By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
Frances Nolan and Lola Starbuck were in Clovis in the 1920s, lived through the good times at the Hotel Clovis, watched its demise and now look forward to watching their great-grandchildren grow.
For Nolan, decades of farm life made the 7 a.m. kick-off time for the Pioneer Women of the West breakfast on Friday at least somewhat routine.
Nolan was among dozens honored by the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce as pioneers in the area.
Starbuck, after some queries from the audience at the Chaparral Country Club, was determined to have the most great-grandchildren of the group. And, besides having 44 of those, the 80-year-old Ranchvale native was also found to have nine great-great grandchildren.
Around the holiday season, or during a couple of family reunions held over the last year, the numerous amount of offspring from different generations can be a bit confusing.
“Oh, we have a great time. I call them all by the wrong name all the time,” said Starbuck, who has never lived more than 10 miles away from her Ranchvale birthplace and now resides on the north end of Clovis. “I’ve got a granddaughter living with me now and I don’t think I ever say Natasha (her real name). I call her Charlene or Laura, or something else, all the time.”
During the Pioneer women meeting, which Starbuck said she attends every year, the attendees were shown a slide show of previous such breakfasts — accompanied by Martina McBride’s song “This One’s For The Girls.”
While the lyrics are progressively directed to a high school girl, one who is 25 and finally a girl who is 42-years-old, Nolan went way beyond that.
The 91-year-old Farwell woman, in fact, was picked out for a gift because she had the oldest offspring of those at the breakfast. Nolan’s daughter Alta Geries, also at the breakfast, is 72.
Nolan first came to Clovis in 1927, the year Babe Ruth and the Yankees dominated baseball and when the Mississippi River burst through levees for its biggest flood.
Although her husband Lester has since passed away, the family farm near Farwell is run by Nolan’s son David. Some things about living in the area have changed, according to Nolan.
“I guess what I miss most of all is that we used to be able to trust people,” said Nolan, who has 18 grandchildren. “My husband and I had gone into town many times and left our house unlocked for two weeks at a time. Now we don’t do that.”
Asked what she missed most about the Clovis of old, Starbuck had a simpler answer.
“The Hotel Clovis. We ate out there and they had a barbershop. My husband always went out there to get a haircut,” Starbuck said. “It was a goin’ thing. I loved it; I wish it would come back.”