Memories of an Old Man is a series of memoirs written by West of 50 member, Ken Felts.

It was now the summer of 1937. We were lucky Dad had the railroad job, although for about a year he had been laid off and it was a difficult time to find employment. Millions of working men shared this experience during the Great Depression. My father also lost the farm to the bank as we could not make the mortgage payments.

Next, we moved into Dodge City proper and into a large house where my parents rented out rooms for some income. Dad took a job as a caretaker for a city park, and I sometimes joined him at lunchtime. One day he shared his single sandwich with me – bologna – but I was too young to realize just how poor we were.

Finally, the railroad recalled laid-off workers, and Dad resumed his job in the roundhouse. Shortly after returning to work, he was offered a promotion, which required relocation to the Santa Fe railroad yards in Raton, New Mexico. Much of the extended family still lived in Dodge City so leaving was difficult, but the raise in pay and the escape from the Dust Bowl was an even stronger pull.

Since the railroad required the location change, they furnished a railroad box car for our furniture and other belongings. While the railroad moved our furniture, the family drove to our new location in our Ford sedan carrying our personal belongings and needed clothing, Dad hooked a small trailer to the back of the car, covered it with a tarp, and we now had a modern covered wagon. It was only 314 miles and gas was twenty cents a gallon.

Raton (Spanish for small rat or mouse) is a small town located at the foot of Raton Pass on the New Mexico side of the mountains. Originally named Willow Springs, it was a major stop on the Santa Fe Trail before the railroad became the preferred mode of transportation. We settled into a small house, and I was entered into a nearby grade school. The photo shows me and my family on our way to Raton.

Stay tuned for future installments of Memories of an Old Man by West of 50 community member, Ken Felts.