Stanley began as a railroad siding, then
itself to tent city and later to small town. It was a center for
in the area and continued to be a siding for the railroad. Agriculture
declined in the area in the thirties, and the railroad left in the
But Stanley stuck around. Today there's a store with gas pump, a post
farms, and other small buildings.
Somewhere along the line, Stanley
decided it was best not to let people in on its true feelings.
demeanor is difficult to assess. The store looks inviting -- there's a
gas pump and an OPEN sign in the window -- but all the parking spaces
filled. A collection of old advertising signs, an old truck and a gas
form an impromptu museum outside the store, but is the message "look
how far we've come" or "look how much we've lost"? The sign
beside the store (shown below) can be read as an invitation to stay
or as a request to leave immediately, depending, I guess, on where you
put the emphasis.
As I snapped my pictures, I wondered how
to Stanley's mixed message. I wanted to know where I stood. Was Stanley
my friend or not? Finishing my photos, I drove past town again, then
around and came back. I wanted a sign. But nobody waved, nobody honked,
no dogs came to greet me, no dogs came to eat me. All I saw were
birds sitting on a fence. Thanks, but I already knew that.
Finally giving up, I drove away, and
one other option came to mind. Maybe Stanley was like the two-headed
Janus, looking forward and backward at the same time. Stanley's message
may be intentionally dualistic. Stanley may both yearn for its past and
at the same time feel glad to be free of it; may both enjoy having
and yet still hope they don't stay too long; may both wish it was
while still planning to stay small. Maybe Stanley wasn't so much
as it was inconsistent.
Regardless, Stanley is staying put, a
in the middle of NM 41. Lots of people drive past every day. And
as they say, hopes they continue to do so.