Monthly Archives: September 2013

It’s hard to tell who won the war


The First Presbyterian Church in Taiban was built in 1908 for $250, over half of which came from loans from “the ladies of the Baptist church and the Taiban Savings Bank.”* Hopes must have been high in Taiban back then: the railroad was there, newly relocated from a more northern route. There was a bank, a hotel, a school, and a contract to build 50 homes. There were already over 400 residents.

But then, trouble arrived, in the form of the Pink Pony Saloon and Dancehall. The town was broken into factions; periodic elections made alcohol legal one time, then illegal another, back and forth all the way into the 1930s. By that time, the effects of a long drought and the Depression, as well as the ongoing alcohol wars, took their toll, and the Presbyterian church held its final service in 1936.

After World War II, there were only about fifty residents. But with the church closed down, it looked as though alcohol had won: bars were the tiny town’s only successful businesses. People from surrounding dry counties in eastern New Mexico and the Texas panhandle would travel to Taiban when they felt a need to quench a certain thirst; the wealthiest patrons would fly in, landing at what became known as the Taiban International Airport.

But life was hard, dry-land farming harder. Passenger train service was gone, and the roads were necessarily hospitable. By the 1960s, only one business – a bar – remained in town.

Today, the bar’s gone.

But photographers take the time to pull off the road (which is more hospitable now) to take pictures of what’s left of the First Presbyterian Church. Somewhere along the line, concrete steps and a handrail were added to make for easier access. There’s graffiti now, on the walls – prayers and Bible verses and a sketch of Jesus with outstretched arms as if to say, “Write on these walls, my children.”

Taiban, New Mexico
photographed 9.20.2013

* Read more about Taiban’s history.

A general sense


Things I like to find (that I saw here):

1. Broken pavement with weeds growing through the cracks
2. Concrete blocks
3. Diagonal shadows
4. A general sense of desolation

(This is the same abandoned motel as this place. In case it seemed familiar.)

Santa Rosa, New Mexico
photographed 9.22.2013

To quote Liz Lemon: what the what?


I am not one of those people who is scared of clowns. I don’t really like them, and think that they are more than a little bit creepy. But they don’t scare me.

This thing, though? It scared the bejesus out of me. It’s part of a ride at the Panhandle South Plains Fair, and I think it was a kid’s ride (I might have been too scared to really notice many details, but that’s just between us, OK?). I tried this as a black and white, but it failed to convey the HOLY CRAP aspect sufficiently, so here’s a rare color post here on One Day | One Image.

I don’t really like the fair, which you may have picked up on already.

When I was a kid, my mom and her friend Mrs. Cowan (ladies didn’t have first names back then) took their daughters to the fair on an evening when the husbands were out of town. Two moms, three daughters. We rode the bus from somewhere downtown to the fairgrounds. Stayed a while, did whatever we did. Then, when it was dark and late and time to leave, my mom and Mrs. Cowan discovered that the bus wasn’t running any longer. So we stuffed ourselves into one cab for a ride back to the car. The evening did not end on a high note.

You’d think that might have made me hate buses instead of the fair.

Lubbock, Texas
photographed 9.25.2013

It used to be something else


I was drawn to this cross from the instant I stepped into El Calvario cemetery: it stood higher than everything but the few trees.

Later, I noticed that the wood had been used before. The wood in the crosspiece is a length of treated lumber, like you’d use for a deck or something that was going to be in contact with the ground; that’s why it has all those little horizontal lines. And the upright was something else, too – see how the parts on either side of the crosspiece are smooth compared to the lower section that’s had something nailed onto it.

A lot of mysteries, here.

Puerto de Luna, New Mexico
photographed 9.21.2013

Gateway of the moon


On a day that almost felt like fall, an obliging cloud approached the cross atop Nuestra Señora de Refugio church.

Now a virtual ghost town, the village of Puerto de Luna was once a thriving community. In fact, according to New Mexico’s Best Ghost Towns: A Practical Guide, in the 1890s, Puerto de Luna was the only town in the southeast quadrant of the state with a population greater than 500 people. But the railroad went through Santa Rosa, ten miles away, and later so did Route 66. Progress was not a friend to this place.

According to the same book, there’s some disagreement over the meaning of the town’s name. One faction believes it was named for the Luna family, and translates into English as Luna’s Gap. The other faction believes it translates into Gateway of the Moon, after a gap in the nearby mountains through which the moon sometimes rises. You know which translation I prefer.

Puerto de Luna, New Mexico
photographed 9.21.2013

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