Curry County pioneer women honored at breakfast

By Marlena Hartz: Freedom Newspapers

Battling rattlesnakes and mice in shoddy homes. Farming through droughts and dust storms. Wading through unpaved streets. Feeling hunger pangs.

Being a pioneer in Clovis drenched these women in such hardships. Early Friday morning, about 100 Curry County natives gathered in the Clovis Civic Center for the Sixth Annual Pioneer Women’s Breakfast, awash in nostalgia.

“There is so much history here. So much can be gained from these women,” President of the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce Rhonda Bargman said.
The event was hosted by the chamber and sponsored by ENMR-Plateau.

When Clovis was simply an expanse of wide-open plains, Judy Gambill’s grandfather built the city’s first grist mill, for ground corn.

“I knew almost everyone in town. I would like to have some of that leftover,” said Gambill, adorned, as most of the pioneer women were, with a chunky, turquoise necklace, a relic from the old days.

In breakfasts past, women wore elaborate western costumes, but the tradition faded, while the practice of wearing regional jewelry survived, according to pioneer woman Mary Ballow.

“Now, we are too lazy (to dress up),” Ballow joked of the women, who are mostly over the age of 70.

But the annual reunion is still strong, chamber officials said. More women attended this year’s breakfast than last year’s, officials said.

“The fellowship seems to be closer,” Ballow said.

For Miss Rodeo Tennessee Holly Scott, who came to Clovis for Pioneer Days, the women are role models.

“They are a strong group of women.

“They have a lot of spirit and courage and I hope I can be just like them,” Scott said.