Monthly Archives: August 2012

‘Officer, it was water, not beer’

The commotion lasted half a Saturday morning, taking place almost directly in front of my house on Railroad Avenue, otherwise known as El Barrio.

It was back in the ‘50s, on a summer morning when several of us spotted a shirtless neighbor, Tommy, driving while guzzling a can of Coors.

Sure, it’s a grt-tasting brew (or so some of the older boys in the neighborhood told me). But why did Tommy flaunt his guzzleability and flout the law? I assume Tommy was of legal age to drink, but isn’t it illegal to drink and drive anyway? (Yes, dear reader, we used to ask that question even six decades ago).

After about his 20th u-turn, some of us flagged him down, asking what his game was. “Do you see any beer in my car?” And before we got a chance to respond, he asked, “Do you smell any beer?” Continue reading

A psshh-ing expedition

“Let’s go over that again, Phillip, and this time, try to get rid of the excessive tire pressure.”

That was part of a bit of coaching I once did as a teacher of beginning speech in high school and college. My 33 years of teaching that subject yielded some interesting trivia.

First, I learned that students in this area have peculiar speech mannerisms. How many times have you heard it said that people in Las Vegas specifically, and northern New Mexico generally, have their own style of talking?

Let me explain: Continue reading

Cute and cuddly porkers

Lora M. Shields, a professor after whom a science building on the Highlands University campus is named, once told a class I was in about some amazing properties of pigs and piglets.

She said a farmer could fill a pail of milk and let the pig drink it all, then lift that same pig into the same bucket and even have a little room to spare. It took some of us a while to catch on.

I confess I was one of the gullible, having been raised in town and believing only that all hogs are tiny, cute and cuddly. The just-ended Kiss-a-Pig promotion, that netted $6,186 to help Samaritan House, contradicts some of that tiny, cute and cuddly mythology. Continue reading

Can you find another?

Teaching an honors course in Cuba, N.M., I had the pleasure of being surrounded by some extraordinarily perceptive students. There’s no particular reason why Cuba, of all places, would have had such a bumper crop of bright students; it must have just happened.

One day, Annette asked in class, “Do you consider yourself knowledgeable when it comes to state capitals?” Of course I said I could hold my own. But before you, the reader, wonder whether we actually took the time to teach, let me assure you that yes, we followed a syllabus and at the time were covering current events, as part of a journalism class.

I contend that our state-ly discussion dovetailed into that day’s teaching unit. I mention this to fend off any attempts by New Mexico’s education secretary, Hanna Skandera, to yank my teaching license — retroactively. Continue reading

If this is Wednesday . . .

OSLO, NORWAY — A 1969 romantic comedy with almost the same title as this headline (should be Tuesday instead of Wednesday), humorously depicts the whirlwind nature of European travel itineraries.

Never having been this far north, we opted to tack on an Atlantic coast week of travel to our customary two weeks in Denmark, where we visit our son Stanley Adam and his family, in July.

We wanted to see Norway, to view the fjords, to take in the majestic mountains and waterfalls and, especially to visit the Olso Opera House and other cultural sites, where names like playwright Henrik Ibsen, composer Edvard Grieg and artist Edvard Munch (The Scream) became famous. True, we knew the itinerary ahead of time, but we didn’t snap that a mere six hours in this magnificent city just doesn’t cut it. Continue reading