It was late spring 1963. School would be out for the summer in a couple of weeks and many students had probably mentally checked out for the rest of the school term. A group of young kids, friends who were probably feeling their independence growing, were wandering through the Mesilla Park neighborhood on this warm day when they discovered the ultimate temptation to do something daring and just a toe over the line of being “bad,”
It was a freshly poured concrete sidewalk on the southwest side of their school in Mesilla Park.
My guess is that they were all around 10-12 years old, maybe a little bit younger. Two sisters, whose last name was Ferguson, seized the opportunity to lavish adoration on the new British pop group, the Beatles.
“Beatles Forever,” they scrawled in the still wet concrete, probably while furtively looking over their shoulder to see if anyone was going to catch them. The date they left with their signatures was May 17, 1963.
At least two others participated in the “modification” of the sidewalk surface. One boldly announced that “Judy (heart drawing) Richard,” while another announces that “Joey loves Bufflo (sic).”
A walk around to the east side of the school leads to a sidewalk to the main entrance. The building, originally designed by famous Southwestern architect Henry C. Trost, has had several modifications and additions over the years. It is now the Frank O. Papen Community Center. During one of the modifications, an ADA required sloping walkway was constructed to the entrance. The original sidewalk had been signed by members of various graduating classes. When the sloped ramp was installed, signatures from classes of 1945 and 1936 were cut out of the original walkway and placed in the new ramp.
Of particular interest in the signatures of graduates of the class of 1936 were those of two children of the legendary Hunter “Preacher” Lewis. Lewis was the rector of St. James’ Episcopal Church who was known for baptizing any one who wanted to be baptized, raising funds for his churches by pressing for donations from patrons in local bars and starting mission churches up and down the Rio Grande valley from Truth of Consequences to La Union.
And just at the entrance to the school from the street, the class of 1939 signed two concrete and river rock benches.
Which led me to our own history in concrete in our back yard. On Aug. 31, 1990, our son and daughter scratched their initials in a newly poured concrete patio. I enjoy showing these to our grandchildren, who have probably never had the opportunity to scratch their names in something so permanent. Of particular amusement to my two grandsons from California is my son’s initials, followed by the words “I Bad.” Fortunately for all of us, he never fulfilled that bold pronouncement.
Which brings me to my final thought. How many of you readers have signed your names into concrete somewhere, to be preserved somewhere for many years? I can’t remember a specific place where I did it, but I know it happened somewhere in my past. So where can one find your signature?