Guest blogger, G.M.C. Massey, recalls a family vacation from the late 1930s
While I was yet working at the P.O. just about 20 or 21 years since, And having a vacation coming up; We, my family and I, talked it all over, and decided to make a visit to the Carlsbad Cavern; As we had neither, at that time, ever seen the monstroscity of the spectacle; And as I remember at this time we made previous arrangements for the occasion; As we were very desirous to see as we had heard. As I remember now we went to Hobbs N.M. and spent the night at a Nephew’s of mine (Hiram Fannin’s) and we were at the CAVERN very early; As we wanted to be in the first contingent of spectators for the day; And also we wanted to stay long enough to be able to witness the “coming out of the bats from the cave about an hour by sun.”
Well we got there O.K. on plenty time for the first visit of the day; And when the guard announced that we were ready for the trip; We were on our toes, So to speak, for the beginning of the entrance of the cave: It was a thrilling experience for the whole of us; For it was the first time in out lives that any of us had ever gone as far as that under the ground; And too we had the promise That we could have the choice of coming back out of the Dining-Room at the bottom of the cave in an Elevator; Or of retracing our steps that we had made to go down there. Well on the way down there that morning; We had several stops, and the Guide would explain the developing of the cavern; and had explicit explanation as to the development of this particular part of the cave; And he always stressed the dangers that were experienced by the developers of the cavern.
One thing that interested me more than anything else in our Descent that morning, Was a lake that he pointed out had never had the sunshine upon it; and he said that the fish that lived in it had no eyes; But be that as it may it was inspiring to use to hear the stories that he told of the exploits that had been achieved, in the development of the Cavern And when we had arrived at the Dining Room: It was so well lighted and was so well filled up with sight seerers; And with HUCKSTERS trying to sell their “Wares”: SOUVENIRS, And books and pamphlets By some of the developers of the CAVERN. And there was also the main descoverer of the cavern, there selling his portrait together with history of his life.
It also went into the mysteries of the further development s that was under his supervision; And a promise that the wonders that was to be brought out in the future developments was even greater than these that was evident to us that day. I have never been back since that day But if there were such developments after that as great as was evident then; There are wonders to behold there at this time 20 or 21 years after the time that I visited the place.
Well at the Dining-Room; You could eat the Lunch that you had brought along; or you could order such lunch as you desired; for they were prepared for your service and according to your orders after you arrived at the Dining Room, and you could buy any kind of soft drinks there, that you could at the top of the Earth.
As soon as the dinner Hour was passed, The guide announced that we were ready to proceed with our inquisition into the BIG room, Or the KITCHEN as it was called; And in it I saw things that still haunt me: For at one place we saw another CAVERN that opened up; But was not developed; and there were no way to descend into it, But by rope ladders; and they were not permitting any one to enter it in that manner; And there were banisters arranged about that opening to keep the curious from slipping inot it; And the guide told us that is was over 100 feet to a landing; In the only way that they had found out.
Then further on in the rounds of that room, we came to a great Rock; That they called “THE ROCK OF AGES,” and at that place they had seats prepared for as many as was allowed in one contengent of SIGHT SEE-ERS: And we were told to be seated And then all the lights were turned off; and the darkness that surrounded us was so dense that you could feel your nearness to the LORD or it made you feel that the LORD was not in a million miles of you: Then a light was turned on in the distance that made you think of the first time that you heard of a wonderful savior that shed his blood for you when you were in sin; and bound for a devil’s Hell.
Well then the other light that was nearer than the first light shined out and you could feel that you would soon be liberated; and sure enough soon another light nearer was turned on and then another nearer than the one before Till the whole of that great room was as light as the daylight was on top of the Earth; And as soon as we had time to get over the feeling that we had been released, We went on our way of sight seeing in the great room.
Soon we had gotten back to the DINING ROOM; and as we were already so tired that we didn’t want to retrace our steps to go on higher: So we went to the top of the Earth on the ELEVATOR: Then that Ascent was only a few minutes for the OVER 800 feet that we had to go.
When we got to the top of the Earth again, and realized that a few minutes before we landed, that we had been over 800 feet below the surface that we then stood on; It seemed unreal; But we knew that it was true.
Then we had but a little while to wait for the “Flight by night of the Bats of the cavern.” And that reminds me of the story of the bats that the guide told to us: That they were lying as close as it was possible to the walls or the roof of the cavern, And it was almost impossible to detect them; Then I remembered that in my youthful days that we were able to see the bats coming out of their hiding late in the afternoon from the eves of the house; and the barn, at the lot Or an outhouse on the place; And upon me one occasion I remember that while we were climbing about in the upstairs of the out house that I got my hand on a bat and when I latched onot him; That he bit me as would a mouse have done; And I probably would have thought that it was a mouse; If I had not held on to him, and found that the WOULD BE MOUSE had wings; and thereby proving to me that he was not a Mouse, So it was that his explanation of the habits of the Bats; That all this experience in my youth was brought back to me, and help me to believe the things that this guide had told us.
One thing that I had forgotten about the things of the cavern; That attracted me so much was the Stalagtites; That was studding the floor of the cavern; and was also reaching down from the ceilings toward the Floor of the cavern; And in many instances were united with the ones that rose from the floor of the cavern.
And too, I remember that the guides made us to understand that we were not to touch or handle anything that were attached to the cavern under any way.