Featured Posts

Top Reads...this site Thanks folks for spending some time on the site reading our stories. The reason I say "our" is because I cannot take credit for some of the stories being read. The top stories so far this month are...

Read more

Parkinson's....Boxing Helps...Part 2 Rock Steady Boxing Part II A personal statement on benefits of RSB Authored by Otis Vaughn February 28, 2019 Rock Steady Boxing (RSB) really works and greatly slows the progression of Parkinson’s...

Read more

Apaches, Buffalo Soldiers, That Female Reporter, And... Chapter One       Returning to the Black Range and the land of the Warm Spring Apache Indians, I could not believe what I was seeing. The last time I was here the magical portal...

Read more

Follow the Sun by E. V. Pete Hester Follow the Sun By E. V. Pete Hester Copyright Pending 2015     Foreword Butch Madison told this story to me several years ago and swore that everything he told was true and...

Read more

New Mexico….Aiding and Abetting

Posted by Pete | Posted in News | Posted on 09-08-2019

16

In today’s Albuquerque Journal, 8/9/19 it was reported that a department of the state of New Mexico will not turn over information to ICE investigators regarding our illegal aliens who are working or living in the state. Is that not aiding and abettIn ting? What would happen to a individual  who would do something like that? You know, we need to either enforce the laws of this state or change the laws of this state. You cannot just tell some government agency to “cram it” just because  we do not agree with them. A law is a law……There are cases where local law enforcement will not corporate with ICE officials and that’s not right. The attitude toward illegals in the State of New Mexico is very strange and they can turn a “blind eye” and “deaf ear” on many occasions.

Comments (16)

We now know where the State of New Mexico stands when it comes to the enforcement of Federal Law. I wonder if we should wait to find out where the State of New Mexico stands when it comes to the distribution of Federal Tax dollars. As soon as the State of New Mexico is slighted on the distribution of Federal Tax Dollars, I bet those dimwit New Mexico liberal dimwits will sit up and take notice. As a nation, we must enforce our borders. The sovereign states of Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and 46 others can not do it alone. New Mexico can either “fork up” or “shut up”. Don’t get me wrong. I love the State of New Mexico. It has some of the best climate and weather in the world, but I have always questioned the motivation of some of its people. Again, when one sifts the dredges of the itinerant population from west to east out of Arizona and from east to west out of Texas and have them clash with one another in the barren State of New Mexico, not much can be expected to arise from the mix except a lot of oddness and worthlessness. Come on New Mexico. You are responsible for a lot of empty border lands. Give us some assistance in protecting those borders or forever hold your peace. ICE is just doing their jobs and a much needed service for the people. They nee our (and Your) assistance.

In June, 1965, I hadn’t been in the State of New Mexico more than a few days when I saw the newspaper headline about a raid by masked men on the Courthouse in Rio Arriba County. Being new in the state, newly graduated from college, and a new trooper in Uncle Sam’s Air Force, my interest was pricked immediately. Back in Alabama, I had never heard of a raid on a Courthouse by masked men, except in Hollywood movies. What kind of a place was this where Hollywood movies came to life on the pages of the daily newspaper? When I first saw the headline, I was at the Glorieta Baptist Assembly near Santa Fe attending the Air Force Spiritual Life Conference, and the headline was in the Santa Fe newspaper. This made the news even more foreboding and strange as I was away from the Federal military reservation to which I was assigned and in a strange area in the New Mexico mountains which I knew was close to the Santa Fe of the wild, wild west and even on the Santa Fe Trail. My freshly college educated mind began to recall all the Zane Grey Western Novels I had read as a kid back in Coal Fire while lying lazily under the old gum tree on a hot summer day. Here those same novels were coming to life in the pages of the daily newspaper before my very eyes. This was my first real contact with New Mexico lawlessness with some assistance from Zane Grey and my own active imagination. I soon found out where Rio Arriba County was and the true facts concerning the actual raid on the courthouse but not before my imagination was pricked for my own safety. At any rate, this was my first introduction to New Mexico lawlessness. As a result, I was not surprised too when I saw that a department of the New Mexico state government will not cooperate with ICE in the process of bringing illegal immigrants to justice. WHAT KIND OF COUNTRY ARE WE LIVING IN WHEN OUR OWN SOREIGN STATES WILL NOT COOPERATE WITH OUR OWN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN CONTROLLING OUR BORDERS AND MAINTAINING PUBLIC SAFETY. About a year later, I was back at Glorieta when all the radios were blaring the events concerning the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in Las Angeles and, about 30 days later, that of the shooting of Governor George Corley Wallace at a shopping mall near Washington, D.C.

It’s true….we are different, and sometimes not in a good way….Some of our law enforcement will not corporate with ICE…Strange.

If the feds cut off our funds, what an outrage that would become. Maybe that is how it should be handled, but I hope not.

Being different is no excuse. When I first arrived at Kirtland AFB, I saw New Mexico was different almost immediately when I was unable to find alive any true native New Mexicans anywhere. The Okies wanted to be called Okies. The Texans wanted to be called Texans. The Arizonans wanted to be called Desert Rats from the big desert. I was able to find almost no one who was willing to be called a New Mexican. They didn’t seem to know what they wanted to be called, but almost no one wanted to have anything resembling “Mexican” or “New Mexican” in their designation. It almost seemed as if anything connecting them to “South of the Border” was anathema to them. Who were the natives of this state? That was a question that bugged my first two years in New Mexico. All my first local friends whom I thought were native New Mexicans turned out to be actually an Okie or a Texan or from the great state of Arizona. At first, I assumed it had something to do with the fact that I was living on an Air Force Base where no one had any real local contacts and where almost everyone’s home was “where they hung their hat”. But no! It was much the same in the local church where I became a faithful member for four years. The two pastors that were there duing my time were from, you guessed it, Oklahoma. They were Okies through and through. The second one was the one who led me to Kansas City to attend Seminary after my time in the Air Force was up. Besides the church and besides the Air Force, I spent most of my time in hanging around UNM, which was supposedly a New Mexico school, but where were the natives. They just were not to be found. So, it is not surprising to me that the people of New Mexico are different. There different because they do not know who they are. My best friend in Albuquerque today is Lee Hendricks. His family came to Albuquerque from Indiana. His father was a hardware salesman. Lee was very young when his family left Indiana, but he feels himself almost as much Indianan than he does New Mexican. I suppose the reason for this is the hesitancy of being identified with Mexico, particularly back East. Just placing the word “new” in front of Mexico is not sufficient.

Excuse or no….we are different….sometimes that is good….sometimes not so much. As you know, my Sweetie is native to New Mexico and proud of it.
My children are all native to New Mexico and would not have it any other way. I feel a very close kinship to New Mexico but cannot claim to be a native child, however, I have adopted New Mexico.

I meant nothing detrimental in my description of my reaction on my first arrival in the state. Your experience was considerably different than mine. You arrived in a considerably smaller town where the inhabitants were probably a little less sophisticated than they were in Albuquerque, the largest city in the state. For that reason, I probably noticed a much greater clash of differences. Kirtland was obviously a special base in the Air Force. It was not a combat base but a special weapons base where emphasis was placed on research and development. There were no operational combat units on the base. That makes for a considerable difference in not only combat readiness but in operational mentality as well. For example, when I first arrived at Kirtland AFB, all five of the gates on Kirtland AFB were wide open drive-through gates with no guards at all although it was different on Sandia, since it was run by the Army and secured by the military police of the army. Although Monsanto was run by the Air Force, its gates were guarded 24 hours a day by the Air Police, but it was located way out in the boondocks, and it had all those nuclear weapons to keep secure. I was, at first, appalled when I learned that Kirtland was a wide open base and to learn that I was no safer on this base than I had been in Coal Fire. In the heart of the Cold War Era, it was shattering to my sense of national security to learn that I was no safer living on base than I would have been working behind security fences and armed guards. That didn’t last long though. Only a couple of grave security lapses through the guardless gates were required to change all that. I wasn’t trying to say that there were no natives in New Mexico. I was just trying to give my impression and observation of my experience on Kirtland in those first few days and weeks and months when I met only non-native people. I didn’t have a car; therefore, I only met people either on the base, who worked on the base or very nearby. I guess the first native people of New Mexico that I met were those people whom Uncle Renzo introduced me in Thoreau, Grants, and on the Navejo Reservation, particularly at the big Navejo sawmill that he toured me through before my actual arrival at Kirtland. I didn’t look at those people at the time as native New Mexicans, but native Americans. They were the true native Americans that had nothing to do with Mexico. I was really glad that Uncle Renzo toured me through the Navejo sawmill. Its technology made my father’s little “peckerwood” saw mill really look like outdated technology, which of course it was.

It was only after my arrival on Kirtland and my introduction to the work of a chemist in an R&D Weapons Lab that I realized that this base really was so different. Here was little ole me fresh out of college with only a bachelors’ degree working alongside DVM”s, Ph.D.’s, M.D.’s, and mathematicians. The military rank was worn, presumably properly most of the time but the emphasis was on “getting the job done” and not on any military protocol.

Of course, at times I become very disappointed in our being so different. With so many non-citizens in this area and many having a totally
different background creates some of that. As we both have pointed out, different is not always bad, so I guess it ends up being the degrees
of difference….And far out from my thinking is the liberals and that is where the difference is so noticeable…for me anyway.

The terrain and the climate are different, at least from that of Alabama anyway. The people are very different. The culture is different. My new friends and chemists with whom I worked at the Goat Farm told me quickly that New Mexico (and most of the Southwest) consisted of a clash of three cultures and one could begin to understand life here until one understood the interaction of those three cultures: English, Spanish, and native American and how the three distinct separate cultures came together to form a distinctly new Southwestern culture, which some called the New Mexican culture. I guess if one lived in Arizona or west Texas, there would be a different designation. In addition, there were at least three distinct languages, perhaps more, a couple alive and well with several more dead, or near dead. That certainly pricked my attention, since I had just came out of Seminary where I had studied two very dead languages: ancient Hebrew and the koine Greek, both of which were really dead languages. Both of which were regenerated from the pages of ancient history in order to better understand the people living in that day, time and region. In New Mexico, that process was occurring before my very eyes and not from the pages of dry, dead literature. New Mexico is a very different place especially if one spends much time around the historical records of native peoples settlements of ancient times, both the records of dead ones as well as the ones that have survived to the present. After spending my weekends and Sundays around strange people with whom I could barely understand with backgrounds and cultures totally foreign to anything I had experienced in Alabama (or even Southeastern), I would go back to work in the lab on the base and try to understand the supposedly native peoples, not of New Mexico, but of America serving in the United States Air Force. YEP! New Mexico is a very different place. The people living there are as different because there origins and livelihood are so different. This difference has a profound effect on their world view, their religion, as well as their livelihood. New Mexicans are a very different people living in a very different place.

Pete, a couple of comments above you wrote that all of your children were very much natives of New Mexico; Helen was very much a native of New Mexico although she was born and raised in Arkansas, as I understand; but you only called yourself an adopted son of the state. I really can’t see the difference in your case from that of your family. it is obvious that you need to travel back to Coal Fire, Reform, and Pickens County and spend a little time there. You will find it obvious that the Coal Fire in which you were born and grew up is not the Coal fire that you will find there now. You will find that, not only you have changed, but the place that we called Coal Fire has changed tremendously as well. You have heard the old saying that you can take the people out of a place but you can’t change the place; however, the people are the place. Once the people are gone; the place is no longer the same place. In my opinion, you have lived in New Mexico long enough to be called a native New Mexican simply because you have been away from Pickens County long enough that its people have changed and even its surroundings have changed as to be virtually unrecognizable by a native of the 1040’s and 1950’s. Yep! Coal Fire Creek is still there. It still has a stream of very cold, relatively clean water flowing through what’s left of the community and emptying into the Tombigbee River, which has itself changed since it is now the fancy, new Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway: the Fed’s answer to the internal security of the United States. Even the creek has changed. Other than the fact that it is still there, there is not much else that hasn’t changed. I am beginning to face the same realization. Marina and I are still going back for my high school reunions because there are a few people from the Class of 1959 who are still kicking, but we stay in Columbus. I can see the Church, but only because it is still there. Ottis’ store is gone. All the houses that we knew in West Coal Fire are deserted and most are eith gone, falling down, or filled with snakes. We can not even get up what was once a drive way to see ours. I guess we could if we had a bulldoser, but our Mercedes Benz just will not make it. And consider the snakes! Our timber cutter showed us the video of the snake that he killed on our favorite hillside where we once threw our household garbage. It is a good thing that he killed it with his bulldozer because that snake was at least eight inches in diameter and forty feet long, and, you’re right, it was poisonous. I wouldn’t want to meet up with that snake on foot with only a stick or staff to fight it with. Seeing this snake so close to Mom’s and Dad’s house in which I grew up started me to wondering whether or not I really want to go back to that place at this stage of my life. Perhaps I am no longer a native of Coal Fire as well. As a result Marina and I have applied for a VA Cemetery burial plot and have been accepted, and I wanted so much to be buried at Arbor Springs along with my Dad, his Dad, my Mom, Cecil, Mary Belle, Alan, and all the rest of the Bonners there; but it is not the same as it was. I drove by the nearby Water Mill where we use to swim’ The Coal Fire Creek is still there, but that is all. There is no swimming hole. Even our favorite Ottis Burgess Store is gone, building and all, replaced by a metal building, more lousy looking than OTT’s store. Reuben Este’s fish pond is gone, replaced by a four lane highway. You might say that Coal Fire is gone. Even those houses in Coal Fire proper that still have inhabitants are mostly strangers to the Coal Fire that we knew. So, welcome to New Mexico! You are now a bona fide resident of that state simply because your former bona fide residency has pretty much disappeared.

Sweetie was born and raised in Roosevelt County, NM and never left the state until we married. But, what you have reported is factual other than that. I feel a strong tie to what once was and not so much to what “now is” as far as Coalfire is concerned. That said, certainly all of us born and raised there, know that some things will forever be in our hearts. We can’t change that nor would any of us want to change that. ….But our burial plots are bought and paid for in Carlsbad so that looks to be our final resting place. Coalfire forever lives in our hearts but our bodies are moving on….

I’m sorry! I knew that Helen was born and raised in eastern New Mexico, and only her ancestors came from Arkansas. That does indeed make her a true native of New Mexico and not of Arkansas. Although you originally came from Coal Fire, Alabama and Pickens County, you’re no longer are a resident of Coal Fire because Coal Fire no longer exist as we knew it, and Pickens County and Alabama are not the same. You can take the people out of a place; but you can’t take the place out of the people. At any rate, I have just about given up on the idea of ever going back to the Woodrow Bonner\Iveson Bonner old place in Coal Fire. I suppose I will eventually have to do the most difficult thing that I’ve ever done in my life, that is to sale it. For the life of me, I cannot think of any other use for it. It is a place that has certainly seen a better day. It was a place that saw an unusual experiment in American social, family, and religious life and one which is to the nation’s detriment that it didn’t catch on and become the national norm. That is probably a good thing because that would have given us too much responsibility to see that the experiment played out in the right direction and provided the best end result. But it could have. It had the potential.

Now that you have a tiny glimpse of the way the Coal Fire of my youth has changed and is rapidly returning to the way the Coal Fire must have been in the days when the Choctaw People used it as their Happy Hunting ground, it is time to consider what sould we do about it. I see three options. The first is let the trend continue on its merry way. It would only become a Happy Hunting Ground with a four lane highway running down the middle of it. This will make for an easy access by the Choctaw for their hunt ground. Secondly, I still have dreams of someday returning to the Coal Fire of my youth in a day that is rapidly approaching if it is ever to be. Then, I saw the snake. Thank God! It was dead when I saw it, but it was alive and well in the video on Oglesby’s cell phone. It was the most huge snake I had ever seen outside of Hollywood movies. I’m not sure I would want to be part of the environment of such a snake, much less a part of its daily meal. This made me remember my Dad’s admonition. If there is one, then yo can bet that there is another somewhere; so you had better be on the look out. It made me wonder, “did I really want to return to a place in my advanced years where I would have to be constantly on the look out for snakes this big and huge? I think not. I realize some day these annual 1959 Class Reunions will play out simply because all the class members will have expired. Perhaps the time is rapidly approaching when COALFIRE! WHERE’S COALFIRE should be put in permanent book, either print or computer form and preserved for later years. It is a very worthy endeavor, and time is running short. In my imagination, I feel a physical return to the Coal Fire of my youth but, since such a return is almost as impossible as a real return of the actual events surrounding the Coal Fire of our youth, a well written computer book may be the next best thing, Julie may help me out on this one since she wrote the first one with the notes from Cecil and Cecil’s first print version.

Go for it….The history does need to be recorded….

I am afraid that it is not as simple as just “going for it”. The end result must be debated and decided. Is Coal Fire just to be merely another “dead” community, like so many others in our history where certain people lived, fretted, and strutted their time on the stage of life, only to eventually die and leave nothing but a mound of earth on holy ground that eventually yielded to the wind and the rain and elements and become no more? Or is it to become something more meaningful to the lives of a bunch of kids of several different generations that they were able to take with them to the far corners of the world to make a better world? It is hardly worth the effort if it is to be described as just another place where people once lived who came and went silently through time with no other purpose than to occupy the spot and to become ultimately a filler of a hole over which a mound of earth decorates the terrain. A common epitaph on a grave, “Here lies etc. etc. who lived etc. etc. accomplished so much in this life only to end up like this.” Is this all there is to life? Absolutely not! It is the task of the writer to research the actual truth and to present it in such a way as to give the individual the credit that he is due. This is no easy task when that individual has to make a living for himself and his family. Then, there is also the constant and inevitable desert of skill which most people have to a degree or more. Then there is always the constant distractions of life, and the problem of maintaining one’s attention until the end is reached in a satisfactory manner. Then one must face the temptation of all writers that the task is too difficult to complete requiring too much expenditure of precious time, blood, sweat, and tears midst the realization that the events already exist in the minds of the participants, so why perpetuate one’s own version on the minds of later generations who did not know the former. This is the writers’ dilemma.

If you are going to write about Coalfire, it becomes your decision entirely on your approach to the story and it’s content. Otherwise it would
have to be a joint story with others….That could also work. But, you have a good command of the English language and a good memory of the history
of Coalfire, so this should be your story. If you want to write, just write, don’t sweat the small stuff…..You think to much, my friend….Just write the story!!!!!!

Write a comment