Hands Down, Biscuits and Gravy

R. A. “Bob” Bellah
(Pa Pa)

Had dinner last night at the Bellah Building on the corner of 15th Street and 5th Avenue in Canyon, so named because Bellah 1927 is written on a large, cement block just below the roof line.

R. A. Bellah built the structure when my dad (his grandson) was four years old. He constructed it for a Chevrolet dealership. His grocery store was down the street (now the Imperial Tap Room). It seems R. A. just liked to put his name on things.

I don’t know much about R. A. He was a two-term mayor in Canyon in the 1930s, and, according to his kids, he was a strict disciplinarian (there were stories of a black snake whip). The only other thing known to us great-grandchildren was a rumor that R. A. was poisoned by his late-in-life, second wife. But I think the story had more to do with his children’s love for their “Lillie” than the actual facts.

My grandfather (A. E. Bellah) was more well-loved by his children, but, because he died early, most of his grandchildren never knew him (I was three when he passed). My dad (who shared R. A.’s name but went by “Bob” to his friends and “Pa Pa” to his grands) was another story.

He is what I thought about as I ate my chili relleno (the Bellah building is now home to Joe Tacos).

How is he remembered by his grandchildren? I already knew but sent a quick text to my kids to find out. Janet (the oldest) said she remembered Pa Pa fixing biscuits and gravy for breakfast and taking her to the horse races at Ruidoso. Joni (#4 child) said he always had chocolate for her and had the gift of making you feel like you were the most important person in the room. Jeremy (the youngest) said Pa Pa took him fishing at Eagle Lake where he caught his limit before noon.

So I’m thinking about my grands. Do I want them some day to see my name on a building (or book), or do I want them to remember the biscuits and gravy?

No contest, huh?

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