Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Little Town

I grew up in a beautiful (in the eyes of the beholder, you see) Rio Grande farming valley near the geographical center of New Mexico. The substantial mountains to the west camouflage its elevation of slightly under a mile. The fertile river valley is shrouded in large cottonwood trees and salt cedars.

Socorro (Spanish for "help") had a population of under 8,000 when I was a kid. It was large enough to have a couple of grocery stores and two drugstores, two new car dealers and a small (but renowned) college -- New Mexico Tech. People came there from around the world to study the sciences -- particularly metallurgy.

One of our claims to fame was that Socorro was the boyhood home of the late hotelier, Conrad Hilton. Every year the Hilton Open Golf Tournament took place over a weekend and I have heard that the likes of Lee Trevino came there to play long before he made it big in the PGA.

We were also proud when, during my boyhood, the Wonderful World of Disney aired a serial about Elfego Baca, the Socorro "sheriff with 9 lives." Elfego was survived by relatives in Socorro and my dad knew some of the older ones who had known Elfego when they were young.

Someone once joked to me that Socorro was a one horse town. Until the horse left. In retrospect, I realize that I grew up thinking of my home town as a place you left. Most of my peers had no intention of staying there and, unlike the middle-sized city where I now live, the vast majority graduated from high school and moved away permanently.

Still, though, Socorro holds a bushel of memories for me -- most of them good. I will reflect one one or two this week.

As we begin a new week together, could you give us a thumbnail view of the town -- or city -- where you grew up?


Scriptor Senex said...

I was born and bred in Liverpool - THE Liverpool. In the 1960s, when I was a teenager there, Liverpool was noted for its pop music, comedians and Liverpool Football Club. I never saw the Beatles perform but I did go the Cavern. As for comedians, they were everywhere (and still are); it’s part of the Scouse nature. I could tell you all about the fine buildings, the Ferry across the Mersey, the thousand years of history, its sporting prowess and the fantastic events that were held there regularly. But none of those are Liverpool – Liverpool is its people. Known for moaning about their situation, the city, its local government and anything else worth criticising they will immediately jump to its defence if anyone else attacks it.
Liverpool has four major places of worship – two cathedrals and two football grounds – what more could a city want?

beckiwithani said...

I grew up in the same middle-sized city you live in now, which felt hopelessly small to me. I couldn't wait to get out, and swore I'd never move there again.

Now, if this economy can ever get up and running with some new jobs, our family's dream is to go back there to live permanently. The city has changed a lot, making it seem more live-in-able. But I think we've changed even more.

Rachel Cotterill said...

I grew up in a village which felt small, though it was actually spread sparsely across a couple of miles, in the 'middle of nowhere' with about one bus an hour to get to the nearest town. I loved it. I now live in an almost equally remote spot, but in a different part of the country.

Heather said...

I remember Elfego Baca! The series obviously. That may seem a bit before my time, but I grew up on a lot of 'classics' things my mom enjoyed when she was younger were what I watched as a child.

As far as the town I grew up in. I kind of grew up in three places, all small. I lived in St. Albert, went to school in Morinville, and spent weekends at my Grandparents in Leduc. My mom was a single mom during a time when that wasn't the norm and we spent a lot time with her family and not really with 'friends'. At least twice a year I went to stay with my Dad and we always split our time between wherever he was living at the time (Calgary, Toronto, Kingston) and his parents in Okotoks. So I don't really feel like I had a 'hometown'. I had to make my home wherever I found myself. In a way that has stood me in good stead because as an adult I have moved around a lot, going to school in Edmonton, Calgary, and Rocky Mountain House, living in Africa for a time, and now with my DH's job we lived first in Chicago and now in Oxford. I'm a little weirded out at the thought of staying in one place long term once Jeff gets a faculty position.

Heather said...

PS thanks, Sam, for the mention on Saturday.

mumof2 said...

I was raised in a town called Quesnel - in the north-eastern part of British Columbia, Canada. Growing up in Quesnel was a great place esp. for teenagers - there was not a lot of trouble we could get into - but we still manage to cause some trouble. A few things I always remember about this little town - it was always clean with fresh flowers planted everywhere and there was a walking/jogging path that ran along the Fraser River. When I travel back to Canada I can not waite to get back to Quesnel and have a feeling like I am home - maybe it is the familiarlity of just the feeling of beauty and peace of the area. Just writing this makes me long for this little city and the mountains/trees. michelle

Isabella said...

I grew up on the north side of Chicago (Rogers Park area). I lived on a street that generations of families never left. Our three-flat alone housed three generations of our family.

In a city with a large population, this particular street felt homey and close-knit.
I long for that sense of community now...I hope someday we can move to an area that feels the same way.

Thank you for the nice trip down memory lane.


Sam said...

So far, 2 from England, 2 from Canada and 2 from very different parts of the U.S. Can I call this an international travel blog?

What amazes me is your diversity and the great memories you are willing to share. Thanks to all!

Sandra said...

I grew up (birth to 9 yrs.) in Springfield, MO, but it could have been any little town in the US in the 50's, because I think the things I treasured are things that kids everywhere treasured during that time. Summer was from Memorial Day to Labor Day -- riding bikes, playing hide-n-seek, staying outside 'til long after dark and windows open to catch a breeze, and you could hear the loud chirping of the cicadias. Walking only a few blocks to school, with all the other kids in the neighborhood. Going to parades on the main street, which was just the next street over. Walking uptown to the square with Mama, and knowing lots of the people we saw there. Being taught to recite my name, address and phone number to anyone who would listen -- and no one ever thought about being afraid for a child to freely give out that information. Having a little neighborhood grocery store on the next corner. Having milk delivered to the door.

A wonderful childhood, that I think I share with many people in my age group. We had no idea what an idyllic childhood we were living.