Pull on your boots, strap on your six-shooter, grab your hat, mount your horse and mosey over to the “My Wild West Show” at the corner of Hardy and Campus streets in east Hobbs. Well, maybe leave the six-shooter at home because you don’t want the marshal insisting you check your gun.
The memorial fence created by Salvador Duarte III includes up-to-date holiday lights worth seeing this weekend.
“I might have overdone the Christmas decorations,” Duarte said. “It actually looks better without them.”
His “My Wild West Show” mimics an old west town, complete with a saloon and a church, separated by a U.S. Marshall’s office and jail, a café and a barbershop. There’s also an undertaker’s shop.
There’s nothing to see behind the fence, but what’s visible from the street is impressive art.
“It’s a memorial, just a fence, you know,” he said.
Duarte began constructing the memorial in August, soon after his mother died, working on it about three hours a day to keep a promise he had made to his parents.
His father had passed away about seven years ago.
“I was raised next door. This is the neighborhood I grew up in. We moved here in ‘74,” he said. “Back in the day, there was no such thing as cable, just the antenna. We would sit there and watch westerns all day long. This is what makes me close to my parents because I remember the whole deal.”
Since his father was a cook, he named the eatery “Grandpa Tate’s Café.”
“My mom was a seamstress and her shop will be up front. I haven’t got to it yet, but her storefront will be Lucy’s Sewing Room,” Duarte mused. “I’ll put a rocking chair and a little sewing machine in there for her. She passed away here recently.”
The memorial fence helps the 54-year-old Duarte cope with the loss of his parents.
“When I got to dealing with that, I had to do something. I’d always told them I was going to build this,” he said. “I never got started, but when she passed away, a week or two later, I started it. It’s a way of dealing with it. For some people the grieving goes by fast. But when you’re missing your parents, it goes by slow.”
At one point, he visualized a tall tree stump would make an appropriate addition to the church if he turned it into a cross.
“I thought, you know what? That’s going to be the church and in front of the church, there’s going to be a cross,” he said. “So I had Bolo Soto (a friend) come and carve this for me. He shaved it down and I lacquered it. I had been dreaming this tree as a cross for a long time. I just couldn’t get that thought out of my mind.”
In addition to a seamstress shop, he has plans for other storefronts. Already in the making is Evans’ General Store, to be named in honor of Clarence Evans, the developer who started the College Addition, the first location of the College of the Southwest, which is now University of the Southwest.
Around the south side of the memorial fence is a spot where he’s envisioning a railroad ticket booth, complete with the ticket vendor wearing a well-known cap.
On the north, near the planned seamstress shop, Duarte visualizes a Pony Express station to be named after a deceased close friend.
The fence and adjustments are made entirely of wood, much of it scrap from used pallets, held together with nails.
“I try to use every piece of wood, no wood left behind,” Duarte said. “It’s all nails, no screws. They had screws back in the day, but they were hard to get and expensive. I have a partner who brings me old wood. His name is David Evans.”
There’s an appreciable variety to the appearance of the structure.
“I try to make each little building a little different so they don’t all look the same, so it doesn’t look like the same cowboy built it,” Duarte said.
He keeps working on it when he can, but hard labor is only part of the job.
“It takes a lot of thinking until you get it like you want it,” he concluded.
Curtis C. Wynne may be contacted at email@example.com.