Breakfast Club

Recently– last winter- an odd mix of ranchers, cowboys, artists, medical workers, teachers, and even less classifiable types started having Sunday brunch at Tita Dixon’s brief version of the Bear Mountain Cafe. It was so much fun that when Linda Rael Mansell and Kelly Kent opened a good cafe at the old Magdalena Hotel it migrated there, and is now an necessary weekly stop.

My IPhoto DOES NOT WORK;  my upgrade to “Yosemite” has damn near killed my computer– but here are a couple of trial shots. Biggest thing that bothers me other than the computer industry’s insistence on leaving users out in the cold is: GOD, what a bunch of old farts. No one here is more than three years older than I am (well, maybe Ed adds another year) and some are younger. Degrees in medicine and biology and archaeology, ranches and farms bought and sold and managed, children brilliant and difficult, travels to Mongolia and Yemen and Everest Base Camp and the back country of China, as pioneers or guides, hunting in Africa, wild romances, secrets, harrowing work in the third  world and the rubble of the World Trade Center*–  and here we are saying “Kelly, you KNOW I take MILK in my coffee!”

We are missing many I wanted to get– Ken Cason running off to meet a semi full of incoming calves,  a whole lot of friends being weenies about the breeze and sitting inside, ones who fly medical emergency planes or restore stained glass in cathedrals; they were moving fast, and I, knowing I probably couldn’t edit any photo I took, didn’t try very hard. But I have a duty to depict my odd little community of thirty— four?– years. (Big  question today: how many came here intentionally? Even those that sorta wanted to say yes –all of two– wanted to qualify it)…

“Golden girls and boys all must/ As chimney sweepers/ Come to dust…” Click double or right to embiggen, as always.

Above: Libby, me, Mark Cortner; and Vincent’s Pepe, ambassador, and greeter to all. Mark is probably my oldest friend of the bunch– he knew Betsy, and we have traded guns and books and a whole lot of meat and a horse.

Mary Anne Maddy, L, Mark, Vincent DiMarco, Ed Erickson. Pepe is under the table demanding his tithe. And below… the ambassador himself, with Vince.

* It is MAGDALENA. It is the best traveler’s town, at least of its size,  I have ever known– since 1895 or thereabouts we have been everywhere, especially if you count our rural neighbors who come to Magdalena for necessities and socializing. For years they stayed at the old Magdalena Hotel where we are sitting today, (our last cattle drive was in ’72!), right up to the missile tests in the fifties and sixties, when they shot them from White Sands to Fort Wingate; that is, over the ranches. They would pay for the ranchers to stay here, the first place to stay outside of their evacuation zone,  and I bet they covered some serious bar bills…

A few travelers in and out, randomly: Montague Stevens, high- born Englishman, riding with one arm, having lost his other in a hunting accident; rancher, grizzly hunter, finally grizzly protector. Aldo Leopold, of Wisconsin, speaking to a crowd here in 1914, bigger
than today’s whole town population, and taking a local bride back to the
north. Norman Cleaveland,  born a few miles west and off to Stanford and Indonesia. The late Louis Nalda, who used to use his plane to herd his cows and played polo in England after graduating from New Mexico Military Institute; we also spent some good nights in the Bar, and one night (I may tell it someday), he left with us to criticize a painting, with a full glass of Jack Daniels balanced in his pocket. Floyd Mansell from Arkansas, my mentor, self- described (half- Lebanese) hillbilly, houndsman and cocker, who went to college on the GI Bill, and in his words “got a master’s, married an Indian, became a liberal and a Catholic, moved to New Mexico and had nine kids. My family doesn’t know what to think of me!” (He kept his hounds and fighting chickens til he died). From Oklahoma he hired Leonard Parker, my other mentor, Comanche aristocracy, Quanah’s grandson, teacher and trickster…

Our own Ed, born in New York but in this area since he was a child, now a travel agent who will try anywhere himself.  Mark, who grew up in the Canal Zone, whose first wingshooting quarry was
a Toucan; then to Sul Ross, cowboying, a biology degree… poet James Nance, raised off- pavement on the Field Ranch by parents whose brand is 2XS, and who house the Juan Tomas Foxhound pack; a cowboy,  a sherriff’s deputy, but also the youngest Master of Hounds in the US; young enough to be my grandson, published as I have been in the Atlantic (twice),  going to Sweden to help raise his kids…

This footnote grew, didn’t it? Stories, stories… as Ian sings in his song about Charley Russell, “get ‘er all down, before she goes..”

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