The Acme schoolhouse is in recess

ACME

     I wonder if towns grieve.

      I wonder if it isn't egotistical to think that only human beings can experience sorrow. Maybe towns, when they begin to die, feel the burden so intensely that they pass through different stages of grief, just as humans do.

QUICK STATS

  • COUNTY:  Chaves
  • LOCATION:  Approximately 17 miles NE of Roswell on U.S. 70
  • POST OFFICE: 1906-1946
  • NAME ORIGIN:  Named for the Acme Gypsum Cement Company
  • RATING: Three ghostsThree ghostsThree ghosts

       Maybe they initially deny the end is coming, even when everything shuts down and everybody moves away.  The thought of becoming obsolete is too painful to consider, so they don't think about it. After awhile, maybe they get angry. Why is this happening?  What good can come of it? Later, maybe their anger slowly changes to sadness. And then, after passing through a range of emotional responses to their fate, maybe they quietly come to terms with it, deciding to accept their end with all the strength of character of someone facing the inevitable head-on.

       If all this is true, then Acme is in the final stage of grief. It has been angry, frustrated, sad, and is now accepting its demise with dignity. One look at the broken arches in front of the old Frazier schoolbuilding, still graceful in that way arches -- even broken ones -- can be, is proof enough. The schoolbuilding, shown above, is no longer fighting its return to the land. The only students left are the beetles that scurry around on the hard earth surrounding the stone foundations. With each day, the educational fortress slips that much more into the past, providing one last lesson about the frailty of human endeavor.

       The irony, of course, comes from seeing the strong stone building, built to last forever, slowly breaking down into helplessness. And here again Acme's will prevails. Never do you feel your assistance is being requested. Never does your hand slip out automatically to steady something, as it does a young child taking his first tentative steps -- or an older person taking his last. The only wish you have is to turn the clock back just once more, giving Acme one last look at "back when" before it leaves.

       Acme was a settlement built around a plaster and cement mill, run by the Acme Gypsum Cement Company. The mill shut down in 1936 and the post office closed in 1946. Now the Frazier, a few foundations, and a cemetery are all that are left. Maps no longer mark the location. Cars on the nearby highway fly past without stopping or slowing down. Acme is dying alone.

       If you're driving US 70 from Roswell and you pass Acme on the side of the road, take a moment to admire the beauty there. Acme doesn't want a handout, just an assurance that it won't be forgotten when it is gone. In the end, that may be what we all want.

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS

(click on the thumbnail image to see a larger picture)


The Frazier can still be
described as "imposing."


Broken arches add entropic elegence
to the front of the schoolhouse.