Obama wins, big snows and Spud suc­cumbs

The Taos News - - HISTORY - By Mary Beth Libbey

– 10 YEARS AGO – ‘Obama wins; now the work be­gins’

By Andy Den­ni­son Nov. 6, 2008

Re­porter Andy Den­ni­son in­ter­viewed cam­paign work­ers for both the win­ner, Sen. Barak Obama, now Pres­i­dent Obama, and the loser, Repub­li­can Sen. John McCain of Ari­zona. All were ex­hausted, but both looked ahead.

“Amer­ica has spo­ken and we’re all Amer­i­cans,” said Repub­li­can Party chair­man Mike Dobbs. “The party lead­er­ship is meet­ing to­day to fig­ure out what hap­pened and where to go from here.

Mean­while, Democrats were de­lighted, of course, since their can­di­date won. But it was also a his­tor­i­cal win: the first African Amer­i­can elected U.S. pres­i­dent. “I’m ex­hausted,” said or­ga­nizer Bon­nie Golden. “It’s been a long three months. But, wow!”

New Mex­ico vot­ers went over­whelm­ingly for Obama, 54 per­cent to 42 per­cent for McCain. It was the mo­ment New Mex­ico flipped from red to blue, at least in a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion: four years ear­lier, New Mex­ico had nar­rowly re-elected Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush over his Demo­cratic op­po­nent, Sen. John Kerry of Mas­sachusetts.

– 25 YEARS AGO –

‘Ol’ man win­ter says ‘hi’ By Mike Stauf­fer

Nov. 4, 1993

OK, Pres­i­dent Trump may say that cli­mate change is a Chi­nese hoax, but some­thing is go­ing on.

Twenty-five years ago Taos skiers were dust­ing off their boards and boots on Hal­loween when a foot-and-a-half of snow fell in Taos Ski Val­ley, An­gel Fire got 16 inches and Llano Que­mado, south of town, got 14 inches.

This year, Taos got a de­light­ful Hal­loween dust­ing, but the snow ac­cu­mu­la­tion at Taos Ski Val­ley was only about 7 inches and less than an inch in town. And, last year was one of the worst snow years on record for North­ern New Mex­ico.

The ther­mome­ter dropped that week in 1993, too, in a way we haven’t seen lately: On Hal­loween Taos recorded a low of 5 de­grees. How­ever, the high was about what we have now at 57 de­grees.

Ac­cord­ing to the weather num­bers re­ported in 1993, the town of Taos his­tor­i­cally does not get much pre­cip­i­ta­tion in town in Novem­ber, an av­er­age of .77 inches be­tween 1931 and 1983. How­ever, the ther­mome­ter does usu­ally take a tum­ble, with an av­er­age low of 20 de­grees. We cer­tainly aren’t there yet this year. Our lows are in the 30s.

Chi­nese curse?

– 50 YEARS AGO – ‘Spud John­son suc­cumbs’ Staff re­port Nov. 7, 1968

Richard Mil­hous Nixon may have been elected pres­i­dent this day in 1968—and won Taos County as well— but the more per­ti­nent news in Taos was that Wal­ter Wil­lard “Spud” John­son had died in a Santa Fe hos­pi­tal.

John­son is re­mem­bered to­day as a writer, ed­i­tor, pub­lisher and poet who knew many of the lit­er­ary and art fig­ures in Taos at the be­gin­ning of the last cen­tury. He was truly a Taos char­ac­ter. And, at one point he pub­lished a news­pa­per called The Horse

Fly and wrote a col­umn un­der the same name for The Taos News and wrote a col­umn for

The New Mex­i­can called “The

Gad­fly.” To­day, The Horse Fly is a sep­a­rate pub­li­ca­tion once again and not pub­lished by ei­ther the News or The New Mex­i­can.

Oh, and Taos’ Spud John­son has noth­ing to do with the Spud John­son who played Amer­i­can base­ball in the 19th cen­tury. That’s James Ralph “Spud” John­son.

John­son’s pub­lish­ing ca­reer be­gan far away from Taos when he was a stu­dent in 1920 at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia,

Berke­ley, and his pub­li­ca­tion then was called The Laugh­ing Horse. While at Berke­ley, he also met his friend and part­ner, the poet and for­mer UC pro­fes­sor Wit­ter Byn­ner, who even­tu­ally moved to Santa Fe with John­son.

The Laugh­ing Horse made fun of most things aca­demic and up­tight. As a re­sult of its ir­rev­er­ence to­ward the ad­min­is­tra­tion, print­ing ex­cerpts from Up­ton Sin­clair’s scathing in­dict­ment of Amer­i­can ed­u­ca­tion called “The Goose Step” among other things. (In light of the some­times vi­o­lent demon­stra­tions in the name of aca­demic free­dom at Berke­ley in 1965, it may seem John­son was way ahead of his time.)

The mag­a­zine even be­came em­broiled in an ob­scen­ity case although ap­par­ently it was dis­missed im­me­di­ately by a po­lice court. Nev­er­the­less, the mag­a­zine was banned from cam­pus in 1922 and one ed­i­tor was ex­pelled from school.

The ob­ject of the charges has a Taos con­nec­tion. It was a re­view writ­ten by D.H. Lawrence in ap­par­ently un­ac­cept­able lan­guage that, while let­ters in the ob­jec­tion­aable words were lined out, still came through as in­ap­pro­pri­ate. He was re­view­ing a book by Ben Hecht, which had also been the fo­cus of an ob­scen­ity suit by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment be­cause it ques­tioned cur­rent Amer­i­can moral­ity in no un­cer­tain terms.

Af­ter John­son moved to Santa Fe and even­tu­ally to Taos, he con­tin­ued to pub­lish The Laugh­ing Horse from time to time up un­til 1930 and then pub­lished one last is­sue in 1938. Dur­ing those years he hung out with D.H. Lawrence, Ma­bel Dodge Luhan, Ge­or­gia O’Ke­effe and all the Taos il­lu­mi­nati.

Af­ter his death, his pa­pers and cor­re­spon­dence were do­nated to UC Berke­ley’s Ban­croft Li­brary and also the Yale Uni­ver­sity Li­brary.

Tina Larkin

Obama sup­port­ers clap and throw up their arms af­ter hear­ing Ohio elec­tion re­sults in 2005 at Bareiss Gallery.

Taos News file photo

A young Taoseño holds an Obama poster.

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