Thanksgiving Day is about bringing community together

Every time I drive by the now empty and mostly boarded up Midway Trading Post on Old Route 66, I think about Thanksgiving Day, antique cars, pinto beans and the Salvation Army.

Unfortunately, they don’t grow many beans around here anymore—maybe the soil just gave us all the beans it could give, and then gave out. Steel-wheeled bean harvest wagons stand empty and idle, rusting and rotting near where they pulled the harness off the horses. They have become mile markers for time travel. Low contour ridges and wide, shallow furrows still sweep across slopes on worn out valley farmland north of and east of town. Having been succeeded by scores of ranchettes sporting horse paddocks and equine haul trailers—an exurban version of gentrification, I suppose—they now also lie abandoned in the fields.

The Edgewood landscape, however, is blessed with other reminders of ways to celebrate the spirit of sharing built into Thanksgiving Day. The ruminations begin with stories about local Depression Era farm families who shared their bean harvest with Dust Bowl pilgrims headed west on the Mother Road. It really doesn’t matter whether or not they actually passed out the bean bags at the old Midway. It’s the story embedded in or suggested by the icon that counts. Much the same is true of the antique car show that takes place here every year. For some of us, it is hard to think about a Model-T Ford without thinking about the Mother Road and the Grapes of Wrath. Which brings us right back to the Mother Road, pinto beans, Midway Trading Post and Topock Crossing.

Another community sharing landmark in the landscape is the well-provisioned Salvation Army store at the corner of State Route 344 and Dinkle Road. Nobody gets cash in exchange for household goods, books, and other things left there for resale to thrift-conscious shoppers. The giving is done anonymously at the back of the store. Furthermore, homeless or hungry folks soliciting assistance in the parking lots at Walmart or Smith’s can be redirected to the Valley View Church, which sits not far north from the Salvation Army store on 344.

Walkin’ N Circles horse rescue ranch adds yet another welcoming dimension to the greater Edgewood landscape. Scores of volunteers come to the ranch every week—some from as far away as Rio Rancho—to feed and exercise and muck and care for injured, neglected and abandoned horses. Appreciation and respect simply must go out to all the people there working for no pay—and precious little personal recognition. We cannot know many of them by name, or what they do other than show up to help on a regular basis. Even so, we can respect them all because they are there giving of themselves for the sake of these four-legged cripples and castaways. The aptly named Hug-A-Horse Thrift store located on Route 66 in Edgewood also sells contributed stuff. The managers of this unique thrift store give net proceeds to Walkin’N Circles to supplement cash needs for feed and vet services. A common bond of caring and giving helps all involved to overlook differences in attitude and background.

What is the connection between pinto beans, migrants, rescue horses, second hand thrift stores, and the Mother Road? Noticing need, and caring enough to share time and resources with strangers. Enriched support and community sharing will be important for Edgewood in the future. Edgewood locals sit astride both on I-40 west to southern California and on Historic Old Route 66. So, as warmer seas rise to inundate Miami and Houston, another big migration will move this way again, this time sandwiched between 18-wheelers headed back to San Pedro Harbor for another load of cheap imports. Many of the migrants will be looking for help and/or a place to shelter their families. Accordingly, it really is time for us to shed the notorious New Mexico suspicion of and cynical prejudice against newcomers.

Edgewood has a demonstrated head start on the project. Maybe we could find a good place, such as Rich Ford, or the new indoor arena at Stanley, or the Hug-a-Horse parking lot, for starting a really serious community Thanksgiving Day event sponsored by an interfaith coalition and/or the Chamber of Commerce. Maybe we could restore the old Midway Trading Post with the intention of providing relocation assistance or support for interstate travelers. Perhaps we could even ask someone to put up a big billboard on I-40 with neon arrows pointing to community-supported thrift stores.

In fact, I propose that we hold a annual no-holds-barred New Mexico beans, chile and tortillas Thanksgiving cook-off to celebrate Thanksgiving Day (contributions would go to a community sponsored “travelers aid” fund). We could award Braggin’ Rights ribbons to the cook-off winners to memorialize the occasion, don’t you think?

Leo Sullivan, Edgewood