NO SCUM ALLOWED SALOON (...but they let me in)
If you think an evening of musical entertainment and good, old fashioned people watching is only to be had in big city night spots, you have not been to one of my favorite watering holes.
The town of White Oaks, New Mexico was born in 1869, was a town Billy the Kid spent some time in but the railroad never made it here and like a lot of other little towns, White Oaks gradually retired into memories and old buildings creaking idly in the wind. The population these days is, oh, 25 or 50, depending on what day it is and everything seems friendly but we were a little taken aback by the sign on the only watering hole in town...the "NO SCUM ALLOWED SALOON." However, turns out if YOU don't think you're scum nobody else is likely to, either. Most days in the no scum allowed saloon are pretty quiet. A wood fire in the stove and Suzy the cat hanging out and mostly locals sitting around having a beer is a big day here. What makes the place an ever-increasing attraction for those travelers in the know, is most Saturday nights...
Curtis and Marcia Payne wander in from their place about 26 miles up the dirt road and sing and play for drinks. They sit on the bar and sing songs from the 40's and 50's and 60's because they think folks just like to get away from all the new stuff every now and then...
"People like to get the Hell away from the big city and just come out and have a good time," Curtis says, "hear a little music. We only come out once or twice week and have a good time."
Curtis is a stone mason, self-taught himself to play the fiddle and Marcia is a CPA and does most of the singing because...
"It's not that I'm a bad singer," says Curtis, straight-faced. "But when I start singing, you know, people start walking out the door."
Marcia is a really nice singer, but it wouldn't matter if she wasn't. It isn't that kind of place. She could be lousy and if anyone said anything, they'd have been thrown out into the night.
The no scum allowed saloon is crowded...it doesn't take much to crowd it, it's only about 15 feet by 30 feet. Suzy the cat somehow sleeps through the whole thing. The place is smokey and loud and Marcia and Curtis get down to it...
Jim Penrod is the owner of the No Scum Allowed Saloon. "Well, I came up here with a friend of mine. We walked in that door, I was first, I turned around to my friend and I said, Oh, my God, I want this place. So I bought it. And I've never regretted it. But, actually, it's just a hole in the wall...but it's my kind of bar."
The guest book reads like an international travler. England, Germany, folks from all over the United States. They wander in and are charmed by the place, perhaps FOR its roughness instead of in spite of it. The No Scum Allowed Saloon is a twinkle of bright light in a pitch black night in a little semi-ghost town far from the beaten path...
White Oaks is about an hour's drive north of Alamagordo, New Mexico on State 54. When you get to the town of Carrizozo, continue north on 54 about a mile and you'll come to the turnoff to 349, to the right. White Oaks is about another 7 miles. The saloon is through what little town there is, on the west side of the road.
Carrizozo has 3 motels and at least one decent place to eat, the restaurant on the southeast corner of the highway intersection.
It is not guaranteed Curtis and Marcia will be there on the weekends. If they don't feel like coming in, they won't.
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