The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Red Halliday was one of a kind

 


Even if she hadn’t been born with auburn hair that earned her the lifelong nickname of “Red,” Lela Jo Halliday would have been considered a colorful character.

Barely five months since her death, her presence will loom large on July 1 in Elida when that community gathers for one of its every-five-years school reunions and an early celebration of Independence Day.

Described by many as “a one-of-a-kind,” Red Halliday was practically synonymous with her hometown.

“I always think of Elida when I think of Red,” said Jayne Taylor, a longtime friend.

Taylor and Halliday were two of the 30-plus friends and neighbors who collaborated on “Elida: To the Best of Our Recollection,” a book put out in 2007 in honor of the community’s centennial.

Halliday also headed up the festivities on the town square that year, even pulling out her sewing machine to stitch up a period costume for the event.

A regular behind the steering wheel for the town van and a fixture at school activities, “Lela Jo was in every organization and on every committee from high school until the day of her death,” said Nancy Ward of Elida, another of Red’s compadres. “She loved her school and town.”

LaVerne Inge, an Elida native who now lives in Portales, said her friend Red Halliday embraced life wholeheartedly.

“She loved people,” Inge said. “She just loved a lot of people. She was always laughing. She loved visiting and reminiscing and the social part. You couldn’t get through a line with her — she had to visit with everyone.”

When the doors of Elida’s school open at 9 a.m. for reunion registration a week from Saturday, there will be a noticeable hole left by the gregarious graduate of the class of 1957 who once wrote that high school “was probably the best four years of my life,” filled with “good times, parties, dances, rodeos, and fun.”

While we are standing in line in the school cafeteria for the mid-day barbecue furnished by the Elida Fire Department, let’s remember to cherish the time to visit with all the people around us, and dig deep for a generous donation. Red was the consummate community supporter, and she’d want us to do that.

That afternoon, as the turtles start racing and the raw eggs are flying during the games at the town park, cheer with gusto like Red always did.

And that night, sometime after the fireworks have faded into the stars above the high school track, and the band starts playing on the town square, invite someone you love to join you for a few shuffles around the dance floor.

Listen carefully as you two-step under the streetlights.

If you’re lucky, you might hear Red Halliday laughing.

Betty Williamson thinks Elida is a magical place. You may reach her at: pepnm@hotmail.com

 

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