Creative Living -- end of an era

Mar. 22—Editor's note: Longtime readers of "The News" may have noticed that Sheryl Borden's regular column about the PBS TV show "Creative Living" is no longer published. She sent us an email explaining PBS management decided to stop promoting the show with the column since it's been in reruns for three years. We thought this was a good time to recap the show's history.

Sheryl Borden took her skills giving presentations to homemakers in Roosevelt and Curry counties into a public television show that reached a number of people all over the planet.

For 45 years Borden was the host of "Creative Living," a show produced in Portales in the television studios of KENW-TV.

"Creative Living," was a show featuring guests who talked with Borden about topics as varied as cooking, yoga, wines, behavior, scrapbooking, sewing, books and more.


Production of the show ended in 2019 though it continues in reruns.

Troubles with travel for guests and overall changes from the coronavirus pandemic didn't help with production of the show, Borden said, so "Creative Living" quietly, without fanfare, shut down production.

"The program had been in production for 45 years," Borden said.

What has Borden been doing for the past three years?

"I've been writing press releases about the shows in re-run," Borden said. "But that ended."

Borden said her new project is helping the staff at KENW-TV in Portales plan for next's year's 50-year anniversary of the station.

When "Creative Living" first aired in 1974 it was called "The Creative Woman."

"But we discovered men liked the show too," Borden said. "Men would call up asking about the topics we covered and they'd say, 'Um, my mother wants more information on that topic' or 'My sister was very interested in finding out more about that book you talked about.'"

While Borden was the host of the program she speaks of the men behind the scenes: Don Criss who was working on his master's degree at ENMU and needed to direct a show and Duane Ryan, director of broadcasting at KENW-TV.

"The only person at Eastern who's worked there for 50 years," Borden said of Ryan.

Borden had no problem being at home in the television studio.

"When I was extension agent I would do presentations, live programs at the Roosevelt County Electric Co-op building," she said.

"And the people I've met," Borden continued. "A woman from Australia came here as a guest on the show and she didn't know it got cold here. She went to a local thrift shop and bought a coat. I would've loaned her one of mine if I'd known."

"It's been a fun journey," Borden said of her years as host of "Creative Living."

Borden remembers her first show.

"My guest was Nina Swan from the 3M Oats company," Borden said.

"We had no kitchen for her cooking so she had to do all of her prep work in the kitchen of the hotel where she was staying after hours."

"She was a good sport about it," Borden said.

One memorable guest according to Borden was Aldo Cello, spokesman for Cello Wines.

"He was a real gentleman," Borden said. "He spoke in heavily accented English. He was on the show to talk about wine and this bottle of wine had gotten too warm and when we popped the cork it ricocheted around the studio and landed right in the punch bowl."

It turns out "Aldo Cello" was a stand-up comedian from New York City.

"The public relations firm working for the wine company was sending him around the country as their spokesman," Borden said.

Borden remembered when Sparky was on the show.

"Sparky was a little dog who had been trained to go into battlefield situations and look for ammunition, bombs and such," Borden said. "Such a well trained dog. He sat with his owner through the show and was so well mannered. He was a real hero."

And mistakes?

They happened on "Creative Living."

"We did a whole show only to discover the microphones weren't turned on," Borden said. "We had to call the guest. Fortunately she hadn't left town. She came back and we re-taped the show."

There were shows that never made it out over the television airwaves.

"We had two or three shows that we didn't run," Borden said. "I won't tell you which ones. We realized after taping them that they weren't appropriate."

Borden remembers some of the correspondence she received over the years.

"A man wrote to me and was very complimentary about the show," Borden said. "He finished his letter by writing, 'I have a house in Taos and if you ever come up I'd like to show it to you.'"

"The next time I got a letter from him there was a long number on the outside of the envelope," Borden said. "It turns out the man was an inmate at the state prison in Santa Fe. It was interesting to imagine the show being watched in prison."

Borden told the story of a letter from a woman in El Paso.

"Oh she raked me over the coals," Borden said. "She didn't like my hair, she didn't like my makeup, she didn't like the set and so on."

"Well I wrote her back," Borden said, "And we wrote back and forth. She still criticized things about the show."

"Finally," Borden said, "She wrote a letter where she described how she liked to work with dried flowers. Now I tell this story when I give talks and I ask the audience 'What do you think I did?'

"If they said, 'You invited her on the show,' they were right," Borden said.

Borden said she liked a big side benefit of the "Creative Living:" A learning experience for students at ENMU.

"Our crew was made up of students majoring in broadcast journalism, radio and television," Borden said.

"I usually had a crew of male and female students every semester," Borden said.

"It was a real learning experience for me too."