May 23

On this date …

1965: Pro football fans were still talking about encounters with two players who spent the weekend in Clovis.

The Clovis News-Journal reported the Dallas Cowboys’ Bob Lilly and the Los Angeles Rams’ Tommy McDonald spent two days signing autographs at a Clovis sporting goods store.

Both signed more than 1,000 autographs, the newspaper reported.

Lilly, a 6-foot, 5-inch, 260-pound defensive tackle from Olney, Texas, predicted the Cowboys “will be contenders down to the final whistle.”

The ’65 Cowboys finished 7-7, but reached the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, before losing to the Baltimore Colts, 35-3.

Lilly was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.

1970: Albert Christian, who lived 11 miles west of Grady, reported 4 inches of rain fell the night before.

Ivan Rush, Christian’s neighbor about two miles west, reported 3.5 inches of rain.

Most of the region saw less than an inch of moisture.

Transitions …

1960: Floyd D. Golden, involved with Eastern New Mexico University from its inception in 1934 and its president for 19 years, announced his retirement.

Speculation that Golden would be replaced had been reported weeks earlier.

Golden said he planned to spend the next few years working on a book about the university’s history.
He called it, “The Golden Years.”

May 22

On this date …

1975: Clovis Chamber of Commerce officials said 42 entries had been received for next month’s Pioneer Days parade.

Chamber Manager Bob Spencer said horse entries might be fewer than usual because of a “swamp fever regulation” in Texas that prevented unvaccinated horses from returning if they left the state.

A vaccine was $10, but Spencer said “these people are not going to want to particularly pay for a shot just to enter our parade.”

1945: A bond rally was held at Portales’ Yam Theatre and raised $4,000 to help fund military operations.

The “Bondardiers” from Clovis Air Base provided musical entertainment, The Portales Daily News reported.

In national sports news …

1975: Quarterback Joe Namath had declined a $4 million offer to play in the World Football League, but had not accepted a $1 million offer to return to the New York Jets either.

The free agent said the Jets were the only National Football League attempting to sign him, but he was open to offers from other NFL teams.

Namath did re-sign with the Jets, playing two more seasons before ending his Hall of Fame career with the Los Angeles Rams in 1977.

May 21

On this date …

1968: An F-100F Super Sabre jet crashed two miles west of Melrose Practice Range, moments after an instructor and his student pilot safely ejected.

The Clovis News-Journal reported the plane crashed on an isolated section of the Billy Joe Grider Ranch.

Capt. Dale Strawn, 28, of Charlotte, North Carolina, suffered a fractured elbow. Pilot 2nd Lt. Edmund Basher suffered lacerations on his neck, military officials reported.

The plane, in service with the Air Force from 1954 to 1971, was among the first USAF fighters capable of supersonic speed in level flight. It cost about $700,000 to build.

1955: The Varsity Drive-In Theatre, south of Portales on the Roswell highway where there was “always a double feature,” was showing “Where’s Charley” and “San Francisco Story.” 

Admission for adults was 50 cents. Children were allowed in for free.

Transitions …

1965: Lee Hammond, New Mexico Cattle Growers Association Cattleman of the Year in 1960, died after 50 years farming and ranching in Curry County.

He often farmed 4,000 acres of wheat, using mules and horses until the 1940s, according to a family profile in the history book “Curry County, New Mexico.”

1970: Bill Duckworth, one of Clovis’ more prominent businessmen for six decades, died at age 84.

He operated Duckworth Drug Co. at 310 Main in Clovis from 1932 to 1952. He also had interests in farming, real estate and auto sales, served as New Mexico’s lieutenant governor in 1921-22 and was a state senator from 1961 through 1966.

1978: John Burroughs, one of Portales’ first peanut processors who went on to become New Mexico’s 18th governor, died at age 71.

A football player at Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) in the late 1920s, he taught school in Los Lunas and Clovis before entering the food processing industry and moving to Portales.

He was elected governor in 1958 and served two years, Jan. 1, 1959, to Jan. 1, 1961.

May 20

On this date …

1960: Eleven black airmen from Cannon Air Force Base staged a “sit down” at a Clovis cafe after two had been denied service.

Cannon band members had marched in an Armed Forces Day parade, then two of them attempted to eat at the restaurant. When they were denied service, they left but returned with nine others for the civil protest.

“They eventually were escorted back to the base by … police on orders of Brig. Gen. Virgil Zoler, 832nd Air Division commander,” United Press International reported.

1960: Rural residents were being invaded by Miller moths. Residents reported they were leaving lights and television sets off at night in efforts to keep the Millers away.

1955: State officials declared a drought had ended after two days of heavy rains across eastern New Mexico.

Farmers said the rain was the most the region had received in five years, ending an eight-month spell of little moisture.

“Only the Portales Valley suffered damage — from hail the size of golf balls, which bombarded the vegetable crops there,” United Press reported.

Transitions …

1939: Alice Faye Kent Hoppes, longtime president of the NAACP-Albuquerque Branch and one of New Mexico’s more active civil rights leaders, was born in Tucumcari.

She moved to Albuquerque with her family in 1967.

May 19

On this date …

1975: Funeral services were being planned for Horace Large, 77, of Clovis who drowned in Ute Lake.

Officials said a boat carrying three men capsized in strong winds on May 17.

Sgt. H.C. Dixon of Cannon Air Force Base and Horace Sutton of Clovis managed to reach shore safely.

Large’s body was recovered on May 18.

1955: Melrose was recovering from a tornado that struck about noon the day before, scattering debris from a broomcorn storage warehouse over two miles.

Witnesses in Growdon’s Cafe, about 50 yards away, reported seeing the tornado lift the warehouse about 20 feet off the ground before tearing it to splinters.

1950: A truck loaded with 2,400 gallons of ice cream mix and condensed milk overturned in Poker Flat, just west of Portales.

The driver was not hurt.

Walter Jentgen, manager of Price’s Creamery, said he didn’t know how much of the load was lost, but milk was running into the ditch.

Transitions …

1903: Famed buffalo hunter George Causey, suffering from chronic pain after being thrown by a mustang a year earlier, shot himself in the head with a pistol at his home near Kenna.

The Handbook of Texas reports Causey was responsible for killing 40,000 buffalo from 1874 to 1882, including the last herd on the Llano Estacado, near Seminole, Texas.

The village of Causey in Roosevelt County is named for brothers George and John Causey because their lives “influenced and symbolized American exploration and settlement of the Llano Estacado,” according to “The Place Names of New Mexico.”

May 17

On this date …

1960: Dora High School graduated 22 students in ceremonies at the Dora gymnasium.

A party after graduation featured a white sheet cake and a color slide show of senior events.

1955: Sheridan McIntosh was sentenced to 60 days in the Curry County jail after he pleaded guilty to possessing liquor for the purpose of illegal sale.

It was his second alcohol-related conviction in six years, the Clovis News-Journal reported.

Transitions …

1975: Clovis High School Senior Rick Pettigrew signed a scholarship agreement to play basketball at Hobbs Junior College.

Pettigrew, a 6-4 forward for the Wildcats, was slated to play the guard position at Hobbs.

“I’m sure he’ll do a great job on defense and will adapt to the situation, though he’ll probably have to play some ball this summer and get the knack of shooting outside,” Clovis coach Jimmy Joe Robinson said.

1975: Marvin Sanders of Silver City had been named the new Portales High School basketball coach, replacing Ben Stockton, who’d been named Portales athletic director.

Sanders had compiled a 227-107 record in nine years at Silver City, winning a AAA state championship this season.

May 16

On this date …

1970: David Paul Ryder, a 22-year-old Briton suffering from polio, was walking from “the Pacific Blue to the Emerald Green Atlantic,” to raise money and awareness for the handicapped.

Ryder, who was passing through Clovis, said one of his missions was “to bring hope to the many handicapped people who have too long been denied the pleasure of participating on equal footing with the able bodied.”

He walked on crutches, with one leg in a brace.

1950: Portales’ Chamber of Commerce had purchased 150 pounds of dry ice with intent to “milk the clouds” and make it rain, local media reported.

Transitions …

1943: Donny Anderson, a two-time all-American and three-time all-Southwest Conference halfback at Texas Tech University, was born in Borger in the Texas Panhandle.

Anderson was a first-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in the 1965 NFL draft and his $600,000 contract was believed to be the highest in pro football history at the time.

He played nine seasons in the NFL, the final three with the St. Louis Cardinals. He scored 55 career touchdowns and rushed for more than 4,600 career yards.

His nickname at Tech was the “Golden Palomino.”

May 15

On this date …

1975: Texico school Superintendent A.D. McDonald had been selected for a Distinguished Public Service Award to be presented by New Mexico Gov. Jerry Apodaca.

McDonald, scheduled to retire at the end of the school year, had been superintendent in Texico since 1963.

The district built a new elementary school, high school library, cafeteria and athletic complex under his direction.

He had also been named Texico’s Man of the Year by the Texico Chamber of Commerce for 1975.

1950: Portales police had arrested a man who claimed he molested a 7-year-old girl in a city park.
But officials had been unable to locate a victim.

Sheriff J.N. McCall said the transient likely fabricated the story.

Transitions …

1960: Clovis’ population was at 23,427, according to preliminary Census figures. That was 6,000 people more than in 1950.

May 14

On this date …

1975: Petitions were being circulated in eastern New Mexico asking Gov. Jerry Apodaca to use his power and influence to “prevent the entrance of Vietnamese refugees into the state of New Mexico.”

The economy was already burdened, said organizer Leroy Radcliff of Elida. He said the nation should first take care of its own problems before it considers taking on any more.

“The government won’t pass a farm bill to help the farmers, but they go right ahead and take in these people … I don’t think it’s right,” Radcliff said.

1970: The Curry County Red Cross had received an appeal from officials in Lubbock for used furniture.

About 400 vacant homes had been set up to house families who’d lost everything in a May 11 tornado. Furnishings for those homes was among the most critical needs.

Clovis Mayor Chick Taylor had offered the use of the city maintenance building at Fifth and Sycamore as the depository for anyone wanting to donate furniture. Cannon Air Force Base officials had agreed to help transport donated items.

1960: Portales city officials were pushing a proposed paving project.

Promotional ads proclaimed, “The mayor and council members want to make as many progressive moves as possible, but we want your reaction because you are going to pay for the paving. If you do not protest, the city governing body will assume that you are in favor of the proposed paving.”

May 13

On this date …

1975: The Clovis fire department was called to Clovis High School to remove a tire from atop the flag pole.

A toilet was also found atop the roof of the choral building.

“We have no proof that these shenanigans were perpetrated by the senior class, but the evidence points that way,” Clovis News-Journal Managing Editor Bill Southard reported.

1950: The Tower Theatre in Portales showed the controversial “Not Wanted,” an independent film about unwed motherhood.

A promotional ad claimed it was “life itself” and reported the message would “lift you into the clouds.”

Transitions …

1975: Bob Wills, the King of Western Swing, died in Fort Worth after a series of debilitating strokes. He was 70.

Wills, who grew up in Hall County in the Texas Panhandle, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson are among music legends who said Wills had a profound impact on their careers.

Waylon Jennings performed “Bob Wills is Still the King” for four decades.

Rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix once said of Wills and his Texas Playboys: “I dig them,” referencing them as “heavy cats” with “some heavy guitar players.”