March 18, 2005
Dear Subscriber:

My father-in-law's World War II reunion is next week in Las
Vegas. Peggy and I are looking forward to attending. Families
of the vets in this unit are invited and it seems over half of
those that have signed up for this reunion are supportive
family members. Wives, sons, daughters and grandkids. It's
hard to believe. Many of these guys' grandkids have kids of
their own.

I've written about Dr. Gerald Thomas before. He flew torpedo
planes for the Navy during that war. He says this may well be
the last reunion of his Band of Brothers given the fact that
there are fewer and fewer of them.

In preparation for this reunion I decided to re-read Dr. 
Thomas' book on his war experiences (Torpedo Squadron Four...
A Cockpit View of World War II. The Rio Grande Historical 
Collections. 1990.) It has been over 10 years since I last
cracked this book. There's been a lot of water under history's
bridge since then. Two presidents by the name of Bush. Two
wars in Iraq. Two giant towers down in New York City.

I read the book this time through different eyes. Though I had
been through those pages before, it was a brand new learning

According to his writings, Dr. Thomas said the reason he wanted
to be a war pilot was because he thought it would be an
effective way to contribute to the world struggle. He had a
choice of being a Navy pilot or a Marine pilot. He chose the
Navy because it would allow him to fly his plane off of the
pitching deck of an aircraft carrier. The Marines were nice
guys, he said, but they normally flew off of solid ground. Not
nearly so challenging, he reasoned. It's that kind of talk that
probably started a few saloon brawls during the second world
war and since, but I'm sure Gerald meant no offense.

While Gerald addressed the loss of life among those he flew
with in his book he didn't write about it with any repressive
gloom. It came with the territory. In war, some die and some
don't. He does say in his book what you hear from many soldiers
from wars since. The attitudinal thread is the same; The true
heroes were those that didn't come back. As the song goes...all
gave some. Some gave all.

While I turned the pages, I was struck by the fact that little
has changed with the warriors among us in the past over half

Gerald is in his 80s. The US soldiers facing dangers in today's
service to their country are largely in their 20s. Like my 
father-in-law, they volunteered. Like him, the men in our
service today don't think much about what might happen to them.
Their main concern is where they could go to do the most good.

We have become a nation of skeptics. There are those among us
that think we are using impressionable youngsters to fight
questionable battles for us. I think that attitude sells our
young men and women short.

On December 7, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, a 22
year old Gerald Thomas wanted nothing more than to pursue a 
career in forestry. What could have been more rewarding for a
young man like that to prowl the forests and maintain one of
this country's most important natural resources?

Instead he took the hard road. He chose flying a big slow
lumbering torpedo plane that the enemy loved to see coming
because shooting them down was like shooting ducks in a barrel.
Why did he choose such a reckless future? Because the allies
needed torpedo pilots. He had some scary moments, including
having to ditch at sea.

Paraphrasing: "My crewman and I inflated the life raft and
promptly lost one of our oars. No big deal, since we didn't
know where we were going anyway."

They were rescued by a destroyer. Gerald got home, got married,
had three kids including a daughter named Peggy who married me
22 years ago.

Thanks, Gerald. If you hadn't made it, I might be married to an
I.R.S. agent with a minimal sense of humor and much less
pleasant to the eyes...and I would have never known you.

On September 11, 2001, when a faceless but well organized army
of international terrorists brought down the World Trade Center
Towers in New York City, there were Americans in their early 20s
that had made plans to be doctors or lawyers or business owners
that decided instead to take the hard road. Now they're living
in the heat and the sand of the Middle East...fighting the
terrorist leaders that have taken the place of the Hitlers and
the Mussolinis and the Tojos...doing what they can to rid this
planet of individual freedom.

Some peoples' idea of a hero may be the person that can win the
Master's golf tournament or the Indianapolis 500.

My hero is the anonymous young person that got up this morning,
put on his uniform and, with no real chance of being in the
headlines, will go out today and fight for his country.

God bless our soldiers...today and yesterday.

Don Vanlandingham

Some late season snow provided more moisture during this last
reporting period.

Low, 7 degrees at 6am Wednesday (3-16). High 55 at noon
Thursday (3-10).

Annual precipitation since Jan. 1, 6.76 inches.

April through June is the traditional peak season for wildfire
in the Sacramento Mountains. For up to the minute information
on wildfire break-outs in the Cloudcroft area, log on to
Cloudcroft.com. It's free.

Forest officials are saying the ample winter moisture will help
keep spring fire danger relatively low this year as compared to
recent years.
The Cloudcroft Tunnel on US 82.


US Congressman Steve Pearce will ask for congressional funding
during the next session for the restoration of the Mexican
Canyon Trestle, the trestle seen along US Highway 82 at the
entrance of Cloudcroft.
The historic Old Apple Barn on highway 82 in Mountain Park,
features a store, open mid-May thru January and a year around
loft. The loft sleeps 4 adults and 2 kids. With it's 25 foot
vaulted great room, rustic appeal, wood stove and antique
furnishings, ideal retreat with modern amenities. For more
information, email oldapplebarn@yahoo.com, call (505) 682-BARN,
or see the link to our web site on the Lodging page of


It's almost that time of year.


Q - We will be in Cloudcroft during the 4th of July weekend.
Is there a place to buy fireworks in Cloudcroft?

A - Fireworks are strictly prohibited anywhere in the Lincoln
National Forest. The use of fireworks on private property is up
to the discretion of the property owner, however if the use of
fireworks on private property leads to a fire, the private
property owner will be held responsible for any damage incurred
including the cost of fighting the fire.

The village of Cloudcroft prohibits the use or sale of fireworks
at any time.
March 26 -- Easter Egg hunt. Cloudcroft.

March 26 -- Easter Bonnet parade. Cloudcroft. 2pm.

May 6-7 -- 2005 Organ Mountain Film Festival. New Mexico Farm
and Ranch Heritage Museum. 4100 Dripping Springs, Las Cruces.

May 7 -- Old Timer's reunion. Cloudcroft.

May 28, 29 -- Mayfest. Cloudcroft.

June 17, 18, 19 -- Western Roundup. Cloudcroft.

June 18-19 -- 2005 High Rolls Cherry Festival. 9am - 5pm. High
Rolls Community Center. Follow the highway signs to local
(weather permitting) cherries, cherry pies, over 60 arts/crafts
venders, food and drink, near-continuous local entertainment,
and children's activities. www.highrollsfestivals.com or call
(505) 682-1151. As always, parking and admission are free.

July 9 and 10 -- July Jamboree. Cloudcroft.

Would you like to help deliver meals to the homebound around
Cloudcroft? Monday through Friday deliveries. Call the
Cloudcroft Senior Center at (505)-682-3022. For information on
other Senior Center services, see their web site, listed on the
Cloudcroft.com Links button.


Mountain Garden Club meets every third Monday of each month.
Call (505) 682-2910 for more information.

Senior Van from Timberon to Alamogordo leaves the Timberon
Lodge promptly at 8:30 every Wednesday morning.

Free Vitals Clinic. Cloudcroft Senior Citizens Center, every
Wednesday. High Rolls Senior Citizens Center, first Thursday
of each month.

For information on upcoming events at the Nivison Public
Library in Cloudcroft, contact library director Joyce Komraus.
(505) 682-1111.
Dear Newsletter:

Thanks for your newsletter. It is great to stay connected to
the mountain area we love so much. Just an informational aside,
Elizabeth Garrett (Pat Garrett's daughter who wrote the New
Mexico State song) was my husband's grandmother's cousin (got

My husband's grandmother, Mary Garrett Craig (niece of Pat
Garrett) used to tell us stories of cousin Lizzie coming to
visit them in the summers. She was able to accomplish much 
despite the fact that she was blind from a few hours after

She was friends with Helen Keller and she sang and performed
her music all over the country. She was quite a woman! They
have information about her at the Blind School in Alamogordo,
if anyone is interested. 

Keep up the good work,
Dru Chapman
Rye, New York

Dear Newsletter:

Regarding Bill White's comments from Phoenix, AZ, I sympathize
entirely. Although I'm somewhat jealous. I have 327 days to my
retirement at Cloudcroft from the Dallas area. As a writer, I'll
have plenty to keep my days occupied. When I tire of that, there
will be days helping out at the James Canyon Volunteer Fire

Don, keep the newsletters coming. I look forward to your humor 
and news each week. Thanks. 

John L. Cowart 

Dear Newsletter:

Hello Mr. Vanlandingham. In recent months I have gone from
thinking, "gee, that fun newsletter is here again" to "when
WILL he get my weekly dose of Cloudcroft to me? It seems like
forever since the last one!" My how perceptions change.
Cecilia Robertson

Dear Newsletter:

I saw Peggy the other day, as beautiful as ever. We waved and
she went about her way. I'm writing because I want to let you
and everyone else that is reading this now know about a
wonderful human that lives on this mountain among us.
He was driving home last night when he saw a little dog running,
running, running then falling over. It would get up and try 
again and again. Most people would just pass it by and think
the next person would feel for it and bring it home but he 
stopped brought it home. He said that the little dog just spoke
to his heart. 
He brought it to us in hopes that we could nurse it back to
health. But it was so close to death that I almost turned it
away. My daughter (10 yrs. old) and husband reminded me that it
has life and we had to do this. All night long I worried with
it and in the morning it was alive. I took it to the vet. I
didn't have much money and offered to work it off in trade 
every weekend for as long as it takes or let him come shopping
in my store and take anything he wanted but he was not able to
do any sort of trading. I told him I had $30.00 -- give the dog
as much as $30.00 would buy. He did more than I expected and I
got meds to boot. He was wonderful. 
It was touch and go for the little baby. It turned out to be
female and about 1 year old. It weighed approx. 2 lbs. He felt
it had fallen out of a moving car. It could not stand up or eat
or drink on its on. No broken bones as far as he could tell.
But totally out of it. 

I put the word out to every place I could think of and by the
end of the day I found her family with the help of Terry our
local police officer. Indeed, she had jumped out of a moving
truck at 55 MPH. I can't believe she lived. Her name is Sandy,
but I called her DeeOgee (D-O-G). I have to say I became very
close to her in the short time I had her.
In the end her Daddy came to get her. He was happy to get her
back and it was the first time my husband saw life in little
Sandy's eyes. My daughter cried but she was going home and we
were happy.
As I drove home I gave praise to God for putting my brother in
law, David, in the right place at the right time because the 
Lord knew he would be the one to see this dog home.
I tried to thank him, David, but he brushed me off like it was
nothing. But I will forever hold him in my heart for sharing
his heart with a lost dog that needed help.

Without you, David Lane, that dog would have not lived. Thank
you for being the person your are.

Dear Newsletter:

Regarding your recent letter about your dogs running and
sliding thru the house: 

You must have your table lamps bolted down, and the tables
screwed to the floor. When I was a kid at home, we always had
two or more cats. As I read your newsletter, I recalled that
our cats would chase each other thru the house, and either
slide down on the turns, or 'run in place' on the linoleum
kitchen floor. While they could, if allowed, rearrange the
inside of the house in a matter of an hour, they were
quite entertaining to watch. 

Your newsletter #257 dated March 11, reminded me of the times
I visited a drug store in Richardson, Texas. The store was set
up with a soda fountain and booths a la the forties and
fifties. The store proprietor had a myna bird which he placed
in a large cage near the rearmost booth.

The bird spoke very well, and was always a source of
entertainment to the customers. That is, until a few teenage
boys, stopping for a soda after school, taught the bird a few
unsavory remarks to make to women.

One day, as I entered the store, I found the bird gone. The
owner told me that the bird had practiced a couple of these
remarks on a group of little old ladies who had occupied that

I am far from being in my teens, but the teenaged boy in me
finds that hilarious every time I think of that!

Nathan Sparks, Sr
Whitesboro, Texas

Dear Newsletter:

I'm an avid reader of yours from afar...Oxfordshire, England,
to be exact. I'm an American who has lived here for just over
two years now. 

I have family in and around your part of New Mexico and probably
love Cloudcroft as much as anyone else who chooses to spend time
there. In fact, my "significant other" (who's British) and I
will be bringing his "mum" with us when we're there in a few
few weeks -- staying in the Lodge, as we always do. We can't
wait to share our piece of paradise with somebody new!
But the reason for my note is just to tell you that today I've
linked your columns on my blog on the web -- called "Lord 
You're been a big inspiration to me...and I just wanted you to
know that!
ALL the best from the UK...
Janet Lawrence
Deddington, Oxfordshire

Dear Newsletter:

Laughing isn't only "...good for the soul", it's good for your
heart and your brain!

Recent studies published in mainstream medical journals continue
to demonstrate how good laughing is for our physical health; for
example, enjoying a good laugh widens and flexes our arteries,
helping the blood flow more easily and thus providing 
life-giving oxygen to all of our organs and tissues.

And we already know that it makes us feel better mentally and
spiritually. Everyone keep laughing out there!

Lyn Canham
Sandia Park, NM

Dear Newsletter:

Hello there! We have an old delightful cabin there in
Cloudcroft, and I have been spending time there every summer
of my life. I sure do miss the stables and the horseback
riding--this was an every day occurrence! What a great place
to frequent!

Looking forward to being up there again soon!

Cabby Capshaw
El Paso, TX 

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Copyright © 2005 Cloudcroft Online
The Travel and Visitor's Guide to Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
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