The Hundredth Meridian

Mexico Way

Back in the 70's when the publicity stunt called Hands Across America was in the planning stage Kenny Rogers announced his intention to assume a position on the western boundary of Texas in order to be able to hold hands with the state of Arizona. I was reminded of the story last summer when a service representative for US West Communications told me that her company does not extend telephone service to New Mexico, where I have subsequently made two payments to US West. Apparently New Mexico is the Lost State, overlooked by country-western singers and employees of great corporations, as well as by highschool geography students. When a friend in Albuquerque suggested that the telephone woman had simply confused New Mexico with Old Mexico—a common error, he insisted—I was politely unbelieving, but that was before I had actually moved down here and experienced other misunderstandings of the sort. What Jim Rauen calls the People's Republic of New Mexico is no longer Old Mexico, but it is a foreign extension of it. Owing to its history, which is substantially that of the Rio Grande corridor and the Camino Real, rising from Ciudad Chihuahua to Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico —unlike Texas, Arizona, and California —is a border state from top to bottom, not an administrative subdivision of America with a strip of borderland across the base of it.

New Mexico is a very poor state. The median income lies around...

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