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Weekly Newspaper and Tourism Guide for Ward County Trans Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas


Thursday, January 15, 1998

Monahan's Well

By Jerry Curry

Politics are people. People are politics. People are power.

And power means nothing if it is not exercised.

Those are the words the old politician said to me when I was
covering the Big City side of a national election once in my

As I remember, the election pitted a more or less
self-confessed crook (a Republican) against a well-meaning
idiot (a Democrat). The office at stake was the presidency
of the United States. Because I knew too much about both
sides, I was having trouble deciding which way I was going
to cast my ballot come Election Day, which did in fact come
as scheduled. I walked into the polling place and found my

The answer may not have been there in most other polling
places in the United States.

To explain, I lived at the time in a more or less radical
section (Flower Children and Kluxers lived next door to each
other and seemed to get along, even with the Hard Hats and
Black Panthers who lived across the street) of one of those
big Yankee Metroplexes, which that year had a pretty good
National Football League team and maybe one of the best
baseball teams there ever was (Take off your hat, face
Northeast, and say Bob Gibson reverently three times). In
this area of this metro, you were just as likely to hear
German, French, Arabic, Basque, Gaelic, and various
Oriental languages spoken as you were to hear Greek,
Italian, Spanish and English. Seven or eight people I knew
spoke Texas. At least two spoke Arkansas. One, I swear to
this, spoke Bronx.

If you live in a cosmopolitan neighborhood like this, you
should not be surprised to find more than your usual two
parties on a presidential ballot. This is not true in Ward
County. It generally is not true any place in Texas, except
Austin, where anything is possible especially on Halloween
Night and that's another story. There were eight or nine
parties on that presidential ballot in this more or less
radical section in which I then lived. There were all kinds
of candidates.

You see I had just about reached the point where I was going
to vote for the Republican, preferring a pretty good crook
any day to a well meaning idiot. But I changed my mind. Down
in the middle of the ballot was something called the Peace
and Freedom Party (I am not really sure of the name; maybe
it was something else) but its candidate was the late Dr.
Benjamin Spock, an aging baby doctor who, some historians
have suggested, had more influence on the history of Earth
than all of the dictators, presidents, kings, clergymen and
generals in concert.

So I cast my vote for Dr. Benjamin Spock, which many have
told me means I threw my vote away. By the way, the crook
beat the idiot and went to the White House.

I did not throw my vote away. I voted. The truly
professional politicians don't want you to vote no matter
how much they prattle about getting out the vote. If too
many people vote, the professionals can't control. My vote
for a baby doctor was one vote they couldn't control.

Politics are people. People are politics. People are power.

And power means nothing if it is not exercised.

Letter from the editor

What do Rep. Sonny Bono, Michael Kennedy and yours' truly
have in common? We all left a mountain on a sled recently.
After a buddy offered to pay my ski rental in Taos, N.M., I
suddenly found myself on a lift headed for disaster.

We were too cheap to take the half-day lessons. I was too
cheap to buy a decent pair of gloves. As I was slipping down
the first big slope, I realized that my cheapness was
probably going to result in me being cremated instead buried.

I did pause at a restaurant after crashing full speed into
the protective fencing surrounding outdoor tables filled
with laughing college boys and their dates.

Seventeen falls down the mountain later, I finally
collapsed gasping for air so thin I couldn't see it. As I
lay there shaking, sweating and floundering in a drift, a
distinguished looking man with a full beard sprayed me with
a rooster-tail of powder and muttered, "You delusional oaf!"

I finally mustered what little courage and dignity I had
left and kicked my skis off. I started walking down the
mountain. Tiny children zipped around me as they showed that
youth and enthusiasm always overtakes old age and treachery.
My buddy, having grown bored with my ineptness and whining,
had disappeared with these simple instructions, "Pigeon-toe,
stoooopid, pigeon-toe if ya wanna stop!"

Realizing that walking down the mountain was going to take
a lot longer than I anticipated, I was looking for options.
About that time, one of those "ski patrol dudes" schlussed
by me hauling a rickshaw-type sled with a some poor devil
moaning in pain. I later learned that the injured man had
been a first-time skier, too.

While I should have felt sympathy for a fellow fool in
pain, I instead felt joy at discovering another way off the
mountain. I approached a ski patrol dude and introduced
myself. I explained to him that I had come from the desert
of West Texas to the mountains of New Mexico in search of
TRUTH, and now that I had found it I was prepared to leave
the mountain post-haste. The ski patrol dude sized me up and
introduced himself as John. As we were strapping my gear
into the sled, John commented on my cheap gloves. Just as
fast as you read this sentence, a heavy snow began to fall.

"Do you want me to follow the Green Trail down until we
find your buddy?" he asked.

"John," I explained, "I just want to get to the bottom as
quick as possible. My buddy will have to make it down on his

"Then it's okay with you if we take the Double-diamond

"Sure," says I, "Why not?"

I sat in the nose of the sled and prepared for I thought
would be a leisurely ride back to sanity and
sure-footedness. I am here to tell you, friends, that what I
saw between sprays of frozen, white powder were man-killing
pines reaching out to me. I closed my eyes, waiting for the
inevitable sickening thud of John's body slamming into a

Airborne skiers were hurling past us at speeds so obscene
I can't mention them in family newspaper. As we entered the
last stretch, I could see the smoke from the ski lodge
chimney curling up through the pines. The snow began to fall
even thicker. If it had not been for the sheer terror I had
experienced on that mountain, I may have found the scenery

As I climbed trembling off the sled, John - in true "dude"
fashion - slapped me on the back and suggested I practice on
the bunny slope a few times before tackling the mountain
again. I thanked him for his help. I jammed the skis and
poles into the snow in front of the lodge. They fell over...
twice. I could not even conquer the simplest aspect of the

I warmed myself by the fireplace before stepping up to the

The bartender bought my order and asked, "This you first
time to ski?"

"Yeah, how did you know?"

"Those gloves, man, nobody wears gloves like that."

I left the gloves as a tip.

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