A STATE OF CONFUSION
A few weeks back, Anne Legoza of Albuquerque dropped by our office with the 1926 Blue Book of Geography that once belonged to her mother, Margaret Brokaw, a Massachusetts native now residing (at 97!) in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. The book’s preface contains lofty words about Regents Publishing Company’s aims to teach children ages seven and eight “the most significant principles and facts of geography in the most modern pedagogical form. No attempt has been made at an encyclopedic treatment which can but confuse and disturb the young learner.”
Pity the poor learner who turns to page 117, “Other Cities of Interest in the United States,” which includes this confusing and perhaps disturbing tidbit: “SANTA FE, in Arizona. One of the ancient Spanish settlements, founded in 1605.”
Not only did they get the state wrong, but they made Santa Fe four years older than it is. Geography, the book claims, “has more than an intellectual value; it becomes a socializing force and a moral influence.” Yeah, maybe. But getting the states straight seems to be a pretty reasonable standard, too.
MAYBE THEY NEED MORE MAPS
Ron and Eloisa Edgerton live in Cincinnati, Ohio, where their copy of the July/August issue of Journeys, a AAA magazine, held a story on national parks worth visiting. Eloisa is from Socorro, and the couple visit the state often, so they knew something was amiss when they saw this: “In Texas, three options await. First, there’s remote Big Bend National Park, where the Río Grande River carves a big bend on the United States–Mexico border. To the park’s north, Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Park make for an easy National Parks Texas two-fer.”
Leaving aside the redundancy of “Río Grande River,” Ron lasered in on our favorite caves. “Last time I visited the park,” he said, “it was still in New Mexico. Did it move?” We checked our AAA map just to make sure. It hasn’t.
DON’T MISS WITH TEXAS
The border infringements continue, this time for Susan Lupton, a former New Mexican now living in Montana. Every day, she checks inciweb.nwcg.gov, a federal website that tracks forest fires. For Lupton, it’s personal. Her daughter works for the National Forest Service as a firefighter. July’s Timberon Fire near Ruidoso caught Lupton’s eye and stopped her cold: According to the map, the fire was burning in Texas, and she emailed us a screen grab to prove it.
“Timberon is definitely not in Texas unless the Great Republic managed to move the border over to the west of Cloudcroft,” she said. “If so, perhaps Texas would like to contribute to buying the Timberon Volunteer Fire Department a new fire engine.” We like how she thinks, but one click deeper into the website moved Timberon back to its rightful place.
NO BULL, NO FIGHT
While visiting her sister in Jefferson City, Missouri, Mary Twilley took her car in for a little servicing. In the waiting area, another customer asked where she was from, and when Twilley answered “Albuquerque,” the woman’s face lit up. “Wow,” she said, “I never thought I would meet anybody from there again.” The woman said that she and her husband had vacationed there a couple of years ago and had a great time buying “some pretty throws they call `serapes’” and going to the bullfights.
Twilley hesitated about correcting her, but then said, “Ma’am, we don’t have bullfights in New Mexico.” Wrong move. “She sternly looked at me and said, `I ought to know if I went to the bullfights or not.’” The woman then advised Twilley to study her country’s history because bullfighting is very popular there.
Ah! Twilley thought. It was a “Missing” moment. She told the woman that New Mexico is one of America’s 50 states, but got only an angry look in response. So she gave up. “Ma’am,” she said, “I am so glad you had such a good time.”
DOES NOT COMPUTE
Last April, Susan Rose was consolidating and moving retirement funds held by a company back east. “I had to do it twice, once for my rollovers and once for my husband’s,” she said. “Both times, when it got to my address, which is in Alto, their computer would not accept the zip as a recognized state in the Union. Both times the poor man who was helping me had to get his special programming unit to override the computer’s mistake.”
The staffer apologized profusely, but Rose was delighted. “I have always wanted to contribute to New Mexico Magazine’s `One of Our 50 Is Missing’ section,” she said.
In 1986, a new federal law required parents to acquire Social Security numbers for young children to claim as dependents on tax forms. Jan Andretta’s son, Matt, had been born in Albuquerque, but the family had moved to the Washington, D.C., area. “As a dutiful citizen, I stood in line at the Social Security Office in Silver Spring, Maryland, to apply for Matt’s number. When my turn came, I handed Matt’s birth certificate to the clerk behind the counter.”
The New Mexico Health and Environment Department had helpfully printed the form in both English and Spanish, but that seemed to strike the clerk as an obvious clue to something being amiss. Somewhat snidely, she said to Andretta, “Is New Mexico part of the United States?” Why, yes, Andretta assured her, it is—”as a matter of fact, since 1912.” She got her son’s card, and the better-informed gentleman behind her got a good laugh out of it.
CHECK THE AUTOPILOT, TOO
Melissa Olivas attended Ernie Pyle Middle School in Albuquerque and performed in its marching band. In 1986, it was one of just two marching bands invited to participate in the Presidential Fourth of July Parade in Washington, D.C.
“We had a great time in D.C., Philadelphia, and New York,” she said. “But on our return trip, the airline worker at the airport in New York asked for all of our passports to fly back home to New Mexico.” Olivas’ mother, a chaperone, asked to speak to a supervisor and demanded that the worker go find an atlas.
It worked. Not only did the staff expedite the boarding, but ensured all the New Mexico passengers enjoyed their return trip. “I still live in Albuquerque,” Olivas said. “My whole family is here, and we all love it. And yes, my mom is still as feisty as ever when someone tries to act ignorant about New Mexico!”
HAVE A “MISSING” MOMENT?
Send it to email@example.com or Fifty, New Mexico Magazine, 495 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501. Include your name, hometown, and state. Thanks!