Last Saturday, several members of Tucumcari Historical Reserch Institute took a field trip to Forrest Cemetery, and Norton in order to learn more about our history, to have a good lunch, and to enjoy the company of friends.
Mary Nancy Sours had arrived early at the Forrest Fire Station in order to turn on the air conditioner so we would have a cool place in which to eat and to learn. She also provided iced tea and dessert, thus carrying on the tradition of making us feel welcome. She displayed several annuals from the days of the Forrest School, as well as other memorabilia to show us how much that school and community played in our history.
She then told us much about the history of the area and the school and revived many memories of the days which the Forrest Pirates provided major competition to schools throughout New Mexico. They won the state basketball tournament long before the state was divided into regions and classes, and many of us could remember their winning a number of a games against the Rattlers through the years.
We then proceeded to the Plain Cemetery to walk among the graves and to recall many stories about the friends who are buried there. Those of us who have been around for a while had known most of the people whose tombstones we read as we wandered and felt quite comfortable as we recalled the good times and bad, as well as feeling privileged to have known them.
We toured across the plains on our way to the Norton Hill at Apache Canyon and were much aware of the drought as we passed barren fields and gray pastures.
We also traveled in a cloud of dust because the wind was not blowing for a change so the dust stirred by the vehicles just hung in the air, making us feel very enclosed but glad to be in air conditioned vehicles so we didn’t have to eat more than our share of grit for the day.
Danny Wallace met us at Norton and presented a lively history of that once crowded are. He talked about the store, post office and school and then told about the many people who had lived in the Norton Community. As he listed the names, we recalled their place in the history of our county and were aware of how much they contributed to the building of Quay County.
To have two area natives meet us on our tour was very special, and to see the pride each has in those communities made us aware that the traditions established by the people they mentioned are still being carried on and are being passed along to the later generations. We most definitely appreciated being given the opportunity to learn more about our county and to be made to feel as welcome as we would have in the past had we stopped at either community to spend a little time just visiting.
We are most fortunate to be able to travel around our county and to learn so much about the past. We find that most native residents are eager to share some of that history and to tell stories about their pioneer families.
During days such as we are now having, we can imagine the hardships those people endured as they planned and built the many villages that once peppered the plains and valleys. Our history lives and endures.