What a time we had in 1949

By Don McAlavy: Local columnist

Clovis and Curry County had a great year in 1949.
Here are some of the things that happened:

• On April 25, 1949, a groundbreaking took place at 12th and Main for the new St. James Episcopal Church, built in the Spanish adobe style. It’s still the most attractive church in Clovis.

• In a gala ribbon-cutting ceremony, the Texico highway between Clovis and Texico became the first four-lane highway in this area. The nine-mile stretch was named for Gov. Thomas J. Mabry. This was on April 27, 1949. Gov. Mabry started one of the first newspapers in Clovis in 1908.

• A groundbreaking was held for the new First Baptist Church at Grand and Gidding Streets. That was on June 5, 1949.

• The state’s only dry-farming experiment station was born in June. It’s located 14 miles north of Clovis and is operated by New Mexico State University.

• Gasoline started the year at 28 cents per gallon. By summer it was up to 30 cents. You might remember how the people with cars and trucks complained.

• Finis E. Sadler, pioneer police chief in Clovis, died at age 86 at his home in San Bernardino, Calif.

• Every kid old enough to drive was thrilled that a couple of new cars were being made for sale in 1950. They were the Kaiser and Frazer model cars. Do you remember how long they lasted on the roads? Bob Whitley Motor Company at 1201 Main was the dealer.

• Our Lady of Guadalupe Church at Second and Davis was
completed. The late Librado Casillas was one of its primary supporters and builders.

• Doo Wop music was born, featuring the Platters, the Cadillacs and other groups. It is still popular with us old-timers.

• The high school graduating class of 1949 did not know much about television sets. The first ones were sold in Clovis at Scott’s Music Store and Bill Snyder’s Furniture Store. Doc Conover, a radio repairman, said the first reception came from Amarillo’s KGNC station.

• Our first public library was started at Fourth and Main, upstairs in the Connor building over May Brothers Jewelry shop. It developed into what is now the Clovis-Carver Public Library. It was all started by a kindergarten teacher, Fanny Bliss.

• Movies playing in Clovis that year included “Fighter Squadron” with Edmond O’Brian and Robert Stack, “Tulsa” with Susan Hayward and Robert Preston and “California” with Barbara Stanwyck and Ray Milland.

• Newspaper comics included: Blondie, Dixie Dugan, Mickey Finn, Foots, Alley Oop, Bugs Bunny and Joe Palooka.
• Popular drive-in restaurants included the Silver Grill at Seventh and Main; Al’s at Seventh and Thornton; Johnnie’s Place at 1601 Pile; Hillcrest (some called it Pops) at 10th and Walnut.

• Other restaurants included: Bob’s Cafe, Bus Terminal Coffee Shop, Busy Bee Cafe, Cactus Grill, The Coney Island, El Monterey, Shorty’s Cafe and Silver Grill.

• I also remember many of the girls from the graduating class 1949, but my romances with them all ended in tragedy and my wife says I should skip those stories in an effort to not make a fool of myself.

I guess it’s best that way.

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