July 13, 2001
Dear Subscriber:

There's a light rain falling this afternoon in the Sacramento
Mountains of the Southern Rockies.

I am unwinding from a four-day reunion and the non-stop telling
of old tales with four high school chums that I hadn't seen 
since those days of Beach Boys and Beatles.

33 years ago when we went to school together we didn't know
what to expect of our futures. Those were the days of the
Viet Nam War and we were all quite sure that conflict was going
to directly effect us. The very real possibility that our lives
may not extend beyond the age of 20 muffled our plans for an
elongated life filled with job successes and wives and kids.
Fortune was good to us, though. The five of us are now in our
early 50s. The children we could only hope we would have
during our high school days are now grown for the most part. It
hasn't been a life without its ups and downs for any of us, 
but, considering the alternative, it has been just fine.

Mike is a sports director at a TV station in Arkansas. Had he
and I just met we would likely not be close because of our
political differences, but when we were 17 politics had no 
place in a friendship. I hadn't seen Mike in over 30 years 
before he drove into my yard in Cloudcroft this past Saturday.
Seeing him was like opening an old misplaced photo album. We 
even discussed politics and found some common ground.

Lem works with the United States Department of Agriculture.
For the purposes of the reunion I nicknamed him "The Fed". He
said that while in high school he was always the last to know
everything; who was dating who, who was dumping who, etcetera.
For that reason, he was one of the first to show up for the
reunion. This time around, he said, he was going to be the
FIRST to know. Ironically, he probably had the most juicy
gossip of any of us.

JM is a lineman for an electric company in Colorado. In high
school he was (as Mike put it) "impulsive". A nice way of
saying he was a scoop short of a banana split. He, too, had
been a stranger for over 3 decades. He looked different from
the last time I saw him in our home town of Morton, Texas.

He was the same thoughtful guy, though. He didn't say anything
about how old I looked.

Ed is a technician for a semiconductor company in Lubbock. He
was Mike's best friend in high school and they have stayed
fairly close through life. I always knew Ed as "the guy with
Mike". I guess one of the biggest pleasures of this reunion was
getting to know Ed. Since I didn't know him that well in high
school, it was a lot like getting to know him for the first 
time. Ed has the recall of a recently upgraded IBM. He was in
charge of keeping the BS to a minimum and making us stick to 
the facts as closely as possible when rehashing memories of 
football games, fist fights and girlfriends. I felt a little 
cheated that Ed and I had not known each other better in those
earlier days.

Ronnie is a school superintendent in a small New Mexico school
district. I would tell you more about Ronnie but there's always
the possibility that a member of his school board may be a
subscriber to this newsletter and I wouldn't want to compromise
his integrity. Suffice it to say we thought when we were in 
high school that the closest Ronnie would ever get to 
educational administration was passing out books in the San 
Quinten library. Our visit with him during the reunion was 
enlightening. I wanted to lean forward on several occasions 
and say, "Ronnie...is that REALLY you?"

We had planned this reunion after emailing each other for over
a year. I told the guys over the net that when they came to
Cloudcroft they would need to bring their golf clubs. Mike
suggested we all bring our baseball gloves so we could live out
some Kevin Kosnerian scenario of glories on the diamond from
days gone by.

The clubs stayed in the trunks, though. The gloves were never
unpacked. Our 4 days together were a marathon of re-acquaintance
around the kitchen table and in the deck chairs out front,
punctuated with the wafting of smoke from the barbie.

Our wives were bored to deep sighs.

Then today, as they prepared to leave, my dogs got tangled with
a neighbor's dog and I was suddenly thrown into an emergency
situation. I excused myself and took little Pepper to the vet
for some first aid. My good-byes to my high school friends were
abbreviated. When I got back from the vet's, they were gone.

Just as they had appeared in front of me from the edges of the
corn fields surrounding my Field of Dreams, they had just as
suddenly returned to their real lives. I was forced to become
over 50 again.

The rain is coming down hard now here in Cloudcroft. That's
allright. There's no one around to play catch with anyway.

Don Vanlandingham

The rain is coming with more regularity. The Sacramentos are
entering its version of the monsoon season.

Highs are in the high-70s. Lows in the mid-40s. Most of the
rain is falling in the late afternoon each day.

Camping restrictions have been lifted for the most part. 
Contact the Sacramento Ranger District office (505) 682-2551
for updates.
The facelift of downtown Cloudcroft continues. Dave Venable is
doing some cosmetic work on his Pinestump Mall.

(Side-note) -- I went to the village dump a few days ago with
some trash. There was an interesting conversation on my pick-
up radio so when I got there I just leaned back for a few 
minutes to listen.

Mayor Dave pulled up to unload a little refuse of his own (as
if he doesn't unload enough during village council meetings.
Couldn't resist that.)... and he saw me reclining in the front
seat of my pickup. When I looked up to see him, I got out and
said "Hi".

"Are you allright?" he asked.

"Fine" I said. "Just listening to the radio."

"Good" he said. "I could just see the headlines in the local
The Hummingbird Nest School of Arts and Crafts offers unlimited
classes in a fun atmosphere. Located in a rustic 100-year old
farm house, just 6 miles East of Cloudcroft, you will enjoy the
beautiful Sacramento Mountains and cool climate.

Our professional instructors make learning interesting and fun,
with unlimited classes for all ages and all levels. The gift
shop and gallery offer quality handcrafted items from our area.

For more information call (505) 687-3631 or visit our website.

John Farrer has been the Music Director of the Roswell Symphony
Orchestra for 28 years and the Bakersfield Symphony for 25 
years. He was associated with the San Francisco Symphony as a
cover conductor for the orchestra's subscription concerts.

Mr. Farrer has been a frequent speaker in the San Francisco 
Symphony's series of Inside Music talks, and he has led the 
Orchestra in Concerts for Kids, and in a concert in the Stern
Grove which attracted 20,000 listeners.
Q - Is there any fishing in the Rio Penasco (near Cloudcroft)?

A - If you had asked that question a couple of months ago I
would say the Rio Penasco is not considered a good fishing
stream. Yet I have recently received interesting information
that contends the Penasco is a good place to fish for trout. My
journalistic juices are flowing. I'll do more research and let
you know. If any of our readers have any facts on the subject,
let us know.
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 21 -- Mountain of the Lord BBQ and Music Fest.
Zenith Park 1pm to 6pm.
Free admission. For tickets call (505) 687-2530.

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

August 2-5 -- Gathering of Circles. A celebration of
Native American spirituality.
For more information, call (915)-550-3302.

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 have been corrected by my mother and my brother about the 
dates regarding the history of the Cloudcroft Bowling Alley. 
It was originally built in 1910. After the two fires, the last
version was built in the 1920s. 

Some may remember the writing on the walls. (They would call 
it graffiti now.) It seemed to be some "rite of passage" to 
climb up into the rafters and boldly write names in large 
scrawls. The walls were practically covered with writing. Many
were dated. The oldest date found recorded with a name was 
1928. We achieved some sort of status when our names were 
written on the bowling alley wall. 

Thanks for printing my letter,
Janice Fiddler Pittman

Dear Newsletter:

We just got home from a 2 day visit to Cloudcroft and absolutely
loved it!

It was fun seeing The Lodge again - I stayed there as a child, 
about 30 years ago.

The Lumberjack contest on Saturday was a hoot and we really 
loved the Melodrama and Street Dance. Matter of fact, we've 
decided to skip Walt Disney World next year and spend a week
in Cloudcroft!

Thanks so much for your newsletter - I don't know you, I feel 
like I do.

Have a great year and see you next summer!

Mollie H. Nagel
Hobart, Oklahoma

PS -- The half an apple pie from the bakery is calling my name
and will soon be history!

Dear Newsletter:

Your letters just get better & better!

I loved the wedding story, but hey, go easy on them usher 
fellas! Consider this - a wedding out there probably ranks up
there with a high school dance as far as opportunities to "meet
chicks" (or whatever the current lingo is) are concerned! One
must "seize the day" - if you know what I mean! Anyway, you had
me rolling and my co-workers are probably wondering what I'm up

I now get your newsletter at work as well as at home, as I no
longer can wait until I get home to read them! Keep 'em coming!

Diana Powell

Dear Newsletter:

This opening article is so adorable that I laughed until my 
sides hurt. I thought of my dear sister and her son's wedding 
and our idea of what weddings should be... how she is so 
tasteful and proper and the other side of the aisle appeared to
be so totally tacky to her. I'm sure she saw a prince and a 
toad every time she looked at the young couple.

Then I wondered what people thought of our daughter's wedding.
You do understand that it's the bride's parents who need to 
hold up the Chase Manhattan Bank to make a good impression?

My husband and I kicked off our shoes when we got home and 
threw ourselves into a heap on the sofa to indulge in quiet 
reflection. We thought we had pulled it off and in good taste, 
but you always wonder what others thought of it.

They would be shocked to find out the real scoop on a few 
things. My pantyhose were too big so I had them pulled up and
tucked under the bottom edge of my bra. The cake arrived late 
so someone had to miss the wedding all together to remain in 
the reception hall and wait for it. The centerpieces on each
table in the reception hall cost only $1.50 because I made them
myself. The sandwiches that came from the caterer were a last 
minute effort to camouflage the fact that the future 
mother-in-law had picked up a sandwich tray at a local grocer's
deli for her out of town relatives. Gosh, we didn't want it to
look like we ran out of money... not that day!

But the best one is the wedding cake. As the newlyweds were 
whisked away in a long white limo, I packed things into my 
daughter's car to take home for them. One of those items was 
the top of the wedding cake which is supposed to be relegated
to the freezer and saved for the first anniversary celebration.
Somehow in all the confusion it had toppled over in her back
seat and been squashed by a larger box. Not only was it 
destroyed, but her immaculate car had white, sticky cake 
frosting all over the back seat (velour).

Not to worry.... They were on their honeymoon for a week which
gave me plenty of time to have a reproduction of the cake top 
made by the same bakery, get it into their freezer, and have 
her seats professionally cleaned. I told her the story after 
their first child was born. It had been long enough by then for
us to have a good laugh.

My daughter wouldn't allow booze, neither would the church, but
my youngest sister lovingly gifted me a tranquilizer. The only
one I took in my whole life but what a great wedding!

Dear Newsletter:

It's your other mother in Lake Kiowa calling.... Now I have two 
other supporters, Helen Sills and Pat (from Joshua, TX) who 
both agree that you should write a book. If you take your 
portfolio along with our letters of recommendation, I'm sure
DoubleDay or some leading publisher would commission you to 
write a book.

Have you ever read any of the "Chicken Soup" books? My husband
has the golf one and I have the gardening one, although we both
enjoy both books. It's a compilation of short stories, written
by different people, some professional, some not. 

According to popular belief, "we all have a book in us" and 
yours is half written via the newsletter. I mustn't forget to 
thank your wife and you know that saying... "Behind every good
man is.... " 

Carolynne Priore

Dear Newsletter:

I love your newsletter. I miss the "mountain" very much. I sold
my place in Ruidoso 3 years ago and moved back to Austin to 
earn enough to get another place in Cloudcroft. I am happy to
say - I DID IT - just purchased a couple of lots in Cloud 
Country West. I will be retiring up there in about 5 years. 
Just can't wait.

I wanted to tell you that I love your story about your Dad's
driving experience. A couple of years back I ran into an old 
friend of the family and as we talked I ask him how he had 
been. He replied with, "Well, my eyesight is about gone, I 
don't hear well at all and my ol' joints are stiff - but 
thank God, I can still drive." Somehow I did not find comfort
in that.

Patricia Baxter
Austin, Tx

Dear Newsletter:

Mr. Vanlandingham, if I may offer a suggestion: I think you'd
enjoy the essays of E. B. White. Mr. White is a bit better 
known for Charlotte's Web, but his essays are just as 
interesting. You two share something similar in the way of 
style, so I thought you might like them as much as I.

Matt Wright

Dear Newsletter:

What a funny story about the wedding...really was poignant for
me and my wife, as our daughter will be married in September at
The Lodge. We just hope this one will be less amusing.

We (and two daughters & one son-in-law + one soon to be 
son-in-law) purchased a home on Panther last year after a visit
at a friends house on Spruce. The August weather here was 110
in the shade, and after spending a week in 70/40, the girls 
pressured me into the deal. Jim Goodwin at Green Mountain 
helped us seal the deal and has become a friend. He is certainly
one of Cloudcroft's best emissaries. (No offense to other Real
Estate people).

The wedding is my daughter Kriti's idea, and at first we were
opposed to the plan, but caved in when we began the planning 
and contacted the necessary folks to put on the wedding. 
Everyone was so helpful and friendly it just took off on its 

Now, there will be a influx of family and friends from Houston,
Ft Worth and Wimberley, all staying in area accommodations to 
enjoy the weather, scenery and charm of Cloudcroft.

It don't get no better than this....

Jay & Gay Lynn Chism
Wimberley, TX

Dear Newsletter:

Hello! Just got back from Riudoso. Nice if you like to shop, 
but I adore Cloudcroft. 

I so sympathize with the wedding situation! While in New Mexico
Sat. 7th, a rather sudden surprise wedding was pulled off. Of 
course, my screaming 4 month old had my attention so I had an 
excuse to miss out on the actual ceremony. (I hid in the 

Anyway, I just wanted to say I so enjoy your newsletters! 
Hopefully next time we will get to stop in Cloudcroft! Have a
great summer!

April Denise
Mesa, Az (ex-East Texas...and Lubbock!)

Dear Newsletter:

I just finished reading Newsletter #65 from 6 July and enjoyed
your story about the wedding you and Peg attended. It produced
a few giggles and a few memories of weddings that I and my 
husband have attended. Thanks for the humor....

Hope Jesse (who picked potatoes in the summer in Bakersfield, 
California) will see this: What a small world it is!

I am from Bakersfield. Born there in 1951 and moved to Austin,
Texas in 1975. I met my hubby Len in Austin when he was 
stationed there at Bergstrom AFB. We left there in 1992 to go
overseas. He retired from the Air Force in 1994 and we are 
currently living in England. Our current plans are for us to 
relocate to Cloudcroft in January 2002 where we will settle down
into semi-retirement.

Just thought it was kind of funny that we share a history in 
some of the same places!

Thanks Don for a wonderful newsletter. Keep up the good work. 
Can't wait to meet you and Peg once we get to Cloudcroft.

Vicki Underwood
Northamptonshire, England

Dear Newsletter:

We can't wait till Fridays just to read your stories. Loved the
Dad story--guess all of us over 50 are going thru it!

You must have already been on the honeymoon for the wedding 
story-the ISLE of Capri maybe? The bride walks down the aisle. 
Spellcheck doesn't catch everything!

Just checking to see if you were testing us! It is so hot in
Texas--can't wait till the end of July when we'll be up at our 
home in Cloud Country.

Sherry Wilson
Weatherford, TX


Dear Newsletter:

Hi! Just wanted to say that we had a great time there on our 
vacation June 23-26. We met a very nice Realtor named Jim with
Remax. He took us around and showed us some very nice places 

We would like to buy a place and in a few years semi-retire 
there. People are so very nice there and they make you feel so
welcomed, unlike some states we vacation at. So at present we 
are hoping to sell our property in Leadville, Co. If anyone 
would like to inquire about 11.3 acres of vacant property in
Co., contact the Lake County Realty Co. and ask for John 
Pierson. Then maybe we can buy our dream home there.

Thanks always for your great newsletters too!

Shirley Bell
Huffman, Tx

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