Tucumcari native, author will be featured speaker at museum’s annual meeting

By Lnn Moncus

For several years, local people have been invited to provide the program for the annual meeting of Tucumcari Historical Research Institute, and they have told us much about the history of this area.

We have invited a native and graduate of Tucumcari High School to be this year’s speaker in April. Yes, David H. Stratton, Professor Emeritus, Department of History at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington is coming home to speak about his book in progress: Tucumcari Tonite! Railroads and Route 66 in the Life of a Western Town.

Dr. Stratton returns frequently to his hometown to attend Rattler Reunion and also to do research for various history projects. When he returns for the reunion, he spends much time with his Class of 1945 and talks a lot about how much his life in our Quay County has meant to him. He has stayed in touch with his classmates and friends through the years and still calls Tucumcari “Home” even though he hasn’t lived here much since his graduation.

When I called Dave to ask if he would consider speaking at our annual dinner, he became excited at the thought of returning home for a few days and of talking about his favorite subject. He said he would send his VITA so I could gather any necessary information about him we might need. Well, I have been privileged to read a lot of such resumes but have yet to find one as impressive as is his. For a person to have such outstanding credentials as our very own “Squat’ Stratton causes all of his friends to stand a little taller. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Eastern New Mexico University, his Master’s and his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado. He has had an outstanding teaching career and is well-known among his professional colleagues for his contribution to areas of expertise.

He has published much through the years and seems most pleased with his main work, entitled Tempest over Teapot Dome: The Story of Albert B. Fall, published in 1998 by University of Oklahoma Press. Those of us who call New Mexico home have heard much about A.B. Fall and his antics as he moved to Dona Ana County and began a bit of a battle with Col. Albert Fountain, later carrying his antics to our nation’s capitol. Obviously, Dave wanted to clarify some of that history and chose to do his own research on the
subject.

Although he hasn’t really said so, I’d call his latest book his favorite because it is about his hometown and her history. As he mentioned, few people in these parts have read over 100 years of local papers or have delved as deeply as he in presenting the history of our town.
You will be hearing more about his visit in April and can begin making plans to attend the annual meeting of THRI. Those of us who know Dave are eager to see him because he is a friend and even more eager to hear him because he is an authority on our area.

Our hometown hero is returning to help us celebrate our history and is doing so because of his love for this area. He refused to accept any help with his trip from Washington or to accept even a pittance for his performance. Such generosity tells us he has maintained the traditions in which he grew and learned. Let’s make him feel welcome.