Freedom New Mexico: Eric Butler Bill Dalley looks over a guest book stationed near the windmills on his property in Portales. Visitors from across the U.S. as well as some from Germany, Brazil and Australia have stopped in to take in the 85 antique windmills.
By Eric Butler: Freedom New Mexico
Some collections, like stamps or coins, can fit into a book and are easily handed to a new owner when sold.
Not everybody collects such minuscule little items, however.
For Clovis and Portales residents who have made a habit of picking up larger collectibles over the years, it can be a real problem when its time to say good-bye — not just emotionally, but also with the logistics of finding a new home for the collection.
Jean Fisher, 71, of Clovis can count herself lucky.
When the Norman & Vi Petty Rock ‘N’ Roll Museum opened last fall, Fisher was able to sell 105 radios to the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce — which operates the museum.
Now, Bill and Alta Dalley would like to make a similar kind of transaction.
But even the biggest museums would be hard-pressed to house the Dalleys’ collection.
Since 1980, Bill Dalley has made it a hobby to restore old windmills and then erect them on his Kilgore Street property in Portales.
Although he’s performed restorations to others and sent them to places like California, New York and Canada, the 78-year-old Dalley still has 85 windmills outside his house.
“The (Roosevelt County) Chamber of Commerce is working a little bit and maybe they’ll have a grant someday to take the whole collection and move it somewhere in Portales,” Dalley said. “We’ve had it…(valued) and people have recommended that it be kept together rather than start piecing it out.”
Dalley’s windmill collection began in 1980 when a friend of his, Keith Greathouse, pointed out an old one on his parents’ property.
“He said he could remember when it was working. I said, ‘Well, if you’ll help me, we’ll see if we can put it together,’” said Dalley, who spent a year rehabilitating that first one.
“I thought it was just a load of junk,” said Alta Dalley, 74, of her husband’s burgeoning hobby in the 80s. “When he would drive in with a pickup full of rusty iron, I told him we were going to look like ‘Sanford and Son.’ Once he got it organized and got them up, I was just proud as punch.”
In Clovis, Fisher’s husband was the driving force behind the radio collection. Gerald Fisher, who died in 1999, worked for famed producer Norman Petty and helped build the recording studio in the Mesa Theater.
He was also a school teacher, but sometimes got away from it all by retreating to the radios he collected and rehabilitated.
A few years after Gerald passed away, Jean Fisher made the decision to begin parting ways with the radios — several of which she still has at her home.
“We had a house on Ross Street. We had a lot of the antiques there. Then, I decided to sell that house. I was in my 70s and I thought it was time,” said Fisher, who said her husband’s advice helped lessen the sadness of selling the items.
“We collected a lot of things. All he said was, ‘You can have one hell of a garage sale,’ ” Fisher said.
Alta Dalley knows the day may come when a giant windmill sale may bare her property of some longtime inanimate inhabitants. And she knows it might be difficult.
“I told Bill I think I’ll have to leave town for a month,” she said. “I don’t know; I may have to leave for a year.”