AUGUST 2017 • 7
EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK • ELVA K. ÖSTERREICH
A Rose is not a Tule
Which town in New Mexico has the oddest name?
o, I was reading along in Facebook and came across the question above which, to me, was a no-brainer. It must be Truth or Consequences. I know we who live here have heard the story a hundred times (see end of column if you haven’t) but looking in from outside — well, what does it mean? Is this town a version of Hell where you burn if you don’t tell the truth? What are the consequences exactly? Do they stop you on your way into town and question you? How do they know if you are truthful or not? There are so many questions to ask! But the answers to the oddest-name question were more varied and raise even more questions and take us on a journey to some interesting answers. Like House for instance. House, New Mexico, is not much bigger than a house. The Quay County town boasts a population of 68 as of the 2010 U.S. Census, having dropped by four people since 2000. Then, there is Bueyeros (ox-driver) in New Mexico’s dust bowl northeast corner, Harding County. I didn’t even know New Mexico had a “dust bowl” although if you asked my grandmother who would come down from eastern Canada to visit, all of New Mexico is a dust bowl. “Ai-ai-ai, horrible,” she would say as she hit the house daily with dust cloth and paper towels. We might well have lived in another New Mexico town, Dusty, in Catron County. Bueyeros, settled in 1878, at first was called Vigil, but it was later called Bueyeros. Around 1879, Hispanic settlers took cattle there. Some were oxen drivers, or “bueyeros.” During the 1920s and 1930s dry ice was produced there because of the presence of the Bravo Dome, a huge carbon dioxide gas field beneath Harding County. Loving, New Mexico, in Eddy County, is 12 miles east of Carlsbad. Loving is located 12 miles southeast of Carlsbad and has had several names. The village was first settled by a group of 54 Swiss settlers who arrived in November 1891. They named their settlement Vaud (pronounced Voe) for their canton in Switzerland. The Swiss invested in farm acreage with-
in a four-mile radius of Vaud but in 1893, they lost all their crops when the dams of the Pecos Irrigation Company washed out in a devastating flood. With the flood and the panic of 189394 many of the Swiss relocated elsewhere. In 1894, because of the confusion between the name of Vaud and Vaughn, postal authorities convinced residents to change the village’s name, it was changed to Florence. It is believed that the name Florence was in recognition of the 65 settlers who migrated from Italy after the Swiss settlers had left. It is also believed that it was named Florence in honor of Oliver Loving’s daughter. On June 1, 1908, once again the village’s name changed to Loving, honoring Oliver Loving, Texas cowman and trail driver. Closer to home, there are Windmill and Mouser Place in Hidalgo County; Nutt and City of the Sun in Luna County; Hurley and Buckhorn in Grant County; and Chloride in Sierra County. Datil, in Catron County, is named after the nearby Datil
Mountains, named from the Spanish word dátil, meaning “date.” The name is probably a reference to the fruit-like appearance of the seedpods of local yucca species. Also in Catron is Pie Town where, some would say, the most delicious pies can be found. Legend has it that in 1541 Francisco Vasquez de Coronado camped at a site in what is currently Guadalupe County. He saw the full moon rising
through a narrow gap in the hills to the east and thus was born the town of Puerto de Luna. A little over 12 miles out of Santa Rosa, a more practical name origin could be attributed to the Luna family, who lived in the area in the 1860s. New Mexico in fact holds a wealth of romantic and not so romantic Spanish names, quirky twists in in the fabric of the state. Alamogordo means “fat poplar” Las Cruces is “the crosses;” and Tularosa derives from the word “tule” which means reeds or cattails. Carrizozo is also named for a reed, or reed-like grass, “carrizo.” Ruidoso means “noisy,” because the river makes such a clatter as it moves over the rocks. Socorro means “help” or “relief” because the people there provided sanctuary and care for tired travelers on the Camino Real (“Royal Road”) through the Jornada del Muerto, reportedly named by Don Juan de Oñate himself in 1598. Oh, and Truth or Consequences? In March 1950, Ralph Edwards, the host of the radio quiz show “Truth or Consequences,” announced he would air the show’s 10th anniversary program from the first town that renamed itself after the show. Hot Springs, New Mexico, won the honor, officially changing its name on March 31, 1950. The program broadcast from there the following evening, April 1.
Writing Contest entries due this month This is the time for writing contest entries to arrive in my mailboxes! Aug. 25 is your deadline. Grand prize is $100, runners up
are $25. Get your entries in the mail or email now. Winners are featured in the October and November issues of Desert Exposure. Submit your best article, short story, essay, poem or other piece of writing. Entries must be previously unpublished and will be judged on quality and how well they express some aspect of life in southern New Mexico. Submit no more than two entries and keep them under 4,000 words please. Mail entries to Desert Exposure, 1740-A Calle de Mercado, Las Cruces, NM, 88005 or email them to email@example.com. Include your name, postal address and email if you have one. Entries cannot be returned. All entries will be acknowledged whether emailed or snail mailed, so if you don’t hear from me, call to verify I got your entry. Things tend to get lost sometimes and I don’t want to miss out on your contribution. Elva K Österreich is editor of Desert Exposure and would love to meet Desert Exposure readers during her office hours in Silver City on the fourth Thursday of the month at the Tranquil Buzz Café, located at the corner of Yankie and Texas streets. So put your bonnet or ball cap on to save your head from the sun and head over to the café on Thursday, Aug. 24, to say hello. If that is not a good time, Elva will be glad to arrange another day to meet and you can always reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by cell phone at 575-443-4408.