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Cross 'The Kid' off the to-do list

link Kevin Wilson

Staff writer

Rule: When a friend texts, “I miss you,” and you both have the day off, and she says, “Let’s do something we’ve never done before,” that’s exactly what you do the next day.

And this is how I found myself on the road, driving more than 100 miles roundtrip to visit somewhere I’ve mostly been through but never really been to.

“How have you not seen the Billy the Kid Museum?”

She asked the question on the drive up, and I changed the subject because I didn’t have a better answer than, “Just didn’t occur to me.” It also would have been a lie. It’s ALWAYS occurred to me to visit the most recognizable stop in “The Fort.” Plus, I’ve had ample opportunity, because I almost always leave early for my countless trips to Albuquerque to cover sports events or use the Albuquerque Sunport over the years.

But until Monday, hitting the museum only meant, “You’re 45 minutes away from Santa Rosa, and don’t try to get there faster because cops are EVERYWHERE on those roads. But once you’re there, that’s pretty much halfway to Albuquerque timewise.” And by the time that got through my head, I was making the turnoff to the underpass that led out of town.

But there was no underpass Monday. Just the museum for me and my friend. I slipped a $10 bill on the counter, and we were soon on our way.

The thing I like about this friend is we can talk about anything and make it fit into our surroundings.

“So, what’s the best weapon here?”

“Weapon for what?”

“Well, I hate zombie movies, but let’s just use that to make it easy. If we were in a Billy the Kid zombie movie,” what would you grab from the museum walls to protect yourself?”

We agreed on some blacksmith tools, but nothing that required a scissor mechanism. Blunt objects only.

There were interesting items from The Kid, but the stuff surrounding the era was impressive too. We saw the tools of the era, the cars used, the news reports at the time.

The history then got more recent, but still just as interesting because it was about the legend, and what it means to the small town. There were stories of a local sheriff’s effort to dig up The Kid’s remains for a DNA test, and materials from a successful recall campaign that soon followed. I didn’t see anything about the county having to pay legal fees last year for not disclosing the paperwork of the taxpayer-funded investigation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that becomes part of the story too.

I held off on buying anything from the souvenir shop, but was impressed with the museum because it passed the one-question museum test: Is more than 50 percent of the focus on the museum and not the gift shop?

I talked to a person at the shop who was neighbors with an old friend and the father of a person I’d interviewed countless times. Afterwards, we had milkshakes at a store I’d only seen while driving past.

On the way home, my friend and I solved the world’s problems, and I wondered how many other people and places I’ve driven past.

The list is longer than I wish to admit, but I can now cross off Billy the Kid and milkshakes.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Clovis Media, Inc. He can be contacted at 575-763-3431, ext. 318, or by email:

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