Palabras Pintorescas: Surprises of all sorts here at the ranch

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By Editha Bartley

Surprises show up in all sorts of different ways around here. I am the happy recipient of “Death Comes Quickly,” Susan Witting Albert’s newest “who-dunnit” book in her China Bayles mystery series. This book is number 23 in the series, and I have read all of them. Susan and Bill Albert are our part-time neighbors who have a home in Pendaries.

Susan and Bill research the geographic and the professional sides of a story long before it is written. This is obvious in this newest novel. Susan describes Texas law as it pertains, in this instance, to estates and inheritance in detail. She also paints a vivid word picture of the small Texas town, Pecan Springs (a fictional town by the way) where the latest murder happened.

Meanwhile, here at the ranch I just happened upon a very old Sunday Denver Post newspaper. This May 30, 1954 section B page off a yellowing paper has a headline that reads, “Profile of a City: Las Vegas, N.M. sees bright future.” Almost all this front page is covered with photographs, including a large aerial shot of the entire town and another of the New Mexico Hospital for the Insane.

There is a photo of a test oil well being drilled by the continental oil company in Las Vegas, and a picture of the Plaza Hotel and the Montezuma Hotel, then  a seminary. The very new Paul D. Henry school and the just completed Las Vegas Hospital Building round out this page.

Best of all, there are 11 pictures lined up near the bottom of the page. You, my readers, will recognize most of them.

They are: Self Counce, restaurant owner; Ross Thompson, utilities manager; Dr. T.C. Donnelly; university president; Ivan Hilton, banker; Lawson Peterson Chamber of Commerce  President; Alfredo Maez, mayor of “New Town;” Ernie Thwaites, radio executive (KFUN); and Dr. G. S. Stillinger, hospital superintendent.

These were the positions listed under their names. Many of us old-timers will agree that we knew almost all of them and had all sorts of encounters with them on the streets of Las Vegas.

Many of these men were interviewed by the post reporter, Fred Baker. I quote just one example: “Another civic leader who believes the tourist potential should be exploited is Ernie Thwaites, owner of the radio station KFUN. Thwaites has been an ardent and outspoken advocate of the highway from here to Tucumcari, pointing out that existence of such a highway would bring much trade to this area from transcontinental travelers from Highway 66 and from the west Texas area.”

The text is lengthy, obviously because the paper devoted at least a page and a half to this story. That translates into another column or two, because the words and pictures painted here are too good to lose for Las Vegas. And yes, Susan Albert would surely pore over this newspaper story if she happened to situate her next story, thriller mystery here in Las Vegas. Wow! Wouldn’t that be a fun read?

Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.