By Clyde Davis
Back in the 1960s, there was a TV wrestler by the name of Dawn Eagle. This fellow, a large, powerful American Indian with a Mohawk haircut, was one of the “good guys,” as were Nature Boy Buddy Rogers and Bruno Sammartino. These wrestlers, however, were not the same combatants who thrilled fans in Albuquerque or Atlanta.
On Friday nights, we would gather to watch Chilly Billy Cardille’s Chiller Theater. This was not, however, the same horror feature show which frightened kids growing up in Billings or San Francisco.
As teenagers in the early ’70s, we would go to a local mall or auto show to hear live broadcasts from our favorite DJs: Wild Child Dick Kemp, Porky Chedwick or Charlie Appel. These were not the same DJs who collected followers in Miami, Dallas, or Denver.
We did not eat burritos or shrimp-fried rice; these were things which our parents ate when they were lucky enough to go to a fancy restaurant where exotic food was served. By the same token, presumably, kids growing up in Santa Fe or Portland did not eat pieroghis or halutkis, which were probably viewed by them in the same context as we viewed such exotica as sopapillas.
One of the exciting things about traveling in those days was that there was still a large degree of regionalism. In music, food, athletics, local television, you were not going to hear the same radio broadcast, with different call letters, in North Carolina as you heard in Western Penna. Cable TV, satellite radio, and Bozomart had not yet made it possible for everyone to have access to the same homogenous mixture.
For homogenous, read bland. Regular readers know how this columnist decries the propagation of anything that is mass-produced, purified, desensitized and sanitized into a blender copy. I kinda like the fact that I grew up in a time when only those of us in the north played ice hockey in the winter, and only kids growing up in places like Atlanta played baseball before April. I kinda dislike the fact that there’s no sense sending my brother, who lives in Richmond, unique Southwestern cooking items, because he can get the same thing at Bozomart.
Yep, you can now get pieroghis in the frozen food section in New Mexico. But it takes considerable doctoring to make them into real pieroghis. I suspect my Albuquerque-raised wife would say the same of the “Southwestern” food available in western Penna.
Let’s celebrate the fact that we still have options — that we can still get local DJs on local stations, get our news from Roswell or Amarillo, and have the plethora of regional events such as rodeos and Pioneer Days that summer brings. I hate the thought of my grandson growing up in a world so blandly the same that he won’t be able to tell whether he is in Florida or Oregon.
Well, gotta go — gotta send my Mom a piece of turquoise and silver jewelry for Mother’s Day. It’s one of those things that, for now, is still regional.
Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University.