Moriarty is a small town thirty minutes east of Albuquerque on Route 66.
Annually, the city hosts a Pinto Bean Festival to honor the lowly pinto bean and those rural folk that live in this area in manufactured homes on subdivided one acre plots that get more sparse the farther you move from I-40.
Pinto beans get their name from their mottled brown and beige color, like a pinto horse. Take pinto beans, a flour tortilla, some green chili and a little meat, if you have it, and you have a burrito that has been New Mexico survival food since settlers moved here hundreds of years ago.
This Festival is a collection of booths.
In one are two women gunslingers wearing revolvers and shooting up business for a local indoor shooting range. There is a group who want to restore an old Whiting Brothers gas station sign as a relic of the loved Route 66 that held states and communities along its route together like crazy glue. There are games where you toss a bag into a box, spin a wheel for free food at a local Denny’s, try to toss a ring around a soft drink can for a free drink. There is a station to get blood pressure checked and another to meet Jesus. Roberto sells hats made from palm fronds from Ecuador and kids play on swings with recycled automobile tires providing a soft landing for their falls.
One of the more moving installations is at the entrance to the Fair where two men are taking donations to support the Moving Wall coming to Moriarty. The Moving Wall is a scaled down version of the Vietnam Wall in Washington. It has the names of all the men and women who died in that hapless conflict in a far away place.
Vietnam casualties reached small towns across America and on the walls of VFW’s in hundreds of communities are pictures and names and military rank and rate of young people who lost their lives in foreign jungles.
Pinto beans help you survive when chips fall on the table and society begins to crack like a dropped ice cube.
I pick up two bags on my way out of town.