Growing up in Clovis all about ‘little’ things

Don McAlavy

Well, I came across some notes left me by the late Clovis historian Tom Pendergrass, and he too remembered the “little” things:

“The town of Clovis was started in May 1907 with the original town site surveyed and sale of lots starting about the first of May 1907. Not long after that, my dad, Winfield Pendergrass, moved his store stock from Texico to the new town of Clovis. His was called the Cash Racket Store in Texico and his was the first store to move out of Texico to Clovis, but a good many others soon followed.

“I was not yet 7 years old and moving into a brand new town, which at that time looked more like a tent city than a town, but things were happening fast and building was going on at a fast pace.

“It was quite an experience for me, but kinda lonesome as I was here two or three days before I ran into another kid about my age. The first kid I ran into was at about the present location of Main and First Street, and he was Russell (Fatty) Clayton and he was riding astride of a big red bull. Riding that bull rather fascinated me and I made Fatty’s acquaintance by getting in an argument with him as to who had been here the longest. The argument ended up with fisticuffs and nothing was settled but we both rode away on the bull together and were fast friends ever after. The bull was a gentle old bull, too old to be of any use except to ride, was bridlewise and was used for transportation for Fatty when we wanted to come to town. Some traveling photographer came through making pictures and the bull with Fatty and myself astride adorned a postcard that was sold here with captions: Transportation in Clovis, New Mexico.

“Things were happening fast in Clovis and every day saw new families and people in general coming to the new town, and more kids showing up. We did not have any organized means of entertainment and had to make our own fun, as we did quite properly. The main thing in those days for kids of my age was shooting marbles and spiking tops, an art that has gone by the wayside these many years past. But in those days if you wasn’t a good marble shooter or top spinner, you was not in the game. The fifty feet on the corner of Main and Second Street was vacant and it was the gathering place for all of the kids in town. Playing marbles and spiking tops, etc. Anyone looking for some kid would without a doubt find him at the ‘marble grounds’ as it was generally known as.

“Any kid in the game would be the proud possessor of a good agate shooting top with a good string to wind it up with. The marbles had to be “crokies” or “glassies” to get in the game — ‘chalkies’ or ‘peadinkers’ were taboo.

“Sometime later when someone built a building on our marble ground at Main and Second (the site of Hotel Clovis), we moved over to the corner of Second and Mitchell, a block west. We had a lot more room there, with just one building next to the alley facing on Second Street, which was formerly the Clovis National Bank and then the Harvey House sample room. We even played sandlot baseball there with the building acting as back stop.”

A contemporary of Tom’s was Dr. I.D. Johnson who came as a small boy to Clovis in 1910. He too remembers the “little” things.

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