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A Little Bit Country, a little bit rock ‘n roll

Service with a smile at the Foxy Diner.

Ranching community of Clovis boasts huge boot shop,
Norman Petty recording studio

Story by Sharon Niederman
Photograph by Sharon Niederman

Any visitor to Santa Fe can, as easily as sipping a caramel latte, max out the credit card during a morning of shopping. But how many of you savvy travelers can look upon a trip to Clovis, New Mexico as an opportunity for a wild shopping spree?

You can if you love antiquing, trying on cowboy boots and prowling pawn shops for hidden treasures.

The only town in New Mexico named for a French king, Clovis has more high quality antiques emporiums than anyone can possibly browse on a single trip. Whatever your passion — vintage quilts and table linens, Depression glass or Fiestaware — you’ll find it here in abundance.

But back to the boots. The shopping highlight here is Joe’s Boot Shop, with 16,000 pairs of boots, 12,000 belts and 10,000 hats, plus Western and country furniture, household decor and real cowboy stuff, too.

Whatever your style — Lucchese, Tony Lama, Roper — Joe’s has it at discounted prices.

Lest you fear being overcome by material urges, Clovis’s downtown offers pristine Pueblo Deco architecture, three vintage movie theaters, plus the Clovis Depot Model Train Museum where you can watch trains entering and leaving the railroad yard from the second floor window.

A New sound

And if you didn’t know, Clovis happens to be the authentic birthplace of rock and roll.

The Seventh Street Studio, where Norman Petty, creator of the "Clovis sound" recorded Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, the Fireballs, Waylon Jennings and many more, is open by appointment.

At 720 Seventh St. is the fabulous Foxy Drive-In, circa 1956, famous for taquitos and cherry slushes, looking just as it did when those original rockers rambled over for lunch between takes.

Some of the state’s best bar-b-que can be found at Ben’s Bar-B-Que, where a generous plate of tender smoked brisket with cole slaw, potato salad, fresh-baked corn muffin will set you back $6.39.

Don’t miss the family-owned Guadalajara Café,“Clovis’s oldest restaurant,” with possibly the best crisp warm chips and salsa in New Mexico, with its saltillo tile, vigas old Coke coolers and 1950’s décor, across from the railroad tracks and around the corner from the strikingly beautiful Art Deco 1948 Familia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe pale peach stucco church.

If you really want to get into the past, there’s the fascinating chronicle of the Clovis Man, first unearthed in 1929, at the Blackwater Draw Museum, 12 miles south on US 70.

Archaeological evidence of human habitation in this region, considered the oldest New World culture, dates back 12,500 years. Clovis is really a tale of two cities. Nostalgia co-exists with 21st century technology.

On the one hand, there’s the historic downtown, dominated by the Santa Fe Railway station and the towering Pueblo Deco Hotel Clovis on the south, and the Curry County Courthouse of the same architectural style on the north end of Main Street. Then there’s Prince St., paralleling Main St., the site of numerous strip malls and every chain store and restaurant you could want, from Wal-mart to Chili’s.

This dual development speaks to the nature of the town. Founded in 1907 with the coming of the railroad, the community of 36,000 is still a center of railroading and ranching. It is named after King Clovis of the Franks who ruled in fifth-century Europe.

It is also, since 1942, the home of Cannon Air Force Base, the home of the F-16 and the 27th Fighter wing, the “World’s Most Lethal Warfighting Team.”

Some contacts

Clovis/Curry Chamber of Commerce — 215 Main St; 505/763-3435;

Seventh Street Studio — 1313 West Seventh St. (505/763-3435)

Clovis Depot Model Train Museum — Wed.–Sun., noon–5 pm; closed Feb. & Sept. 221 West First St.; 505/762-0066

Ben’s Bar-B-Que — 1421 N. Prince St.; 505/763-4241

Guadalajara Café — 916 L. Casillas Blvd.; 505/769-9965

Joe’s Boot Shop — 2600 Mabry Drive; 505/763-3764;

Foxy Drive-In — 720 Seventh St.; 505/763-7995

This article was first published in
the April, 2005 issue of
Boomer Magazine of the Albuquerque Journal

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