ENMU picnic commemorating 75 years

By Eric Butler: PNT staff writer

Like almost every other part of the country, mid-1930s New Mexico was mired in the difficulties of the Great Depression.

But it was a time of new beginnings, too, and Eastern New Mexico University will be celebrating its inception with a Founder’s Day Picnic on Sunday.

Commemorating its 75th anniversary, ENMU officials will stage the picnic from noon to 3 p.m. outside the Administration Building on campus.

The picnic meal will include two pieces of fried chicken, white bread, corn-on-the-cob, mustard-based potato salad, deviled eggs, apple pie and a drink. The cost is $6 each.

“Evidently, every meal included eggs in those days. It was really an important staple,” said organizer Patrice Caldwell, trying to keep the picnic true to its roots.

Caldwell, executive director of planning and analysis at ENMU, said she has been in contact with two women who were part of Eastern’s first group of students in 1934. Though she still hopes they can attend the picnic, weather will be a factor for former students, who are in their 90s.

“With the heat, they’ve said they want to come, but I’m not sure they’ll be able to,” Caldwell said. “We’re going to have tents; we’ll have water tents sent up. And we’ll open up the administration building, which will be highly cooled.”

Eastern began as a junior college with a summer session in 1934, with 145 students attending a six-week session in the Administration Building — the only building on what wasn’t really a campus but an expanse of open fields.