Thanks to Barbara Copeland who lives with her husband on a ranch north of Nara Visa, we surely had a good program one more time at the annual meeting of Tucumcari Historical Institute.
Her subject, “The Legacy of the New Deal/W.P.A.” was of much interest to those of us who enjoy our history and was timely since we seem to be falling on hard times once again.
Barbara had earned a grant to give her the opportunity to write some of the history of that era and to preserve some of the remaining projects via photography. She also took advantage of modern technology and prepared a “power point” presentation so we could all view the past as she showed each picture on a screen, thus adding much meaning to each word she spoke. She has a prepared script to accompany that presentation and certainly adds life to it with her speaking ability and her definite interest in the subject.
She took us on a tour of various projects from Clayton to Fort Sumner and reminded us of just how much work was done during the Great Depression, not only to improve each community but to employ people who still had that major work ethic from the pioneer era in our area.
She showed schools that had been built so carefully and beautifully in several of our communities, rock structures (especially Wheatland School), art work, furniture, cemetery enclosures, public park enclosures, Conchas Dam, and even our own Quay County Courthouse.
As we watched those pictures and listened to her talk, many of us were remembering the past. A lot of us had not been old enough to work then, but we all knew people who had and recalled many of the projects that no longer exist.
In our own town and county, many of the buildings have been razed and replaced by parking lots or other structures that surely won’t last as long as those original buildings would have lasted had they been given a chance.
We were recalling stories told by many of those workers about their days spent in building roads throughout our area. The very hard work they did was compensated by a dollar a day in most cases, but each worker was pleased to have a job and to be able to provide for families.
Barbara made us aware of how much that part of our history should mean to us and how much respect we should have for those workers.
Each year, our organization tries to present a speaker who knows much about our area and who is willing to share that knowledge with those of us who remain interested in the past. Much of the purpose of our organization is to preserve our history and to present as it in our museum. We also take field trips in order to visit some of the outstanding historical sites that have played an important part in the creation of our history.
Our annual gathering is made outstanding by the speakers we invite and by the visiting that goes on before and after the program.
On this occasion, Barbara selected several people who could add their stories from the New Deal era to her program, thus including the members in her presentation.
She and I have visited since that evening, and she was mentioning that she wished she had been able to include more of the projects, but she knew she had a time limit and could not begin to cover all those projects accomplished during that time.
We are very fortunate to have such people as Barbara who are working to preserve our past and who will take the time to share that work with her friends and neighbors.
If you are ever interested in joining our organization, just stop by Tucumcari Historical Museum and let your desires be known because we are always eager to welcome new members.