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

Buster Blakey's well wasn't any good in 1955


May 13, 2020

Courtesy photo

Casper Eurlings poses at the gravesite of J. Laverne Nicklas.

I collect historical tidbits that interest me from area newspapers. Here are a few from Mays past as reported by newspapers in Portales:

• May 2, 1910: The Roosevelt County Herald reported Portales was installing "a very comprehensive system of water works, sewers and electric lights," and also working to build cement walks.

Another city need was for more trees, which would "doubtless be fixed as soon as the city is able to supply water," the paper reported.

• May 3, 1945: Area residents learned of the death of Capt. J. Laverne Nicklas of Dora.

He was serving with Gen. George Patton's Third Army when he was killed by a sniper in Germany on April 16.

Nicklas was buried in Netherlands American Cemetery, along with 8,000 other Americans killed during World War II.

His grave marker initially carried the name Laverne J. Nicklas. Casper Eurlings, who grew up near the cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands, secured a marker with the correct name in 2014 after learning of the error.

• May 4, 1955: The Elida Tigers won the regional Class B baseball championship with a 13-3 win over Forrest.

Ronald Berry had a first-inning grand slam to set the pace for Elida, which qualified for the state tournament with the win.

• May 7, 1910: Roosevelt County commissioners had introduced an ordinance aimed at prohibiting cattle, horses, mules, asses, swine, sheep and goats from running at large in the more populated precincts.

• May 10, 1955: Nineteen seniors graduated from Floyd High School. Joy Griffith was valedictorian and Annette Boyd was salutatorian.

• May 12, 1910: The Roosevelt County Herald told its readers that Halley's Comet was plainly visible between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m.

The paper reported it would be closest to Earth on May 18 and not so close again for 76 years.

May 13, 1950: The Tower Theatre showed the controversial "Not Wanted," an independent film about unwed motherhood. A promotional ad claimed it was "life itself" and reported the message would "lift you into the clouds."

• May 16, 1950: Portales' Chamber of Commerce had purchased 150 pounds of dry ice with intent to "milk the clouds" and make it rain.

The city received more than 20 inches of rain that year - more than half of it in July.

The following 17 months, however, saw just 9.88 inches of moisture.

• May 17, 1960: Dora High School graduated 22 students in ceremonies at the Dora gymnasium. A party after graduation featured a white sheet cake and a color slide show of senior events.

• May 18, 1955: A tornado struck Melrose about noon, scattering debris from a broomcorn storage warehouse over two miles.

Witnesses in Growdon's Cafe, about 50 yards away, reported seeing the tornado lift the warehouse about 20 feet off the ground before tearing it to splinters.

• May 20, 1960: Rural residents were being invaded by miller moths. Residents reported they were leaving lights and television sets off at night in efforts to keep the millers away.

• May 24, 1910: J.D. Osborn, Portales' new city marshal, was cracking down on violators of city ordinances, especially those related to "speed of drivers of horses," and "hitching horses to awnings," the Roosevelt County Herald reported.

• May 27, 1955: News from Causey, as reported by Sue Duncan in The Portales Valley News: "Ben Fuller's well is not finished yet. Buster Blakey's wasn't any good. I haven't heard how Fletcher Judah's pumped out. We all hope that these irrigation wells turn out good."

• May 30, 1960: Donald C. Moyer was named the third president of Eastern New Mexico University. His salary was set at $16,000 per year plus $1,980 for an annual housing allowance.

• May 31, 1941: Donald W. MacKay resigned as first president at Eastern New Mexico College.

David Stevens writes about regional history for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

[email protected]

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