In 1962 upon arriving in New Mexico from Iowa at 15, it was like being transported to Disneyland and not having to buy a ticket. It was so different, climate, food, and such wonderful people. First, we went to see all the Native American pueblos. We enjoyed the dancing and did not take photos. We were rule followers. To see how the tribes survived so close to nature was a spiritual occasion. Later, when I went to college, I learned of the Anasazi living at Mesa Verde cliff dwellings. How remarkable.

Next, we tried to eat in every Mexican restaurant all over Albuquerque. Our tongues swelled up red and green. We learned moderation and tacos. Spanish pride was everywhere. The history of people who traveled on ships and in wagons or by walking to come into a new land, without much rain I might add, being able to farm was incredible. When we visited Santa Fe and the Loretto Chapel, it brought tears to my grandmother’s eyes to read how two young nuns, coming west to teach girls, had died on the trip from Back East. My grandmother turned 100 in 1996, right here in Edgewood. She was a devote Catholic and there was not a church she passed by without blessing herself out of respect for those sacred buildings.

Then my mother’s personal favorites, the cowboys. She saw every John Wayne movie ever made, and she was sure he was under each cowboy hat in New Mexico. When I went to high school here and took New Mexico history, I learned that cowboys come in all shapes and colors. The most famous black cowboy was George McJunkin. He was a self-taught archaeological expert who discovered 10,000-year-old bones at Folsom, New Mexico. New Mexican vaqueros and plain rodeo cowboys showed skill we had only seen in the movies and here they were for real. We never missed going to the State Fair and the rodeos.

Two military bases were a treat for my brother who never tired of seeing the jets, and I married a New Mexico pilot. The exposure to the Army sold my brother, Arch, who became a soldier for the N.M. Army Guard. When he retired, he taught history in Los Lunas. Part of that history was explaining how Buffalo Soldiers, black troops with the 57th and 125th Infantry Regiments, camped at Ft. Sumner in 1866. They helped maintain the peace for settlers.

While we vacationed, wandering to Carlsbad Caverns, and after eating a chicken box lunch underground, we swung past White Sands and made an amazing discovery. Roswell had aliens. And they had landed here near the time of my birth in 1947. Bill is sure they dropped me off. What more could New Mexico have to give its admirers?

In the 1970s, after Viet Nam, there was a rush of new immigrants from Asia. Suddenly there were Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Filipino restaurants. Sushi was not just on television. You could get it here. Now in the International District at Louisiana and Central, they have just what you need to cook it yourself. Still more ethnic groups have found the Land of Enchantment a perfect place to land and prosper.

So, what is the point of this diatribe of loveliness to New Mexico? Get Your Census Done! The ads on TV are wonderful. They tell you to get yourself counted it means MONEY for childrens’ lunches, after-school programs, tons of stuff. It takes as long as 10 minutes. One thing New Mexico lacks is money for food for kids. As a former teacher I know. Have someone read you the form, call on the phone, work the computer. Whatever your means just, “Git ‘er Done!”

Some of you may remember another story of a census and a government which insisted that you travel to your home of origin. Picture being nine months pregnant, riding a donkey, for five days and then they gave your room away, so you must go to the barn, have the baby, and lay Him in a manger. Get the picture. So, don’t tell me you don’t have time, it’s too hard, you don’t understand. Think of Christmas and it will come to you. GET THE CENSUS DONE! And if you don’t have money for your kids’ lunch at school, don’t call me, just send the kids to my house. Roaring Mouse cooking just in case, out.

Jo White
Jo White

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 jomouse@aol.com