Home News Vision Historically Speaking: Memories of Tinnie Mercantile, part II

Historically Speaking: Memories of Tinnie Mercantile, part II

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Photo Courtesy of the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives Tinnie Mercantile Co. in Tinnie, Silver Dollar Restaurant — date unknown.

By Janice Dunnahoo

Special to the Daily

Record

Today, we continue the story about Tinnie Mercantile’s history with the article by John L. Sinclair. The first part of the story was published Dec. 15. The article was first published in the 1984 edition of New Mexico Magazine about his reminisces of the Raymond store — shared with permission of New Mexico Magazine editor Kate Nelson.

“Fifty years gone and in such a hurry. Lingering in memory is the smell of earth off irrigated fields, the orchards, even the manure carpeted corrals. And the timing of Cottonwood and flowering shrubs. Always in stride came the nip of winter. It was easy to keep warm when every household was armed with a sharp axe, when a large 34 inch, cast iron heating stove could be bought for $14.65, and a cord of mixed pinon and juniper firewood cost $2.00.

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“But now, most of all, I feel in my revisit the hot, bright days of summer. Damp air off irrigated alfalfa cut through the sunshine, trails to the Raymond store followed beside full-flowing or muddy ditches, each leading the way to the simple pleasure of picking up my mail or making an always-small purchase.

“In his memoirs, John Sinclair spoke of visiting the Raymond store.

“‘I would hitch the pony to a small tree at the store entrance, secure with a neat twist of the bridle reins. Oney Raymond could be in the post office cage or tending the counters. And maybe Virginia would offer a greeting. This youngest of the daughters was pretty and sensible, with a happy nature, and she gave generously of the best sense of humor in Lincoln County. If there was anything for me in the general delivery, at least I could trust one certainty — no junk, no bills or statements; and as I never associated with creditors, no threats.

“‘Feeling in my pocket to make sure it contained a spoon and can opener, I commenced selecting items of purchase: a sack of Bull Durham tobacco to decorate my shirt pocket with its tag, and perhaps a thin pack of extra wheat straw cigarette papers, book of matches free on the house. Then a small can of tomatoes, a smaller one of green chili, soda crackers, and maybe two for a penny cookies — a total investment of maybe 30 cents in gourmet dining. And if I could cage a pinch of salt from the store, I put it in my shirt pocket under the Bull Durham.

“‘My, what a delectable lunch was in prospect! To hunker down by a babbling irrigation ditch in the shade of a cottonwood tree, too munch the crackers and devour half a can of juicy tomatoes, at which point the chili would be opened to mix the green with the red. The pinch of salt from under the Bull Durham sack would be a tasty bouquet for the lusciousness in the can; then the cookies, a smoke, a half hour’s nap — and all the while my pony would munch on clumps of his own grassy fare.

“‘Little did we realize then, 54 years ago, that very room of counters and cases and grocery stocked shelves would a half century later become the gloriously elegant Silver Dollar Restaurant, housed, by the grace of the Lincoln County heritage trust, and the old frontier outpost once called the Raymond store.

“‘I would welcome the chance to revisit the old Raymond’s store but should I, I would find the surrounding valley and the settlement itself so changed from rustic simplicity that maybe only the hills to the South would be warmly familiar.

“‘The old graveled Road, they tell me now, is the broad truck highway between Lubbock, Amarillo, Plainview, and Ruidoso downs, via Roswell. The spreading cottonwood tree to which I hitched my pony, I feel sure has long since been chopped down, and the trail I follow through the irrigated fields has been plowed over. Gone, too, are the wagons and the ponies and the tin lizzies along with the kind of folk who rode them. Only the aged structure of the old Raymond store remains.

“‘I can see it all the way it was, a truly wonderful place to revisit as it used to be, clear up on my memories.’

There is a small cemetery behind Tinnie Mercantile where one William Wilson, who was twice hung for the murder of Robert Casey, is buried, among others.

Stories of supposed hangings that happened at Analla:

“Outlaws and murders are buried on the teeny property down by the river at the tree line in a small cemetery. Their unmarked graves are still present as well as the grave of William Wilson and young boy belonging to the Analla family. The hanging tree remains, But the branch that was used has been cut off.

“Analla was used as a hiding ground for the likes of Billy the Kid as well as the other Regulators. They would hide out in the firewood shed in the back of the property.

“Bodies were also housed here from time to time in the temporary morgue in the basement of Tinnie, until they could be moved to their proper resting place. There are even stairs that were later built beside the morgue that lead to nowhere to ‘confuse’ the spirits.

“There have been reports of loud banging as if someone has been trying to bust down a door in the basement; always around the 11:30 p.m. hour. “Others have claimed that they had the feeling of someone grabbing their hand on the side porch.

“In 1959, Robert O. Anderson purchased the mercantile. He preserved the old country store. A porch was added that surrounds the main building, as well as a pavilion and tower. The white painted building stands handsome against a background of green trees and grass as the land tumbled down to the Rio Hondo.

“Many antiques were preserved. Two antique bars were moved into the building. Other furnishings were salvaged from old churches.

“Some items were gathered from as far away as San Francisco by John Meigs, a San Patricio artist. He was commissioned by Anderson to make the mercantile a show place. The Tinnie Mercantile became the Tinnie Mercantile Silver Dollar Bar and Steak House, an outstanding eating establishment in the 1960s.

“Though it has changed owners a few times since Mr. Anderson owned it, it still has the ambiance and unique style and feel, known only to Tinnie.”

Janice Dunnahoo is chief archivist at the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives. She can be reached at 575-622-1176 or at jdunna@hotmail.com.