July 6, 2001
Dear Subscriber:

Peggy and I went to a wedding last week. It was the wedding of
a close friend's son.

It seems we only go to weddings of friend's kids anymore.
Our friends don't have weddings. They're either already
happily married or happily divorced.

When you're "once removed" from the blissful couple your
attention span becomes shortened during the ceremony. It's easy
to become diverted to peripheral happenings other than the 
blow-by-blow at the alter. To add spice to the experience, Peg
and I decided to grade the performance.

The ushers got an F. They were too busy flirting with the girls
in the church lobby to sufficiently execute their duties. The
guy that seated us took Peg's arm and hustled us to our seats,
but he seated us on the bride's side. We were supposed to be on
the groom's side.

As you know, it is customary that the bride's family and 
friends sit on one side of the church and the groom's family 
and friends sit on the other. I guess that is in case a fight 
breaks out. Everyone automatically knows whose side they're on.

We sat there in semi-darkness. Peg wasn't through bad-mouthing
the usher. "He didn't even give us a program," she said.

I looked around. No one else had a program either.

"I don't know if they have programs at weddings," I said. "I
think programs are for funerals."

She thought about it a minute and said, "Yeah...you may be 

It was just about then that the preacher decided to perform an
audio check.


We sat quietly for another minute, then I leaned toward Peg and
whispered "20 minutes ago this place was empty. Why didn't the
preacher check his microphone then instead of waiting 'till the
place was full?"

Peg got tickled. The bride's family turned and scowled at us.
We didn't know them from Adam. We were supposed to be sitting
on the groom's side.

I asked Peg if she would like to move to the groom's side before
the ceremony started. She said "I guess so," so we got up and
played knee bump with the people between us and the isle. I
felt obliged to say something cute to cover the awkwardness of
the moment so I said to our pew-mates "We're leaving!"

They all frowned at me. Not the reaction I was going for. I
suddenly realized they were all African-American and I was
afraid my flippancy would be falsely construed as some kind of
ethnic reproach.

"Just kidding," I smiled. Instantly I felt even dumber. "Just
kidding" translated means "I just said something incredibly
stupid and I'd like to cover it up."

Mercifully we had reached the isle and made our escape to where
the groom's gang was sitting. Except for the groom's parents,
we didn't know any of them either, but we somehow took comfort
in being among them.

The wedding was about to start. The ushers brought in the
bride's mom and step dad, the bride's grandmother and step
grandfather on her dad's side, the bride's grandfather and step
grandmother on her dad's side, the bride's grandmother and step
grandfather on her mother's side, the bride's grandfather and
step-grand mother on her mother's side and so on infinitum.

Then the ushers brought in the groom's mom and dad. Suddenly I
felt a little cheated. We were outnumbered by that group on
the other side of the isle and you could see the animosity
growing as eye-daggers were being thrown in that section of
husbands and wives (present and past) thrown together in a
tight little wad for what was likely the first time ever.

I was praying for a short ceremony.

The preacher came out with the groom and his 6 groomsmen. I
envisioned the owner of the tux rental shop out at that very
moment buying a new Mercedes. Peg must have been having the
same mental image because it was all she could do to stifle a

It was then that I realized if there were 6 groomsmen, there
must be 6 bridesmaids. They would soon filter very slowly down
the center isle and take their places on the alter. Then
there would be the flower girl and the ring bearer and finally
the bride on the arm of her father who would probably by then
look like he needed a shave.

My hopes for a short ceremony were dashed.

The ceremony did eventually start and Peg and I gave the 
preacher an F.

He read the ceremony from his trusty preacher's handbook. I
always thought a preacher worth his salt would have the wedding
ceremony memorized. It reminded me of a funeral I went to one
time where the preacher read the obituary straight out of the
newspaper. I had the eerie feeling he would move to the sports
section next.

After a lot of bride and groom cow-eyeing, candle-lighting and
ring exchanging, the wedding was over. We hugged the groom's
mom and shook hands with the groom's pop and we all agreed it
was the most beautiful wedding we had ever seen. The reception
was next and the worst was over.

At least that's what I thought. There was no booze at the

Don Vanlandingham

While occasional afternoon showers have taken the edge off the
fire danger in the Sacramento Mountains, some restrictions are
still in place for National Forest lands. Call the Sacramento
Ranger District (505) 682-2551 for up-to-date changes.

Highs this past week have been in the mid-70s. Lows in the
I guess I am as qualified as anybody still alive to comment on
the Cloudcroft Bowling Alley.

They may have used duckpins and balls before WWII (I never heard
any stories about it), but in the early 40s my grandfather, Tom 
Pittman, was the owner of a regular sized bowling alley. It had
four lanes, and was enlarged to five. My grandfather drilled 
three tiny holes in a duckpin ball to fit my fingers and taught
me how to bowl. I was a preschooler at the time.

My father, Hugh Pittman, had a reputation of throwing a 
regulation bowling ball so hard that the pins splattered and 
often broke out the windows in the back of the bowling alley. 
My grandfather just boarded up the windows so he wouldn't have 
to keep replacing them.

I, too, set pins on the spots for a while, until they switched 
to a rack into which we placed the pins and then lowered the 
rack to stand the pins up. Later on they had semiautomatic 
pinsetters which lowered at the touch of a button, but we still
had to put the pins in them and roll the balls back to the 
bowlers on an above-the-floor ball return. We were paid 10 cents
a line to set pins. One summer my brother Tom earned over 
$100.00. (He was about ten years old at the time.) 

Mr. Schuller mentioned illegal slot machines in Ruidoso. My dad
told me that Cloudcroft used to be "wide open" in regard to 
gambling (his words). But I don't think any of that activity 
went on in the bowling alley. In later years we had a snooker 
table, some smaller pool tables, and some pinball machines. 
My personal favorites were the jukebox and the Coke machine.

The original bowling alley was built in the 1920s, burned down,
was rebuilt, and burned down again. The last incarnation must
have been sometime in the 1930s. For a while, the other part
of the building, called The Pavilion, housed a roller skating

I've wanted to write to your newsletter for a long time now, 
but my memories of Cloudcroft always make me misty eyed. I was
born in the house on the Southeast corner of Chipmunk and Wren
in 1939. When my mother went into labor she sent the sheriff
(Lon Hunter) on horseback to fetch the doctor. (I don't know
if he was the actual "sheriff" or not, but he was a law 
enforcement officer of some sort.)

My grandparents and my Dad are long since gone. My mother moved
to California last year. So I have no family ties left in 
Cloudcroft or Alamogordo. But I know my husband and I will 
visit whenever we can. We'll watch the sunset from The Lodge
and maybe have a picnic at Sleepy Grass.

Thanks for the memories,
Janice (Pittman) Fiddler 
Gardena, California

PS: I would love to hear from anyone who remembers my family.
Cloudcroft Village Administrator Mike Nevison stated last week
that the water shortage in the village of Cloudcroft is still
serious. The village is still undertaking the drilling of test
wells in a search for new water sources. The test wells drilled
up to now have not been as productive as is needed.

There are watering restrictions for village residents until
further notice. Contact the village office for specifics.
Ponderosa Pines Golf Course offers cool, beautiful mountain 
golf at affordable prices. Located 9 miles Southeast of 
Cloudcroft on Hwy 130.

Call (505) 682-2995 or email ponderosapines@zianet.com for more
Serving the Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico, its communities
and the Lincoln National Forest. This paper covers the
communities of Timberon, Weed, Sacramento, Sunspot, Mayhill,
Cloudcroft, High Rolls, Mountain Park and Pinon. The Lincoln
National Forest, Sacramento District, is also covered
extensively in the Mountain Times. You will find a huge number
of photos, history, and nature articles dealing with the
Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico.

For more information, see their link on the Links page of
Q - Does Cloudcroft have a police department?

A - Cloudcroft has a police department and includes full-time
police patrols of the village.
July 7 -- Lumberjack Contest. Zenith Park, 11am.
For more information, call (505) 682-2733.

July 13-14 -- Melodrama. Open Air Pavilion.

July 14-15 -- July Jamboree. Zenith Park. Crafts Fair, 
Horseshoe Competition, Street Dance.
For more information, call (505) 682-2733. 

July 20-21 -- Melodrama. Open Air Pavilion.

July 20-22 - Bluegrass Festival. Weed, New Mexico.
For more information, call (505) 687-3648.

July 28 -- Chili Cook-off. Ski Cloudcroft.
For more information, call (505) 437-6259.

August 17 and 19 -- Singing in the Clouds. High School
Cafeteria. For more information, call (505) 682-2733.

August 24 -- Cloudcroft/Hagerman football game (away).

September 1-2 -- Labor Day Fiesta. Sidewalk sales,
entertainment, street dance, and games for kids.
For more information, call (505) 682-2733.

Cloudcroft Art Society meets the second Thursday of each month
in the Old Red Brick School House. Call (505) 682-2494 for 
more information.

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

If you have news of public events in the Cloudcroft area, email

For an online calendar of area events, click the Events Calendar
link in the left column of our home page:


Dear Newsletter:

I would like to follow up on insurance. I agree with the Arizona
person. Laws only protect them and not us.

Back in the 50's when I was almost a teenager, I had the good
fortune to have visited Cloudcroft on the way to Bakersfield 
California where during summers (I worked as a potato picker). 

Of course I had not had a memory of my trip through Cloudcroft
until years later. In 1992 as a reservist from Austin, Texas 
I pulled two weeks active duty at Holloman A.F.B. During one 
of our duty breaks I was invited up the mountain.

To me, a Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran, sitting at the desert
basin looking up at the dry and rough south side of the 
mountains, I wasn't interested. Basically a couch potato by 
nature, I declined several times, until mention of a few cold 
beers and a trip to Carlsbad Caverns was brought up.

Well, as you can guess, as we climbed to higher elevations. I 
lost all negativeness when I began to feel better as the 
coolness of the mountain air and the smell of the pine trees
engulfed me. All previous memories came rushing back to me. The
river carved into the base of the beautiful mountain. I believe

I even saw what looked like a 3' diameter round cactus, that I
had seen many years before. It was all amazing. All that was 
missing were the 5 cent all you can drink juice stands. 
I returned to Cloudcroft on a vacation visit with my wife and 
enfant son Southern, who now is 7 years old.

We now own a small house on the north side of the Lodge.

We love our jaunts up to the mountains and can't wait 'till our
next return. That will probably be this coming month.

Presently, we have met a handful of people and in time we hope
to make more friends.

That's my story.

Thanks from Jesse, Sarah and Southern.
Appreciate the info. Thanks.

Dear Newsletter:

Great story about your Dad. My grandfather, who is going to 
celebrate his 97th Birthday here in Lubbock, Texas, had a very
similar situation a few years back, and yes, he too surprised
all his children and grandchildren when he passed his written
test (it was read to him).

He, too, is hard of hearing, and I might add he had no problems
with the driving test, so once again he has the license to be 
out on the road! It is not the driving that is so important to
him, but the knowing that he can still make the decision to 
drive or not to drive! The desire for independence is within 
all of us!

Have a great day, I really enjoy your newsletter via e-mail!

Charlotte Patterson

Dear Newsletter:

Thanks so much for this story. This subject really hits home
with me right now. My mother is 84 and refuses to get a hearing
aid because they're too expensive. Who cares if the TV is at an
ear-splitting level for everyone else?

I love her dearly, but this is a sore subject with me. It's 
nice to read a story injecting some humor into this -- if you'll
pardon the pun -- "age-old" problem! Keep 'em comin'!

Ann Moeller
Austin, TX 

Dear Newsletter:

I hope this finds you and yours doing well this beautiful Summer
season. It's been quite a while since I last wrote you, but I
thought after reading your newest newsletter that I just had to
touch base with you.

I just had to write and let you know that we are on our way to
your beautiful town July 9, 2001 to buy a home! I am so excited
I can hardly sleep at night. It has taken us three years to come
to this point and I am very ready for it!

I also wanted to tell you that I just loved the newsletter about
your Dad and his driver's license! HeHe. He really pulled one 
over on everyone didn't he? I bet he was very proud of himself
for doing it too, although he would never say so directly. I 
know my Dad would've been and he just turned 77 on June 23rd. 

We often forget how clever they were in their younger days and
that just because they are older now why would they be any less
clever. I have found that my Father just keeps things to himself
more now. I think that's in order to blow us all away on those
special occasions when we think we now know better then he does
what is good for him. HeHe.

Anyway, I am very happy for your Dad (and Sammy too) that he
will be able to grace the streets of Ruidoso for at least 
another year! 

God bless you all and I hope to one day meet the man and his 
wife who write this wonderful newsletter and keep us all in
stitches! Keep it coming!! 

Best wishes always,
Brenda Burkham-Brogdon
Santo, Texas

Dear Newsletter:

Praise be to papa--just wish I knew him. As a 70-year old woman
who is in exceptionally good shape, stories you just related 
about your papa is close to my heart.

I go to Cloudcroft every year, as well as Ruidoso, and believe 
you me these golden years are wonderful. All that is not so good,
is these kids like you who think we have "lost it" because we 
are at a number passed 50. 

Take care, love your newsletter,
Jean Burnett 

Dear Newsletter:

Great story Don....

Our parents no matter how old they get...still stay a step 
ahead.... I know...I take care of both of my aging parents....

Always love your stories...and love Cloudcroft...as we were
there last weekend for the bluegrass festival in Mayhill.

We shopped the stores and talked with all the friendly people....

Kathy Drake
Ledbetters Bluegrass Band
San Antonio, Texas

Dear Newsletter:

Let me join the other voices saying how much your opinions and
bits of humor are enjoyed every week. I hope you are going to 
gather them all together some day for a book. I think you belong
in the ranks of Andy Rooney, Mike Royko and such.

Thank you again for cheering us up each issue of your 

Helen Sills
Eugene, Oregon

Dear Newsletter:

I agree with the reader who suggested that you write a book. 
I'll be one of the first in line at the book store! 

Joshua, TX 

Dear Newsletter:

My wife and I have really enjoyed reading your newsletter over
the last year.

We would have liked to have visited you again this year, but my
business has taken a down turn and we are keeping our vacations
closer to home. We stayed in one of your properties just up the 
road from you 'bout this time last year. We were the family 
with all the kids.

It's hot here in Dallas and I wish we were there. Your 
newsletter is the next best thing. By the way, and please take
this as a compliment, your writing style and delivery is very
unique. However, in my humble opinion, it also seems to have
some similarities to Garrison Keeler and Lake Wo Be Gone. 

You probably know this and I know others have told you so, but
you have something marketable here. Personally, I hope you 
don't change a thing. I'd hate to think you might find yourself
in some big city recording studio or on some contracted book
signing tour. I hope you'll be just like the mountain and its
people, devoted to keeping things the way they are.

Dear Newsletter:

I wanted to drop you a line and let you know how much I 
appreciate your newsletter. I am in the military and your 
newsletter has always been a way to stay in touch with the 
area. We have had a cabin in Robin Hood Estates for almost
20 years now and some of my best memories are of being there.
I have even had the opportunity to take my family and watch 
my 3 sons do the exact same things there that I did.

Keep up the good work and hopefully I will be home soon to 
enjoy calm there again.

SSG William L. Morrow
Eagle Base


Dear "Bo Fryar of Big Spring, TX"...

Please remember that the newsletter is FREE, a very loving gift
from a wonderful man. While he gives us a lot of valuable 
information and continues to bring a smile to our faces and 
tears to our eyes, he's under no real obligation to a reporting

I used to publish a corporate newsletter and pooling information
was a task of major proportions. You had sources and they all 
liked to respond at the last minute, some not at all.

Sorry you didn't know about the park's repair; I believe that's
a "state" park, but hope you enjoyed your RV Park experience and
your stay in Cloudcroft.

Another Visitor from Another Time,
Lake Kiowa, TX

Dear Newsletter:

We are looking for a book that was published by "Neiding 
Publishers," who are supposed to be in Cloudcroft, NM.

Do you know this company and could you perhaps tell us if it
still exists (or give us an email address)?

We would appreciate your help very much!

Ingegerd Giese
Fachbuch-Richter GmbH, Germany

[Does anyone know this publisher? If you do, contact us with
the information and we will pass it on to Ingegerd Giese.]

Dear Newsletter:

I love your stories! Somehow I must have signed up twice because
I get all the newsletters twice. Can you correct this so I get
only one? I hesitate to click unsubscribe because I am afraid I 
will be deleted altogether.

My family had a cabin in Cloudcroft (Wimsatt) for 25 years as
my parents retired there for over 18 years. So you can see that
we need to keep in touch.

Thanks for all your work on the newsletter.

Carolyn Brackett,
Lubbock, Texas

[Our mailing list program makes sure there is only one copy
of each email address in our list, so signing up more than once
should not normally get you multiple copies of the newsletter.]

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Copyright © 2001 Cloudcroft Online
The Travel and Visitor's Guide to Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
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