Pages Past: Aug. 5

1974: Kelly Brooks, Sandy Larson and Julie Tunnell, ages 9 to 12, were not happy with things they’d seen at the Hillcrest Park Zoo.

“Some kids were throwing rocks in the lion’s cage,” one of them wrote to newspaper Managing Editor Bill Southard. “And throwing rocks in the bear’s mouth! I hope something will be done about this.”

1953: A Santa Fe Heights resident complained to Clovis police about a large number of unlicensed dogs in his neighborhood. He said about 40 dogs were roaming the area and they “bark and howl all night.”



Did you know …
Carroll “Red” Dial won 183 minor league baseball games in 11 seasons, from 1947 to 1957, according to His best years were with the Clovis Pioneers and Pampa Oilers in the West Texas-New Mexico League. The 160-pound right-hander from Altus, Oklahoma, never made it to the Major Leagues. He died in 1996 at age 71. An online obituary posted by family reports he was a veteran of Korea and World War II, serving in the Air Force. “His hobbies were hunting and fishing and he loved people,” the tribute said.

Remembering May 19, 1903:

Famed buffalo hunter George Causey ended his own life at his home near Kenna.

Emily Elliott, a great-great niece researching Causey’s life, provided this information to Pep’s Betty Williamson in a March interview:

Causey was in his bed when he shot himself in the head with a pistol, Elliott said.

Causey, “quite the horse breaker and dealer,” according to Elliott, was thrown from a mustang in 1902 and suffered chronic pain the last year of his life.

He reportedly worked hard the day before his suicide and may have been in more pain than usual, Elliott said she’s learned during her research.

Bud and Alma Lyle Bilberry own the Causey ranch now, and their home is built around the original Causey house.

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 because their lives “influenced and symbolized American exploration and settlement of the Llano Estacado,” according to “The Place Names of New Mexico.”

Remembering May 19, 1950

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

The Portales newspaper reported 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.

Remembering May 18, 1955

May 18, 1955

A tornado struck Melrose about noon, 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.

The National Weather Service reported the tornado was about 20 yards wide. Property damage was estimated at $1,500.

Odds of rain? Fairly certain

Supposedly, it rains every year during the Curry County Fair.

Ask anybody.

“The rain just seems to follow us,” Curry County Manager Dick Smith said on opening night of the fair in 2006 when it rained nearly an inch.

“As long as there’s no lightning we’ll keep running,” said Fairgrounds Manager Kevin Jolley about this time last year, anticipating another drenching or two.

But does it really rain every year during the Curry County Fair?

Of course not.

Just eight of the last 10 years.

Records from the National Weather Service show Clovis has seen at least 7/100ths of an inch of rain during fair week every year the last decade except for 2007 and 2003.

• In 2006, the fair marked the first of nine consecutive days of rain — 3.51 inches from Aug. 14-22.

• In 2005, fairgoers got wet five out of six nights.

• On opening night 2010, Clovis saw 1.7 inches of rain.

• The last day of the 2008 fair saw 1.29 inches of rain.

August is traditionally the region’s wettest month, averaging almost 3 inches of rain, according to the Western Regional Climate Center.

That’s because moisture from the Gulf of Mexico is hanging around, due to a lack of westerly winds, according to NWS Meteorologist Brian Guyer.

And, yes, it looks like rain for the fair again this year.

Guyer predicts thunderstorms at least four nights this week.

The rain just seems to follow us …

He left a wife and 12 children

New Mexico is one of the most likely places in the United States to die from lightning.

Statistics show there were 90 lightning fatalities in the state between 1959 and 2012 — one death for every 1.19 million people, the nation’s second-highest rate.

The danger was more than a number for the farming community of Grady in 1967.

On July 31 that year, Camilio Sandoval was weeding a corn field with four other workers when he was struck by lightning.

“The hair on his head, arms and legs was singed off as if an open flame had been held close to his body,” the Tucumcari Daily News reported.

Sandoval, 60, died 12 days later in a hospital in his hometown of Tucumcari. He left a wife and 12 children.

The tragedy was nothing new for eastern New Mexico. Sandoval’s was the fourth death caused by lightning in the Grady area in 15 years, the Clovis News-Journal reported. A local rancher said he regularly lost cattle in electrical storms as well.

Grady residents told reporters they suspected the region was susceptible to lightning strikes because of “some type of mineral deposits underground.”


“There is an argument favoring this theory,” Richard Kithil, president of the National Lightning Safety Institute, wrote in an email on Wednesday.

But it’s just speculation, he said.

NLSI reports the odds of being struck by lightning are about one in 280,000.

Building full of memories

For sale: Ninety-nine years of Clovis history.

It opened in October 1914 as the city’s first hospital. It became a church in 1949 and a private school in 1994.

Santa Fe Hospital was built for $100,000 and opened  in 1914. (Courtesy High Plains Historical Foundation)

Santa Fe Hospital was built for $100,000 and opened in 1914. (Courtesy High Plains Historical Foundation)

Soon, its 41,175 square feet will house only memories as Clovis Christian High School students move across town to CCS’ newest campus on Humphrey Road.

The original Santa Fe Hospital building has undergone multiple renovations and utility upgrades since it was built for $100,000.

It began with 40 hospital beds and an operating room “that is not surpassed by anything of the kind in New York or Chicago,” the Clovis Journal reported in 1914.

A.L. Atkinson, a railroad machinist, was among its first customers. He lost a finger while working in the shops on Oct. 14, 1914, and was “getting along as well as could be expected” following treatment, the newspaper reported.

Dr. H.A. Miller was among the more colorful characters to roam the building. Described by friends as “loud and boisterous,” the surgeon wore a Panama hat, smoked fat cigars and liked wrestling with a black bear named Julia, which he kept in a cage.

The hospital at Eighth and Hinkle streets closed in 1949, when it became home to Central Baptist Church.

Clovis Realtor Carolyn Spence said Clovis Christian officials are asking $1.1 million for the facility, which includes a gym on about 5 1/2 acres.

Memories of Dr. Miller and his bear will always be priceless.