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Enchanted by Silver City

Thirteen years ago Lynn and I were living in the Los Angeles beach community known as Venice. One day we got a phone call from Lynn’s parents announcing that they had sold their waterfront property in Florida and moved to Silver City, New Mexico. After recovering from the shock, I must admit the thought of having her parents declared incompetent did flitter through my tiny mind. But I was far too frightened of Lynn’s mother to ever follow through with such a sinister scheme. I did ask my father-in-law, “Why Silver City?” He responded, “Longitude, latitude, altitude and attitude.”

When Lynn and I eventually moved to that longitude, latitude and altitude, The Silver City Daily Press and Independent helped to familiarize us with local issues. Although as an “outsider” I am still learning about hospital staffing, the environmental and economic impact of the mines, the schools and the diversion of the Gila River. On that last issue, perhaps I have seen the movie Chinatown too many times, but it seems like the main result of every water project is the creation of a few more personal fortunes.

Lynn and I do understand how longtime residents can be wary of “outsiders.” Like many of you, we saw wave after wave of newcomers alter the quality of life in Austin. It isn’t what it used to be, but neither am I. And I can’t wait to get back to Central Texas BBQ and some Austin blues. Venice also went through changes. Young millionaire techies poured in, bought up everything in sight and showed no respect for the history of what had long been a laid-back bohemian beach community. Now Venice isn’t the same, but, again, neither am I. There’s still a sea breeze and more funk than in your average urban community. So fear not, Silver City oldtimers -- Lynn and I come to praise your town, not to bury it.

Who would want to change a place that names its most prominent landmark The Big Ditch? And hey, we’ve already got community radio, The Silver City Museum, the Food Coop, the many activities available at Western New Mexico University, The Lotus Center, a bunch of good places to eat (but I do long for a greater variety of choices), The Silco Theater, The Javalina Coffee Shop, and all the possibilities for hiking, biking and golf ball striking. Plus, all the festivals and special events -- like my favorite, The Blues Fest (although I do think that this year we could have used a few more true blues bands).

But everything really ties back to the last item on my father-in-law’s list, “attitude.” Now I’m not saying Los Angeles isn’t a friendly place, but if someone in an approaching car bothered to wave at you, like most folks do here, you would assume that either your headlights were on, or they were making a vulgar gesture. And boy howdy (please forgive the robust language), is this village ever loaded to the brim with characters? I have yet to meet someone without a story worth telling and the ability to tell it.

In Silver City time marches on at a different pace. Oh sure, we get an occasional 100-million-dollar painting showing up at a used furniture store after an estate sale. No big deal. We’re Silver City! Let the rest of the world dwell on the possibility of a Sumo Wrestling match between those two spoiled brats, D. Trump and Kim Jong-Un. We are more concerned about whether to make the hour-and-a-half drive to Hatch, The Chile Capital of the World, or the slightly longer journey to Pie Town. Such are the typical quandaries facing those of us residing in The Land of Enchantment.

James BigBoy Medlin © 2017

James BigBoy Medlin was the sports writer for the original Austin Sun. His column was called "Why Not?"

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