By Darrell Todd Maurina
Melrose has about 700 residents, but town leaders are expecting more than double that number later this week during Old Timer’s Days.
The annual event, which features local music talent, contests and an old-fashioned small-town parade, runs Thursday through Saturday and is sponsored by the Melrose Chamber of Commerce.
“We have our basic things, we’re a lot about tradition,” said Melrose Chamber of Commerce treasurer Jodie Boyd. “The things that have been done year after year, we see that they are carried out.”
Boyd said Melrose High School has class reunions every year held in connection with the event, and that ups the attendance to between 500 and 1,000 out-of-town visitors.
Old Timer’s Days is the biggest annual event for the Melrose chamber, and Boyd said the town goes all out to put on its best face for visitors.
“Our mayor has been very instrumental in getting our roads in excellent repair and we have a main street improvement project that we’re working on,” Boyd said. “We are putting planters on main street and filling them with flowers and soliciting donations.”
It isn’t just Melrose residents who help out.
“You’d be surprised to see how many people from Clovis have their roots in Melrose,” Boyd said. “Melrose people patronize Clovis businesses and we’re very pleased to have their membership” in the Chamber of Commerce.
One of those Clovis visitors is Lois Leslie, a retired flower and gift shop owner who was born in Melrose but left 50 years ago for Clovis.
“We had a family reunion in May in Melrose because my grandfather was one of the first that went to Melrose in 1907,” Leslie said.
Getting from Mississippi to Melrose wasn’t easy in those days, but Leslie said her ancestors made that trip to take advantage of the inexpensive farmland.
“My father’s family came by train. They rented a boxcar and put all their animals and furniture in it,” Leslie said. “They went as far as Bovina and then from Bovina they had to get their animals out of the train and come by wagon from there to Melrose.”
In recognition of their ancestors, Leslie said her family has planted about $700 worth of trees and other landscaping in the Melrose city park and the Melrose cemetery where 27 family members are buried.
“My children have commented how neat it is that I still have friends from the first grade,” Leslie said. “Growing up in a larger city like Clovis, my children didn’t have that advantage.”
Leslie urged other Clovis residents to come out for the celebration.
“A lot of the younger people, the only thing they think about is they want to get away from Melrose, but I do hope people in this area will make it a point to go,” Leslie said. “All of us who ever lived there, it’s home.”