For Foreign Visitors Only

Tales of misinformation about New Mexico

Foreign Concept

Several years ago, a Portales resident and his family traveled to Washington, D.C., for a vacation. During the course of their sightseeing, they became frustrated while unsuccessfully looking for a parking place near the White House. They were about to give up when a burly policeman glanced at their license plate and motioned them into a vacant spot. As they got out of the car, they noticed a sign that read “For Foreign Visitors Only.” Instead of educating the policeman about New Mexico’s statehood, they continued on to the White House. Sometimes, it pays to be among the “missing.”

Double Whammy

Ten years ago, Harry Gordon and his wife were in the process of relocating from Michigan to Rio Rancho. He contacted a local mover in Michigan who was affiliated with a national moving company. While going over the estimate, the agent said, “You know, I have to charge you the tariffs. You’re moving out of the country.”

“No, we’re moving to New Mexico, the state between Arizona and Texas,” Gordon said. The tariffs were removed.

As the Gordons unpacked in their new home, they watched the national forecast on the Today show. Al Roker said that very strong storms were occurring on the border between Texas and Arizona. Gordon e-mailed Roker to tell him that the border between Texas and Arizona was called the state of New Mexico. He did not receive a reply.

Don’t Get Stranded in Enchanted

Robert, a friend of Pennsylvanian P.K. MacRae, once took a train out West. In Albuquerque, the conductor announced a 20-minute layover, and suggested that folks might want to grab a bite to eat at a nearby sandwich shop. A Philadelphian, Robert loved to eat new things between slices of bread, but he didn’t get off to try a few samples, which was indeed a hardship. “And why not, Robert?” MacRae asked. “Because I have a poor sense of time and couldn’t risk being stranded without a passport. Man, that’s asking for trouble.” MacRae concludes, “I don’t know where Robert is these days. But then, he might not, either.”

One of Crayola's 64 Is Missing

Ninety-year-old Bart Hake, of Santa Ana, California, wrote in to say, “In summer of 1941, my friend and I registered for the draft for military service in Asheville, North Carolina.” At the draft board, “consisting of three elderly ladies,” they filled out the paperwork. One of the women, the chairwoman, said, “You can’t enroll in the U.S. Army because you are from Mexico.” Hake and his friend responded, “No, ma’am, we’re from New Mexico. New Mexico has been a state since 1912.”

The ladies whispered among themselves, then sent for an atlas of the U.S. and asked the young men to find their state, which they did. The ladies then said, “Well, you must be right, but our history books didn’t show that.” Then they looked over the papers anew.

“When they came to the part where we stated that we were white, they said, ‘No, no, no, you’re not white at all; you’re much darker than that; you’re . . .’” And here they paused to look at the list of options. “‘Here’s what you are—you’re swarthy!’”

EURO zoned

At a party in New York City, Michael Graves, an actor who lives in Santa Fe, mentioned to a fellow partygoer that he was from New Mexico. She said, “Oh, dear. Did you have trouble crossing the border?” He replied, “No, it’s much easier since we joined the European Union!”

Send Us Your Story—Please!

Dear “50” fans: Help sustain this popular feature by sharing your anecdotes—we know you have some choice ones that you haven’t gotten around to sending in. Just dash it off if you like, and we’ll take it from there. Submissions will be edited for style and space. Please include your name, hometown, and state. E-mail to fifty@nmmagazine.com, or mail to Fifty, New Mexico Magazine, 495 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501.