By Milburn Moore
Editor’s note: Milburn Moore, a 1951 Clovis High School graduate, won’t be here for tonight’s “ Draggin’ Main and Gearhead Gathering,” but he has plenty of memories of downtown Clovis.
When we first arrived in Clovis that spring of 1938, I was a very little kid. We came from Dawson County, Texas, and my dad had bought the Magic Steam Laundry.
One of the first sights that really caught my attention was the Hotel Clovis. It was the tallest building I had ever seen — there was certainly nothing like it down in West Texas.
Not right then, but a little later, when I learned to spell and read, it always seemed to me that the sign painter had a bad day and got mixed up — it should have read “Clovis Hotel.”
About a year after we got settled in, my two uncles — in their 20s and farm boys, came up from Texas to visit. Farm folk who went to town knew how to be stylish. They wore their pressed khakis, tooled belts, cowboy boots (shined), and their Stetsons!
About 6-foot-4-inches each, they were exciting and impressive guys.
Since my parents were both working, my uncles decided they’d take me to town and we’d walk around. After “dragging main” once, they decided they wanted to see more of that hotel.
We parked down there in front of Mesa Theater, and they looked up at the tall building and discussed it to their heart’s content.
We walked up to Janeway Drug and turned around. It being after 11 a.m., the smell of Coney Island hot dogs had been permeating the area ever since we got there. They had never smelled anything that good and they bought us all a hot dog and a big orange drink.
We sat on the curb, or on somebody’s car fenders, West Texas style, and ate our hot dogs.
There weren’t very many people on the sidewalk that morning and I can still remember how neat and clean the sidewalk was — after all, the whole town was newer then.
Keeping an eye on the hotel, which in turn was keeping an eye on us, we walked back down in front of the Mesa Theater. The Mesa, in the early days, showed first-run movies; it was a well-kept theater.
Many may not remember that it had a neat little concession stand on its north side, which opened into the lobby and also onto the street. The little store, with a selection of magazines and newspapers, also sold popcorn, candy, gum, peanuts, and Cokes to walkers-by.
My uncles, with their pockets full of dimes, said they’d buy me a candy bar, and we all had one.
South of the Mesa Theater, on the corner, was a building that would later become the Busy Bee Café. We all remember the blinking bee. On cold Armistice Days, after playing the
Rattlers, a bunch of us kids used to go in there and get hot chocolate.
Over south of the hotel, facing north on Second Street, was the bus station. How many times in later years I put someone on a bus there, or rode it myself to college.
In 1956, while recouping from surgery in Clovis, I put my beautiful future wife (wearing a new diamond engagement ring) on a bus headed for her hometown of Artesia.
When we did eat out, and not many people did that often in those days, we would go to the bus station cafe. My parents would order what they called a “plate lunch,” for about $1.25, and I, feeling sorry for them, would get a great hamburger.
The Conoco station, on Second Street just south of the hotel, was run by our dear friend, Sam Harris. Once, in 1949, my dad and I and my great-uncle E.A. Key pulled into the Conoco station and opened the trunk to show Sam the results from a prairie chicken hunt down south of Dora. He liked to hunt but had to work.
I could go on and on with stuff about old times. Every Clovis kid has his/her fond memories of old Main Street and the Hotel.
I think I’ll try to get over to Clovis one of these days soon, and drag Main a few times for old time’s sake. I’ll check out the new “Hotel Clovis Lofts,” see if the old Conoco is still there and maybe take with me a couple of chili hot dogs, with a little grease soaked through the brown sack.
I’ll park in front of where the Coney Island used to be, glance up at the old hotel a few times, check out the red bricks in the street, eat those hot dogs with a big orange drink and just enjoy memories of those good times, long gone, on old Main Street.
Milburn Moore lives in Albuquerque. Contact him at: