Tucumcari’s standards worth keeping

By David Stevens

I don’t know many of you, so I’d like to introduce myself.
I am the editor for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. That means I oversee the newsrooms at the newspapers in Tucumcari, Clovis and Portales.
I work in all three communities, but I don’t live in any of them. I live in Farwell, Texas.
I drive a lot.
Lately I’ve been in the Quay County Sun office on Tuesdays and Fridays because we’re in between managing editors (again). I wish I could tell you we have somebody on the way, but truth is we don’t have a single applicant for the job. So if you know anybody who has a passion for storytelling — or an interest in developing one — I hope you’ll ask them to give me a call.
In the meantime, our reporter William Thompson is working double time to gather local news and share it with you. He appreciates your story ideas. Call him at 461-1952.
I’ve never lived in Tucumcari, but I’ve been writing stories about your community for 20-something years. That’s how long I worked at the newspaper in Amarillo.
Remember “Bury the hatchet day” in the 1990s? As best I can remember, you had a community gathering and everyone agreed to let bygones be bygones. More small towns should do that, probably every year or so.
My all-time favorite Tucumcari story had to do with a rebel newspaper editor who made more news than he covered. What was that fellow’s name? I loved his dedication to being a government watchdog. Sure, he was a little loose with the facts sometimes and the reporting was, shall we say, slanted. But he gave everyone something to talk about for a year or two, didn’t he?
Of course small towns usually make the big-city newspapers when tragedy occurs and Tucumcari has had its share of tragedies in recent decades.
I still think about John Bannister sometimes.
He was just a teenager when his dad died; then, just a few months later, his siblings and his mother were killed in a car crash on Interstate 40.
I called the Bannister home after the wreck because I wanted to let somebody know we would be reporting the story and I wanted to see if any family members would help us with that report.
John answered the phone. He wanted to talk and even thanked me for calling. He said he was feeling a lot of different emotions — profound sadness, yes, but also a certain joy and some responsibility.
He said he was thankful because he believed his parents were together again in heaven. And he said he believed God must have a special plan for his own life since he was the only member of his immediate family still alive.
That was a grounded young man. And I think he helped us all pause to put a proper perspective on our own problems.
So those are just a few things I think about when I reflect on Tucumcari.
I like this community for pretty much the same reasons I like most every community in the Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico, where I’ve lived all of my 45 years.
The people here seem mostly honest and proud and protective of their way of life and of each other. Some would say this region is slow to accept change and that’s mostly true, but it’s not necessarily a criticism. There is nothing wrong with quiet nights on the back porch with family and friends.
Anyway, thanks for staying with me this far. Please feel free to call anytime to talk about anything, especially if you have ideas to help us make a better newspaper.

David Stevens is editor for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. Contact him at 1-800-819-9925. His cell phone is 505-799-7022. His e-mail address: