• Hardy Warren Downer (Papa Downer) loved coffee and liked to drink it steaming hot from the saucer. When he went to a cafe, and the waitress didn't fill his coffee cup to the brim; he would let her know about it.

• He always wore long sleeved white dress shirts, with the cuffs rolled up. In his shirt pocket he carried a pocket watch, which had a silver chain with a Masonic emblem on the end. It didn't matter how long his visit to New Mexico lasted; he never changed his watch from "Texas time."

• On trips back to Texas, as soon as he crossed the state line, he started breathing deeply and commenting on how good the Texas air smelled. He loved the black farm land of Texas.

• Mother said, that as girls, she and her sisters, got up early and waited in the field, until there was enough light to start picking cotton.

 • He referred to the bulls on his son-in-law's Ramon, NM ranch as, "gentlemen cows," because he thought it was sinful to use the word "bull."

• Papa Downer wanted boys, but he only had girls. So, he named his girls Johnie Viola, Eddie May and Willie Brown. Willie Brown changed her name to Billie Jean.

• When the girls were small, and living at home, playing games, such as cards or checkers was not allowed, because Papa Downer thought it was sinful. The girls got a checkerboard for Christmas one year - He threw it a way. While visiting Portales' Masonic Lodge, he was disappointed because the members played dominos after the meeting.

• He suffered most of his life with sugar diabetes, and as a result kept himself on a strict diet. When he visited us, Johnie made him special dishes, such as sugarless apricot cobbler and jam. His doctor commented that he was in good health, as a result of his strict diet. As a gauge of his current health, he gripped his wrist with his fingers to see if he had any swelling. He carried a black medical bag.

• Because of his health condition, he gave himself an injection of insulin with a hypodermic needle every day. He sterilized his needles with methyl or ethyl alcohol (I don’t know which, but it wasn’t rubbing alcohol (isopropyl)). He became aggravated with a pharmacist at a Portales drug store, when he tried to purchase some alcohol, and was told he would have to go to a “liquor store” to buy it.

Papa Downer had very small feet, and would become very discouraged, when a store clerk would suggest that he look for shoes in the "boy's section" of the store.

• As a Methodist and spiritual person, he believed that God created all men equal, but he was strictly opposed to interracial marriage. As a teenager, I remember him sitting in a lawn chair, under an apricot tree in the side yard at Portales, with a grimace on his face, telling me that young children would grow up, and “not know the difference,” and they would marry interracially.

 • He gave me a small pocketknife, which had a cityscape scene on the metal handle. I wish I still had it.


Hardy Downer's Friends