Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Hope Sixth and Hines stays forever


June 12, 2019

Kevin Wilson

A collage of some of the work from the Tucumcari Class of 2016 on Hines Street in front of the Tucumcari High Gym.

I don't get out to Tucumcari as much as I would like. Nearly every time I've been there, it was for a work related reason, and we have staff in Tucumcari far more competent than me to handle Quay County news.

But I have good memories of the time I was interim managing editor there for four months while we searched for a long-term editor. The Rattler basketball team made the state tournament for the first time in more than a decade, the police chief wore his Atlanta Braves gear on casual Fridays and the Blake's Lotaburger was one of few in the chain that offered the raspberry shake.

So when that competent staff had out-of-town business, and needed a legislator forum covered on Thursday, I offered to pinch hit.

The legislators spoke of problems Tucumcari and other small New Mexico communities face: Dwindling populations, infrastructures and economies. It's clear on the drive to the convention center, with the Alco and Radio Shack locations closed and the K-Mart closed on the other side of town.

But some things have changed for the better. There are fantastic new local businesses, and the wind turbine that was once a pipe dream of former Mesalands Community College President Phillip O. Barry now stands tall on the MCC campus as a training station and an advertisement for its wind energy curriculum.

And some things have stayed the same, like Sixth and Hines streets.

One of my favorite stories to cover was the painting of Sixth Street by the senior class of 2006. Sixth and Hines meet just a few steps from the parking lot of the Tucumcari High School gym, a.k.a. The Snake Pit. Those streets also team up for a tradition I wish my high school did.

A few days before the final week for 2019 THS seniors, Hines Street was coated with a thin layer of asphalt. Every senior gets a piece of that street, and paints whatever they want on it.

Some students went simple and some pulled out every trick in the book. For about an hour every May, that little area of Tucumcari smells like aerosol paint fumes and turns into a crowdsourced mural for the graduating class.

I don't know any of these kids, but I know about their pasts at Tucumcari High and their future goals. I know who played what sports. I know which people were good friends. I know someone lost a family member along the way. I know which ones have natural art talent and which ones had to plan out every square inch to make it just right.

The memories those seniors made will greet every visitor to Sixth and Hines for two years. Next May, a layer of asphalt will cover the Class of 2018's work, and the Class of 2020 will have their own blank canvas on Sixth Street. The May after that, the 2021 seniors get Hines. I'm sure those kids are already thinking of their artwork now, just like Portales High kids knew their Maypole partners years in advance or (fill in your tradition that made high school special).

I don't know who created this tradition at Tucumcari, but I give them a ton of credit. I also credit the current Tucumcari Schools administration for letting the tradition continue. If you're ever up there, it's worth a few minutes to check out.

I grabbed some Blake's on the way out of town, where I ran into an acquaintance. My to-go order turned into a sit-down lunch and conversation, and he slid a few onion rings my way. I had a strawberry shake, because raspberry wasn't on the menu.

So not everything lasts forever. I hope Sixth and Hines does.

Kevin Wilson is editor of The Eastern New Mexico News. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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