Karen Haughness owns the always popular No Scum Allowed Saloon, in White Oaks. Photograph by Andrew Kornylak.

ALBUQUERQUE NATIVE KAREN HAUGHNESS MOVED AROUND before settling in the tiny town of White Oaks, near Carrizozo. Eight people still live in this place, which boomed in 1879 with gold and coal mines in the nearby Jicarilla Mountains. She works full-time as a school psychologist and runs two businesses, the always popular No Scum Allowed Saloon and a soon-to-open dry-goods store. 

We’re a very eclectic community. We have retired diplomats. We have a couple of men who are fourth- or fifth-generation White Oaks folks. And I just sold my log cabin to a rancher from Texas. 

My mother’s side of the family is all from Texas. They call me the black sheep of the family because I came back to New Mexico. I just love it here. It is one of the few areas that is reflective of the real New Mexico without any of the fabricated stories. It is what it is.   

I just like being out with my horses and my dogs. I like watching the clouds roll in. In White Oaks, we don’t believe in external lighting. It’s easier to see the stars at night. It’s very peaceful for me. There are petroglyphs, arrowheads, and pottery shards that we find just by walking around.

I had been a customer of the No Scum Allowed Saloon. The last owner was about to sell it to a club, but this saloon has always belonged to everyone. I bought it as kind of a joke. I worked through my undergrad tending bar and then I ended up owning a bar. I don’t know why I wrote all those papers. 

I just thought it would be good for the community. I’ve just always been oriented to helping people.

Everybody’s welcome. I tell people when they come here that they’re in the middle of somewhere. 

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