New Mexicans rarity in parts of U.S.

By Grant McGee: Local columnist

I took notes as The Lady of the House and I zipped across the southeastern United States visiting family last month: 4,825 miles of interstate, two-lane back roads, city streets and such.

With all those miles, a working stiff like me from Clovis, New Mexico, saw and experienced some things that were, well, noteworthy.

For instance, we can tour Clovis’ Norman Petty Studios and all the studio folks might ask for is a donation. To tour Memphis’ Sun Studios where Elvis recorded is 10 bucks a head. When you’re talking tour busloads of folks, that ain’t chump change.

In Memphis we stumbled on the shooting of an upcoming movie “Nothing But The Truth.” Shooting a movie in Memphis doesn’t look much different than shooting one in Clovis. In Clovis they pretended they were in Oklahoma. In Memphis they pretended they were in Washington, D.C.

I jotted on my note pad, “Wonder why they didn’t shoot this in Washington?”

At a store in Roanoke, Va., I found myself waiting by the cash register while The Lady of the House shopped. I started chatting with the cashier who immediately and proudly told me about “daddy” who did hard time in prison for being a moonshiner.

The closest thing I could compare and share with her was that my grandmother once confided that she smoked hemp when she was 10. That would have been in 1903. The cashier and I were clearly talking about some serious outlaw relatives.

In Charleston, S.C., I learned it’d be wise to travel with some Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes. We were unexpectedly treated to dinner at a 5-star restaurant by my son. I had a nice white shirt and a nice pair of pants but my best footwear was a pair of sneakers. We were surrounded by folks who were gussied-up for a night on the town. The Lady of the House leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Ma and Pa Kettle come to the big city.”

Also on our trip we found out some easterners still think New Mexico is, well, I don’t know what they think it is. But apparently some folks think there’s nothing out here. The Lady of the House went into one of those places in Florida that sell bags of overpriced oranges. There was a biker couple in front of her at the checkout. They knew the cashier and they were chatting about a new Giant Corporate Hardware Store coming to their town.

“Yeah, pretty soon every town in America is going to look the same,” said the biker dude.

“It’s like that in New Mexico,” said The Lady of the House. “There’s a Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Chili’s, Applebee’s in almost every town.”

“You have Wal-Mart in New Mexico?” said the biker dude.

“I didn’t know there was anything out there,” said the cashier.

“Yes, we are quite civilized out there,” said The Lady of the House with a smile.

And speaking of New Mexicans, just like every other time we’ve headed east we didn’t see another New Mexico plate until we came into Lubbock on our way home. Do most New Mexicans stay home? Or are our preferred destinations Las Vegas and L.A.?

Those were just some of my notes. There was the talking car we rented and the lesson I learned about not leaving someone in a car with the car alarm on.

But that’s another story.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: