An Interview With Drum Hadley

by Larry Goodell This originally appeared in THE MALPAIS REVIEW.

Drum Hadley on Drumm Street, San Francisco
photo by Emma Piper-Burket 2009

Drum Hadley brings all the best of American poetry into land-speak. There are no acanemic cubicles here, no lecture-poetry from a lectern under florescent lights. There’s the broad expanse of the West voiced, the particulars of nature and its demands, the human character of real working individuals, the intense humor and relaxing stories, the music of the voice of words at its best. Voice of the Borderlands is a grandiose cumulative achievement. It exists in 368 pages plus the entire composite of writing read by Drum Hadley on 12 CD’s – all from Rio Nuevo Publishers in Tucson, Arizona, 2005.

I asked Drum Hadley some questions via email and Holly Piper helped facilitate this exchange. Here are his answers, year 2010. Larry Goodell /Placitas, New Mexico

Larry: Robert Creeley wrote me about the Vancouver Poetry Conference of 1963 saying if Charles Olson alone was there it wd be worth going. Ginsberg, Duncan, Levertov, Whalen and other poets were there. And that’s where I met you & Diana. What prompted you to go and what was it like to you?

Drum: Keith Wilson had told us that there was a great wonderful get together of poets. Keith didn’t go to it, he was a functioning professor. He just told me to go. He said that it would be a wonderful opportunity to go and be with these new poetry people. It was very exciting to be part of . . . it was very ‘far out’ as they say. It was people who were very sincere at that time which was sort of a ‘ hippy time’.

Larry: Drum, what initiated your great love of the land?

Drum: My relationship with the land was irresistible, the land itself was stretching out all around me. It was a compelling being that I wanted to meet. I loved the land because it seemed to be the only thing that was sane to me. Whatever the land showed me, I thought was true.

Larry: What got you into ranch work?

Drum: Ranching was simply an extension of large, open spaces and interacting with them, again it felt true to me. It was a way to get to know the land better.

Larry: Did you write out there “on the job”?

Drum: I wrote on everything I could find to write on. I always tried to have something on which I could write – envelopes, napkins, scraps of paper. For awhile I had a tape recorder I carried with me and was able to record. Sometimes if you’re in the saddle and you want to write and you don’t have a pencil or pen you can write if you have to using a lead bullet and pieces of rawhide (chaps).

Larry: What prompted you to put your writing to heart? When did you first start saying your poems to others? At the time it was rare for poets to say their poems from memory, like Vachel Lindsey did . . . .

Drum: Heart is simply a term used to express the feeling that human beings have when they have a strong feeling. I felt so strongly. I thought that there might have been something of value. I was able to chart my feelings and writing was a way to do that. I wrote a story about Cynthia my donkey when I was 9. That was probably the first thing I shared with others.

Larry: I found your direct eye contact with the hearers very powerful.

Drum: I was giving them the poem. I told poems in the same way that I spoke to anyone else.

Larry: How did The Webbing get published? Donald Allen? (Four Seasons Foundation, San Francisco 1967.)

Drum: Donald Allen was a publisher – he was at the Vancouver Poetry Conference. He heard my poems and he asked me if he could publish my work. The poets liked what I was doing. That first book was The Webbing. I had been in the snow and in snow shoes and I thought of a webbing to be able to walk on the snow – that’s why I used the word “webbing.”

Larry: How did your friendship with Keith and Heloise Wilson come about?

Drum: They thought I needed some food so I ate some food with them on 3rd street I think it was. (In Tucson.) Keith was writing poems. We jibed together ‘cos we were both writing poems.

Larry: I remember visiting several times in Santa Fe. How was it living in Santa Fe? I know you had some notable visitors.

Drum: Santa Fe . . . It’s beautiful country. I loved the Pecos Wilderness. I shod a horse for someone in exchange for being able to ride the horse whenever I wanted. We would go to the Pecos Wilderness and explore. I got a job cowboying on the WS Ranch (now the Turner Ranch). I still sing the songs I learned from the vaqueros then. We had a number of poets come by to the house on Delgado Street – Gary (Snyder), Allen (Ginsberg), Keith (Wilson), Harold and Larry Littlebird . . . and we were talking about poetry. It was very much alive in that time . . . Lots of Poetry Readings around.

Larry: And there was that Southwest Poetry Conference that you and Jim Koller put together. How did that come about & how was it?

Drum: I was certainly part of it. I didn’t think I put it together. Larry and Harold Little bird were there reading their poetry and doing chants.

Larry: I’d sure like to know some specifics of your ranch. What did it look like. . . Where & how did it change over time. The running of it. The problems. The rewards. How did the kids like it? And where you stand with it now.

Drum: It’s beautiful . . . huge valleys stretching into eternity. I saw the beauty of the country and was very moved by it. There are cliffs and rocky bluffs, waters that had been developed so that cattle could drink and sustain themselves in the canyon systems, cottonwood trees and sycamores line the creek beds sometimes filled with water, more often dry. For about 50 years I have called the borderlands my home. My children were raised here and continue to have roots here. It has always been a wild and remote world but has been more so lately.

Larry: My friend Bruce Holsapple has a question for you: “Speaking of that relation between poetry and love of the land, are there poems that speak explicitly to that relation or is it the feel of your work overall?”

Drum: There is a poem from Voice of the Borderlands that exemplifies this (though there are others). (From memory . . .)

A Walk Down the Canyon

Because of one rock
Five cottonwood trees have come up
Because of three grass stems,
A sycamore tree has grown
Because of a rain high in the mountains
Two Cooper’s hawks raise their family of one
Because of you and I taking this walk together
Each of us is true
Earth and Sky along this dirt path
One white cloud drifting by.

(page 327 of Voice of the Borderlands)

Another piece . . . (not published), almost a chant . . .

A landscape to shape the heart of a people
A people to shape the life of the land.

(end of interview)

Some Poems from The Light Before Dawn by Drum Hadley

Drum Hadley has a new book of poetry due out from Chax Press in Tucson, The Light Before Dawn. Also, there will also be a piece Drum wrote on Edward Abbey in a journal called “Matter” by Wolverine Farm Press in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Here are a few excerpts from his new book. As Holly Piper says, they are “quite different than his other work (written when he thought his days were almost gone so that perspective flavored the work). They are more like koans, or frozen moments to meditate on . . . quite personal in an inner way. “

So then we are the movements
Of the mountain mists,
Set free among the mountains.

What I have Learned

I have learned to place the tea bag
Into the hot water in the morning
And to sit looking at the far hills
On the other side of the lake.

Drum Hadley

Dead Horse Poem

The last horse at Guadalupe:
All of the hoof prints,
All of the valleys,
All of the ways, all of the trails . . .
Her hoof prints in the sand,
All of the mountain ranges,
Even the tracks of the buzzards through the sky;
And the ant lions and the ant lion’s dens
Dappled shadows
Drawn in the dust.

Now we’ll sit here,
Through these storms and the leaves
In the blowing sunlight,
To wait for what will come.

Water falling
Away, away, away
And nothing more
but the sky
To dance with . . .

Drum Hadley

In Praise of Drum Hadley’s The Light Before Dawn, from Chax Press, 2010
James Northrup

A poet’s style is closer to being like a “voice” than any other writer’s. And Drum’s voice is stripped to the bare essentials, and mercifully so, since his subject matter lends itself to aminimalist approach. To paraphrase Pound, “a poem should be written at least as well as a short story”. And in Drum’s case, as with all great American poets, that means cutting the superfluous to get not just to the point, but the heart of the matter. Coming so soon after his magnum caliber reminiscences of a venturesome lifetime, Voice of the Borderlands, these intimate new works are surprising reminders of what this 21st century transcendentalist can do when he turns his mind inwards.

Drum’s is a uniquely American poetic voice – as developed by Whitman, perfected by Emily Dickinson – and taught to Drum by his mentor, Charles Olson, his friends and fellow pranksters, Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder. So it’s good to “read” Drum’s voice again – as he channels the great metaphysical like some back country Zen riddler. The key is that voice comes from the breath, the heart, the sentiment is unvarnished and unlimited by metrical constraints. That’s Olson’s heave of the trochee – blank English verse going back to Shakespeare – verse as if spoken on a stage or around a campfire. Verse meant to resonate a direct meaning when received. Not frenchified with iambic pentameter or overly academic in its approach or content. Not tricky – at least not overtly so.

In Borderlands, we have stories remembered as poems, picaresque vignettes and campfire tales rendered in the original voices – as faithfully and fully as by fellow cowman Will James. In The Light Before Dawn, we have the koans of a mortality faced as quietly and introspectively as Emily Dickinson. Hers:”I heard a fly buzz when I died”. The fly outlived the protagonist. But the poem, as information, is forever. Drum’s: “He knew who he was, And then he was gone”. The poem is a declaration that he knew who he was – which is a rare feat for any sentient being – and the poem, as information, is at the deepest level, immortal. Nice trick for an old cowman.

James Northrup

Thank you to James Northrup for this comment and thank you to Gary Brower, editor and publisher of MALPAIS REVIEW, for publishing this interview and poems by Drum Hadley.

Larry Goodell / Placitas, New Mexico / May 14, 2022 /

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Dessie McCarty, My Grandma, Tells of Her Journey to New Mexico from Kansas

Going to Sunday School – Dessie Goodell driving the Wagon, South Of Clayton, NM ca 1916

Interview with Dessie McCarty Goodell (1889-1971) in 1964

Her son Lawrence Goodell (Senior) was present at the beginning. Larry Goodell, her grandson, conducted and recorded the interview on a reel to reel recorder in 1964 and subsequently converted the interview to digital and a CD for the extended McCarty family. Larry’s transcribing the interview takes place in August 2021. Anything in parentheses are his comments. You hear Dessie’s rocking chair throughout the interview IF you listen to it. Hear it here at Bandcamp.

1 – About the Trip?

Lawrence: Are you going to put down about the trip coming in a wagon from Kansas?
Larry: I want to ask you about this.
Dessie: Oh I’m afraid I’ve forgotten so much of it. I came over a lot of the same ground, same road. I sure did.
Lawrence: I remember sleeping under that wagon seat, on that hay.
Larry: Did you have any streams to cross? That’s what Mamaw (Hattie Brown, Larry’s maternal grandmother) was talking about.
Dessie: Oh I was telling them (the Browns) when we were coming down that road how you sat in that front seat all the time and would not get back and I was counting on you to have a nap and you would not and every once in awhile you would wiggle and say “My bottom is tired.” But you didn’t [?] and say anything.
Lawrence: I can remember a lot about that trip although I was 4 years old. Is that right? Dessie: Yes.
Lawrence: And I can also remember the time we got the horses, can you remember that?
We picked up the horses somewhere in Oklahoma and . . .
Dessie: No, we picked them up in Great Bend, Kansas, and took them to Liberal.
Lawrence: I can remember how it snowed.
Dessie: And I can remember we hitched those horses in and spelled off our horses that were so tired because we were in mud ooo! just awful mud. Highways are a different proposition now, I tell you. The country looks different too, I’m sure.
Beautiful streams. So much water.
Larry: But it doesn’t look this way all the year around.
Dessie: No, the Spring is the nice time.
Lawrence: How long did it take us to make that trip.
Dessie: I think it was 28 to 30 days.
Lawrence: We didn’t hurry though did we?
Dessie: No, I don’t think so, we couldn’t have you know
Larry: Were there four of you?
Dessie: Four of us and two kids.
Larry: Who besides you and . . .
Dessie: Joe Goodell and his wife. He had a team of mules and we had a team of mares.
Larry: He’s the one you just saw wasn’t he.
Dessie: Unhuh. His wife cooked for 7 years in that hospital. She’s not the main cook but she tends to the diet and fixes the plates. 69 years old and she could retire but they’re afraid to on account of their circumstances and the prospect of a long sickness. He has had 3 or 4 strokes, but not bad ones.

2 – I Can Remember

Lawrence: I can remember when we lived in the wagons out on that little homestead and they built that house.
Larry: What homestead.
Lawrence: At Clayton.
Dessie: I can remember different towns where we had camped. We stayed all night in Meade, Kansas when we went through Meade. We stayed all night in Liberal.
Did I tell you we ate with Ernestine?
Lawrence: Yes. Was that a homestead, that piece of land that . . .
Dessie: It was a small . . . The ranchers in the early day had their men file in adjoining quarter sections around other places so that they could surround this place and make it undesirable for anybody to come across that land and they fenced the whole thing and they had what they called an “isolated acreage” within their fences. And this was an isolated 40 that belonged on a ranch to a ranch.
Lawrence: Was it just 40 acres?
Dessie: Just 40 acres was all it was.
Lawrence: But how did you find out about it?
Those people who were friends of ours who had moved there several years previous went to the land office. They were wanting us to come and they went to the land office and located this isolated 40 and wrote and told us about it. It was right on the highway in Clayton about 2 and a half miles South. So that was all we had to go to when we started out. We wanted to go to New Mexico and that was all we had to look forward to was getting that 40 acres. And the ranchman who told us the day we proved up on it he would give us 10 dollars a quarter acre for it. So, and, under the law, covering that kind of a deal, you could get it or, you could prove up in 14 months.
Lawrence: You would drill a well on it.
Dessie: No, we built a cistern and had the water hauled out from town. That is what we did and we rented some land from this rancher and put in row crops which consisted of broom corn, and feed crops which did real well.
Lawrence: How long did you live on it?
Dessie: 14 months and we proved up on it and he gave us the 10 dollars and in the meantime, you know, Papa had gone to work for Common[?] Lumber Company and then they transferred him to Grenville. (Just can’t make out company name)
Lawrence: What year was that?
Dessie: Well it was, I think it was 1916. Don’t you think that’s when it was?
Lawrence: I think that’s right.
Dessie: And I know that in 1918 we were in Grenville. I know that because that’s when the War started.
Larry: How far were you from downtown Clayton? Or was there a downtown.
Dessie: Oh less than 3 miles. We were right next to the highway.
Lawrence: There’s still a little cement thing there that was a chicken house wasn’t it? Or something, a barn?
Dessie. A chicken house and a cistern and the barn. Somebody moved the house away I presume.
Larry: Has Clayton grown or is it little tiny?
Dessie: Oh I don’t think it’s grown much larger than ?
Lawrence: I don’t know, probably about the same. Poppa had a motorcycle, didn’t he buy a motorcycle?
Dessie: Yeah he bought a motorcycle and rode it into work after he started working for Common Lumber Company. And I think he spent more time pushing it than he spent riding it because it didn’t work very well.
Larry. They had motorcycles in those days?
Dessie: Oh yeah, oh yeah.

3 – Dipping Snuff

And I can so well remember the ranchers hauling their broom corn and then they’d go past the house and one time some women the rim ran off of a wheel and they had to get somebody to come and fix it, then they came in the house and stayed and one of them looked around, went out and got a can sat by her chair she was dipping snuff. And that’s the first time I’d ever seen anyone dip snuff.
Larry. How big of a can?
Dessie: Oh just a little can.
Lawrence: I remember that when Papa was going back for the harvest in Kansas, a coyote came up to the chickens and you tried shooting the coyote with a gun. (Laughter) She was holding it like this. You got the gun out to shoot the coyote.
Dessie: I remember they ate the watermelons out of my garden, dug up the peanuts, we planted peanuts, they dug those up and ate them.
Lawrence: I remember one time, you know we had an outside toilet, and Virginia was going to the toilet and Uncle Joe said Hey Sis where are you going? And so she turned around like this, there was a tub of water sitting out there. She turned around like . . .
Dessie: Talking to Joe.
Lawrence: and fell in the tub of water.
Dessie: And you know that Joe, one of the things he told me.
Lawrence: It didn’t hurt her at all. She just backed into the tub of water.
Dessie: Joe sure did love her, my my.
Larry: I’ll bet he hasn’t seen her for a long time.
Dessie. He hasn’t.
Lawrence: It has been a long time.
Dessie: You know when she came up here the other day she said “I just think about and think about why I couldn’t have arranged to go with you. I would have given anything else in the world but I couldn’t possibly have taken just a week off.”
Larry: Doesn’t she get a vacation?
Dessie: Yes but she took one week of her vacation and cleaned house.
And so she didn’t have enough time left. I certainly would have been proud to have taken her with me.
(Lawrence leaves to go back to work)

4 – Grandma and I

Larry: Well I was wondering about when you moved from there to here.
Dessie: From the land down to . . .
Larry: Artesia?
Dessie: Oh. While we were still on the homestead . . . Grandpa went to work for the Common Lumber Company and then after the Depression, no, not the Depression it was before then. So many homesteaders were coming into the country and we did an enormous lumber business and they moved us to run a yard in Grenville which is between Clayton and DeMoines and they built a new yard. No, they had a man there in a small lumber yard who absconded and I had worked himself up to be a book keeper for the manager of this yard where he was working in Clayton. So after this man absconded they telegraphed and wanted to know if he would send him up there and take over this yard. And he went and after that, was about 1918 or 17, and the crops, dryland crops were wonderful and so many ranchers, or farmers, dryland farmers were improving their farms and there was an immense lumber business. We sold lumber, coal, cement, barbed wire, posts and a line of hardware, builder’s hardware. And I kept books and we were quite well paid and oh my we enjoyed it all. Lawrence and Virginia were big enough to go to school, but about that time along came Harry and I had to resign on that account and no longer kept the books. And he stayed there for I think into our eighth year in that place. And by that time why things were not so good and they closed the lumber yard. And we went to work for . . . no, before that
Larry: Who was they?
Dessie: The Common Lumber Company. But in the meantime Roberson [?] and Alber Company from Amarilla had built a yard there and we took over that. And then moved from there to Artesia for Roberson Alber in I think about 1925.
Larry: For the war years you were in . . .
Dessie: In Grenville and I remember in that little lumber yard one year at prices of course low prices, we did 100,000 dollars business which was a lot, but so much of it was building material, houses, and cement and the town boomed and Poppa and another man bought a tract of land off to the North, up to the Southwest part of town, opened up an addition, sold lots, and together made quite a little bit of money. And a few houses were build on these lots before times got hard and we left town. Then we went [?] Artesia in a lumber yard about 8 or 9 years before the depths of Depression. At that time we left and went back to Kansas and Colorado.
Larry: Oh I didn’t know you had gone back to Kansas.
Dessie: Yeah, we did, we went back to Kansas. The lumber yard was closed in that town.

5 – Beginning of Trip

Oh I might tell you about when we started to New Mexico we left from my father’s farm and ah we had the two wagons and what personal belongs we were bringing with us. And my father put in sacks of corn and even some bales of hay down underneath the seat, the wagon seat and Lawrence, the kids sat down on those bales of hay to rest, and when we started out I had the idea of writing a diary every day to send back home and I’d sit on that bale of hay by a lantern and write [?]entries in this diary. And then about every so far we stopped to pick up the mail. We had 3 or 4 places specified along the way where we would stop and ask for mail and then we would mail an installment of this back to
Larry: Back to your father . . .
Dessie: back to our folks and oh my! They just were so anxious to get it because they felt we were doing a rather courageous thing to start out on the highway you know and camp beside the road.
Larry: And where was the farm, Grandma?
Dessie: South between Clyde and Concordia in Cloud County.
Larry: Well why did you move to start out with?
Dessie: Why did we?
Larry: You got the land I mean . . .
Dessie: We had that land to come to and Harry and his brother Joe had owned a dray service, what we called, hauling for a lumber yard and oh they worked so hard, they would unload loads of coal and service down in people’s basements and unload lumber and stack it in that lumber yard and they worked awfully hard but they made pretty good money and they both were raised on a farm and I had been too and we all wanted back on a farm and we figured we never could own a farm in Kansas – land was too expensive so we thought we’ll just pioneer and we’ll just go to New Mexico where land is cheap and maybe sometime we’ll all get back on a farm which was our intention and while we were in this time in Grenville we did, while we were prosperous in selling those lots, we did buy a big farm. And made a down payment on it, but never were able to go ahead on the contract because times got hard and it just had to be lost what we put into it. It wasn’t any great amount. But it was really what we wanted to do.

6 – Storm of Great Bend

But as we were coming we got [?]in the spring I can’t remember I think it was March and when we got down to Great Bend Kansas we got into a snow storm and the most horrible rain, biggest rain and the roads were just bottomless – there weren’t any paved roads there weren’t even gravel roads and the horses would have to pull so hard and it was so cold and miserable that we found a place, a wagon yard to put the horses and a rooming house for us to stay and we must have stayed there for 4 or 5 days. And (laughs) I remember walking down the hall with the kids and there was a sign up there I suppose it said “This Way in Case of Fire” or whatever to do and one of the children, I never can remember which one, stopped and said “How many miles to where does that say, Mom?” We’d been reading road signs.
Larry: Well you had Virginia and
Dessie: And Lawrence, Virginia 3, Lawrence was born in 1912 so he was 4 and she was 3, that’s how old they were. But anyway while we, when we went to leave that wagon yard a man came in. He’d gotten acquainted with the boys and he had a team of horses that he wanted taken to Liberal, Kansas, to a man there, they belonged to this man, or he was just sending them to him I don’t know. He wanted to know if we would take these horses and deliver them to that man. Well, we were glad to do it because I’m sure they had eyes on spelling our horses with these, putting them in the harness part of the time, so we started out with bad roads and heavy traveling, so we would occasionally hitch one of these horses in to help out the mules and the mares. And we were delayed, we didn’t get down there as quick as we were expected to, so these people at Liberal had the word you know that we would be there a day or so late getting to Liberal because of the bad roads and they were a mile or so on the other side of Liberal watching for us. I know they were wondering if we were a bunch of horse thieves.
I can’t remember, I’m afraid I’m not a very good narrator.
And you want to remember how long has it been? It’s been nearly 50 years. Because that would be 18 from . . . 50 . . .

7 – The Wagon

I’ve got a picture somewhere of a wagon – we took the top, the cover part of the wagon off and sat down on the ground and we slept in there until well when we built the house there wasn’t room for all of us in the house – Joe and Mabel and the 2 kids slept in the house and we slept outside even in real cold weather in that wagon, what you call wagon jet, it’s set up far enough that we put a floor underneath it and then a canvas top over it and we slept out there. And we took the wagon and got the seats on it and went to Sunday School, a school house over about a couple miles, and we’ve got a picture of us and the kids and some neighbors all of us in that big ole wagon getting ready to go off to Sunday School. (Laughs) And then Joe, the big joker, he had a gun or two in the house, we thought we had to protect ourselves along the way, which we didn’t need – people got more friendly, the farther West we got the more friendly they were. They would come out and say “Well help yourself to the feed in the field here for your horses and after you’ve had your supper why come in and visit with us awhile.” Through Oklahoma and the Panhandle and down through Boise City everybody was so friendly.

And people began to try to sell us a place, where are you going and where would you like to locate. Well right here is the best place. They’d had a lot of rain around Boise City and they had some good dry land feed crops and they would ask if we would like to buy some land. And one day we came to a church in Boise City and there were clothes hanging out on the line – have I told you about that? – there was clothes hanging out on the line and one of the children said “Does somebody live in the Church?” And Joe, the big wag, said, “God lives there when He’s not out on a land deal.” (Laughs)
Larry: Well they take land and when they arrive and when others arrive they make a little money if they sold the land.
Dessie: Oh [?]. . It’s a dry land country which is the biggest gamble out of doors. [?]dry land.

8 – The Journal

Larry: The 20’s I guess that’s when you lost a lot of money.
Dessie: And the depression.
Larry: It didn’t seem too roaring to you.
Dessie: No it really wasn’t. I so well remember when the War broke out and so many people are going.

Larry: I guess they don’t have that diary, Grandma, do they?
Dessie: Well I’ve . . .
Larry: Have they traced it down?
Dessie: No, it was sent back to me and I’ve got a few sheets of it somewhere. It wasn’t as wonderful as they thought it was because they were so glad to hear from us and know how we were getting along.

But the very first stop we made the next county south of home we stopped to see at night if we could water our horses and the woman looked askance at us and turned around and asked her husband if it would be alright and we wondered if we were going to get to come in and water our horses and that was the first county South of where we’d lived all our lives. And then the farther west we got the more friendly and the more pleasant it was [?] we actually had a lot of [?]
Larry: Did you actually go back to Kansas first? Or what?
Dessie: We were in Kansas. (?) We never left here after we got here. And I didn’t even go back for a visit for 5 or 6 years.
Larry: Oh. Where did you go during the Depression? That’s what I was trying to . .
Dessie: We moved to Artesia from Clayton.
Larry: Well why there?
Dessie: Because the lumber company that we worked for closed their yard and moved us. Oil had been found in the Artesia area and they put in what they call a rig yard and sent us down there on the rig yard.
Larry: Well how did that work?
Dessie: Oh fine for awhile, just fine.
Larry: And then did they close that down?
Dessie: Let me think. I believe they sold to the Big Joe Lumber Company. I believe they sold it. And then we were out of a job.
Larry. Unhuh.
Dessie: And then we decided to go back to Kansas. That’s when we got in the restaurant business.
Larry. But you didn’t go back to Kansas

9 – Back to Kansas

Dessie: We did go back to Kansas.
Larry: Oh you did.
Dessie: And stayed there a couple years and the black blizzards came. That was the dirt storms. The very first of the dirt storms.
Larry. Was that back on your father’s . . .
Dessie: No, that was western Kansas. We never went back to that part of Kansas, that was western Kansas. And we went there because my mother had a brother who was running a restaurant in a hotel and she was sick and tired of it and we . . . well we were just sort of desperate for something to do or we never would have traveled. And we went back there and kept the same cook, a young woman, and then rented it, rented the place from them. And oh it was when things were so cheap. That must have been about 1937. And we took that over and from the time we started it we did better and better and . . .
Larry. Where was it, Grandma?
Dessie: Atwood. Atwood, Kansas, which is the second county from the northern tier and the second county from the western side of Kansas, a big wheat farming country, and they raised a big corn crop and wasn’t too good plains[?]. We specialized in Sunday dinners and we’d just begun having a crowd and we doubled that business within two months’ time, a nice place. All it needed was for someone to furnish good food. And then this woman who had promised us that we could have it indefinitely if we could make a go of it – she owned it – and she was the wife of my mother’s brother. Well she told us she wanted it back. (Laugh). She thought the Depression and all the hard times was over.
But we bought turkeys for turkey dinners for 10 cents a pound on foot. Just think about it. And eggs for practically nothing. Well then we went over to another town and rented a restaurant over there.

Larry. My dad was still in Artesia.
Dessie: Yes.
Larry. And had married and I’d been born.
Dessie. Yes.
Larry. My mother was in the hospital I guess.
Dessie. She went to the hospital I think while . . .
We went to this other town and started again and these horrible black blizzards came. It would darken, the earth would darken the sun. It would be dark at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The wheat fields just raised up and blew away. So that was when we . . .
Larry: Tremendous dust storm.
Dessie: Yes. And it went on and was driving people out [?] and we left there and went to Denver.

10 – Denver, Empire

Larry: Well, why? You started west.
Dessie: It was just too bad there. We decided that we might go back to New Mexico. And we went to Denver and looked around for a location and finally found this place in Empire which we built up, you know, and when we left there, we’d been there 15 years and we were the oldest persons in the food business in the county and I’m sure had the very best reputation.
Larry: What year did you get there, do you know? In Empire?
Dessie: Well let me see now, it must have been ‘32. Harry was in the 8th grade and he was born in 1920 so it was about 32. And stayed 15 years. And we enjoyed it after we began to do well and we made money. Saved money. In fact that’s the money I’m living on until the time I started doing what I’m doing now. And I haven’t touched one dime of that since for four years since I’ve started baby sitting and staying with Mrs. Reynolds [?]. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for, a LOT to be thankful for, taking care of Poppa for the ninth year when he died without any income at all, you know, except for what interest I got.
Larry: Well you worked awfully hard.
Dessie: Yes I did, Larry, I don’t see how I ever did it. I don’t. But, Larry, it didn’t hurt me. I’ve observed that of all the people I saw and I saw all the old folks, in fact, you know that old poem “If I should live to be the last leaf upon a tree, let them smile as I do” . . . no, “If I should live to be the last leaf upon the tree in the Spring, let them smile as I do now on the old forsaken bough where I cling . . .” and I told Leo (oldest McCarty sibling) we certainly are the last leaf because there are no more. There are so few. Everybody I’d asked about, well now he died, many of them much younger than I so I don’t figure that those days that I worked so hard hurt me very much.
Larry: Well you were the major cook. I mean you wrote checks.
Dessie: Yeah when I started I was doing it all and when I finished I had two helping me you know, one morning shift and one after shift but I was supervising them both so I was really working two shifts. Think of the wonderful friends we made.
Larry: How many pies did you bake a day, 15?
Dessie: Well, yes, on Sunday.
Larry: I recall that.
Dessie: We used 3 ovens and two of us worked on them. And we had to have them out by 8 so the roasts could go in, and the turkey.

A lot of pleasant memories. And made the most wonderful friends. And they still remember me.

11 – Concordia Reunion

Larry: Concordia, Kansas (recent visit)?.
Dessie: On this last visit of mine I arrived in Concordia on May the 29th and that night was the night of the high school alumni annual meeting for all graduates of the high school and their friends and since I had 5 brothers and sisters who had graduated from that high school I felt more than eligible to attend as one of their guests and I went hoping that I would see somebody that I knew. I saw a few and several spoke to me and talked to me because they remembered these younger brothers and sisters of mine who had graduated, each one of them having been elected president of his class when he had entered the highschool except the twins and they couldn’t have two presidents so the day they had the meeting to elect the class president they broke up because they couldn’t decide which one of them to make the president. The next day they had another meeting and made one of them president and the other vice-president so to keep up the tradition of the members of this family being the president of the freshmen class when they enrolled in highschool. I don’t know how long they continued to be but that’s the way they started. And I went and I had enrolled in that highschool, let’s see, 50 years, no, 60 years ago this same year I had enrolled in 1904 and would have been a member of the nineteen eight graduation class but I stayed on part of the year and we moved then to Concordia and I went to the highschool in Concordia. So I despaired of seeing anyone, almost anyone there that I knew and I finally decided that if I felt like it, if I felt good enough, strong enough to get out and do it, but I was tired, I would walk up to these people and I would say what is your name? I probably knew your grandfather (laugh). I really wanted to do it. But several came to talk to me that were friends of my younger brothers, and one man said, my brother introduced me to one man that I knew the family but didn’t know him and he said now this is my sister and she is from New Mexico he said “Oh my goodness I don’t see how you stand it. I got down as far as Tucumcari once and that’s all I could take.” (Laugh) And my sister-in-law was the next to the oldest one there and she graduated in nineteen six and then one woman was there who had graduated the year I had entered high school 60 years ago. There were a lot of them there and we had a very nice time.

12 – Graveyard and Homestead

And then furthermore I want to tell you this. The graveyard that we all visited on Decoration Day was a corner out of the homestead of my grandfather who came there and homesteaded after the Civil War under the law that allowed a Civil War veteran to apply the length of his service on the two years that it took to prove up the land, so he got his land without having lived there very long cause he had spent a full service, you know, in th Civil War. And then the school house where we had attended this reunion was on the exact side of the home where my mother was born and where the homestead stood, where the house stood, the homestead, that’s where the highschool was built. So that made it interesting.
Larry: What did you see in the graveyard?
Dessie: Well, graves of my grandmother’s parents, some of the oldest of the inheritance, graves of many many relatives, far more than . . . all, far more than, well there are none left but my immediate family, there are none.
Now that’s all I wanted to tell you about. The county was named by my Grandfather who was the first Representative in the Legislature after the County was organized and editor of the oldest newspaper, weekly newspaper in the county.
Larry: What was it called?
Dessie: It was called the Clyde Herald (laugh), what else, they were always the Herald or the Blade or the Clarion or the Enterprise.
Larry: Such as the Territorial Enterprise.
Dessie: Yeah. Those were the old days.


Any comments or suggestions:
larry goodell po box 571 placitas, nm 87043 (505)867-5877
The recording:
Related, from Lawrence Goodell years later:

The actual recording is here.

Related, from Lawrence Goodell years later:

one of the few extant pages of Dessie’s dairy she sent on the Journey

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“I Love You Truly Times” and Club Progressions

Notes for the video I put together from my poem and from old photos of a jazz musical I did in 1953 . . .

This ‘90’s poem evokes my ‘50’s time when I was intensely discovering and attempting to play and write jazz tunes. Our predominant small town music was pop ballads and western music. For this video I used existent photographs I have of the performance of Club Progressions, the musical I wrote and produced with many friends’ help on April 30, 1953 in my senior year at Roswell Senior High School. Richard Olson, teacher, took the photographs of the stage. I took most of the photographs of the combo and high school performers, band members, fellow students.

Our combo was Lyman Lea tenor sax, Sal Gonzales drums and me piano. Cast was Cornelia Magee, Jeannine Hooper and Louis Gonzales, principal singers, with Jeannine leading dance numbers. Oliver Owen and Bill Taylor were the romantic and character leads, respectively. Dancers were Jeddie McEvoy, Nene Ackerman and Jeanie Shomp. Club gatherers, who served as a chorus, were Floyd Hardimon, Priscilla Trout, Louis Gonzales. Carmelita Shultz, Don Dye, Ardith Jernigan, Jerry Yowell and Betty Boellner. Bruce Hood, who also effected the art work, was club waiter. Stage manager was Dorris Drew. Bennie Farmer and John Lankford stage crew. Many thanks and love from me to you now all almost 70 years after.

Larry Goodell, Placitas, New Mexico, July 5, 2021.

Cast and crew CLUB PROGRESSIONS, 1953, photo by Richard Olsen
Songs composed for Club Progressions
Cast & Crew Photographs by Richard Olson
Songs I Tried to play on the piano.

just tryin’ to get a gig
Eastern New Mexico Fair Parade 1952 photo by the poet

More photographs of early 50’s in Roswell are available and could be added here. Thank you for any comments, Larry Goodell 7/30/21

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Jaguar Seen In New Mexico

Children dressed as jaguars dancing directed by choreographer and dancer Lindsay Mayo in Santa Fe, 1998, as I read the intro and poem on the side of the stage!


Too many of us & not enough of them
Spotted cats endangered
from poaching
from our slashing & burning.
Recovery of
bald eagle
whooping crane
habitat protection
is supreme.
Too many of us & not enough of them.
Recovery is supreme.
Recovery of the earth and her ills healed.
Man, woman shrinking,
earth staying the same
blossoming into itself is my dream.
Habitat protection
is supreme
bald eagle
whooping crane —
the spotted cats endangered
because of poaching
slashing & burning.
Too many of us & not enough of them.
But man, woman shrinking our absurd population
earth staying the same
blossoming into itself
is supreme.
Oh glorious spotted cats!
Too many of us & not enough of them.

























larry goodell / placitas, new mexico / 15Dec97
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Hello Wayne

(self portrait from the Thunderbird Bar years)

poems from a few years having to do with old friend Wayne Jones (1939-2020)

by Larry Goodell

Evie and Wayne: Dawn and Evening Twenty-Five Years Marriage /7Apr1990

East creates west.
West keeps dropping off into the ocean.
West floats back to the East and becomes East.
East decides to go West.
East meets West.
West courts East.
To stay.
The arroyo is so nice after the rain, the tall cottonwoods
the rain splats, the mud.
And the West, howling at the sunset, so affectionate.
East meets West and all the other directions
come for dinner
over and over
the sun throws over the upside-down landscape of
the clinging stars the outlines of real people from real directions
revolving, staying, complaining, living, straying, teaching, groping with problems
groping with the changing anatomy of the Earth, the Earth coming up to meet them                                 again
and provide them home, married, to work, the East becomes the West
the West becomes diversity of the rhythms of change, the same damn thing
changed, transfigured, transmogrified into daily marriage to joy
marriage to change, over and over the age
over and over the age silvers the light in the arroyo, aurora it’s simply
dawn and evening
evening and dawn.


November 15, 2009
for Steve Spalding and for Wayne Jones birthday celebration in Placitas
reaching beyond 70

You have reached the vantage point where you can see all humanity.
George Bush is now in Rectum Alley. Chinch-mouth Cheney is in
daughter-pushing land, chipping off the old block.
There’s a little hope in the vista we can build upon —
as the multi-conglomerate maggots continue to gnaw away at our souls.
But we can triumph by spitting democracy right back in their capitalist faces.
Yes, an eternal note: all of us are created equal
and thus speech ascends into freedom.
Love pulverizes all with more love, like water dissolving,
air breathing, blood warming, plants digesting,
animals coming near to be fed. Life, the back bone of life.
The creative dance of seeing through the haze to a distant galaxy
              that before Hubble we thought was only part of us —
                                 Welcome Andromeda!
How we’ve expanded into ourselves!
In our lifetime our borders have been stretched out and back so much
that we can find humility. Not even a cog on a wheel, but a bump on the cog.
Not even a bump but a bit of a bump. Not even a bit but
a nano particle: human consciousness shrinks to where it’s at,
and the world seems bigger. Seeing things clearly in every birth of a day.
                             /from Foxhole Prayers in GROUNDED, duende press 2020


Have We Been Here?
                      We Have Been Here
/for Wayne Jones, at 80

Have we been here
we have been here
you and me and
many others
some came and left.
                    Some came with spangles on
left with mud on their boots.
Many came and left.
Remember the Vietnam War
remember the Vietnam Vets
as you are
                  who came here
                  lived here
remember marching down Central
young people, we were younger
some pregnant women
the business people looking at us
                as we walked
and when we danced danced
                in the bar
                to loud and louder bands
some quieter or just a country fiddler
or Ginsberg in a crowd
dancing, chanting, people doing
                uncommon things
the matching and uncoupling of people
the handmade day to day activities
embroidering blue work shirts
long dresses, belly dancing, marriages
love, remember love?
drumming, ignorant chanting
lighting stars on the forehead
out of mind ritual guided drugs

shouting in canyons, marriages
               by the creek or next to red rock canyons
                            rock groups from Taos Santa Fe
Albuquerque, thr0ngs for New Years
arts fairs, locally designed booths
              a casita almost a hermitage
renting houses or squatting
turning a place into a magnet for others
much to surprise and confusion and some
             elder dislike of residents –
so many could build unique dwellings –
             didn’t yours have a sloping floor?
a commune, hell, just living together
not me but I observed –
doing farming, what’s new from California,
             New York, beads leather
             diets changing
             sweats, food stamps
                       Tarot, I Ching, peyote
poetry readings, photography, art even
            on basement walls, volleyball, most of all
            the music, live music groups
fire station concerts        4th of July
                      local real dancers
dancing, we got hitched up
had our own spring-fed swimming pool –
we did all kinds of things, handmade stuff
            up from the ground –
and everything turned over into the commerce
           of growth and we weathered, stayed
or some of us,
many were here anyway,
we were all new and yet long time here
as time robs of youth, the spirit stays
stays on year after year

festival after festival, dance after dance
plan after plan, job to job, place
                            to place within a place, this place
                of little places, we come and we go
in a village, and some died many died
and we’re living now families of families
changing growing up generations generating
and children from tiny to teen to adult
as different unwanted unneeded wars
come and go and we’re stuck here
with the gangster wealthy gone mad
as we weather another political storm
with still our integral spirit
singing the song of the Earth the Fathering Sun
the urgency of the local informed by
                               the local
it presses on to celebration do you hear
that music which is this music
the heart beat of memory in this circle of
                love and cooperation to get things done
the theater we had is the theater
                                    we are.
Have we been here we have been here
           you and me and many others
some came and left
many came and left, many stayed
           and here we are
we have been here and
           here we are.                                   /2019 11 26 from COMMONS, duende press 2020

                                            “If music be the food of love, play on;
                                             give me excess of it . . .”
                                                                   – William Shakespeare in Twelfth Night

Note: the header for this blog is from a photograph by Wayne. Many photographs by Wayne are in this album on Facebook of Thunderbird Bar pictures and comments. 

love to all, continuing, and to Wayne’s family and loved ones and friends . . . from Larry

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In a Small Town in New Mexico

Unknown singers, parsers of the present laying down words not to befuddle, but to clarify. We heard you, there, young, read by a friend in a small town where everyone gathered was interested. The words, phrases, cadences came like water from a spring brook, read by our old friend as you were there among us. The caught up surprises, the reading new meanings, concordances, a weaving for sure that must have fell from your mouth. Perhaps you were too young and unsure to read it out but our friend let it flow, just the conveyor of your words, as the transcendent levels spread out one after another, as something of nature one can experience in the fullest. When he finished, there was applause from all and congratulations even though a small town, with everyone present just who they are. That your father was such a well known poet we all knew, as something we studied, never quite being lifted off the ground, in fact, dulled as if read in a class by assignment.

I told you you’ve given us fresh thought, the power of youth inspired by your gift of natural flow and layers of freshness like deep breathing as clear as any new dawn to come. I left the group as we all felt he had regained us and pulled into new territories away from our stagnation.

Oh I hope he doesn’t touch a word, oh please don’t tamper with, ruin what is inspired. Thank you, I’m thinking here, roused from my dream, very early morning December 13th, 2020.

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Meredith Rice – A Child’s Alphabet – 1969

Meredith Rice was a painter and visionary, a friend since at least 1967. She lived from 1945 to 2012. See some of her work at 3 Dimensional Poetry. The painting there from her series during her struggles through cancer is illuminating. This beautiful hand written, drawn, assembled booklet, A Child’s Alphabet, Meredith did for the birth of our son Joel who was born in November of 1969. She sent the booklet through the mail to us General Delivery.

Presenting all I can in memory of Meredith Rice. An enlightening talent to us, to so many, as the pursuit to prevent cancer from taking more lives continues. Larry Goodell, Placitas, New Mexico Thank you, Meredith.

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Watercolor – Multi-American Series – November 2019

original, 2 sheets
variation using computer
variation using computer

Watercolor after a long time. I stopped these and painted sticks long before the show at Very Special Arts on North Fourth Street – where I did readings and showed some of the sticks (painted property markers) along with Jane Sprague works, Jim Burbank works, and Lenore Goodell works . . . an accumulative surprise. I may do more watercolors. 2 sheets side by side.

larry goodell / 7november2019 / placitas, new mexico / usa

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Dutchman in New Mexico

sue ann 3

Sue Ann Carpenter writes about her acting in Amiri Baraka’s The Dutchman in New Mexico:  “did this at old town studio in 1970 – directed by geno silva classmate of mine at unm  – it was a cool play – great dialogue – we were on stage about one hour just the two of us one act – then we were picked up to take it to don juan playhouse in pojoaque & los alamos.

sue ann 2 original

“nick abdalla sculpture and friend from Albuquerque took photos..

“ron givens was an actor in Albuquerque  – he was excellent – I think the closed in performance in the small old town theatre was more effective – geno directed it where the audience was in the play – the whole theater was set up like a subway train with visual effects and sounds – ron and i were on the front seat facing the audience – only chairs were the setting – it was very effective – it ran a few weeks

“when nat simmons came to do it in los Alamos it was set outside in the amphitheatre – the play lost a lot of the ambiance – it was good but better inside – i was flattered when steve asked ron and me to perform a portion of it for his class – he was such a great addition to the unm staff anyway.  .   . ” Sue Ann Carpenter

newspaper sue ann

“Dutchman is a play written by African-American playwright Amiri Baraka, then known as Leroi Jones. Dutchman was first presented at the Cherry Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village, New York City, on March 1964.” (Wikipedia)

Sue Ann Carpenter lives in Roswell, New Mexico. Thank you for this.
/larry goodell / placitas, new mexico



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In Good Hands – Election Poem 2018

(Hear this poem read here.)

It’ll get out of hand if you hand it over to a cruel hand.
They’re waiting in the shadows to dust your future with disaster.
And then you cough and come down with lung rot.
Or simply die untended with cancer or simply die unattended with cancer.
Healthcare is a right and not a privilege of the privileged
who have no interest in your rights and would assume you have none.
For isn’t it a club as they try to get to the club of the club of the clubs
and more of them make it while the earth of everyone what we used to call the masses
are their debris for their wealth must be strangled out of something
mainly you and me, the cocksie Koch’s are cockless about what’s going on
their think tanks can be run by only so many people – they forget the bees
yes the busy bees of persistence, dedication perseverance passion
insistence millions of little bees the whole alphabet of resistance
for what is right, common sense, commonality, non-party insistence on the good
the eruption of care, yes care for others, not do as thou wilt
but do unto others what you would have them do unto you
or have you forgotten, you stupid you, with all your brains narrowed into conniving
you forget the bees, we bees work together and we butterflies, you forget the butterflies
we’re in flocks and we can move great distances as well as be beautiful at home
you forget the wolves, hey we’re growing in numbers
and we’re good predators for preserving the balance of nature
and you idiot buffoons in your gold-plated pantaloons
forget all the migrating birds, we move openly and mysteriously
great distances following the patterns of nature
have you heard of the patterns of nature, have you even heard of Nature
I didn’t say despoiling I didn’t say poisoning, corrupting, dominating
destroying raping exhausting, misusing, fraking and generally fucking everything up
I said patterns of Nature, Nature undominated but cooperated with
as the Earth itself presents solutions – Nature, Mother Nature, Father Sun
the Moon Magician and the Universe of Stars Galaxies of Higher Powers
cockeyed cockamania corporations of calculated accumulation
massive power of the few, you few are few – watch out for the ants
the ants working everywhere millions and millions, ants here
ants there, ants everywhere crawling up your legs to bite
your you know what and you can’t stop us we’re at the
polls we’re in the voting polls, we’re better known as the populace –
we’re everything you’ve ever not wanted to happen
and sooner or later your manipulating the vote gets overwhelmed with
the rush and flood and tsunami of the popular, who really won the last election?
We more than exist – we sing, we create, we make scientific discoveries
we do business with everybody we’re every color of the rainbow and then some
we’re into the commons and we demand that the billions going into the military be accounted for, heard of public accounting?
Not for greed & war, but for good
and the millions going into our common needs be encouraged in schools, government, roads bridges internet education – and fun
till the commons is again common, and common sense prevails
teachers scientists artists respected
living wage workers’ unions listened to, co-ops building, private business flourishing, green and all color industries prospering
sane laws kicking out assault weapons, national buy back of guns
cutting violence and boosting mental care, law-abiding hunters
and fishers and conservationists valued, women’s voices heard and
believed and the addictions to hate & drugs turning into addictions
of compassionate love, we bees we butterflies we birds we wolves
we ants, we native plants, we cooperative humans flowering,
we sunflowers along every road in America, backyards and fields,
not only are we along the roads, we’re in the roads, driving and walking colorful attending, we the engaged populace standing up everywhere
turning away lies and celebrating truth
open minds bound to free speech, and separation of church & state,
every woman and man born equal under law & love
peace of mind and health of mind & body joining hands
joining hands with civility, a new name in our honor – we might as well sing let
freedom ring.

I voted today (2018_10_22 21_38_51 UTC)

Larry Goodell / Placitas, New Mexico / October 29, 2018

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