Memories of Maljamar

April 12, 2012 • Dear Editor

Dear Editor:

Dear President Obama: Seeing you in Maljamar put a smile on my face and memories in my heart because I grew up in Maljamar.

I always knew it was a pretty important place because my mamma and daddy lived there for 41 years; but in my wildest imaginations, I never figured the president of the United States would show up there.

Mr. President, did anyone invite you to a weenie roast in the sandhills, or a swim in muddy old Indian Hills tank, or rattlesnake hunting in the scary little dens along the Caprock?

Did anyone tell you that if it had snowed the day you came, you couldn’t have driven up the Caprock because there would have been jack-knifed trucks blocking the highway all the way up and 20 to 40 cars stranded at the bottom in Maljamar? But some Maljamarite — in the past, probably my mamma or daddy — would have crossed the road, opened the door to the little First Baptist Church with a bell in the belfry, turned on the heater, and invited all the stranded people inside to last out the storm. (We didn’t bring you all home with us because we had a little four-room house and you wouldn’t have fit.) Then everyone who could get out would have brought you blankets, quilts and pillows so you would be as comfortable as possible on the church pews and floor.

I don’t know what the other Maljamarites would have brought; but my mamma would have cooked you huge pots of red [auth] beans with salt pork and cornbread and butter with milk and coffee so you wouldn’t have gone hungry, and my daddy would have carried it across the street to you. The other people in that little town would have all brought their gifts, and a bunch of stranded travelers would have been introduced to — Maljamar.

That happened time and time again as I was growing up.

President Obama, did you see that little church next to the store in Maljamar? I ask because if you were distracted for one minute when you reached the bottom of the Caprock, you would have missed the whole town, much more the little church.

When I was 14 years old, that little church is where I publicly announced that I was becoming a Christian. It was the place where I declared that I believed in Jehovah God who made the heavens and the Earth, and fashioned me in His mind before He ever placed me in my mother’s womb, and sent Jesus, His only begotten Son, to pay for my sins by His death on a cross that He didn’t deserve. By that time, I was well aware of my sins, and I knew that God was offering me a gift that I didn’t deserve — forgiveness and a new life in Christ for the asking. I asked and received. That, President Obama, is grace, God’s grace.

Although it happened 60 years ago, it has changed my whole life just as it has changed the lives of millions and millions of people in this country and around the world, and just as it changed the lives of the vast majority of our Founding Fathers; and according to your testimony, as it has changed your own life. Isn’t that good? Isn’t that God?

I saw you in the Roswell Daily Record this morning standing by the side of a Maljamar pump jack.

Did you think about trying to ride it? Did you go to a drilling rig? Those were hugely familiar sights in my growing up years in the Permian Basin. My dad worked on a drilling rig — 84 hours a week unless another crew didn’t show up and they would have to “pull” a 24-hour shift on the rig.

Would you believe that when I was a little girl, my mamma would fix daddy and me a lunch together in his big lunch pail and he would occasionally take me to the rig with him — I suppose when the rig was “down” — and I got to “clean” the dog house (the little man-shelter by the side of the rig.) Wouldn’t that give OSHA a fit? I can’t remember exactly what I did, only that the place was totally greasy with oilfield grease, and I got dirtier than the dog house got clean, but I was “helping” daddy, my hero.

Helping daddy was the joy of my life. I never saw my daddy pass anybody in need that he didn’t stop and help them. I was hugely proud of him — still am!

My mamma’s door was always open to whoever came — and the whole world seemed to come — all the people at Maljamar, all mamma and daddy’s horde of kinfolks, and just people passing through that might have been stranded at the church in years past and wanted to stop and say, “Thanks for the beans” and get themselves another plate full.

When my mom and dad had their 50th wedding anniversary, around 500 people showed up in that little town, at the Maljamar Recreation Hall to honor them.

If my folks had still been living, Mr. President, they would have showed up when you were in Maljamar to honor you.

Recently in the town of Roswell, where I’ve lived for the past 40 years, I was given the first “Leaving-a-Legacy Award,” on the 30th Anniversary Celebration of Gateway Christian School where I taught for 25 years. That is what my folks and Maljamar left me — a legacy of caring and love.

My husband, Don Mason, and I still stop to help folks, and our door is a door open to the people who have a need that God sends us. Our friends say, “How do you dare to do that in this day and time?” We say, “How do we dare to not do it?” Jesus would, and mamma and daddy would.

I guess I’m writing this to you because I was afraid you hadn’t quite seen Maljamar the way I saw it.

God bless you, Mr. President, I pray for you daily.

Peggy Mason


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