents,
and neat white-strips 
      of feathers...and he was 
so smooth, along the 
         head and neck, as if
coiffed for Sunday-go-to-meetin'...

(How can you describe a creation
     like this without saying "feathers"
over and over?)

Did the Heavenly Father just in one
      moment say: "Let there be a 
dove!" or...

Were the "Days" of creation actually
     eons-long and much intricate 
planning went on...to provide Man
      
all the "beauties of the Earth?"

 "peck...thump...peck...thump..."
      the beautiful bird had turned...

...and  WAS "MOONING" ME!
             Shamelessly...

I grabbed my camera...and I had
            my Sunday "poem..."

And I had never realized...
      the beauty... of a 

dove's bottom.
************
MIL
23 JULY 17

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

LEAVING WILD PEACH....ONCE AGAIN


"It's time for an old New England custom
         to come to Wild Peach:
             'Walk The Outcrops'...."
   ***************************


The summer is almost over
    at least for the young SAF
         at Wild Peach

O she has had an "education"
     a sampling of life 
all packed into a few weeks

A good plan really, for remember
     back to mere-infant time...
how babies can double their 
     brain capacity 
            "in big gulps"
so to speak

Why this also applies to the 
     teen folks with their voracious 
appetites for knowledge 
         and who are practically
                 "sponges walking"
and they don't even know it,
      probably

This young lady SAF has had a
       summer sampling of jobs---
farmer, planter, veterinarian,
    boat captain, fisher-person,
Chez (cook),  musician, and
      who knows..... whatall...
running a farm and ranch...

(There were two SAF's but one 
      had to leave early...
           Que lastima.) 

Ah, in old New England, the 
     esteemed nature-writer
Hal Borland, with a farm
     in cold Connecticutt.
told of the end-of-the-year
             custom
      in those parts, of taking 
a walk around your ancient  rock
       fences and other 
property boundaries, and
     remembering old times
and the year-then-passed..

With the summer ending, it
    is time for the grizzled,
Old Timer, in fact a wizened 
   hombre himself, to
       "walk the outcrops"
one more time, in memory,
     with his young SAF.

Maybe sit under the 
       "Gnarled Oaks" and
reminisce a spell, spread
    a little bag of grain 
for the wrens and chickadees,
      and the sparrows and
         mockingbirds

Throw handfuls of corn into 
    The Pond for the catfish
          and blue gills

Rub her favorite calf with a 
     nice stiff brush, and hug...

Sit in the marvelous junky
     open shed...and have a
cold-watermelon-juice
        homemade Popsicle
one more time, until 
                         next year...

as she spies over in the corner
     on a rickety makeshift 
bookshelf some dusty, musty
    old volumes 
which she knows are Granddad's
        favorites, and she says,
     excitedly, "Oh, GD, read some
to me from Masefield---again"
          and he opens the old
book of poems, and reads to her:

   "I must go down to the seas again,
       To the lonely sea and sky,
     And all I ask is a tall ship and a 
       star to steer her by;
     And the wheel's kick and the wind's
        song and the white sail's shaking,
     And a grey mist on the sea's face,
        and a grey dawn breaking."

After this fine and memorable 
     "going away" walk for the
young SAF, 
           a marvelous aroma
was arising over at The Pond, 
     on The Dock

K. was having a Mud Bug cookout
     with roasting ears 
as a fitting climax to The Walk
     ---a going away party
.
As she and Granddad ambled
     over that way, hand-in-
   hand, she thought 
        she heard him humming
softly thru his white beard---
           a sad Tom Russell tune
of some favorite of his...

and....was that a tear...
                        in his eye?


19 JULY 17
From the "Wild Peach Poem Collection"
"SAF" :  "Summer Assistant Foreman"

THAT "DAPPLED" LIGHT OF MID-SUMMER





The table by my "writing window" 
      is draped with a cloth 
  covered with many shapes 
             of green leaves---
      and fruits of all kinds
like pears, apples, grapes, apricots,
      cherries, and even 
           little violet flowers...

In Mid-summer, Old Sol has escaped 
    the clutches of Capricorn
and roams north big time and rests
      a day over Cancer, before
heading back South...

That's when, over my left shoulder
      from the direction of 
"The Watermelon Mountains," 
      here on the 5600 feet high mesa---
the light comes pouring in my window
       every morn....thru the waxy bush
    just outside
which "dapples" it, 
       as it touches my writing place...

It is then the light reflects
      into my soul....and
illuminates

and I begin to write.
**************
MIL
2 AUGUST 17