When Alfred Crawford was 22 he asked a young lady he had just met if she would like to dance. Moments later they were engaged to be married.
The story may shock some people, but not his family, who describe the long-time Portales resident as quite the dancer.
Crawford died on Dec. 4, 2003. He was 93.
His 56-year-old son, Robert Crawford of Portales, described his father as “a big man,” a superb dancer and a good story teller.
“He was a truck driver who traveled hay to the dairies around here, and he loved to dance,” said Robert, the baby of his father’s family of four children who now works as an insurance adjuster. “He was an excellent dancer.”
Alfred had been a resident of Portales since 1930, moving to the community with his young wife, Ruth, traveling on horseback and picking cotton along the way from Peacock, Texas.
“Dad told me it was hard times,” Robert said of his father’s early years in Portales, “but he was fortunate enough to have a job that paid 10 to 15 cents a day. He had a lot of good stories to tell.”
For example, Robert said, his father in his early years in Portales carried 100 pounds of coal over his shoulder as he walked home at night, so that his family would be able to stay warm during the cold winters.
“They went through 100 pounds of coal a day,” Robert said.
He attributed his father’s long life to hard work.
“He didn’t retire until he was 75 years old,” Robert said. “I think that’s the reason he lived so long and was in such good health.”
Bettye Buller, 59, who was born right before Robert, said, “What I miss the most is I live in Farmington, and I talked to him every day on the phone. Either he called me or I called him.”
She called her father “the most loving Dad.”
“Even until the day he died, I was his little girl,” Buller said. “On my wedding day, he was driving me in my wedding dress to the church, and he told me it wasn’t too late to back out if I wanted to.
“I told him, ‘no,’ she said. “Then he told me to stick it out and not come crying back home. We had a really good mom, too. Dad was 22 and she was 16 when they married.”
Buller said the couple met a dance.
“Dad went to a dance and told a friend he was going to dance with the prettiest girl there. She was my mother,” she said. “He proposed to her on the spot, and she said, ‘yes.’”
Of her father’s death, Buller said the family was glad he didn’t linger. He had suffered a stroke and was being hospitalized at Plains Regional Medical Center in Clovis.
“We were just glad God took him quickly,” Buller said. “We didn’t want him to lay there disabled. His mind (until the stroke) was sharp as a tack. I sure miss him. He rode on horseback to Portales and later saw a man walk on the moon. That was really something.”