Growing up in Clovis defined city man

Don McAlavy

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series of stories told by Jack Winton and Engle Southard (Clovis High School class of 1951). The interviews were conducted a couple of months ago.

“One of the jobs I had was at Piggly Wiggly while going to school,” said Engle Southard. “That’s where I first met Jack Winton. He and I were in the same home room at high school, but really didn’t know each other. … Somehow we got connected and we just had some fun times together.
“We both worked at the old Whipple drive-in movie theater out toward Texico. It was called the 4-Lane Drive-in but it was known as Whipple’s theater.
“Clovis was a good place to grow up in. Everybody looked after everybody else. My dad raised us four kids by himself. And that was special. My dad was a mail carrier in Clovis for 35 years. Dad couldn’t afford a car, but we really didn’t need a car. We lived right in the heart of Clovis. Everything was in walking distance. This was in 1950.”
Winton said Southard had numerous scholarship offers to play college football, including one from the Naval Academy.
“He chose (University of New Mexico) in order to be a little closer to his dad, so his dad could watch him play occasionally.
“While in high school Engle was pretty much in demand by the girls. He was big and good looking — the star of several different sports,” Winton said.
“Growing up was a fun time,” Southard said. “But we studied hard. School was important and we had a lot of achievers in our group, especially Jack. We had some really good teachers and some nice people looking after us. We didn’t do any of the crazy things you hear about these days.
“Curry County was a dry county when we were growing up so there was no drinking for the most part. Alcohol was not accessible. Smoking was bad for you and if you were an athlete that just didn’t fly. Of course, in Clovis we had natural fluoride in the water and we had really great teeth. I’ve had only one cavity in 70 years!”
Winton said their youth was full of excitement.
“Some of the goofy things that high school students do now we did then,” he said. “Like we peroxided our hair at one time. Everybody had white hair. One time we all got Mohawk haircuts, and we had some lectures from Mrs. Putnam and from Mr. Barton, and others.
“But Mrs. Putnam was the most touching one of all. She kept me in after class and she just looked at me and said, ‘Jack, I am so disappointed in you.’ She said ‘Now I can understand some of these other kids, but you’ve got more sense than that.’
“Her comments were really effective. It made me think that if she had that much confidence in me I’d better start living up to it.”
Southard said youngsters of his generation were held to “a certain level of expectation.”
“Today I think we need to set a certain bar of excellence in order for kids to achieve. But I think our standards were extraordinary. They expected us to be achievers. I wouldn’t have changed my growing up in Clovis, New Mexico, for anything, because it was great,” Southard said.
“When they go back and talk about the history of Clovis High School,” they always bring up teachers like Rock Staubus and R. E. Marshall. Rock Staubus was really a no-nonsense coach.  They both set standards that students had to live up to. Other teachers who set high standards were Coach Bill Stockton, Mr. Harry Barton, and Miss Lucille Buchanan our home-room teacher.
“It was important in my family to do well,” Southard said. “I was the oldest boy. I had one older sister, and one younger, as well as a younger brother. We were all born within a four-year period. Growing up in Clovis meant that I was blessed with the gift of self-confidence. I think that if you give a kid early in life some self-confidence then everything else will fall in place.”
Engle Southard went on to become the business manager for Union Carbide Corporation in West Virginia. After retiring, he went to work with Jack Winton running the Winton Homes swimming pool company in El Paso.
My interview with Winton and Southard runs 14 pages. I will make a copy of it and make it available for reading at the Clovis Carver Public Library.

Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian.