By Janice Dunnahoo
Special to the Daily Record
Sometimes it’s fun and refreshing to go back in time and read about the news, notes and politics of times past — the efforts others put into building up our town. It can be a welcome relief from the world we live in today. With that being said, I thought this week I would share with you an article taken from the Roswell Daily Record, from Jan. 22, 1908, 111 years ago.
“‘For A More Prosperous and United Roswell’
“The spirit which provided the gathering at the boosters banquet last night is the spirit that does things ‘For A More Prosperous and United Roswell.’ “One hundred leading citizens, businessmen, and members of the Commercial Club partook of a banquet at the Gilkeson Hotel, and out of the 18 persons assigned five-minute talks, 14 responded. Mayor Stockard was absent on account of illness.
“Charles C. Tannehill, as toastmaster, indulged in much airy persiflage and raillery of a lighter nature — but the whole thing might have proven stale, flat, and unpalatable as beer without foam, had the apt introductory speeches of Mr. Tannehill been omitted. He inspired others to their best efforts, and himself excelled all.
“The dinner itself was up to the usual standard of the Gilkison, which embraces all the degrees of excellence. The Norvill-Cross orchestra played while the dinner was being served, acquitting themselves with credit as usual. On account of the fact that the dining room was large enough to seat only one hundred guests, the Commercial Club committed on arrangements was compelled to limit the number of tickets sold to one hundred else there would have been even more boosters present. As it was, the dining room was crowded, but in spite of the narrowness of the alleys between tables, the waiters under the direction of Mr. Gilkeson performed their duties with skill and expedition.
“The atmosphere of cordiality, hopefulness, and general encouragement, may have been evanescent in a certain sense, but the Record believes that permanent results will ensue from the convictions and determination toward unity inspired by what some people are unmannerly enough to call ‘hot air.’
“There was much talk, it is true, but most of it was along the lines of practical progress; and the lighter element was immediately and directly helpful in promoting the ‘get together’ idea and wiping out of old scores. Altogether it will have an enduring effect upon the public spirit and enterprise of the whole community.
Toastmaster Tannehill introduced R.H. Kemp as the first speaker of the evening and proposed the toast, ‘For a More Prosperous and United Roswell,’ which was drunk in pure artesian water, the gift of the gods to those with industry enough to bore for and apply it to the Pecos Valley soil. Mr. Kemp talked prosperity from the word go. Later the record will print extensive summaries or extracts from the speeches of Mr. Kemp and others. But when we say that the band quit, or rather the ‘feast of reason,’ continued until 2 o’clock this morning, and that Editor lingered until another man carried off his hat, (at least the one left doesn’t fit,) that must serve as excuse for brevity in today’s report.
“Hon. G.A. Richardson was introduced as Roswell’s friend, an old-time booster, who, as Mr. Tannehill remarked, had been a booster from the time ‘Hoss’ Cummins was adopted by the LFD, and would continue to boost until Ed Calfee gets married. Mr. Richardson was received with great applause. The subject ‘Old Time Boosters’ gave him an opportunity to review early history of Roswell and the Pecos Valley. He closed with a toast to the late Captain Joseph C. Lea, the chief of boosters, the man whom the city of Roswell is more indebted than to any other person or corporation, as a leader in the days when it required courage to face the perils and hardships of the frontier. ‘To follow,’ said the speaker, ‘is to be but one of a million — to lead puts one in touch with God.’
“Mr. Richardson having run considerably over the five-minute limitation, the Toastmaster asked Secretary Graham to hold a stopwatch on the rest of the speakers. Count Martini Mancini was required to explain ‘Why He Stayed Away So Long.’ He stated first, that after being sixteen years away from Italy, he had to learn the language and customs of his country all over again, before he could really begin his visit. Then the real truth slipped out that his father desired him to settle down and marry a Latin maid, and there was such a procession of eligibles that he wasted much time deciding that he did not want any of them. Then, too, he had so many questions asked him about how many Indians he had killed, how often he had been scalped, how he had kept such a genteel appearance in the wilds of New Mexico. The count’s description of the joy with which he began to recognize familiar landmarks along the P.V. Railroad upon his return to Roswell, was one of the most eloquent flights in any speech of the evening.
The spirit of a prosperous and united Roswell story continues next week.
Janice Dunnahoo is chief archivist at the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives. She can be reached at 575-622-1176 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.