By The Time I Get To Arizona

by Leonard Pierce

Lordsburg, New Mexico is a ghost town.

It was never thriving, but at one time — and, in particular, during my childhood in the 1970s — it was a popular place to stop, perfectly situated for travelers wanting a place to sleep while heading west to L.A. or east to Texas. Whether it’s the economic downturn, the general financial hard times of the Sun Belt, or a forgotten curse of the Japanese who were interred there in WWII, though, it’s a ruin now. I walked around its downtown on my way to the Arizona border, and on a sunny, pleasant Sunday morning, I saw one boarded-up, shut-down business after another; it resembled nothing so much as Detroit in miniature. Even the churches, usually the last institutions in a town to feel the crush of poverty and abandonment, were closed down. The most activity I saw anywhere was at the local HQ of the Border Patrol. A colorful poster tacked up over a long-neglected billboard read “JESUS, YOU ARE WELCOME IN LORDSBURG”; welcome’s as may be, but desperately needed certainly seems to apply.

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