We often visit about THS alumni and the fun we have when we get together, but rarely do we visit much about alumni from New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (now New Mexico State University). As one who was privileged tograduate from NM A&MA, I really enjoy seeing others who had that same privilege. Of course, I see a few from Quay County rather regularly, but rarely do I see such Aggies from elsewhere.
Last week, while enjoying coffee at Del’s, I heard my name called and noted a man walking toward our table. Col. Homer Pickens, Jr., now retired, held out his hand and asked it I remembered him. Actually, he had stopped here a few years ago so I could remember a little about our much earlier days on campus. We had entered college in the fall of 1952 and had taken several classes together, but we had lost track of each other for over fifty years.
He had a military career, served two tours in Vietnam, and held several responsible positions during his many years in the service. He later settled in Augusta, Georgia but returns to his home state whenever he has an opportunity. This time, he will be in the state for several weeks in order to travel around as much as possible. His love of our state was obvious as he talked about his early life here. He feels particularly close to Quay County because his mother’s family homesteaded here in the Norton area, and he had heard many stories from her, especially about her life in a dugout.
Of course, that caught this Aggie’s attention because my first home was in a half-dugout. We then spent a while discussing how those dwellings were built and how they accommodated the families. We then returned to talking about our years as college students and how fortunate we were to have so many caring professors to help us to complete that first degree. He mentioned how much one of our favorite professors, Col. Alexander W. Chilton, had helped him. That brought forth several stories from each of us about that wonderful gentleman.
Just being able to visit with a classmate from those years was a rare treat. We both agreed that we had attended that college at just the right time and had received a good education. We had been able to know most of the students and faculty on campus and had known President Branson because he walked among us every day and always had time to talk to each of us. Obviously, we remain proud Aggies from A&M and have managed to live long, pleasant lives.
As we parted, Homer said he might attend homecoming one of these years, but right then he was on his way to the site of his mother’s dugout to watch a beautiful New Mexico sunset.
Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 461-1952.