Wouldn’t you like to know?

A few things I’d like to know some day:

David Stevens

David Stevens

• Who was that girl down in Clovis that Hank Williams Jr. sang about in his 1975 song, “Clovis, New Mexico?”

We know she was a green-eyed lady in old jeans that were faded. But did she actually exist, or did Bocephus make her up in the back of a tour bus on his way to a gig in Tulsa, Okla.?

• Did a parent-teacher brawl really result in the closing of the Pitchfork school in northern Lea County in the 1940s?

The story I’ve heard, from family and friends, is a teacher whacked a rowdy student with a ruler and nearly cut off his ear. When the boy’s mother saw the damage, she confronted the teacher with a baseball bat. The teacher went to the hospital, the mother went to jail, and the Pitchfork school students went to Roosevelt County.

The only part I know for sure is true is that Pitchfork’s school is closed and there’s nothing there now to suggest it ever existed.

• What does Clint Eastwood remember about filming “Rawhide” in Tucumcari for six weeks in 1959?

Did he hang out at Five Mile Park or chow down at the A&W root beer stand? Whatever happened to the autographed picture of Eastwood that used to hang at Del’s Restaurant? And did he get into a fight with co-star Eric Fleming? If so, who won?

• Did a local rancher really ride his horse into Hotel Clovis, as reported in documents with the National Register of Historic Places?

Supposedly the man rode “through the lobby, up the stairs to the ballroom, shot out the lights and then whupped the man dancing with his wife.”

I can believe a fellow rode his horse through the hotel’s front door in the 1930s, but there’s no way he coaxed a horse up the steep staircase to the second-floor ballroom. A drunken cowboy would have had trouble on the stairs even without a horse.

And if he shot out the lights, how could he see to whup anybody?

There was a smaller dance floor just inside the door at street level. I suppose I could believe a first-floor version of that tale, but this sounds more like a scene from a Gene Autry movie.

• How did Clovis’ zoo get started?

The story is told that a circus came to town, went bankrupt, and operators abandoned the critters.

But there is no documentation known to support this claim.

What we know for sure is Fire Chief R.V. Miller kept a pair of monkeys — Joe and Betty — in a park at Fourth and Mitchell in 1928, according to Miller’s daughter, Beth Nelson.

Zoo animals witnessed construction of a post office at Fourth and Mitchell in 1930, Historian Stanley Crocchioli wrote in his 1966 book, “The Clovis, New Mexico, Story.”

By 1931, the zoo was in its current location at Hillcrest Park and included four bears, three lions, three monkeys and two alligators, according to Crocchioli.

Come sundown, the roar of the lions could be heard throughout the city.

I wonder if that would intimidate a horse who could climb the stairs to a hotel ballroom?

 

David Stevens can be contacted at:

dstevens@pntonline.com

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