Enchanting Stories of New Mexico - Episode 30 - The Greer Garson Story

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Episode 30 - The Greer Garson Story

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.

I have a couple names that old timers, geezers and geezerettes might recognize but the sands of time have covered these names. First, Movie actress Greer Garson and second, Cattle Rancher and Horse breeder, Elijah E. “Buddy” Fogelson. Hint, they both used to live in New Mexico on the Forked Lightning Ranch which is on the Mountain portion of the Santa Fe Trail. And Greer Garson is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for giving the longest speech upon winning an Oscar in Hollywood. They put a time limit on speeches after her.

So Greer Garson was born somewhere else from New Mexico and lived much of her life somewhere else but did bring lots of attention to New Mexico from the 1940s to the 1980s.

Her full name was Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson. She was born in London England and is the fourth most nominated woman for the Oscar of Best Actress. Nominated seven times she did win in 1942 and was nominated five consecutive time from 1941 to 1945.

Now New Mexico’s gain was in that British Actor Peter Lawford, real name Peter Sydney Ernest Lawford was a friend of a Texas Oilman and former Army Colonel in the Army on Dwight Eisenhower’s staff in the war. The Texas Oilman was the chief of oil procurement for the Allied Forces. Fogelson made a fortune early in life as an oil industry wildcatter.

Peter Lawford was in a bunch of World War Two movies playing British Soldiers which he was not because of a severe injury to one arm. So Lawford and Buddy Fogelson had met and were somewhat friends. Interesting Michael but how does that connect with New Mexico? You see Peter Lawford was in several Greer Garson movies and in 1948 introduced Buddy Fogelson to Greer Garson and a year later they were married. She moved to the Forked Lightning Ranch in New Mexico along the Pecos River where among other things they bought a Hall of Fame Champion Thoroughbred by the name of Ack Ack from the estate of Harry Guggenheim and were successful racehorse breeders.

September 29 will be her 119th birthday though she passed at age 91 in 1996. Remember, she is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest Oscar Acceptance Speech. Remember also that Big Jim Chile in 1975 was in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the longest Chile Peppers, perfect for Chile Rellenos. Now New Mexico is in the record books for the largest Native American Reservation in the county for the Navajo Tribe with 27,413 sq miles in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. It is larger than combines ten U. S. States. The total number of tribal members is right at 400 thousand surpassing the Cherokee Nation as having the largest tribal enrollment.

Michael Swickard here with Enchanting Stories of New Mexico sponsored by the Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, N M. Hit subscribe to automatically get these podcasts.

More history in just a moment. First, though, The Fresh Chile Company’s is just coming to market with its Varietal Special Reserve Matador Hatch chopped Green Chile which is only made with 1" thickly chopped Sandia Select Chile. Matador is an XHot Hatch Green Chile with an above-average heat level compared to other types of Hatch Chile. If you want to take your cheeseburgers, enchiladas, and tacos to another heat level Matador Hatch Green Chile is for you. Ingredients Hatch Green Chile, Lime Juice, Salt, Garlic. If you like your Chile hot, this one is for you.

Back to history of New Mexico. Today is the birthday of D. H. Lawrence, a very influential writer who had a ranch in New Mexico and is buried here in New Mexico. David Herbert Lawrence was born in England in 1885 and died in 1930 in France. He was connected by literary interest with Mabel Dodge Luhan who was a person who while not writing herself caused over forty years many writers to hang around and prosper. She traded 160 acres in Toas to him for one of his manuscripts. He and his wife Frieda were interested in setting up some sort of utopian community which never happened. He is best remembered for a scandalous to some novel, Laddy Chatterley’s Lover which was censored in many places. He wrote something I find interesting: I think New Mexico was the greatest experience from the outside world that I have ever had. It certainly changed me forever.”

Me, Michael Swickard speaking here: I completely agree on the effect of New Mexico. In 1985 I was a caregiver to UNM Professor Emeritus T. M. Pearce, who, along with his wife Helen, are the authors of record to the1965 book, New Mexico Placenames. More about Place Names in New Mexico in a moment.

Anyway over a couple years 1983 or 1984 while being a caretaker Matt Pearce told me the same story a couple of times so if not true, he believed it true about D. H. Lawarence and what happened to him after his death. Seems he died in France and was transported back to his Taos Ranch in New Mexico.

Again, it is not written anywhere but the story I was told by Matt Pearce a couple of times said that there was an argument as to his burial where one person, sorry, it is not written anywhere, one person wanted to take him back to France and one person wanted to keep him on his ranch. In a court hearing the judge proclaimed that D. H. Lawrence was to be transported to France. The one here in New Mexico said, that is difficult judge because I had him cremated and his ashes mixed with cement that workmen were pouring so to move him will take tons and tons of concreate. That ended it there and if you go to the D. H. Lawrence Ranch under the management of the University of New Mexico I believe D. H. Lawrence or what is left of him is still there. He died from the effects of Tuberculosis at age 44.

Now let us move on to the notion of Place Names which I became interested in while taking care of 83-year-old Professor Emeritus Matt Pearce at the University of New Mexico. His home which he built in the 1940s was on the UNM Campus at that time next to a Fraternity House. I was his driver since he was not supposed to drive any longer. A little aside, at times I would notice some dents on the car and he would urgently say, Don’t tell Helen.

So Place Names in New Mexico are interesting because some of us know when we are using a name of a real person that the name was more than just an identifying name such as 12th street. If it was Pat Garrett Street we would understand the connection however some people might say they live on Pat Garrett Street without realizing that Patrick Floyd Jarvis Garrett, born in 1850 and who died in 1908 to the east of present day Las Cruces was a real person.

One of the interesting dilemmas of writers and editors in New Mexico are the Place Names of geographical entities with topographical features such as mountains, mesas, rivers, lakes and settlements such as districts, streets, railroad station. If it occupies space and can be identified for a reason to call it something, it is a Place Name. Take Deming, New Mexico. Most people just call it the town name of Deming without realizing Deming was a real person, the wife of one of the engineers setting up the railroad tracks and building where it is now known as Deming New Mexico. It doesn’t hurt anything to just use the name Deming without knowing but there is more to our history and culture. Take New Mexico State University or the University of New Mexico. Many of the buildings are named for very well-loved former people at those colleges such as at UNM Zimmerman Library or at NMSU Jett Engineering Building. Even at NMSU is Corbett Center. I knew Him and Guthrie Hall, someone I really liked, and Hardman Hall named for the English Professor that caused me to become a writer and I think of fondly. More about Marion Hardman at another time.

Michael Swickard here with Enchanting Stories of New Mexico sponsored by the Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, N M. Hit subscribe to automatically get these podcasts.

Since I was just speaking about Deming New Mexico, I should mention that Deming is the country seat of Lina County in southwestern New Mexico which borders to the south Mexico.

It was named its own county in 1901 after lots of conflict with the county seat of Grant County which is Silver City. Named for politician Solomon Luna who at the Territorial Legislature advocated for the split of Grant County along with some Dona Ana County. He was one of the largest Sheep production ranchers in New Mexico and was a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1910 that made New Mexico a state after 60 years of trying.

Unfortunately, Solomon Luna, namesake of the county died shortly after New Mexico became a state in an agricultural accident. It was in the summer of 1912 when he died at the early age of 53.

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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.

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 as long as it is Hatch Valley Chile.” Bye for now.

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