According to a recent article in the Dallas Morning News, the all American holiday of Thanksgiving didn't originate in 1621 at Plymouth Rock. Of course, we have to consider the source. We're in Texas now. Many Texans, it seems, like their version of Thanksgiving better because in their version the first Thanksgiving took place 23 years before Plymouth Rock. The Spanish conquistador Juan De Ornate arrived with about 600 people at El Paso Del Norte after a terrifying journey across the northern Mexican desert and a dangerous but successful crossing of the Rio Grande River. The Texas version tells that a group of Spanish Franciscan friars held a Mass of Thanksgiving for the safe arrival. During that mass they blessed food which the soldiers and colonists then ate.
Whether that particular story is true, the towns of Southern New Mexico and Western Texas tell the tales of dangers and massacres and growths and declines.
Pecos, Texas, is the largest town in Reeves County. It's on the west bank of the Pecos River. The 2000 census lists its population as a little over nine thousand. At that time it was a regional commercial center for ranching, oil and gas production and for agriculture. Pecos claims to have been the first city in this country to host a rodeo -- July 4, 1883.
Today the main street of Pecos is lined with empty buildings. Broken glass makes the emptiness seem sad and forever. By eight in the evening the streets are empty.
Rooms at the Knights Inn, however, reflect not a depressed town but its finest hospitality. The wireless Internet is free. Artificial trees and flowers fill the rooms which are huge and clean.
Pecos may have empty stores and broken windows. It's spirit, however, at least at the Knights Inn is one of generous attention to detail.