Author Archive

One man’s cigar box is a student’s guitar

Courtesy photo: Cottonwood Valley Charter School cigar-box guitar musicians show off their instruments last winter. They are: front row, from left, James Woods, Jeremiah Avery and Deondrah Silva; middle from left, Lici Petrie, Jared Padilla, Beth Crowder, Faith Meza, Selin Childs, Colten Lewis, Skyler Bunning and Radeen Moradi; and top, from left, Javi Acosta, Hannah Samuels, Dan Klinglesmith, Wyatt Kurtnaker, Ricky Cuevas, Mary Ruff and Jim Ruff. Not pictured is Ayden Lewis.

Take 16 cigar boxes, 48 guitar strings, some sassafras, plus poplar and pine wood. Add in tools, tape measures, a unique cadre of volunteers, 16 sixth-graders, one enthusiastic teacher and what do you get? You get an amazing collection of student-built guitars in Beth Crowder's music class at Cottonwood Valley Charter School.

Obituary: Alice Purcell

Alice Purcell

Alice Kipps Purcell, 92, died in Albuquerque on May 17, 2015. She was a preacher's kid with a Halloween birthday, and she spent the next 92 years relishing the contradictions. The third of four children born to a Lutheran minister and his missionary wife in Cogan Station, Pennsylvania, she grew up in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, where she and her kid sister served as cheerleaders and played basketball with wild abandon three decades before Title IX. Emulating her father (but only to a point), she enrolled at Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, North Carolina, where she received an undergraduate degree in English. A master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania followed. In 1953 she married a British mining engineer, Geoffrey Purcell, and followed him back across the pond for a newlywed's-eye view of Stratford on Avon, Tintern Abbey and dozens of Wuthering Heights look-alikes. Returning to the States, they entered graduate programs at Pennsylvania State University, where Geoff received a doctorate in metallurgical engineering, while Alice was distracted from her dissertation by the birth of a son in 1959. Ultimately she chucked it all to move with her husband and son to Socorro, New Mexico, sight unseen, in 1961. After a brief period of mourning for the lush landscapes she had left behind, she threw herself into the life of the community — volunteering at the local library, removing rocks from the future fairways of New Mexico Tech's golf course, and somehow persuading her son and other children in the neighborhood to don tights and tinfoil crowns to perform in her wryly abridged versions of "Hamlet," "Romeo and Juliet" and "Macbeth." (Swordplay with cardboard wrapping-paper tubes was a prominent feature of these productions.) She also collaborated with her husband to create one of the happiest childhoods imaginable for their son. In 2003 Geoff and Alice celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and moved from Socorro to Albuquerque to be closer to their grandchildren. After Geoff's 2005 death, advancing age and declining health took their inevitable toll, but Alice remained lively and deeply loved to the end. She is survived by her son, Charles Kipps ("Kip") Purcell, and his wife, Georgia Will, of Albuquerque; grandchildren, Dylan and Elena Purcell, also of Albuquerque; a sister, Ruth Leidich, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and various Virginia cousins. She was preceded in death by her father, Michael Kipps, and mother, Undine Kipps; a sister, Frances Spencer of Danville, Virginia, and a brother, Henry Kipps of Williamsburg, Virginia; and her husband Geoff. Her family thanks Lana Hutchison and the wonderful women of Andrew House for lovingly tending to her needs for the past six years, and Ambercare Hospice for easing her final transition.

Word Has It: Pynchon gives laughs; Boyle appealing

Barbara DuBois

Zoyd Wheeler has lost his house to the government because of drug use. "Vineland," by Thomas Pynchon, takes us back to the hippy '60s, with hilarious characters that talk like characters in a movie, but that's all right because they are all film buffs.