Update from All I Did Was Open the Door
Looking back on how we met—opening that door—makes us laugh. We’ve been married 44 years and every day is as captivating as our first official date movie, The Wild Bunch. In fact, our life together should be called The Wild Couple.
We married March 15, 1975. That same year, Myke and I received bachelor’s degrees from New Mexico State University—his in broadcast journalism and mine in drama education. Fortune smiled late in 1975 when Myke took a position on the production crew at the PBS station in Albuquerque. We have lived here since, raising two beautiful daughters in the process.
What brought us together in the first place has kept us together. Myke’s love of film and television remains. After almost twenty years with PBS, quickly rising to the position of Senior Director, he moved to freelancing in the movie industry. New Mexico has become a mecca for films, in no small part thanks to the efforts of Myke’s labor union. He wrangled lighting and grip on dozens of major motion pictures such as All the Pretty Horses and Wild Wild West, electrics on hundreds of television shows and camera operator for scads of nationally-televised sporting events. Though his body is no longer amenable to toting 100-lb rolls of cable anymore, in his semi-retirement he continues to enjoy critiquing movies and explains to anyone who will listen the various camera angles, the intrepid lighting techniques and heaven forbid if there’s a boom shadow! He still lives it.
My love of Westerns has never abated. Armed with a master’s degree in gifted education, I taught public school for over twenty years. Mentally living in the 19th century with outlaws, cowboys and sheriffs, I joined New Mexico Gunfighters Association, an Old West re-enactment group performing in Albuquerque’s Old Town every Sunday for ten years. I strutted with “outlaws” calling out the sheriff and his dumb deputy. We’d “shoot” each other, making a big deal out of it. Lots of smoke and noise. The tourists loved it—almost as much as the actors.
I probably took my love of Western life a bit too far when, at age 50, I decided to ride rodeo bulls. A Colorado bull riding school gave me a taste of the sport along with an insider’s knowledge and large, memorable bruises.
A freelance writer for 15 years now, I use these experiences of gunplay and riding bulls and horses to give my Western novels authentic flavor.
Myke and I put our creative juices together with his photography and my writing for various magazine assignments. Melding our skills, we created a book on saloons of the Southwest--Hoist a Cold One! Historic Bars of the Southwest (published by UNM Press). It features 246 of his photos and covers four states.
Grateful to the portal that opened all those years ago, we take life easier now. While our bodies look a bit . . . well-traveled, deep down we’re still those college kids excited about the wide world and its possibilities—always in search of that next door.
Melody Groves writes Westerns—fiction and non-fiction. A native New Mexican, she grew up in the southern part of the state riding horses, exploring ghost towns and picturing herself living in the 1800s. Five of her novels, The Colton Brothers Saga, are set in southern NM, southern AZ pre-Civil War. Her sixth novel, She Was Sheriff, is set in 1872 California. Her 3 non-fiction books are about Butterfield Overland Mail Route, How to Watch Rodeo, and Historic Bars of the Southwest. She writes for True West Magazine and many other regional publications. She teaches writing at Southwest Writers and gives workshops at the University of New Mexico. She and her husband live in Albuquerque. When not writing, she plays rhythm guitar (and tambourine) in the Jammy Time Band.