Young Don McAlavy took winding career path

By Don McAlavy: County historian

Coming from the country this farm boy had a lot to learn about town life in Clovis.

I was enrolled in the 7th grade at Clovis Junior High in Miss McCasland’s home room. The first thing after an hour, a bell rang in the hallway and everyone jumped up and ran out the door. Except me.

I just sat there at my desk.

The teacher looked up and said, “You’re suppose to go to math now in another room.”

That was the first thing I learned in that school: “You change rooms every hour!”

Without a father, but with a mother and a big brother and a little sister, I found a job. My first job in town was delivering the Clovis News Journal. I collected a quarter from each customer every week, which was turned in to the CNJ, and punched their card.

I made six to seven dollars a week. In a period of two years, I had four different routes.

When the New Mexico Paper near 10th and Main started going daily, I worked hard at developing customers for the east side of town. That didn’t last very long. Neither did that daily paper.

I got a job at the Playmoor Bowling Alley as a pin boy. I was about 13 years old. Mr. Frank Murray paid a nickel a line to each of the eight pin boys.

I swear the bowling balls traveled 100 miles an hour down the alley and knocked pins out of the pit, some hitting pin boys. But it was fun, and Mr. Murray was a good man.

Next job was yard work (mowing, etc.) for Mr. Smyer, Superintendent of the railroad in Clovis and mowing yards for Gordon Fitzhugh and his mother.

Mr. Smyer suspected I was a hard worker and said when I was old enough he would get me a job on the railroad.

I asked him if he meant night work as my brother was a call-boy and pulled a lot of night shift down at the railroad.

“Oh yes,” Mr. Smyer said, “all railroaders have to be able to work days and nights.”

Right then, I said I didn’t work at night. That’s when I slept. I never got a railroad job.

I was in the 10th grade by then, soda-jerking at the Silver Grill across from the high school and little later, I soda-jerked at Cretney that turned into Roden-Smith Drug Store.

I learned how to jerk sodas behind the counter and learned how to carry three glasses of Cokes, root-beer, and other drinks in each hand. We had one man working there who would carry four drinks in each hand even though he had fingers missing on both hands.

Then in 1947, I got a real job as an apprentice in a print shop and stuck with it for 44 or 45 years.

Let’s see now, I was first in newspapers, then grass, bouncing pins, drinking soda, and printers ink.

Now at 78, I’m still in newspapers, computer ink, and still drinking soda — mostly Root-Beer!