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During all the craziness, health concerns and economic slide of the Coronavirus Times, I’ve found periodic comfort in the knowledge there are still plenty of good things unaffected by the disease.
For example: Our loved ones still love us, the birds are still singing, dogs still happily wag their tails and you can still get great green chile cheeseburgers in Las Cruces.
The flipside of that is there are still plenty of bad things unaffected by the disease as well.
Insidious things. Like murder.
Murder is not a common occurrence in Las Cruces, thankfully. But when it does occur, it doesn’t typically happen to someone who is later in life, someone who has spent that life building a respected business, and who is beloved by friends and the community.
Those words and many more positive and happy ones describe Oscar Amezquita. No one could ever imagine the words “murder victim” would also describe him.
Since the 1960s, Oscar, 79, was the proprietor of Landis Boot and Shoe Service, which had already been in Las Cruces for generations. He was shot to death about 6 p.m. Saturday, May 9, at the location of his business near the intersection of Lohman Avenue and Esperanza Street.
As of this writing, the Las Cruces Police were still looking for information. If you know anything to help identify a suspect, call the police department at 575-526-0795, or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
I met Oscar several years ago when looking for a certain style of shoelaces, which Landis didn’t have. However, as I’m guessing happened to many, if not all, of Oscar’s customers, we got into an engaging conversation.
He seemed impressed by my music trivia knowledge, but not nearly as impressed as I was by his shoe and leather knowledge. He taught me about leather care and the importance of shoe trees, and then the discussion turned philosophical. We covered a lot of ground in a short time, and I appreciated his clear communication.
I’m not sure either of us realized it in the moment, but he had just sold me as a customer. From then on, I never took my footwear anywhere else. When I saw him interact with other customers, I saw the same thing. He treated everyone as if they were important.
The shop did great work on both my dress shoes and my ropers, and I made a mental note to come back and interview him, because I thought his story would make a great column in The Bulletin. We even had a time set up once, but we both had to cancel.
There’s a lesson in there about seizing the day.
In a few cases, getting new heels and a sprucing-up for my shoes or boots cost me nearly as much as a brand-new pair. But the price didn’t bother me, because the work was top-notch, and also because I found value, benefit and entertainment in the conversations with Oscar.
There was also something special in saving something that still had good life left in it -- doing a little re-furbishing instead of just throwing away something of value.
Sadly, painfully and pointlessly, Oscar was robbed of his opportunity to continue his good, humble work.
A wonderful human life that still had a lot of great value has been discarded, treated worse than an old pair of shoes.
Oscar Amezquita was a good man. Las Cruces lost a treasure.