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

Women share stories of pioneering - and soap


June 9, 2018

Jamie Cushman

Debbie Parmer takes a bite to eat during the 17th annual Pioneer Women's Breakfast.

CLOVIS — Some of eastern New Mexico's oldest residents shared stories from their lives on the High Plains at the Clovis Civic Center on Friday morning.

The 17th annual Pioneer Women's Breakfast kicked off a weekend full of Pioneer Days activities.

Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce President Gail Tarson started the event by describing what makes the pioneer women so special.

"To me, what a pioneer woman is and represents is so much more than just being a woman and a pioneer, but you're a leader," Tarson said. "You're a leader of the community, you're a leader of your household, you're a leader in breaking ground for things with courage."

Several of the stories shared at the event focused on homemade lye soap, a staple of pioneer life.

Vivian Lake talked about a time when she and her mother were making lye soap but the family dogs got their paws on it before the process was complete.

"We left it out over night and we had greyhounds and the greyhounds ate all of the lye soap," Lake said. "Needless to say they had the cleanest digestive systems you've ever seen."

After the breakfast Naomi Williams shared her lye soap story about a time when her daughter used cheap hair dye in an attempt to go from blonde to brunette but wound up with green hair instead, the same night she was getting ready to play a basketball game.

"She got to play on the basketball team with green hair," Williams said, chuckling. "The next day I said, 'OK I got a bar of lye soap, let's go,' and it took it out."

The festivities continue today with the 48th annual Pioneer Days parade, set to make its way down Main Street starting at 10 a.m. The final day of the rodeo wraps up tonight at the Curry County Events Center, starting at 7:30 p.m.

While much of Friday's breakfast focused on pioneers of the past - Wilma Fulgham talked about how her grandparents were issued the first marriage license in Parmer County - Shareese Warfel praised the modern pioneers who continue that legacy today.

"I might not have come over in a covered wagon or anything like that, but each and every person in here, we are all pioneers in one way or another," Warfel said. "Even if we've forged a family or homesteaded land or started a business or graduated college, whatever it is. You are a pioneer whether you are influencing anyone in any kind of a way — that makes you a pioneer."


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