My Turn — You can get what you want

I was looking through an old scrapbook recently (the 1930s equivalent of surfing the Internet) when I came across a large advertisement from the August 28, 1936, Portales Daily News headlined “Portales at a Glance!”

It listed 79 categories of local businesses, ranging from “gent’s furnishing store” and “ladies’ ready-to-wear” to coal dealers and a steam laundry.

At the bottom, it promised “You Can Get What You Want in Portales!”

Enough of my old relatives spoke of the itchy awfulness of pulling broomcorn that I can be grateful we no longer have four broomcorn dealers, but I would love a walk through the broom factory they supplied.

I like the idea that the 4,000 or so folks who called the Portales valley home in that era could eat out at seven restaurants, or stock their kitchens from 16 grocery stores, four meat markets, a bakery, and 10 fruit and vegetable markets. Those with a sweet tooth could choose between two confectioners, or head straight to the “candy kitchen.”

I’ll bet my hat that all 30 of the town’s filling stations actually pumped the gas for their customers, while washing windshields and checking oil.

But overall, I was happiest to learn that literary needs were served by four libraries and four bookstores. Where is my time travel machine? I’m heading back.

Betty Williamson wonders what went on in Portales’ memorably-named “Casanova Recreation Parlor.” If you know, you may contact her at

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