Friday, August 5, 2011

Truth or Consequences — First Impressions

It's Friday. I have been here since Monday. It is a shock not living in my bus but in an apartment with shower, sink, fridge and all. It is the shower that is most amazing. To be able to walk a few feet, be in it, turn the water to any desired temperature and scrub away. Fantastic. No more sponge baths or standing in freezing water in a park shower.

This is how normal people live, right? And then there is air conditioning, and a fridge big enough to hold lots of stuff. Well, not lots. It's a small fridge by normal standards, but way bigger than the tiny one in the bus.

A peace flag  above downtown TorC.
My first impressions of TorC are just that: first impressions. It is a community of small businesses and merchants. Not chain stores. They do business their own way. Most keep their own hours. Rhonda Brittan at the Black Cat Bookstore at one end of Broadway is open Friday though Monday. Joe Silva, the barber at the other end of Broadway, is open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday only, and only until 3 p.m. In the middle of Broadway the MoonGoddess boutique proclaims in a window sign it is open when the owner feels like it, and may be closed for bad weather, the return of Jesus, or because she just feels like beating a drum.

I cannot do justice to TorC in such short space and on such short notice. Here are some links that can add more flavor: New Mexico Magazine March 2009; and BudgetTravel, the 10 Coolest towns.

For an old VW bus driver and dweller, the town feels like home. Where else will you find a peace flag flying over downtown? A movie house from a bygone era with but one screen, and five shows weekly? Three book stores and three thrift shops within a few blocks' walking? A park and a Saturday farmers' market? Yoga, Tai-Chi, Qicong studios everywhere. Health food snack bars and markets. And colorful characters at every turn and on every corner?

And where else is a spaceport being built outside of town? Who says the past and future are not co-joined? SpaceportAmerica is being built and will be located on 18,000 acres 35 miles southeast of Truth or Consequences. See Map.

Location of Spaceport America. [Click on map to enlarge]
Will it fly? No one knows, but the end of NASA's Shuttle program last month and the possible beginning of an era of private space exploration may turn an out-of-the-way tract of sand and cactus under stars into a new portal to reach them.

Soaking in the history of Truth or Consequences is like soaking in the town's hot springs spas -- relaxing and pleasant combined with a sense of timelessness and vague rememberings.

Walk the sidewalks. Look down. Almost every sidewalk has an imprint of Depression-era construction stamped in the concrete:  F.E.R.A. 1935; W.P.A. 1939.

The town was Las Palomas early on. Changed to Hot Springs after Elephant Butte Dam was built in 1916. Changed again in 1950 on a dare from game show host Ralph Edwards, who would adopt the show's namesake city, and for 50 years preside over the town's spring parade and fiesta.

Ralph Edwards as TorC Grand Marshall.
There is quiet confidence about this low-key town even in uncertain economic times for America. A steady stream of spa visitors brings in tourist dollars. Year round good weather and modest real estate prices lure retirees.

It is as if the town that time forgot is waking up and remembering a diverse past -- its  1930s roots, postwar America, Ralph Edwards, and the 1950s, the 1960s.

Waking up to new people, to new ideas yet deep roots.

It was here that Lozen, legendary Apache woman warrior, who fought along side male Apache braves, and later with Geronimo himself, and who was said to have extraordinary powers, roamed on horseback, rifle held above her head. Who pined for her lost Confederate soldier lover who left for California. She never married.

Perhaps there is more at the Geronimo Springs museum in town. I have not seen it. I understand there is an Apache room that tells of Sierra County's Apache natives like Lozen, her brother Victorio and Geronimo himself who is said to have been born in the rugged Gila mountains not far away.

The blending of the old and new, teaching us who we are.

It is a town where my VW bus can park anywhere for free. There are no meters.

It is also a town where a spot in an RV park goes for $130 a month.

Yes, indeed. Life in TorC has the sweet feel of the slow lane.



  1. Very nice first impressions John...I like how you see us......I love my chosen "home town"!
    Welcome brother.....

  2. Sounds really nice. Maybe next time on my way to Deming, I can stop by. Always wanted to see the Lakes.

  3. trying to find joe the barbers email address , would you be able to help? thanks

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