Pictured is the “Roswell Juvenile Band” who played at the First Thursday-Half Day picnic on June 1921. The Chamber of Commerce sponsored this band in return for them to play at 26 concerts throughout the season at dates specified by the Chamber of Commerce. No musician was over 16 years old and their “repertoire was exceptional.” (Photo courtesy of the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico)
Above: Pictured is the Country Club lake, busy with swimmers of all ages during the First Thursday-Half Day picnic on June 1921. There was also other fun events, including potato races, egg races, jumping contests, dashes and wheelbarrow races. (Photo courtesy of the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico)
Below: Pictured is the cover of “The Roswell Way” monthly publication. (Photo courtesy of the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico)
The Roswell Chamber of Commerce of old, used a slogan called “The Roswell Way” to describe life in Roswell and to entice people and attract businesses to this area.
In addition to postcards and flyers, they had a publication of the same name, which was printed monthly. It described activities, businesses, health benefits, agriculture and life in general as being fulfilling and showing how Roswell is a pleasant place to live.
Following is one such article taken from “The Roswell Way” monthly newsletter, dated June 15, 1921 with the headline, “Business houses have big afternoon for employees and their families on ‘First Thursday-Half Holiday’ –– the Genuine Spirit of ‘Roswell Way’ is Manifested.
Perhaps we could learn something?
The Roswell Way was demonstrated in an interesting way on the first Thursday afternoon in June. It was the first weekly half holiday for the business houses –– a custom which has been in practice for the past few years of closing the business houses each Thursday afternoon during June, July, and August.
The merchants division of the Chamber of Commerce conceived of the idea of having a big picnic for their employees and their families. It was known as the Roswell Way picnic. The Roswell Way spirit was there!
Something like 800 people enjoyed the afternoon at Roswell’s beautiful country club. The directors of that institution made a very special exception to the rule and threw open the ground to the merchants and their employees regardless of membership. Within 15 minutes after the fun started, it was impossible to tell employer from employee, employer’s wife from employee’s wife. It was one big family out for a good time and that they had.
The Country Club lake was literally full of swimmers –– boys, girls, men, women. Every boat was in use constantly.
All along the line you could see the Roswell Way sticking out.
In the beginning J. P. Childress named committees to look after the details. The transportation committee of which Homer H. Rhodes was chairman, made an estimate of the number of people to be there and provided transportation for those who did not have a way.
A refreshment committee consisting of George Fletcher, D. H. McCord and Ed Amonett took care of that end of the work. An entertainment committee consisting of a J. Williams, George Foreman and C. M. Einhart arranged a splendid program of contests for old and young which occupied the whole afternoon.
Ben B. Ginsburg looked after the music.
The transportation committee got into action first and had the crowd out there by 3 o’clock without any confusion, any disappointment, or any friction. They also brought them back at night.
The entertainment committee took charge of the crowd immediately upon their arrival and had something going on every minute.
First was the swimming contest for boys, then one for men, a boat race for men, one for boys, one for girls.
There were potato races, egg races, jumping contests, dashes, wheelbarrow races and even the greased pole was there. The merchants gave valuable merchandise prizes in these events, running all the way from two dollars in trade, to lockets, pans, electric irons, percolators, broom, perfume, candy, saving banks, cigars, pipes and other things that men, women, and children liked to receive.
There was a load of fun for everybody in these events.
Along came the juvenile band and they started their snappy music. Gradually the band drew the crowd to the grove south of the lake. That is, it was gradual for a few minutes then it was a rush.
For there was an ample supply of good barbecued meat, bread, pickles and coffee –– just what you would expect at an affair of this kind.
Then there was a real surprise.
In addition to the other things, there was good salad and cakes galore. These were contributed to the picnic by the wives of the merchants, thus adding another family touch to this big family picnic.
An open air movie had been arranged for the evening and everything was set. Then came one of the rare, blustery New Mexico summer evenings. A thunderstorm threatened and the evening’s program was called off, but it had been a big day.
It wasn’t the mere enjoyment of the people that had counted. It was the spirit behind the affair. It was a spirit of “Let’s all go out for a big afternoon together and have a good time!”
That they did.
Janice Dunnahoo is an archive volunteer at the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives. She can be reached at 575-622-1176 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.