Life of service

As one of the original liquor dealers in Clovis, Kit Pettigrew has seen a lot of things.
When the city voted to go wet in 1960, Pettigrew was in on one of the original liquor licenses and owned both the Smoke House bar and the Prince Lounge.
He grew up on a farm in Grady and joined the Navy when the Korean War broke out when he was 20 years old, but Pettigrew has spent the majority of his time here in eastern New Mexico.
“If I didn’t live in Clovis, I’d move to Clovis,” he said.

Courtesy photo Pettigrew learned how to play poker at his brother Ed’s bar north of Grady.

Courtesy photo
Pettigrew learned how to play poker at his brother Ed’s bar north of Grady.

Courtesy photo Kit Pettigrew, right, competes in a bulldogging competition with Ben Johnson, a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award winner, in California in the 1950s.

Courtesy photo
Kit Pettigrew, right, competes in a bulldogging competition with Ben Johnson, a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award winner, in California in the 1950s.

Courtesy photo Pettigrew, center, was 21 years old while he was in the Navy, stationed out of San Diego.

Courtesy photo
Pettigrew, center, was 21 years old while he was in the Navy, stationed out of San Diego.

Tell me about your family. I had the greatest woman in the world, bar none. She was one in 10 million. Dixie was her name. We were married over 50 years and she died of cancer. I sure did love her.
I have two boys and, in turn, I’ve got seven grandkids.

How did you and your wife meet? I went to college at Texas Tech and she’s from Ozona, Texas, and she and I met. She liked horses and rodeos, which I was all about. Of course she fell in love with me and of course I didn’t like her.
I was in the Navy and to be honest, I got drunk one night and asked her to marry me. Three days later her and her dad showed up in San Diego and what was I going to do?

Tell me about your service in the Navy. I was at Texas Tech and the Korean War broke out. I wasn’t the best student and my grades weren’t good enough. In other words, I was fixing to get drafted. Someone told me the Navy was the place to go.
I signed up. Three years and 10 months and 10 days in the Navy. I wasn’t too interested in the Navy, I just got in there to keep from going to the Army.
At the time, I didn’t know it, but I was having a good time. I went to boot camp and then we’re assigned stations.
We had a tough job. We went to Hawaii, then from Hawaii we went to Japan, then we went to Korea. That was a bad part of it.

How did you get involved in the liquor business in Clovis? I had a brother, Ed, who had Ed’s Bar north of Grady and I watched him out there. That’s where I learned to play poker when I was 15. I saw how much money he’d made.

What’s your favorite part of living in Clovis? If I didn’t live in Clovis, I’d move to Clovis. Clovis has been good to me. We have fall, we have summer and winter and spring. I like those different seasons.
I’ve done a bunch and I lived in San Diego for three years, and in Phoenix. Everybody talks about Phoenix, but give me Clovis. I like the people in Clovis, I really do.

What’s your idea of the perfect vacation? I’ve been everywhere. I lived in California, Arizona, you might say all over the world, then went to Japan, Hawaii and all that and had a hell of a time. So where do I want to go? I do pretty well in this chair.

What would be your perfect meal? A good filet that my wife cooked. She was a good cook. She could really cook up some good meals.

What are you most thankful for? I’ve got so much to be thankful for. I had the greatest wife in the world.
I made a tub full of money, got a big ranch, got seven grandkids and six of them are boys, one girl. Me and her are big buddies, she’s a sweetheart.
The way I look at it now, I’m 85. If I died today, I’ve had a full, full life.

— Compiled by staff writer Emily Crowe and edited for length and clarity