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

Lost to time

MainStreet seeks identities of residents in early Portales photos.


February 17, 2018

PORTALES — If a picture is truly worth 1,000 words, then Portales MainStreet may have just hit the jackpot.

Thirty-eight photos brought to Executive Director Sandy Vigil in December appear to depict life in Portales during the early 20th century.

Vigil received the photos from a previous director who had found them in a house on Yucca Drive, and wanted to find out if any locals might recognize the subjects.

Once relatives are found, they will be able to take the photos home, according to Vigil. Any photos still in Portales MainStreet's possession by May will be donated to the special collections section of the Golden Library at Eastern New Mexico University.

"MainStreet's all about historic preservation. Sometimes, that gets pushed by the wayside. To me, this is almost as historic preservation as it gets. I want to find where these belong and give them to the family," she said.

After posting to a Facebook group dedicated to preserving Portales' history, Vigil received responses from several people claiming their family members were in the photos.

However, that progress has slowed, and while some photos have been claimed, many are still shrouded in mystery.

Several of the photos are portraits of entire families, which Vigil said may carry special significance.

"Normally what families would do, they would gather for one picture, because it was thought in those days that when you move away, you're never seeing your family again, so it was the final photo," she said.

One of the more candid shots, a man crafting a pair of boots, has been claimed.

The man, Hugh Coslett, was a shoe cobbler at Oscar's Boot and Shoe Shop, located at what is now Times Remembered Photography on Second Street.

Coslett's nephew Carl Coslett had never seen the photo before.

"I would say (the photo) would had to have been in the late 1930s, early 1940s, somewhere around there," he said.

After discovering the photo on Facebook, Carl Coslett, now 72, was transported to a time when he would sweep floors at the shop.

"The reason I kind of recognized who it was is because he kind of favored my dad back when he was younger," he said, adding that both he and his wife's first pairs of boots were made by his uncle.

While someone crafting boots may appear mundane to some, Portales MainStreet's website sums up the importance of preserving the photos.

"This project reminds our organization of where Portales came from. It is our goal to share this history with Portales (as) we uncover it. Stay tuned to see who these (individuals) were and the difference they made in our community."


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