Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tim & Elizabeth's Las Cruces Letter

Letter to Ed Whitfield (1914-1970) Circa 1940, Whitfield Transportation, Las Cruces

Dear Ed,

We see you frozen there in black and white

hands in pockets hat cocked forward shoulders back

striking a pose for the camera with all the confidence

of a movie star on a sparse set, patches of snow, the tiny house

you’ve left behind as you stepped out of the depression

into the driver’s seat of a three-quarter ton truck willing to haul

anything from blocks of ice to manure to Hal Cox’s cows for a fee.

That was the beginning. There you were—you

and your truck and the lines that stretch out

like spokes from the hub of Las Cruces

wheels all spinning from your conception

in the modest office beside the Amador Hotel that once

sheltered more than a few politicians with their pants down

on the main street that turned to dirt just past the neon Cork and Bottle

heading to Alamogordo. You were to come a long way—to Horatio

Alger a fleet of 900 semis, tankers, cement mixers—from that first bus

on the dirt road from town to A&M. How could you know deregulation

would bring independents running roughshod over your territory like

Billy the Kid? A modest man you wouldn’t stand to hear le jefe from your drivers

who showed the same solidarity when teamsters threatened. Now

your office is gone. Bank of America squats on the block. The terminal remains

as Whitfield Center next to the Community of Hope for those with none. El Paseo

is a generic sprawl of Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Mickey D’s, Burger King, where you can have it anyway but your way. Be happy with your dream there on the plain,

the snow shrinking around you. The picture you stepped out of now faded,

the world an empty frame. Be happy also we now sit atop the mesa overlooking

the valley where interstate runs along river, tiny trucks as steady

as the Rio Grande.

Elizabeth & Tim

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