Clovis site of first Coca-Cola plant in state

Don McAlavy: Local columnist

G. A. Campbell came to Texico in 1906, from Rogers, Ark. He was born in 1882. Sadie Tagader also came to Texico in 1906, from Colorado in a covered wagon with her family. Her father was a horse trader and blacksmith.

Campbell opened a small confectionery store in Texico, but soon moved to the new town of Clovis. G. A. and Sadie were married in 1908.

Campbell manufactured his own ice cream. About 1913, he bought out a small soda water bottling plant and moved it and the ice cream manufacturing equipment to a rented building at 320 Main.

In l914, Campbell and Joe Hopper, an employee, built one of the first solid concrete buildings on the edge of Clovis at 500 Main.

It was two stories high. The walls were 12 inches thick and the corners of the lower story four feet square. Into this building he moved the bottling and ice cream plant with the family living in the upper story.

In the back yard, they kept a milk cow and some chickens. In 1916, he obtained the franchise for bottling Coca-Cola in Clovis and the surrounding area.

Dona Campbell Dickinson, a daughter, said this franchise was first obtained in 1914 and was the first Coca-Cola Bottling Company in New Mexico. The first year her father only bottled one 55-gallon barrel of Coca-Cola syrup.

Three children were born to the Campbells: Dale in 1909, Dorothy in 1913, and Dona in 1920. Dona was born in the building at Fifth and Main. She is the only Campbell child still living.

In 1930, the Coca-Cola plant was moved to a new building at 115 W. Fifth St. About the same time the milk and dairy business was added to the ice cream business at 500 Main. The business prospered to such an extent that in 1937 they were moved to a newly constructed building at 14th and Main.

In 1938, a new building was constructed next door for the Coca-Cola bottling business.

“Sadie had decided the Campbell Dairy and Coca-Cola plant should be moved to 14th and Main,” said Dona, “as Clovis was growing in that direction. They paid $2,000 for the two acres and Sadie had the property put in her name. The Coke building was one of the most attractive buildings in Clovis.”

Dona remembers the ice-cream making at 500 Main. Mostly she recalls as a young girl hand wrapping each of the Eskimo Pies that came off the production line. She said those Eskimo Pies were shipped all over the country.

“Daddy groomed Dale to take over the management of the two plants.

His Dad thought Dale couldn’t do no wrong. But Dale didn’t want to run the business, he wanted to be a flyer, maybe fly passenger planes. He had his own plane for awhile. What Daddy thought was important was his son to carry on the name Campbell and the Campbell businesses.”

In the early 1970s, a deal was cut for Clardy Dairy in Roswell to combine and manage Campbell and Clardy as one business. “Daddy was sick so much with ulcers, he got Harold Murphy to run things.

Finally Daddy sold out to Clardy in 1971 and it became Clardy-Campbell. Daddy died on July 6, 1971. He was 89 years old,” Dona said.

“In 1939, Morris ‘Dick’ Dickinson started to work for G. A. Campbell in the Coca-Cola plant. According to Daddy, nobody was good enough for me. Dick and I did get married and moved to

Tucumcari to run the Coca-Cola plant and, believe it or not, also bottled Dr Pepper.”

Dona Campbell Dickenson said her husband died in 2000, at age 84.

Her brother Dale died at age 91 in 2001. Her sister Dorothy died in 1932, at age 19.

“All I really wanted was to get married and have kids,” Dona said.

“I had two sons, Ricky and Roddy. As a young girl I wanted to be a dancer. My mother let me take lessons from Mildred Whiteman who had a studio in the Levi J. Whiteman print shop at 115 E. Fifth. I never became a dancer, but it was great fun trying.”

Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at:
dmcalavy@telescopelab.com