This is a tale of a guy who grew up in that environment, but ultimately moved to New Mexico. Some habits die quickly; some persist for long periods. When I worked at Sandia Base here in Albuquerque as a computer programmer for over 30 years, I still took in several trays of Maybaskets on the first of May every year and elicited a kiss from the recipients of the flowers and candy therein. Male co-workers wondered what on earth was going on. The practice was essentially unheard of in New Mexico, but I found I needed more baskets each succeeding year. In fact, the only reference to anything Scandinavian in New Mexico that I have seen, and even that is not acknowledged, is the mountain town of Cloudcroft ... croft is a Norwegian word meaning a small field or farm. A cloud farm certainly makes for a handsome name, don’t you think?
As my work life wore on, I found myself reminiscing about my youth and felt it was time to resurrect family ties. In all honesty, the empty nest syndrome might also have been at play here. Nonetheless, I was missing the stories of tying a rope from the house to the barn so one wouldn’t get lost in a blizzard while just going out to milk the cows. And while I no longer even owned an umbrella (let alone a pair of galoshes), I found that going to and coming home from my New Mexico work in winter’s dark and cold still triggered an annual SAD attack. It was time for action.
Our family’s genealogical base in the Midwest seemed the ideal receptor for an announcement that our mythical ranch in New Mexico was being converted into a ‘dude ranch’ and was open for visitors. As a publicity enticement, each spring would be welcomed by a special family event sponsored by the ranch. The ranch was a quarter-acre spread (our home) located in Albuquerque. We took the name White Oaks Ranch from Albuquerque itself. Quercus albas is the Latin designation for the white oak tree. We designed an oak tree logo and printed up some great stationery.
My son’s young family in Kansas City got in the spirit of the thing right away. He sent us two magnetic White Oaks Ranch placards for the side doors of our car to enable a flashy pick-up at the airport of our soon-to-be visitors. My daughter’s young family in Dallas chipped in with 110 decks of White Oaks Ranch embossed playing cards to use as favors. All that prodded our advertising campaign to attract family visitors. Taking a cue from the old Burma Shave jingles, among our best were: