By Lynn Moncus
Because we are going to be privileged to hear much about the history of Tucumcarl Monday night when Dr. David Stratton presents the program for Tucumcari Historical Research Institute, I decided to do a little extra reading in order to be slightly prepared for some of the research he plans to present.
A friend loaned me a Golden Jubilee souvenir book that had been published in 1952 when quite a celebration was held for “A City that Grew on the Plains.” Just browsing through that little publication reminded me that we went all out to celebrate those first 50 years during which our town had come into existence and had grown~rom that tent city to a thriving town along the railroad and through which Route 66 passed.
Many of us can recall various celebrations we used to have during the summers in order to entertain our people as well as to entertain the travelers. In that publication, for instance, the Mayor Clyde Dickinson signed a proclamation in which he proclaimed, “A hearty welcome is hereby extended to all guests and visitors to the City of Tucumcari.” He and the citizens of Quay County knew that many people would flock to the area to see the annual rodeo, to participate in the parade, and to enjoy the many activities planned for the entire week of the birthday party.
I feel sure that a number of us showed up at the beginning of the parade route to march proudly beside our band director, Mr. R. G. Stephenson and then spent the evenings at the rodeo grounds providing band music. Mr. Stephenson hardly had to issue an invitation to have the entire band appear for such events as we were always ready to march through town and to play at the various events. Somehow the word would pass, and we might even show up the evening before the parade to practice in order to prove we hadn’t lost our ability to play a resounding Sousa march.
Various clubs and organizations spent weeks in preparing fancy floats for the parades and took great pride in trying to outdo each other. Sometimes prizes were offered, but the beautiful floats would have been created without thought of prizes in the event none should be forthcoming. The merchants all participated in decorating Main Street and making it into a lively place to serve as background for many of the activities.
The citizens would participate in most of the activities and would dress in Western attire for the week’s celebration. On some occasions, those who forgot to wear such apparel were placed in the jail on Main Street and had to remain there until some friend took pity and paid their fines. People who rarely wore Western clothing certainly looked sharp during those days and took great pride in showing that they could pass for cowboys and cowgirls beside the real ones.
As Dave talks about our history, I feel sure that many of us will be recalling our early lives in this county and will be eager to hear his view of some of that history he plans to share. Let’s extend him and our other visitors one more warm welcome home and let them know just how much we appreciate what they have done and are doing for us.