Fate comes knocking on Route 66
It's funny how things turn out.
Budville, New Mexico was the site of a notorious double murder that remains unsolved to this day and the Budville Trading Co. was the scene of the crime.
The town of Budville is named after Howard Neal "Bud" Rice. In 1928 he and his wife, Flossie, opened the general store (Budville Trading Post). Together they also operated a gas station, garage, grocery store, post office and wrecker service. While this might seem like enough for a normal person, it wasn't enough for Bud so, in additional to all that, he also sold bus tickets, owned the local State Motor Vehicle Concession and got himself elected Justice Of The Peace. As such, Bud proclaimed himself the "Law West of the Rio Puerco" and did not hesitate to push his weight around whenever it suited him to do so.
Travelers who lacked the good sense not to speed in Budville were routinely charged outrageous fines as was anyone unfortunate enough to break down and require the services of the auto garage. In addition, Bud antagonized other towing services by passing a law giving his wrecker exclusive access to all wrecks west of the Rio Puerco.
Bud wheeled-&-dealed and leveraged his political power to further his business interests. In other words, he personified the term conflict of interest and was an all American go-getter. And then one day Bud either pushed his luck too far or was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. In any case, fate came knocking for him on the evening of November 18, 1967.
After 39 years in business, Bud, Flossie, a part-time employee named Blanche Brown and one other employee, who shall remain nameless, were getting ready to close up when an armed bandit came in and robbed the store. As you may have guessed, it didn't end well.
By the time was robbery was over, Bud and Blanche were shot dead and the robber disappeared into the night with $450. Coincidentally, or maybe not, Flossie was left unharmed as was the un-named employee who was conveniently hiding in the bathroom.
Needless to say, the local community was horrified and people soon began to refer to Budville as Bloodville.
Who Done It?
The short answer is that is was probably a shady character named Billy Ray White, but the truth is that no one except Billy Ray knows for sure if he did, or did not, rob the store that night.
The State Police had a hard time rounding up any suspects to pin the crime on. Initially they arrested a young sailor who had been seen hitch hiking in the area. Flossie identified him as the killer in a line up but the case against him fell apart because there was not one other shred of evidence linking him to the crime and, to the contrary, he had a solid alibi for his whereabouts on the night in question. With the lack of evidence, police had no choice but to release the young man and, with no other likely suspects, the crime went unsolved for years.
Eventually, police did get another break in the case when a trio of criminals looking for a plea deal offered to provide information about the Budville murders. The man they named as the killer was a baby faced drifter with a long criminal history by the name of Billy Ray White. They were able to provide enough information to convince the FBI and so Billy Ray was put on America's Most Wanted list and was soon located and arrested.
To no one's surprise, Flossie also identified Billy Ray as the killer and he was brought in to stand trial. While the case against Billy Ray seemed like a sure thing, it's important to remember that eggs are not chickens. The defense team did a bang up job of cleaning up their client and presented him in a suit, clean shaven like a show pony in a children's beauty contest. Additionally, his lawyers did a fine job of casting doubt on Flossie's credibility. Billy Ray was, after all, the second man she identified as definitely being the killer. She was wrong the first time so it seemed likely that she could could be mistaken this time as well. There was also the issue of Flossie getting remarried just a short time later to a convicted felon named Max Atkinson. It seemed a little odd that Bud and Blanche were gunned down while Flossie was left unharmed. Could it be that she played a part in orchestrating the crime?
Aside from attacking Flossie's credibility, the defense team presented other likely scenarios that apparently had not been investigated. For example, just a few days before his murder, Bud had testified in a Texas drug trial and, as the ole' saying goes, "snitches get stitches". There was also the issue of Bud abusing his political power to further his business interests. It seemed equally likely that a rival towing company may have put a price on his head.
With such a show in the courtroom, it's easy to see how jurors would come to doubt whether or not the doe-eyed defendant was the killer. When the theatrics were over, the jury deliberated for less than two hours and returned a verdict of "not guilty" and Billy Ray White was once again a free man.
Now here's the kicker, a few years later Billy Ray was convicted for an almost identical crime. He had robbed a small store in Louisiana and murdered the clerk. On June 8, 1974 he died of an apparent suicide in the Louisiana State Prison and rumor has it he had confessed to his cell mate that he had indeed committed the robbery and murders in Budville.
I read a personal account from a friend of the family who claimed that Flossie said she was forced to marry Max Atkinson and she "knew he was one of the killers". When I read that, I thought, "one of the killers?" So far as I can find, police were only ever looking for one guy.
This same person, who knew Bud and Flossie for many years said that she never saw Bud mistreat anyone and, to the contrary, that he went above and beyond to help members of the local community, including but not limited to, buying all the produce off an overturned big rig from California and delivering it to local schools in native american communities.
As always, there are many sides to any story. What is known is that Flossie's marriage to Max Atkinson was relatively short lived. Maybe it was karma for ol' Max but in 1973 he wound up on the short end of a fight and died just three feet from where Bud had been gunned down in 1967.
Flossie married for a third time and passed away from natural causes in 1994 at which time the Budville Trading Post finally closed after 66 years of business.
The Budville Trading Post was eventually sold and reopened as the Budville Trading Company but it too closed. And, not for nothin', there's a high probability that the building is haunted. Today the building remains abandoned and is a staple for any photographer interested in exploring historic Route 66.
The story of the Budville Trading Company may not be over yet. Just a couple months ago on November 19, 2019, local news affiliate KRQE ran a story detailing the current owner's intention to re-open the store. Lucy Peterson, a long time resident of the Budville area, is the current owner of the Budville Trading Company building and says she would love to restore it and reopen the store. That being said, Ms. Peterson also seems to have no solid plan in place to do this so the outcome remains to be seen. When I visited Budville on January 12, 2020, it still looked pretty abandoned.
Bud's Old Tow Truck
I don't know for sure but it seems likely that the truck pictured below may have been Bud's old tow truck.
All photos shot with a Canon Powershot Elph 360 and edited with Adobe Photoshop.
Thanks to the following blogs and news stores for providing information about the history of Budville.
On the El Camino Real
Located just west of the General Mills factory on Alameda, the smell of Chex Mix fills the air as you wade through a sea of tumbleweeds at the San Carlos Cemetery in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
This cemetery has grave stones with birthdays going back to the mid 1800's. There are also an alarming number of children's graves, many only days old, from the 1940's.
The San Carlos Cemetery was established in 1913 as the burial site for parishioners of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the corner of Alameda Blvd. and 4th Street. However, in the beginning it was the new resting place for 125 parishioners of the Church of Nuestra Senora de la Immaculada Concepcion who were originally buried in the old Composanto. This church and cemetery located near the corner of Alameda Blvd. and North Rio Grande Blvd. were destroyed in the flood of 1903. At the time, Alameda Blvd. was known as the El Camino Real.
These two angels have been watching over the San Carlos Cemetery for a loooonnnnnggggg time. I remember photographing the one below on film (so, the dark ages, in other words).
Tech Specs / Mystical Catholicism
All photos above are shot with a Canon Powershot Elph 360 and edited with Fotor. I have taken several of the images and also edited with them using the GO ART filters in Fotor. All of the images below were created with the Pop Art filter.
One of my Twitter friends described them as Mystical Catholicism and I think that is an excellent description!
In 2005 I was commissioned to photograph a big game hunt in South Africa. These are my stories.
An Unlikely Idea
I was going to write a story about a zebra. I still will, just not today. I’ve been trying all day to write this story about the zebra and, so far this is all I’ve got, which is to say that I’ve got nothing. The Dark Continent doesn’t want me to think about it right now, maybe Sunday is it’s day off. There’s nothing I can do about that.
I keep dwelling on a conversation that I got wrapped up in the other night regarding whether or not there is such a thing as a soul and further more, if there is, do animals have them? I’m an optimistic type and like to think that there is and they do, respectively.
This is a modern day dilemma, an acceptable topic for debate, but once upon a time there were people who had not yet begun to speculate what, if anything, happens after death. I was thinking about that and I can’t think of any reason why we should ever have wondered about it in the first place. I mean, it’s kind of an odd notion, that death is illusory. What would give us that idea?
People just take it for granted now, the notion that something happens when you die; the soul goes somewhere, and the disagreements over what happens next cause of a lot of conflict. It’s a concept that’s so ingrained in our collective consciousness that most of us cannot imagine what it would be like to be unaware of such an idea. Your opinion on the subject is not important, at least not to me but, what is important, is that you can’t un-know the debate. The existence of the soul is a viral idea that took off and spread like wildfire; enlightening or polluting the human mind, depending on how you look at it. To be human is to be polarized over the question of life after death.
But there was a time, once, long ago, when no one thought about it. We lived and died, just like everything else and then one day, someone had to go poison the waterhole.
Ancient men sat around the fire, getting drunk and waiting for their wives to cook dinner. They did this for thousands of years until one night in August, a big hairy fellow named Leonard says to his buddy, “Hey Sal, what do you suppose happens to us after we die?”, to which Sal replies, “What the gin fizz are you talking about?!?!”
And our fate was sealed.
Driving From Columbus To Lima, Ohio
In November I made a short trip to visit family in Lima, Ohio. I was born in Lima but haven't been back since my mom and I moved to Albuquerque, NM in 1977. The first thing to know about visiting Lima is that, of the three major airports in Ohio, the closest one to Lima is Columbus and it's still an hour and a half away. If I had realized everything I would see on my first solo mid-west adventure I would've given myself a lot more time.
The road from Columbus to Lima is crowded with every kind of thing I love to photograph. Old barns, abandoned houses, cemeteries and every manner of creepy thing are literally everywhere. While this is likely not a sign of economic prosperity in the area, it is a photographer's dream trip.
I hadn't given myself any time for sight seeing but still couldn't resist pulling off the road to photograph these two barns knowing that this might be my one and only opportunity.
I'm not quite sure which town this first barn was in but it was in the vicinity of all the exit signs for Indian Lake State Park.
This thing looks to be right off the set of The Walking Dead. I had to pull off the road into a field and then approach on foot and I fully expected a zombie horde to start spilling out the door upon catching my scent. There was a house next door but they didn't seem too concerned plus the ground cover was so tall and thick that I doubt the residents could've seen me anyway.
After scurrying back to my car like a bandit in the weeds, I continued down the road, passing all kinds of other cool stuff, until I saw this irresistible brick building in Roundhead. Initially I thought it was a barn but many people on Twitter have said that, because of the fancy windows, it was probably a church or a school. In any case, it was the coolest building I've ever seen so once again I had to pull off the road and go exploring.
This property was in the middle of a neighborhood and protected by an electric fence. Additionally, there was a very well groomed horse living there which means that people are paying attention.
A Friendly Horsey
This horse was so beautiful and well groomed, which means that someone cares about it. It was super friendly too. As soon as it saw me snooping around by the fence it came right over to say hi and to see if I had any goodies.
I didn't bring a camera to Ohio so all the photos above were shot with my phone, a Motorola MotoX4 and edited with the Snapseed app. Just for fun, I was playing with the GO ART feature of the desktop version of Fotor and created these "paintings" from a few of the images.
Normally, I don't use these kind of art filters on my photos but, in this case, I feel that Fotor has created some top shelf filters that are far better than anything else I have tried. If I had actually painted these images, I would think they were pretty nice paintings!
All of the images below were created with the Fauvism filter.
An Early Monsoon Season
Monsoon season usually arrives in New Mexico in July and August but this year there were many stormy evenings in May, and then not as many as expected later in the summer. The dramatic clouds and rain often make for spectacular sunsets!
All photos shot with Motorola MotoX4 and edited with Snapseed.
I am DeAnna Vincent, fine art and portrait photographer in Los Lunas, New Mexico. These are the photos from my everyday adventures.