Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Little Love for Barren Pretentiousness

December 13, 2017
   Sometimes, when I see photographs of the Southwest taken in the first half of the Twentieth Century it makes me happy all over.

Barren Pretensions in Albuquerque

   The lonely sign, the disinterested dog, the lone house in the mid-distance with no vegetation, or fence even, gives me a warm feeling for a time that is gone forever.

   So much of New Mexico and Arizona looked like this when I first saw it, or rather, when I was old enough to remember seeing it. I have a hunch the feelings this photo produces in me were planted at an even younger age. We traveled often between Kingman and Iowa for the better part of three decades and I saw many scenes like this. In fact, I'm sure we drove right by this sign, or, where this sign was, because it's on old Route 66.

   Of course, Nob Hill today is a Hipster address on East Central and looks a lot like Silver Lake, California, or Fourth Avenue in Tucson, or Mill Avenue in Tempe, or South Beaver in Flagstaff, or, well, you get the picture. There are still plenty of barren places in the West but as I totter into my seventh decade, I damn sure miss the ones that have been swallowed up by urbanization.

"The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there."
—Old Vaquero Saying


  1. Bob, are you doing a book signing for your Wild Bill book?

    1. Yes, at Cattle Track Arts Compound in Scottsdale on January 18, 6 to 9 P.M. going to be fun. Love to see you there.

  2. Every time I see a house mouldering back into the earth or a square of cottonwoods around a foundation, I wonder who lived there and how America has so many abandoned "ruins" of long ago prosperity. It's lonely, but again, it's the story of human wanderings.

  3. Anonymous5:26 PM

    Bob, I lived in Albuquerque in the mid-90's while programming a radio station. You're right, NOB HILL today is a trendy place to live in the "Duke City." I suspect the big sign was a real estate attempt to lure people to buy land and build a home there. Most of the "Heights" neighborhood of Albuquerque was barren high desert in the fifties still...Jim West.


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