Yesterday I went into the laundry room where we have a washer and dryer, a freezer, and a huge litter box for our cats. Since I spend quite a bit of time in there, I have my “I love me” plaques on the walls. These are plaques for extra work you do at your work or in your community. The ones over the litter box get grungy with dust, and I mean dirty. Recently, I reached up to wipe them off and found a treasure. We often get so busy with daily life, especially now, that we forget the best parts of our past. Sit back while I spin you a little yarn.
Over 20 years ago, and before we were a formal town, a whirlwind called Linda Burke, her husband Kevin, and four adorable girls moved to our area.
Linda was the kind of gal everyone looked up to for her energy alone. She did not just move here; she was committed to helping here. She volunteered for most everything and helped organize, Run, Rally and Rock. It was then she noticed that, in her words, “Edgewood was all about the volunteers.” When we were barely a town—our official title came in 1999—she had a flash of genius. Linda’s idea was to recognize all these people helping one another at an annual dinner, and the C. O. W. Awards (Community On the Way) were born. Yes, she was from California; they do not have as many cows there and I think she felt Edgewood had that country look. We do.
With a lot of effort from the town’s Parks and Rec, they set up the first dinner at Alta Mae’s Heritage Inn. It was a potluck, so no one needed to have a big bill at the end of the meal. And it was packed. About seventy people came. The nominations had gone out winter of 2001 and in the spring of 2002 they gave out the awards. I was the lucky recipient of one for my work with kids at Wildlife West.
That was the plaque, full of dust, that I took off my utility room wall. Instant recall: “Here we are all still in Edgewood and the memories are clear. We worked together with some mighty fine folk. That award was more than a wooden board with my name on it. It was fellowship, it was effort, it was my neighbors pitching in to better our community. I was a C.O.W. and proud of it. I still am.”
The next year it was held there again and it was so packed with people we knew we needed a bigger place. More names were nominated, more awards were lovingly given. I do not know if Linda ever got one, but she sure deserved it. She found a way of paying all these fine volunteers. Not with money, big checks, and loud ovation, but with the camaraderie of their friends and neighbors. We always had a terrific dinner, got to see all the people that shopped here at the Corner Store, Tony’s filling station and worked at Stuckey’s or Dairy Queen. We were “on the move.”
The C. O. W. Awards moved to Edgewood Middle School and it started to rock. Councilman Chuck Ring and I got the chance to be the MCs. If you have ever been to one of my melodramas, you know how I love puns—and Chuck was a perfect straight man. Cow jokes were everywhere. I do not apologize for them, they were udderly wonderful! The Moriarty High School Band played. Students in choir sang. My favorite melodrama actress, Mary Margaret Ueckert, daughter of Jerry Ueckert, wore a cow costume much to the delight of the crowd. Table decorations got bigger, the jokes were still bad, but MOOving. Chuck and I were replaced by Steve Stucker the weatherman on TV and then by a ventriloquist. It was festive and unique to Edgewood. Did I mention lots of C.O.W.s were given out for a multitude of topics? Finally, Linda and her family had to leave us for a few years to be with family in Colorado and California.
There were a few more dinners, but after about 2008, the cows drifted away. Edgewood was not just moving, it was running. We have become a big place. There are still volunteers, we just do not hear about them. I tried to think of what we could use. “Many Of Us Serve Everyone?” M.O.U.S.E. No, it does not do it.
Lucky for us, the lady and her family who was responsible for C.O.W.S plus Run, Rally, and Rock, are back. She is the director of the Greater Area Chamber of Commerce. Give her a call, maybe you would like to volunteer! We’ve still got it. Roaring Mouse, out.
From 1966 to 1971, Jo attended the University of New Mexico and Memphis State University, earning degrees in Communications, English, Journalism, Speech and Drama with history minors. At UNM, her hero was Tony Hillerman. She taught high school and middle school in city, country, and private schools for 30 years. Roaring Mouse is in its 25 th year. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org