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

By Wendel Sloan

Friends were real way back when


Robert Gilbert, who attended Portales schools from the sixth grade until moving to Roswell his senior year in 1970 and spent his career as a professional drummer, recently moved back to Portales.

In high school he drummed with “Rainy Day Children,” which included Cam and Stan Campbell, Bill Aguirri and Kirby Rowan.

Recently, he shared some prose, poetry really, with me about his memories of growing up on the High Plains.

Rather than mess with the emotional rhythm of his words with “Gilbert said” or “according to Gilbert” attributions, here is his prose verbatim:

Remember when friends were real?

They were walking, talking, breathing beings. Even though we saw them on a daily basis at school, we were still genuinely happy to see them every weekend.

We rode around in circles. Honking, waving, maybe drinking a little beer. Fighting with each other on other occasions. Sometimes our mouths were too big and our brains too small. After all, we were young and full of (it).

Come Monday we would start all over again.

Remember Pat’s, Doc’s, Luke’s, Dub’s? The burgers, fries and foot-long chili dogs we thrived on. And, as a friend reminded me, “Pomac” cherry limeade with real limes and cherry syrup.

Dancing to live bands at the old MB (Memorial Building). The girls sat on one side of the room, the boys on the other. Sometimes it took awhile to get up the nerve to ask a girl to dance, but after a short while the place would be rocking.

Mr. Hopper made sure you could slide a hand between the couples on the slow dances.

The music was probably never that good, but it suited us, and we always seemed to have a great time.

And the football and basketball games. Hanging out under the bleachers. Debbie Hall, a cheerleader in a full leg cast from a skateboarding accident. It didn’t stop her. She will always be missed.

One version of California Dreamin’ was Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello on Bikini Beach, Big Drag and the Potato Bug.

We didn’t go to the beach, it came to us on the wind or movie screen.

We did surf — down the sandhills off the air base road. It was like every guy in shop class made a sandsurf board.

May 16, 1968, Janice Terrell and Billy Ward lost their lives when those hills collapsed on them while they were tunneling into them. We were excused from school to say goodbye. I still cry.

Those hills have blown away, or been flattened by heavy machinery. I look to where they used to stand every time I pass by.

Portales is such a small town with such a large circle of friends. Sometimes we didn’t like each other. It’s good that through the years I have grown to love them all.

Never miss the second chance to let old friends know how you’ve missed them, and what your shared memories mean to you.

Tell your children and grandchildren your stories. Don’t mind the embarrassment, they will have their own.

Remember your friends to them. They are more than images on a computer screen.

Contact Wendel Sloan at:


Reader Comments


Great comments as I remember those who passed long ago in Clovis, Friends like James Streeter and Katie Barlow who passed way too soon as well as Greg Gant gone immediately after graduation, Wildcats 1979!!!


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