Enchanting Stories of New Mexico - Episode 12 - Smokey Bear, Astronauts, and Lonesome Dave

Welcome to the Fresh Chile Company Podcast - Enchanting Stories of New Mexico. Tune in to listen to all things New Mexico Chile, and other enchanting facts about New Mexico.
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Episode 12 - Smokey Bear, Astronauts, and Lonesome Dave

Michael Swickard here. Welcome to Enchanting Stories of New Mexico sponsored by the Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, N M. Our award-winning Hatch Green and Red Chile is brought to you from locally owned farms in Hatch, NM, The Chile Capital of the World.

First, before I do anything else, I have some very good news. Some of the 2023 growing season Chile Peppers in the Hatch Chile fields are being picked, therefore, the roasting drums that have been silent since last fall are being fired up. Get ready for that wonderful sound and smell, roasting Hatch Green Chile. It takes lots of skill and expertise to pick the Green Chile at just the right stage of growth and an equal amount of skill and expertise to roast it. In the fire-roasting process, it takes a very hot flame. The outside waxy layer of the Chile Pepper is quickly scorched to a char in a couple minutes, allowing removal of the waxy skin without damaging the inside Chile meat. Fire-roasting gives the Chile a wonderful smokey flavor.

Quote: Never ask a barber if you need a haircut and never let your dog guard your lunch.

Every day is someone’s birthday and I want to congratulate Jack Schmitt who was born in space. Yes, born in space. There are many people in Southern New Mexico besides former astronaut and U. S. Senator, Harrison, “Jack” Schmitt born in space. We will get back to Jack in a moment, but he and many others were born Santa Rita, New Mexico a fifteen miles east of Silver City. Where they were born was a hospital that the Kennecott Copper Corporation, owner of the open pit mine and the town of Santa Rita realized had lots of copper underneath it. Can you see it? So the hospital and the town was erased by mining operation that if you drive by right now means pointing up in the sky above the bottom of the mining pit was where it all was until excavation. People point and say I was born in that space. Partly personal: my mother lived there and graduated high school in Silver City in 1942. My grandfather, Eugene McKim drove the steam locomotives, the Bingham & Garfield camel-back 0880 locomotive using superheated steam to haul the copper ore.

So, when someone says I’m a New Mexican and I was born in space you now can understand.

Back to Astronaut Jack Schmitt, born July 3, 1935, in Santa Rita, in space so to speak. He was the only non-military astronaut and was a geologist which came in handy on the Moon when he recognized a rock sample that has been said to be the most interesting sample returned from the Moon. It is evidence that our Moon once had an active magnetic field which to scientists was quite interesting. He walked on the Moon in December 1972. He can on a clear night look up at the moon and mentally point to the spot where he landed. After NASA, he ran for the U. S. Senate and beat Joseph Montoya who had served twelve years. However, Jack was beaten in the next election six year later by Jeff Bingaman who was born in El Paso but grew up in Silver City, New Mexico. Two from Silver City in a battle for the U. S. Senate. So if you see him, wish Jack Schmitt a happy birthday and ask him about being born in space.

This is Enchanting Stories of New Mexico sponsored by the Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, N M. Hit subscribe to automatically get these. Thanks for turning in. We have more.

Fishing is good in New Mexico and certainly at Elephant Butte Lake. I was speaking to someone who fishes often there, and he said the extra heat makes being on the water even more pleasant to be out on the lake. Know this: there is an entry fee required and a fishing license is not required for 11-year-olds and younger. You can get a license online at the New Mexico Game and Fish website. 70 years of age or older your fishing license is free.

Here is a quote about Ranching from a surprising person. She said: Well, it’s a little odd, the path I took, because when I was young, I wanted to be a cattle rancher. That was what I knew and that was what I liked. Sandra Day O'Connor President Ronald Reagan who at that time had a ranch near Santa Barbara, California nominated her to the United States Supreme Court. The first woman on the court who at one time was thinking of being a cattle rancher. There is more since we like agriculture. Sandra Day was born in El Paso, daughter of a rancher and she grew up on very large cattle ranch near Duncan, Arizona. It was nine miles to the nearest paved and the family did not have running water or electricity until she was seven years old. She at times lived with her grandmother in El Paso and attended a School for Girls. In eighth grade she was back at the ranch and rode a school bus 32 miles to school over mostly dirt roads. That was 64 total miles each day. Made for a long day. She graduated from Austin High School in El Paso in 1946 and went to Stanford University where she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s in economics and got a law degree two years later. Should have been a ranch I guess would be a song she could sing though she did good with her law degree.

Michael Swickard here with Enchanting Stories of New Mexico. I was talking to someone about the New Mexico to Hollywood Film connection. When I mentioned the first New Mexico governor to really work the “Let’s make films in New Mexico angle was fifty some years ago. Most people do not realize it was New Mexico Governor Dave Cargo, a two-term republican serving two two-year terms and then was term limited. After being elected in a close election in 1966, he established the State Film Commission bringing lots of dollars and attention to the Land of Enchantment. And if you have a library of Old Movies, you can see him with a cameo appearance playing a New Mexico State Trooper in the movie Bunny O’Hare, which stared Bette Davis and Ernest Borgnine and was shot in New Mexico. He also had a cameo in the Larry Hagman and Joan Collins movie, Up in the Cellar. For the people in Santa Fe who live and breathe politics, Dave Cargo was somewhat of an outsider even in his own political party and was known by the moniker, Lonesome Dave. Over the years I spoke to him a number of times and found him very well informed and nice.

My former talk show college, Janice Arnold Jones who served in the New Mexico Legislature still speaks very highly of his understanding of government. Be sure to find Bunny O’Hare, the movie with Bette Davis and Ernest Borgnine, for a real laugh. One last thing on that subject. Have you ever seen the Columbia Pictures movie, Easy Rider? It stars Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. What’s the connection with New Mexico? We, see again Lonesome Dave’s interest in the movie in 1969 which meant that the Las Vegas New Mexico jail scenes were shot in Las Vegas New Mexico at the jail. Thanks for the exposure, Dave.

Now one of the real stories of new Mexico that some people think could be made up, but the story is true. It is about Smokey Bear, sometimes referred to as Smokey, the Bear. It was early summer in 1950 that there was a forest fire to the northeast of the village of Capitan, New Mexico. A badly singed bear cub was rescued. At first they called him Hotfoot Teddy before the name changed to Smokey. No one knew where the mother bear was so he was taken to town to treat the injuries and decide what to do. Ranger Ray Bell took him to Santa Fe where the bear was treated by a veterinarian, Dr. Edwin Smith.

There is a great picture of Ray Bell’s young daughter Judy Bell with Smokey though she said he wasn’t nice because he scratched and bit her. National news picked the story up because of a tie-in to an advertising campaign. In the early 1940s an advertising campaign for forest fire safety came up with bear wearing jeans and a hat holding a shovel, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” This was created in 1944 as just drawings but the name Smokey Bear caught on. The little bear cub, after he healed sufficiently to travel, he was taken to the Washington D. C. National Zoo to live out its life. Twenty-six years with hundreds of thousands of visitors. Among other things he had a honey and berries tree from which to get treats. Lucky bear. He was a Zoo visitor favorite. So many people wrote to Smokey that he got his own zip code. Yep, it is true. 20252. And then after he passed, he returned for burial to Capitan, New Mexico where there is now a great museum and park, The Smokey Bear Historical Park. His final resting place in the park has a plaque, “This is the resting place of the first living Smokey Bear ... the living symbol of wildfire prevention and wildlife conservation.”

What is coming in a few weeks with this harvest around the corner is that the Fresh Chile Company this year is offering a special reserve release of the Hatch Green Chile varietal Big Jim in a 16-ounce jar. Varietal means that this product will only be made with Big Jim Chile, which is sweet and has a medium heat level.

Big Jim is very popular in New Mexico restaurants & homes. In 1975, Big Jim was listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as having the largest Chile Pods, perfect for Chile Rellenos. It was developed by Chile Researcher Dr. Roy Nakayama at New Mexico State University. It is a hybrid of New Mexico Chile Peppers and a Peruvian pepper that Nakayama and fellow researcher Jim Lytle combined. Big Jim is named for Jim Lytle who died unexpectedly at that time.

One thing that happens when people live in Las Cruces or happen to be in our little slice of paradise. They can come by the Fresh Chile Company Gift Shop at 1160 El Paseo Rd, Suite D7A in Las Cruces, NM. It is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Now I need to tell you about some new products at the Fresh Chile Company that I find wonderful. There is a Local Honey with Hatch Red Chile that is great on biscuits. French fries are so much more with the Fresh Chile Company’s Hatchup which is ketchup and Hatch Red Chile. Come browse and there are many more surprises and also, there are some frozen surprises that I assure you are wonderful. Again from Monday to Saturday, the Fresh Chile Company Gift Shop at 1160 El Paseo Rd, Suite D7A in Las Cruces, NM. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This is Michael Swickard with Enchanting Stories of New Mexico brought to you by The Fresh Chile Company. Thank you for your time today. We will have lots of News and stories about New Mexico for you on these Podcasts, If you have something or someone you want me to talk about, write to: michael@freshchileco.com

Have a great rest of your day. Oh yes and eat plenty of that good Hatch Valley Chile. Like I always say, “Some Chile is good, more is better.” Bye for now.

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