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

By David Stevens

Pages past - Sept. 2


Last updated 9/1/2020 at 4:07pm

File photo

James Bickley lived long enough to see the elementary school that still bears his name.

On this date ...

1910: C. S. Hart of Portales was shot in the arm, face and leg in a dispute over $14 in pasture rent.

The injuries sustained from shotgun pellets did not appear life-threatening, but were described as painful.

The shooter was described as a "mad man" from Bovina, the Roosevelt County Herald reported.

Hart had tried to escape the shooter by jumping on his frightened horse and riding away, but that proved difficult as the horse "retreated as speedy as possible," when bullets started flying, the paper reported.

Hart was described as one of Portales' most respected and honorable citizens, who was "not fussy in any sense."

1946: A convicted killer admitted his crime to a Clovis News-Journal reporter in a jailhouse interview.

John Romero Jr., 18, who had been convicted a week earlier in the Sept. 2, 1945, slaying of Crawford Trees, 59, said he was sorry for the killing and said he'd prayed to be forgiven.

Romero, sentenced to life in prison, blamed his actions on alcohol. He said he'd committed multiple foolish acts in his life while drinking.

"When I shot my finger, and those two times I cut myself to get my wife's sympathy, I had been drinking," he told reporter Kathryn Bomar. "If I ever get out of the pen, I'll never take another drink."

Romero said he'd killed Trees, an acquaintance he considered "a good man," with a hatchet, then set Trees' bed on fire to conceal evidence.

He denied stealing Trees' money, which authorities had suspected was a motive for the slaying.

1947: Doors opened for the new James M. Bickley Elementary School in Clovis.

The school's namesake, 65-year-old veteran educator James Bickley, had been critically ill for several months at the Clovis Memorial Hospital. But Bickley was driven by ambulance to 14th and Meriwether "for a glimpse of the modern new building which bears his name," the Clovis News-Journal reported.

Officials said 76 first graders had registered at the new school which had been expecting only 30. Las Casitas teacher Mrs. Jerry Maple had been moved to James Bickley to help with the overflow.

Bickley died five months later. U.S. Senator Carl Hatch and New Mexico Gov. Thomas Mabry attended his funeral.

A new James M. Bickley Elementary School opened at the same location, 500 W. 14th St. in 2015.

1970: Sears in downtown Clovis was preparing its parking lot to host "America's Greatest Dolphin Show."

The three-day show, Thursday through Saturday, featured "Happy," a 300-pound "dynamite performing act," who would play ball, jump through hoops and do tricks in a 10,000 gallon tank of salt water.

There was no charge for admission, but donations would be accepted to The Salvation Army.

Price check ...

1935: Farha's Grocery in Portales was selling coffee for 19 cents per pound. It also claimed to pay 3 cents more for eggs in trade that the Portales Cash Market.

1975: The TV specialists at Furniture Mart in Clovis offered service calls for $12.50 to residents of Clovis, Cannon Air Force Base, Farwell and Texico. Service calls for those living in Melrose, Portales and Bovina were $18.50. Parts needed for repairs were an additional charge.

Pages Past is compiled by David Stevens. Contact:

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