raymond L. atkins 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Truth or Consequences The community of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, holds unending fascination for me. Well, that’s not quite true. It’s simply the name I like. The town has a population of just over 7,000 people, and it’s located in state’s the southwestern section — just down the Rio Grande from the Elephant Butte Dam. A lesser man would now have some fun with the dam’s name, but not me. I almost never go for the easy ones. Well, okay, I almost always go for the easy ones, but not today. Truth or Consequences was originally named Hot Springs. This was a nice, sensible appellation given in honor of the many hot springs that to this day bubble up in the vicinity. I like for names to make sense. There ought to be a good reason for something to be named what it is named. As an example, my brother lives in a town called Rome, and it is my understanding that the name was chosen because the city rests upon seven hills, just like Rome, Italy. That makes sense. And when I was a boy, I lived in a place called Valley Head. The town was so named because — well, you can figure it out. And that name makes sense, too. But Hot Springs, New Mexico, traded in its practical name and became Truth or Consequences back in 1950, and that didn’t make a bit of sense. Truth or Consequences was a popular radio game show on which contestants were asked a question, and if they didn’t answer it truthfully, they were made to suffer the consequences. Since the whole point of the game was the consequences part, no contestant could ever be truthful enough to escape them. The story goes that the people in authority in Hot Springs agreed to rename the municipality in honor of the game show. I don’t know why, and neither of the articles I read when I researched the subject cared to speculate on the matter. So I guess I will. It could have been one of those crazy ‘50s things, like hula hoops or roller skates. Or maybe the fallout that constantly drifted over from Los Alamos in those days fried the town’s brains. What I’d be really interested in knowing is if any Amana ranges, Maytag Washers, or Electrolux vacuum cleaners — the show’s primary advertisers — were delivered to certain homes in southwestern New Mexico during the time period in question. Anyway, every year for the next 50 years, the original radio show host of Truth or Consequences — Ralph Edwards — traveled to the town for the Truth or Consequences Festival. As an aside, Ralph created the Truth or Consequences radio program, as well as hosted it, and he stayed on as emcee for a while when it moved to television. Ralph knew the value of steady work when he saw it, even if it did mean a road trip to New Mexico for hotdogs and beans once a year. Now that Ralph Edwards has gone to that big game show in the sky and his longtime successor, Bob Barker, is in retirement, the citizens of Truth or Consequences don’t have anyone to host their yearly festival (although I hear that feelers have been sent to Monty Hall and Wink Martindale). Further, the Truth or Consequences program has been off the air for years. So Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, has a problem, and you have to wonder about the mood of the community down there. They must really be depressed. I mean, here they went and renamed their town after a game show that no longer exists, and one of the hosts is dead and the other one isn’t returning any calls. It’s an embarrassing situation. Well, maybe they should change their name yet again. Wheel of Fortune comes to mind. It has a nice ring to it. Or Jeopardy, New Mexico. No, that sounds a bit ominous. How about Are You Smarter Than A Fifth- Grader, New Mexico? Nope, too many syllables. I know. How about something totally off the chart … like Hot Springs?
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