April 26

On this date …

2006: John Neibling was named Clovis Community College’s third president. The college board voted 3-2 for Neibling; dissenters wanted to hire Becky Rowley, who became CCC’s fourth president when Neibling retired in 2011.

1960: A Portales News-Tribune reporter counted 129 bicycles parked at the city’s three grade schools and junior high.

Reporter Dave Thornton, reporting on Bicycle Safety Week, found that 29 of the bikes had lights and none of the lights he tested worked.

He found many of the bikes had broken pedals, needed chain guards or fenders and lacked horns.

1950: State game officials were urging “careful consideration” before planning any prairie chicken hunting.

Gaming Director James Cox said prairie chicken populations in Roosevelt County were “not so abundant as in previous years,” The Associated Press reported.

Drought conditions and a heavy kill the year before were blamed for the decline in population.

Their business …

1950: Consolidated Milk Products Co. had closed its Portales operation.

Area supervisor Lyle Bridges said the plant’s equipment had been moved to Winfield, Kansas.

He cited lack of raw materials as the reason for the plant’s closing.

He said most milk went for whole milk and cheese products.

The Portales company had been operating 10 years, converting buttermilk and skimmed milk from creameries into livestock and poultry feed.

Transitions …

1901: Thomas Edward “Black Jack” Ketchum, described as the “most noted desperado of the Southwest” by the Galveston Daily News, was hanged in Clayton.

Ketchum, a self-confessed train robber accused of multiple crimes including murder, was also a rancher near Tucumcari who rode on many trail drives. He was hanged for a failed train robbery in which no one was killed.

They hung him so hard, the history books tell us, his head came off.

The native Texan, who lost an arm in the botched train robbery, seemed at ease in the hours before his death.

“Ketchum talked for over an hour with visitors, cooler than any who met him,” the Galveston newspaper reported.

He confessed to some crimes but denied others, claiming he’d never killed a man and only shot three.

April 25

On this date …

1950: Burglars took about $800 in cash and checks from the Fort Sumner Lumber Co. Police said the door of the office safe had been blown off, The Associated Press reported.

1938: Gene Autry performed at Clovis’ Lyceum and Mesa theaters. The Clovis newspaper did not review Autry’s performance, but did report that Autry received a traffic citation while he was in town, for overtime parking.

Autry’s parents — Delbert and Elnora Autry — lived in Clovis in the 1930s.

Transitions …

1970: The historic Conchas Hotel on Tucumcari’s Main Street was destroyed by fire. The building was first used as a general mercantile store in 1904.

Losses were estimated at $250,000.

Jessica Zurich Thompson, who had an apartment in the hotel for 30 years, lost all of her belongings, as did other residents, the Tucumcari Daily News reported.

Several firefighters were injured fighting the blaze, including Jack Grayson, who suffered a broken thumb when a ladder fell on him. Several residents were seen in the alley behind the hotel, trying to save personal belongings, before firefighters stopped them when the fire became too intense.

The newspaper reported, “the most impressive thing of all … was to see those businessmen don masks attached to air tanks and go inside the smoke-filled and burning building to check on any occupants as well as fight the flames.”

April 24

On this date …

1975: Mr. and Mrs. Joe Rogers of 2209 Moberly Drive in Clovis were looking for witnesses to the “senseless and cruel shooting of our house cat” on April 14.

The Rogers’ said the injured cat “crawled almost home,” but their veterinarian was not able to save him.

“As for the man who did it, go look in the mirror at yourself and see if you like what you see there,” they wrote in a letter to the editor.

1960: Student art was on display at the music building foyer at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales. Paintings of eight students from around the country were on display, including those by Patricia Harris Crane of House and Dan Dacus of Portales.

1950: Clovis Police Chief George Ray was dismissed by the Clovis City Commission.

The action came in the wake of dismissal of a radio operator who allegedly had been drinking before reporting for duty, driving a police car for personal use and allowing his fiancé to visit him in the office, against regulations.

Police Capt. Daniel Webster was named acting chief.

Transitions …

1960: Mrs. Dick Page had been installed as president of the Elida Parent-Teacher Association. She was planning to attend the state convention April 28-30 in Santa Fe.

1950: Rev. H. B. Strickland, best known for leading revival meetings in the 1920s, died of a heart attack in Burbank, California.

Strickland was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Texico in the early 1900s and conducted revivals in Dora, Portales and other area communities. He was buried in Lockney, Texas.

April 23

On this date …

1975: Pat Burns, the son of Portales Mayor Mike and Ruth Burns, was in critical condition at an El Paso hospital following a hang-gliding accident.

Burns, a student at New Mexico State University, was injured when a wing on his glider collapsed as he soared off of a hillside. He suffered a fractured pelvis and thigh in the 30-foot fall, according to media accounts.

Burns recovered and still lives in Portales.

1971: An early morning fire burned out of control for more than two hours, destroying Ealy’s Furniture Store at 209 Main in Clovis.

Apartments upstairs were also destroyed. All occupants were reported safe, though several were seen coughing and rubbing smoke-irritated eyes; none had time to salvage their belongings, the Clovis News-Journal reported.

Constance Ealy Jones, the building’s owner, estimated losses between $100,000 and $150,000. Cause of the fire was “electrical,” according to Fire Chief Joe Maddox, who declined to elaborate.

Radio disc jockey Jerry Welch, on his way to work just before 7 a..m, saw smoke coming from the furniture store and called the fire department; he then attempted to rouse residents in the apartment.

“The fire attracted a great number of spectators, most of them lining the walls of businesses on Main Street,” the CN-J reported.

Hotel Clovis across the street had to close its ground-floor coffee shop for two days because of the smoke.

1909: No document is known to exist that ties the naming of Clovis to the first Christian King of France. But a Clovis newspaper on this date made the claim in a poem, most likely written by Pony Post Editor Harry Armstrong.
It ended like this:

“Old Clovis has a namesake now —
“A city in New Mexico,
“A city of three thousand strong —
“And founded scarce two years ago

“One time two towns who rivaled her —
“Melrose was one, and Texico —
“Grew clamorous for railroad shops,
“And worried all New Mexico.

“Then Clovis, like her dad of old,
“Saw that their wranglings were in vain;
“She seized the Sword of Enterprise
“And slashed their foolish hopes in twain.”

Transitions …

1997: Jerry Nuzum, the first Clovis native to play in the National Football League, died in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. He was 73.

Nuzum, a 6-1, 200-pound running back, played four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, from 1948 to 1951, scoring 10 touchdowns and compiling more than 1,200 yards in total offense.

His best season was 1949 when he rushed 611 times and scored five TDs. He had one run for 64 yards, a career best, and also caught four passes that season for 81 yards and two touchdowns.

April 22

On this date …

1969: Eastern New Mexico University’s Speech and Drama students were preparing to present “Othello,” Shakespeare’s 1603 play about racism, love, betrayal and repentance.

Cast members included Bob Lockwood of Clovis and Duane Ryan, an assistant professor in speech and drama at ENMU.

1965: A prisoner allowed to drive his car from Fort Sumner to Clovis escaped custody of Curry County Sheriff Ernest Garcia … on foot.

Jerry Perea, 20, was arrested in Fort Sumner and charged with burglarizing a Clovis service station and dry cleaner. Garcia allowed him to drive his car back to Clovis, and Perea parked it on the north side of the Clovis police station.

Garcia parked his vehicle on the east side of the building. “It only took me a minute to get around the building, but when I got there the car was there but Perea was gone,” Garcia told the Clovis News-Journal.

Perea was recaptured a couple of weeks later.

1945: The senior, junior and sophomore classes at Clovis High School were competing to see who could sell the most war bonds. The Clovis News-Journal carried daily “War at a glance” reports on its front page.

It’s his business …

1960: “Crazy Sam” Sanders — a nickname he gave himself — estimated he had pumped gravel and sand from 40 acres over the past six years, creating three sunken lakes “in the middle of the dry, desolate, sagebrush country,” The Portales News-Tribune reported.

The gravel pit north of Portales was believed to be the largest of its kind in the state and maybe in the U.S., the newspaper reported.

Sanders had moved operations away from where mammoth bones and tusks had been discovered, attracting the Southwest’s foremost archaeologists.

Sanders employed 15 to 25 men at times and said his annual payroll was about $68,000. The newspaper described his business as “one of the biggest industries in the Portales area.”

April 21

On this date …

1975: Curry County commissioners were looking into ways to curtail a $97,000 budget deficit.

The general fund budget was $766,200, but revenue was projected at $668,817.

Commissioners said the deficit was caused by plans to increase employee salaries and a proposal to hire a full-time district attorney.

They were asking department heads to review expenses.

1965: The State Highway Commission had set priorities on $53 million in highway projects for the next three years.

An $800,000 project was planned to “four-lane” about 5.5 miles of U.S. 70 between Clovis and Portales.

Another $825,000 was set aside for 7.3 miles of road construction west of Melrose on U.S. 60.

1965: Portales voters had approved a $600,000 school bond issue by a vote of 356-247. The money was earmarked for classrooms at Portales High School and elementary school construction.

School Superintendent Firman Haynie said voter turnout was surprisingly light, as more than 600 people had signed a petition calling for the special election.

1955: Roosevelt County Sheriff P. F. Turner reported three dogs killed 30 chickens in a hen house at the western edge of Portales.

Farm owner Jim Wade said the dogs killed the chickens but did not eat them; they ran away when Wade began pursuit.

It’s their business …

1960: The P&M Broom Co. on the Lovington highway outside Portales was producing 17 to 20 dozen brooms per day, the Portales News-Tribune reported.

It could make four dozen whisk brooms in an hour. The products were distributed locally and via wholesale.

April 20

On this date …

1965: Porter Randolph of Tucumcari posed for a photo with a 62-inch long rattlesnake he said he caught and killed at Ute Lake. Randolph said the snake had 14 rattlers and was “one of the largest” he had seen in Quay County.

1965: Portales voters approved a $600,000 school bond issue by a vote of 356-247. The money was earmarked for classrooms at Portales High School and elementary school construction.
School Superintendent Firman Haynie said voter turnout was surprisingly light, as more than 600 people had signed a petition calling for the special election.

April 19

On this date …

1975: Six members of a Logan family were found shot to death in their home.

Quay County law officers identified the dead as Robert McFarland Jr., his wife Kathy, three daughters, Michelle, 6, Ann, 4, Cindy, 2, and a son, Robert III, 3 months.

Police the next day said they believed McFarland, 32, killed his 25-year-old wife and their children before claiming his own life.

“That’s about the only way it could have been,” Sheriff James Knight said.

A pistol was found near McFarland’s body, The Associated Press reported.

The family operated the McFarland Bros. Bank in Logan. The bank was founded by McFarland’s grandfather and an uncle in 1904, AP reported.

Their bodies were found by McFarland’s father, Robert McFarland, who had gone for a visit.

1950: Rex Ormon, a junior from Borger, was elected president of the student body at Eastern New Mexico University.

Ormon succeeded Anderson Carter as president. He received 130 votes to 108 for Artesia senior Mickey McGuire and 93 for Royce Lowry, a junior from Shamrock.

1960: Veteran musicians Alva Parker, on the fiddle, and Albert Vidler, with the mandolin, joined four youngsters to rehearse for their performance in the upcoming “Grand Old Opry-type” show hosted by the Floyd Lions Club at the Floyd high school.

April 18

On this date …

1970: Harry Miller, who coached Eastern New Mexico University to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics basketball championship in 1969, accepted the men’s coaching job at North Texas State University.

Miller compiled a 104-37 record in his six seasons at Eastern, taking the Greyhounds to the NAIA playoffs three times.

“Besides being an outstanding basketball coach, what impresses me about Harry Miller is that he is a builder of men,” ENMU President Charles Meister said.

1965: Two federal prisoners who escaped their guards near Santa Rosa were captured about two hours later in a roadblock set up three miles west of Tucumcari.

Ronald Leslie Hopwood, 25, of Phoenix, and Paul David Carte, 19, of Oakmont, Pennsylvania, were being transported from Phoenix to St. Louis when they made their bid for freedom.

They overpowered two guards and took them, along with a third prisoner, to an abandoned farm house off of US 66 and handcuffed them. The prisoners then fled in the car being used to transport them.

One of the guards had an extra handcuff key, freed himself and hitchhiked into Santa Rosa, where he alerted authorities to set up the road block.

Hopwood and Carte offered no resistance when recaptured, the Tucumcari Daily News reported.

It’s their business …

1966: Midway Speedbowl races were held at 1 p.m. every Sunday off of U.S. 70 between Clovis and Portales.

Admission was $1, or 75 cents for students and servicemen. Children under 12 were admitted for free.

Transitions …

1965: The daughter of a prominent Tucumcari family, her husband and their 2-year-old daughter were all killed in a plane crash near Plaquemine, Louisiana.

Richard Baker, 27, was flying the plane that crashed into a cow pasture. Baker, his wife Phyllis and their daughter Evelyn all died. Officials said they were returning home to Lafayette, Louisiana, from a visit in New Orleans.

The Bakers had been married in September 1959 in Tucumcari.

Phyllis, a 1958 Tucumcari High School graduate, was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ira Parker of Tucumcari.

1960: Pfc. Jerry Nix was in Portales on 19-day leave from Fort Ord, California, where he was stationed in the Army. Nix attended Portales schools and was a helicopter mechanic.

April 17

On this date …

1970: A tornado struck the Quay County community of McAlister, causing an estimated $1 million in damages, but no injuries.

The Church of Christ sustained the most damage, losing its roof and glass from the windows. Officials also said fences, windmills and irrigation systems in the region were destroyed.

McAlister-area residents were without power for more than eight hours overnight.

1948: A 15-year-old Portales girl was raped by six teens from Clovis.

Two other girls with the victim ran away when the attack occurred at a state park. The girls said they hid in the park for several hours before catching a ride home.

The victim appeared at her parent’s home about 3 a.m. the morning after the attack and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

The boys, all between 15 and 17 years old, were convicted of the charge five days later and sentenced to the State Industrial Home at Springer, where each would remain until turning 21.

District Attorney Lynell Skarda said the incident also led to a raid on a bootlegger’s establishment in Clovis, which led to alcohol distribution charges being filed.

Transitions …

1966: Portales learned of the death of Bud Kimmel, who had attended Portales Junior High School when his father was stationed at Cannon Air Force Base.

The Portales News-Tribune reported Kimmel was killed in action in Vietnam on April 3.
Kimmel’s father, Sgt. John Kimmel III, was also stationed in Vietnam when Bud was killed. John accompanied Bud’s body back to Camarillo, California, where funeral services were held.

1960: A Curry County teenager was killed in a one-vehicle accident a mile east of Melrose.

Tony Gonzalez, 17, apparently fell asleep, officials said. His car overturned and he was ejected.

It was the first vehicle fatality in Curry County in 10 months, United Press International reported.