By Don McAlavy: CNJ Columnist
There has never existed a class more respectful, as a whole, to womanhood than the men of the old West.
There was no half-way ground with them; a woman was either good or she was bad and a gentleman acted accordingly, said Sid Boykin.
In town (Sid didn’t name the town) the old saloon served as the ballroom as well as the church. If a report of the coming affair were circulated in time, the boys came in horseback, from possibly as far as a hundred miles away, to dance most of the night, and then in the early morning to start their long ride back without one moment’s sleep.
The girls made great preparations, said Lizzie Boykin. Dresses were hastily devised of cheesecloth adorned with ribbon bows of the same color as the wild flower selected for the hair.
Cosmetics were unknown but the ingenious female could paint her lips with the juice of a berry or petal, blacken her eyebrows with a burnt match, and whiten her skin by an application of corn-starch or flour. Her hair, however, was a more difficult problem, as a hue not desired by the owner was a matter to be grieved over but never changed.
The wife of one of the town’s leading judges was looked at slightly askance because it was whispered that her beautiful bronze locks were artificially tinted by the use of soda shampoos and the sun’s hot rays, an almost immoral procedure in the eyes of the other women.
Sometimes oyster suppers preceded the dancing, but more often the repast was served at midnight and consisted of such delicacies as smothered quail, wild turkey with dressing, antelope steaks, red beans, dried apple pies and an ample supply of homemade wild grape wine.
Lizzie was born near the banks of the Ruidoso River, nine miles from old Lincoln town in 1869. Sid was born in 1861 in Erath County, Texas. He had always been a cowboy and a pioneer cattleman. Lizzie Walters, age 26 in 1895, married Sid Boykin. After moving herds of cattle into New Mexico, he went into the cattle business for himself. The couple lived six or seven years near Portales Springs, moving in 1902 to the Frio Draw northwest of present Clovis. They had no children. Sid later became one of the successful bankers at the old Citizens Bank.
I don’t know if Lizzie and Sid danced out at the Rhea Ranch in the Frio Draw. I imagine he and Lizzie watched the young couples dance until the break of day. Such were the wholesome, simple pleasures of a pioneer people.