Speak Up: Do you like New Mexico?

Everywhere I went this past week as my wife and I visited Angel Fire, Eagle Nest, Cimarron and Taos, I was recognized as a traveler or tourist and I was asked, “What do you think of New Mexico?”  When they find out my wife and I drove out here from Pennsylvania, they also ask, “How many miles is that?”

Two short answers are: 1, I like New Mexico and the people here; and 2, We drove 1,831 miles from our home in the mountains of central Pennsylvania.

The third question they ask is: “Why did you come?”

“Well,” I answer with some hesitation, “it sure wasn’t a good time in one way to come, because we have fall roundup to do back home and we have corn to be harvested as silage.”  But, in another way, in a way I am running out of time and late September and early October have always been good weather to travel.

I grew up in the Aughwick Valley of Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, which is located in the center of the state—in the ridge and valley region.  A half mile down the road from my house was the Harper Farm.  My old friend, Tom Harper, had left the valley not long after graduating from high school in 1958  when he got a job with an oil pipeline company that was building a pipeline across our valleys and mountains from Ohio to the refinery at Philadelphia far to the east of us.  Tom has been with oil companies in Houston and Tulsa ever since. And every year he invited my wife, Linda, and me to visit him in his home in Houston or his summer home in Angel Fire.  

Like I said, we’re running out of time. As I write this column, our son is texting us photographs of the corn harvester in our corn field. Early reports are of a record harvest. We will have filled up two 10 by 250 feet long plastic bags and still have corn left to harvest as grain or leave to the deer and the bears.

My wife and I raise registered Simmental cattle on our land. We also raise crops such as corn, hay and soybeans, but cattle are our love.  And if you don’t know it already, the cattle industry is in unchartered territory with record shortages and record prices. Not one cattleman in the eastern United States will give you an answer if you ask them what is going to happen in the cattle business in the next five years.

The newspaper business is also in turmoil around the country. I didn’t tell you I was the publisher of a weekly newspaper named The Valley Log for 34 years. I sold it last year, but only after the new owner insisted I continue to write my column called “Let me ramble…”  I am hoping to write my column for 16 more years and mark 50 years.  Imagine, for 34 years I have written about the people I talked to the previous week and what I had been doing. I have already written home to The Valley Log with a column that describes what I have seen on my trip.  My readers look forward to my column.

Well, next week I intend to tell you folks of my impressions of New Mexico and what I have been especially interested in learning and seeing.  That is, if my invitation to write from Gabriel of the Sangre de Cristo Chronicle newspaper staff is extended.  I believe both you and my readers back home will find interesting what I have discovered on this trip. I looked at our country as I drove across the Great Plains through the eyes of a businessman, a cattleman, and a journalist publisher.

<em>— C. Arnold McClure founded The Valley Log in Orbisonia, Pennsylvania,  in 1980 and served as publisher for 34 years before selling the paper last year.  He continues to write his column and aims for 50 years of writing about people he has met that week.</em>