Throughout our history, we have had a number of people in our county who have been and are real treasures. Many of them have not been recognized because they have so quietly played major roles in the making of our history without any thought of recognition or reward.
Mrs. Ethel Sanderson Ernest is one such quiet person who continues to think of others and who remains avidly interested in the people of Quay County. Mrs. Ernest moved to the Porter community in 1917 with her parents and siblings and then moved to Tucumcari in 1923. In 1924, she married C. L. Ernest and has lived here most of the time since. She was active in her church and took much pride in being a homemaker and in helping her friends and neighbors. She recalls the pleasure she and her husband had while walking along Main Street and looking into the many shop windows, having a soft drink in the Elk Drug Store, visiting with friends they met along the way, and attending movies at the Princess Theatre.
She and I became pen pals when I lived in Las Cruces because I often visited her close friend, Maud Wingrove. She would also call Mother on occasion to talk about their many friends of the past and would then report those visits in her wonderful letters. We have even continued to exchange Christmas letters during the years since I retired. She always mentions our loved ones and recalls many wonderful stories about them.
Recently, she invited me to her home so we could chat about the past, and much to my surprise, she handed me a copy of the first city directory, Worley’s Miscellaneous Directory: Tucumcari, New Mexico, 1909-10. She explained that she thought I might like it because I tend to like our history. Once in a great while, I can be completely speechless, and that was most definitely a time when no words could express my feelings. To receive such a gift from such a treasure was an overwhelming experience, and I think she noticed my appreciation.
Since then, I have spent much time browsing and driving around our town to note many of the homes that are still in existence and to remember the people who lived in them. Tucumcari Lumber Company, then managed by Lee G. Pearson, is the only business name that remains today and is still in the same location. With a population of 5080, our town was alive with many other businesses. Ten grocers are listed, along with four blacksmiths, six clothiers, two harness and saddlery shops, seven hotels, fifteen land companies, four wagon yards, ten restaurants, eight physicians, and many more business establishments. Many street names were already in place south to Charles, and the young town was growing.
Although the gift is pricelss, the friendship is the most precious. Mrs. Ernest very quietyly committed one more act of kindness and let me know how much both the past and present mean to each of us. Thank you, my friend!