My family history with Roosevelt County begins in the early 1900s, and I've always loved the stories of the pioneers. But I've never known much of the personal history from the late 1800s until very recently when I read the new book by Ruth Burns, "A Man Was a Real Man in Them Days." It's filled with quotes, tales, and photos of the people who came to the Llano Estacado 150 years ago.
Ruth's mother, Rose, found herself in Portales, surrounded by the people who had been the first settlers here — the ones who had worked the cattle in the days when fences were illegal, Billy the Kid was holing up at Portales Springs, and wagons brought flour in barrels, kegs of molasses and sacks of navy beans.
I'm so grateful she decided to interview them, and write their stories. I'm equally thankful that her daughter has compiled them into this beautiful book.
Wrapping up the stories, just like a grand musical on a stage, is that of the first community Christmas celebration in 1899. Santa on a donkey, a tree brought in from Tucumcari, bags of candy for every person there … a day "full of hope and joy and goodwill".
I believe I'll read the Christmas chapter each and every December from now on.
Sandy keeps an online journal at her website www.field-days.com. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.