After growing up in Los Alamos, David Anderson put in a 22-year career as an Air Force officer and, despite the official uniform he wore, still encountered his share of “Missing” moments. A memorable one, he says, came during a cross-country training flight. After landing in Newport News, Virginia, he went into the airport to pick up a rental car. Anderson showed the clerk his New Mexico driver’s license and was promptly asked for a visa or international driver’s license. “I politely informed her that New Mexico was the 47th state admitted to the United States, prior to Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii, and I finally got my rental car,” he says. Yes, he adds, he was in his uniform with his captain’s rank displayed on it. Word to the wise: Federal law requires all such commissioned officers to first be citizens of the United States.
While visiting Albuquerque, Texas resident Bob McNeil made a few small purchases on his credit card. That night, the card company emailed him a request to verify that the purchases were made by him or risk having the card canceled. Concerned, he phoned the company, and a representative said the procedure was routine for any purchases made outside of the United States. McNeil gently pointed out that New Mexico nestles between Texas and Arizona and has been a state since 1912. “Her response was an eloquent, `Uh, uh, okay,’” he says.
Silver City resident Georgia Rodriguez got a recommendation from Pinterest of “New boards to follow in Mexico,” with one little problem. The boards included “New Mexican Grub,” “Santa Fe,” “NM Home,” “Ghost Ranch,” and “New Mexico.” Old Mexico, New Mexico—it’s all Mexico, right? Wrong. We might recommend that Pinterest take one of those big old-fashioned paper maps and, you know, put a pin on it.
STILL MISSING AFTER ALL THESE YEARS
Former New Mexico Highlands University president Thomas C. Donnelly’s memoir, I Came Down from the Hills, recounts his life in academia. While reading it recently, Santa Fean F. Vic Galvan was struck by a passage in which the author, then at New York University, recounted a 1931 opportunity to teach in Silver City. “I took my wife ... [to] what she must have considered a faraway place. Indeed the secretary of our department at NYU didn’t know New Mexico was a state. She thought it a part of Mexico. It would be some time in the future before New Mexico would become better known.” Some time, indeed, Galvan says. “Eighty-six years later, and some people are still geography challenged.”
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