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A traveler’s positive outlook

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Growing up in California, Jim Crowl moved to the Pacific Northwest after graduating from San Diego University.

Roswell’s Jim Crowl, an avid traveler, is seen here on a beach in Aruba. He has visited 45 countries and all 50 states. (Submitted Photo)

The desire to travel had become a staple in his life at a young age, and eventually brought him to Roswell after his retirement. Here, Crowl has volunteered with organizations ranging from The Salvation Army to the Sunrise Optimist Club.

His stories are memorable — and his tale began in the realm of newspapers.

“For 40-plus years, I was a newspaper circulation director at several family-owned papers. It entailed wearing many hats, but what I enjoyed most was working with the young people who made up the majority of our delivery force. I was able to mentor the kids, and I can’t tell you how pleased I am that some of my former carriers from decades ago still keep in contact.”

Crowl spoke about how much times have changed.

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“When I first started working at a newspaper, there were no computers — linotype machines and hot lead was still common,” he said. “I would type flyers on a manual typewriter and run them off on a hand-crank mimeograph machine. There were no 24-hour news stations, so the newspaper was the main source of information. We would all work late on election night, as customers would call in for the latest results. We would receive continuous updates on our teletype machine from both our own newsroom and The Associated Press. I’ll never forget going to a conference and looking at software for the first time, designed by a kid who worked for me when he was in high school.

“It was the 70s and the owner of the newspaper asked if I knew of any reason why the newspaper would need computers,” Crowl said.

“A couple years later, computers arrived throughout the building.”

His path moved in a new direction when he retired.

“One of my goals was to decide where I wanted to live for the rest of my life,” Crowl said. “Roswell was a city I enjoyed being in. I found the people friendly, the cost of living quite reasonable and the weather to my liking. After years of pulling motor route carriers out of snowdrifts in blizzards, I was determined to live somewhere where snow and cold weather in the winter was the exception rather than the rule.

“Roswell was also where I found a good church home as a member of First Baptist Church. When I moved into a 110-year-old house that I had remodeled in the Historic District, I absolutely knew that this great town would be my permanent home,” he said.

Upon settling, his volunteer efforts expanded.

“In Roswell I have been active with the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico as a volunteer archivist, assisting people with their research while also indexing a couple of centuries of this area’s history onto the computer system,” he said.

Crowl thanks his sixth grade teacher for his fascination with history.

“In school, I would often visit the local newspaper and read about the past that was kept in bound volumes,” he said. “Nowadays, I’ll often go through a town and find myself speculating on what a historic building may have originally housed.”

That type of research is a true adventure for Crowl, and has led him to travel the globe.

“I have been fortunate to visit 45 countries and all 50 states,” he said. “People often ask me what my favorite country is, and I simply cannot narrow it down. I enjoy hiking, making Switzerland my favorite for scenic hikes. I enjoy beaches and Tahiti offered me the best, where I could look at endless varieties of tropical fish without the need for snorkeling gear. When it comes to America, there are dozens of historic sites that have enthralled me, from Civil War battlefields to homes of presidents.”

He has many exploration plans for the future.

“I would love to explore Europe in greater depth, and hopefully explore the Amazon at some point,” Crowl said.

As it has for everyone, the pandemic caused him challenges when it came to his love of travel. In early March, before COVID-19 became a worldwide issue, a trip to Brazil added another “chapter” to Crowl’s life journey.

“Our cruise ship had visited several ports in Brazil. Stopping to allow additional passengers on board, we slowly headed across the Atlantic,” he said. “While en route, the European ports were all closed. Our ship was allowed to dock in Lisbon, where we all had health assessments and people were allowed to leave the ship over several days. The group before us, however, was turned around by airport security. The council general from the U.S. Embassy was in constant contact with me since our arrival in Portugal, and he ended up diverting a diplomatic flight from Africa to refuel in Lisbon, pick the American passengers up, and take us to D.C. He told me that he had arranged for a police escort so we wouldn’t have any trouble at the airport, which I thought meant an officer on a motorcycle. It turned out to be 28 officers in cars and on motorcycles from several agencies escorting our van and the embassy car. Considering my fellow travelers and I were just ‘normal’ citizens, this was a moment in time I’ll never forget.”

When talking about the pandemic, it comes as no surprise this traveler maintains a positive outlook.

“I’m thankful that I am healthy,” Crowl said. “I also appreciate my past freedom and travels that I perhaps, back then, took for granted. As things get back to normal, and I believe they will, we need to be supporting our small businesses. After all, the Christmas season truly determines a merchant’s financial survival.”

His thoughts turn to Roswell’s youth, as well.

“The thing I hate to see disappear is in-person education,” he said. “While we are fortunate to have the resources to stream classes to students, it’s not the same as being in actual school. Our kids will always need the support that we can offer as a community and as individuals.”