Retiree stayed heavily involved in community

By Don McAlavy: CNJ columnist

“Once upon a time,” said Bill Duckworth of Clovis in 1951, “a man named August Schmidt had a saloon and the first day of June, the landlord called on him and said “Well, August, everything seems to be going up, so the first of July I am going to raise your rent.

“Shortly after the landlord had gone, the water and light man came in and said, “Well, August, with everything going up we have had to raise our rates so after the first of July your water and light bill will be more. And then the gas man called to tell him that after July 1, his gas bill would be more. And then the beer man came in and told him that after the first of July the price of a keg of beer would be doubled.”

After the last one had gone, August said, leaning on the bar, ‘Well, it looks to me like the first of July will be the last of August!’

“And there it is,” said Bill Duckworth,” the last day of August, 1951 . . . and . . . it is the last day for Duckworth the druggist, to make these morning broadcasts. So this morning I want to tell you how much Mabel and I appreciate what you many fine people have done for us. By your generous patronage, you have made it possible for us to retire. For a while, as least, we are just going to rest. After operating a drug store seven days a week, for a great many years, we are both agreed that we can use some rest. A lot if it. We are going to continue to live in Clovis because we could never be happy anywhere else.

“I will have an office upstairs over the drug store and I will be glad to see you as often as you call. One thing that I will miss the most will be this little broadcast every morning. It has been a lot of fun talking to you every day, telling you about lost dogs, stray cats, missing billfolds, farm sales, community events, birthdays, etc.

“While we are quitting the drug business, the drug store is not quitting Clovis. We sold to Jerry and Alice Friend, and their son junior, sometimes called Ed. Thousands of you already know Jerry Friend. He came here with the Sacra Brothers more than 10 years ago, and he had helped to making a living on the farm a lot more comfortable.

“The store is open for business as usual every day so you good people who have been trading here, you keep right on coming in and you others, who like something new and beautiful, you can come in too.”

Yes, Bill Duckworth retired, but managed to be upstairs most of the time over his old drug store, reading his many books, and discussing politics with his old fiends, like Armand Mandell and others. Bill, of course, was elected a state representative in 1960 and spent a lot of time resting and sleeping in the Legislature. He somehow won the cheers of the senators and representative up there.

Bill died May 21, 1971. He will be missed as he was one of the pioneers of Clovis.

Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at: