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

By Wendel Sloan

Another successful orbit complete


April 22, 2018

Today marks another completion of my yearly 584,020,178-mile orbit around the sun.

Among those sharing the ride were four fellow travelers I recently encountered during a slightly shorter 17-day, 4,162-mile, seven-state sojourn on the third rock from the sun.

At a Cracker Barrel in Amarillo, an elderly gentleman noticed Spooky, a former fellow Navy spy, and I admiring antiques. He told us about a restaurant that changed its name to “Granny’s Got One.”

The name derived from customers commenting on their antiques, “Granny’s got one.”

After finding out he was a member of the West Texas A&M University booster club, we engaged in thinly disguised battle cries about whether the Buffaloes or Eastern New Mexico University Greyhounds would capture the 2018 traveling Wagon Wheel football trophy — currently residing in Greyhound Arena in Portales.

At an Urban Ministries workshop in Charlotte, North Carolina — where Spooky and the gang create art to raise funds for the homeless — I met a married mother of three who turned down a scholarship to a big university in Pennsylvania to attend a small Bible college.

She thought being a freshman far from family and friends would accelerate her growth. Once she discovered how literally they interpret the Bible, it was too much out of her intellectual comfort zone and she skedaddled at year’s end.

After driving through hours of night-time rain from Charlotte back to Knoxville, Tennessee, I rendezvoused with former Clovis resident Ty Walker, who treated me to a meal at Texas Roadhouse.

We tried to dazzle the waitress with witty banter about choosing the restaurant because of our Texas heritage — but the young Tennessean failed to comprehend our brilliance. Nevertheless, she forced a smile in case her tip was at stake.

I had not seen Walker in years since we competed in noon-time hoops in Portales to see who could miss the most layups. Despite our politics being as mismatched as Obama and Trump on the basketball court, we had a pleasant, conflict-free visit.

The only downer was Walker’s serious battle with cancer. He maintains a positive but philosophical attitude.

Like everyone, he has joys and regrets. A firm believer in God and heaven, he contemplates the afterlife often and wants to spend his balance pursuing the paths that brought fulfillment.

At an inn with “America’s Best” in its name in Bill Clinton’s hometown of Hope, Arkansas, I asked the night clerk from India if the Wi-Fi worked because I needed to submit my column the next morning.

He asked if I was a journalist. Since the term sounded impressive for a former bootlegger who’s never aspired higher than avoiding an unmarked grave in a pauper’s cemetery, I humble-bragged “yes.”

After asking my opinion of the administration — with my response reassuring him he was in a sanctuary zone — he eloquently articulated the contributions immigrants make to the U.S. and how much more compassionate poorer countries are in providing safe harbor for innocent refugees fleeing death.

When we spoke the next morning, I asked for his contact information to interview him later.

Fear flooded his face as he nervously shook his head and mumbled “sorry” about not wanting to be identified.

Meanwhile, Earth — indifferent to its stratified passengers — keeps circling the sun.

Contact Wendel Sloan at:


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