New Mexico, Madrid on my Mind

My pal, Yacht Cowboy Michael, points out that I have been on the road a year and I’m yet to cross the Mississippi.  In fact, I have only been in five states since I left California, and that’s counting a corner of Nevada I clipped while aiming for Arizona.

Now, ready to leave New Mexico, I gave myself one last 5-day Madrid fix before heading east.  Not surprising, I added new tiles to the mosaic of Madrid in my mind.

I got better acquainted with Annette, who has owned the 18-room Boarding House for thirty years.  The building started life in Kansas and was transported to Madrid when lodgings were needed during the coal-mining boom. 

Annette gave the Old Boarding House Mercantile a second life as a grocery and general store.  There is an all too well-kept secret that from Annette’s ovens come superb baked goods.  Her cinnamon rolls will be featured when I get around to publishing The Cinnamon Bun Lovers Guide to the Universe

Annette has seen Madrid evolve from a town of dropouts, hippies, escapees, brain-battered ‘Nam vets, struggling artists, and others who simply want to be left alone and make their own rules of behavior.   After collecting Madrid stories in my several visits, I wonder if  “30-year soap opera” may be more descriptive than evolution.  Many of the leading players are still there, somewhat faded, mellowed, and short a few teeth. 

Has the core character of the town changed or merely acquired a thin veneer of normality?  Today’s shops offer the artistic fruits of polished craftsmen, old hippies gather at the Java House on one end of town or the porch of the Boarding House at the other end just 300 yards away.  People arriving in more recent decades seem like younger versions made from the molds of the earlier settlers.

Madrid is a destination for motorcycle clubs worldwide since Wild Hogs, was filmed here in 2007 (http://www.IMDB.com/title/tt0486946/) with John Travolta, Tim Allen, William Macy, and Martin Lawrence.  While I was there, a Harley-Davidson club from Berlin, Germany, stopped for photo opportunities.

Madrid is managed rather than governed by the Madrid Landowners Association. 

Madrid has been built-out with about 200 who live in houses with electricity and water and another 200 who don’t.  The hookups to the town well have reached the capacity of the water supply.

Law enforcement in Madrid befits the neighborhood-like character of the town.  Once a day, a police cruiser ambles through town without stopping.   Only newcomers call the police—usually for the things they used to solve by calling their mother.

Old-timers settle small disputes between the parties.  Sometimes they take it outside and get it on.  

Bigger issues are handled in a manner more reminiscent of the Old West.  Madrid has been adopted by The Banditos, a motorcycle club from Santa Fe, where the police regard them as outlaws.  They have chosen Madrid as a neutral place where they can relax and enjoy themselves.

Here, they are good citizens, routinely contributing to community projects such as “Schooltime Duds,” which provides clothing to the town’s needy school children. 

But if a local individual is behaving abusively, a call could be made to The Banditos, who would exert an influence that would be more immediate and effective than conventional law enforcement. 

In the past, big-time acreage has been devoted to the cultivation of marijuana by major crime families.  The farms were soon discovered, raided, and shut down by federal agents.

The occasional one-man patch still survives for a crop that was never destined to be more than a cottage industry.  A few pounds are harvested annually for personal, medicinal, and sacramental purposes.

In Madrid’s Boneyard, is a grave of a woman, Tina, who wrote an article about the town’s cottage industry.  The local growers had an understanding with county law enforcement as long as the harvests were small, the police had more important things to do.  Tina’s article came to the attention of the Feds for whom no fish is too small to fry.  Their annual raids manage to destroy a few plants and put an aging hippie or two on the food-stamp rolls.

Tina’s name never comes up in conversation without parentheses identifying her as the woman who couldn’t keep her mouth shut.

The history books will always remember Madrid as a coalmine town.  But for this miner of stories, Madrid is a gold mine town.


9 Responses to New Mexico, Madrid on my Mind

  1. Angel and I enjoyed this a lot. We miss our travel in the RV. We decided the trip to Vancouver will be in her new Town and Country we just bought. I hope you get good weather out East. It will be good through October up morth as we spent a lot of time there this time of year.

  2. Vikki says:

    HMMMMM……I can’t help but wonder if Tina died of natural causes? Vikki

  3. Alexa Aho West says:

    Once, about 20 years ago, I stopped in Madrid on a winter’s day in February. Snow hung from the trees and a bright winter sun glowed. I enjoyed some hot coffee and wandered the few shops that were open. In one I found a handmade one-winged angel made of simple cream cloth. A front pocket, made of purple calico, was for wishes that only a one-winged angel could grant.
    Somehow, she has always been symbolic of Madrid. It is the kind of place where stories, wishes, and simple pleasures always seem to attach to one’s soul. Live on and thrive, dear one-winged angel-of-a-place, Madrid.

  4. I haven’t stopped by for awhile but today my wife is spending the weekend visiting our daughter at Stanford, and I have more time on my hands and under my feet. I’m also about to go have a late evening meal before I shut off this machine.

    So I dropped by and had a lot of laughs reading about Madrid–in New Mexico, right?

    This quote caught my attention. If I’m ever in need of a place to be left alone, which is a strong possiblity if my PTSD worsens, I may consider Madrid a likely destination.

    “Annette has seen Madrid evolve from a town of dropouts, hippies, escapees, brain-battered ‘Nam vets, struggling artists, and others who simply want to be left alone and make their own rules of behavior.”

    Although I’m allergic to “pot” smoke, so I wouldn’t take advantage of the annual harvest. If I’m near the stuff, my eyes and throat swell shut and I like to see and breathe.

    :o)

    • allevenson says:

      Lloyd, you may have missed my post some time ago about a marine sergeant living in Madrid. I posted a review of his book –http://allevenson.wordpress.com/people/andy-brandy-ptsd-counsellor/

  5. karen wittgraf says:

    Madrid is where my friend Jane and I planned to set up our “Get Fat nd Adorn Thyself” shop- she’d make the beads and I’d make the pies. Maybe someday.

  6. Colleen Rae says:

    Al – What a wonderful treasure trove of stories – I can almost imagine them now. Thanks for the snapshot of Madrid. Sounds like a place I could fit in nicely. I’d love to try out the most recent ‘crop’. I’ve been checking out the Med Marijuana in the places I visit. Different tastes for different folks.

  7. JERRY DIMAS says:

    I WENT TO MADRID A FEW YEARS AGO, I WAS BORN THERE IN 1937. BUT, OH HOW THE MEMORIES LINGER FROM YESTERYEAR WHEN MADRID WAS A BOOMING COAL MINING TOWN. THOSE TIMES WERE SOME OF THE BEST FOR MYSELF AND MY SIBLINGS. ALL MY FRIENDS, TEACHERS, CONFIDANTS, I WILL NEVER FORGET THEM. YES, TIMES WERE HARD FOR ALL THE MINERS & FAMILIES IN THAT ERA INCLUDING MOM AND DAD, BUT EVERYBODY WAS POOR. AND BECAUSE OF THAT, ALL THESE FAMILIES STAYED TOGETHER, AND AFTER MADRID BECAME A GHOST TOWN, ALL THE FAMILIES SCATTERED TO PARTS UNKNOWN, AND THEIR CHILDREN PROSPERED. I STILL STAY IN TOUCH WITH SOME OF THE COAL MINERS CHILDREN FROM TIME TO TIME, THANKS TO MIDORI SNYNDER WHO MADE ALL THIS POSSIBLE FOR ALL OF US TO JUST SIT BACK AND REMEMBER THOSE TIMES.

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