Saturday, April 5, 2014

Lordsburg, New Mexico - Michael the Barber & Clara Davis

I pulled into Lordsburg (a couple of weeks ago) with two goals...a haircut and a frying pan. I was enroute to the annual meeting of the Malpais Borderlands Group, a consortium of conservation ranchers and wanted to look presentable. Also, I'd recently finished reading The Back-country Kitchen by Teresa Morrone and decided to toss the calphalon and return to iron.

Michael's shop must have registered subconsciously as two blocks past I turned around. I could see someone standing out front smoking a cigarette and even at that distance something connoted "Barber." Perhaps it was the stance...or the speculative way he assessed the drivers of the passing cars.

We exchanged pleasantries and he relaxed back into his smoke as I assured him I had time. He said he'd moved back seven years ago after a life-time in Los Angeles. His parents had been here, but he'd left in his youth. Standing there watching the traffic, this IS main street, I was impressed by how many people honked and waved. It was obvious his is a valued presence in the community.  

He proudly shared his appreciation of the 1930s chairs and mirrors and pointed out the turn-of-the-century cash register. A friend had helped him put in the tile floor. 

"Nine dollars!" he announced when he was done. He beamed like a new father and I couldn't help but share in his satisfaction. I gave him $12.00. An eager eight-year-old was already settling into my vacated spot.

Michael had directed me to The Second Chance Hardware store for a frying pan. As I made my way through the backstreets a small "OPEN" sign tucked in the corner of a storefront window caught my eye. On the sidewalk a rack of clothes drew attention to an open door. I didn't need any clothes but something pulled me back. I made a yoo-ie, hitched Eggbert to the post and ambled in.

The floor was strewn with stuff, mostly clothes; the overflowing shelves made it hard to focus. I asked if she had a frying pan. She said if I'd wait a minute she thought she had one in the back. She disappeared behind a door and returned a few minutes later with a rusted relic. 

I must have looked a bit dubious as she quickly acknowledged its condition. But, she said, it has a history. It was one of a few items salvaged after a fire burned their house to the ground in 2009.  They thought honey from the bees in the attic had dripped onto some wires and started it. I listened as she described how she'd accompanied her husband, a radio D.J., from Missouri to Arkansas and further until, in Pennsylvania, he'd developed breathing problems. The doctors advised a move to a drier climate. They'd tried Deming but after a while had decided on Lordsburg. Her eyes misted as she told me he'd passed away in January. She and her son were moving to Arizona. Clara Davis was her name.

And all that in a frying pan. If I'd found it in Goodwill I'd never have imagined. 

She said all her items were $0.25. I gave $1.00 and a hug. It was one of the rare times I wished I had more money. As it is, I have a gift I'll treasure for many years.

Now, shorn & once again iron-endowed, I resumed my trundle toward Douglas (Arizona) and the Borderlands meeting.

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