Monday, January 24, 2011


One Hundred years ago my father (I called him Dad or Pop) was born January 25, 1911.
Ronald Reagan was born the same year. Ronald was the President of the United States, 1981-1989. My dad was great in many other ways.

I have seen many pictures of Hollywood Actors in my parents home. There was one of Ronald Reagan with my Mother at the Old Tucson Movie Set. Many of these actors came to Tucson for the Rodeo in February or to visit the Old Tucson Family Park which later became the Old Tucson Movie Set.

Some of the faces I remember include the following: Rex Allen and his horse KoKo, Roy Rogers with horse Trigger, Dale Evans and horse Buttermilk, Andy Divine "Jingles" with horse Joker, Gabby Hayes with horse Calico, Gene Autrey with horse Champion, Tom Mix with horse Old Blue, Hopalong Cassidy "Bill Boyd" with horse Topper, Lash LaRue with horse Black Diamond (his sidekick was Al St.John), Joel McCrea with horse Steel, Clayton Moore with horse Silver, Slim Pickens with horse Appaloosa, Rod Cameron with horse Knight, Tex Ritter with horse White Flash, Randolph Scott with horse Stardust, Clint Walker with horse Brandy, John Wayne with horse Dollar, Wild Bill Elliott with horse Thunder, Cisco Kid "Duncan Renaldo" with horse Diablo, Leo Carillo "Pancho" with horse Loco, Richard Boone with horse Rafter, and James Arness with horse Buck. I can't remember the women's names. I remember one that yodeled. It was a beautiful sound to me.

My parents went every Saturday and Sunday for many years to the West side of Tucson, Arizona across the mountain range to a large open desert. Originally there was just one small fallen-down adobe wall. This wall was rebuilt by the Jaycees and many other buildings were added before the Old Tucson Family Park was open to the public. My dad was Mayor of the Family Park for many years. The men were in full cowboy gear with blank pistols and all the women wore old-fashioned dresses with bonnets. This made the event so much fun for the guests.

There was a huge cement dance floor with a band loft. My Mom and other women managed the Phoebe's Pie shop. They hand made from scratch all the items for sale there. I spent many hours in the kitchen helping to finish the turn-overs and pies. Homemade lemon aid, tea and coffee were also available. There were dinning tables of rough wood in the lobby. Along the street were many buildings for artisans with many hand crafts. Hand carved wooden pins, Gila monsters, turquoise jewelry, silk scarves, leather goods, Indian jewelry, and later a sandwich cafe. Another building was the Gift Shop and canteen. The man there paid us kids 5 cents for collecting bottles from sodas that were left all over the place by the people walking around.

My parents and the other Jaycees performed silent plays with big signs telling the dialog. Trick riders, Indians dances and street shoot-em-up fights (men falling off roofs, stage coaches robbed, streets flooded, even a hanging). It was a great performance.

The chapel had real weddings on Saturday. The local catholic church used their Priests to perform the weddings, often. One time the couple who were to get married eloped and I had to fill in with a handsome cowboy to fake the wedding that was advertised. The seats were filled to capacity and no one wanted to disappoint the crowd. My Mom grabbed me and took me to the dressing room shack. She dolled me up and off I went. Mom was also the teacher for the Can-Can dancers who performed for the crowds and on the street floats in parades. When I turned 20 she taught me and other daughters of the Jaycee-etts to dance and we took over for many years.

My Dad was a part of the large group of family men who joined the Tucson Jaycee club. The women or wives joined the Jaycee-etts, which was part of the main Club. The Club built a large building on Ft. Lowell Street. It had a huge ballroom for dinning and dancing with a stage for presentations. There was also a long bar for refreshments. Behind the bar was a large storage area and on the other side were the restrooms. In the back of the building was another large room for crafts. There was also a shed for storage of wagons, a jail, Christmas decorations, party posters and western and horse paraphernalia. Behind the building was a large lot for parking. A social club of types, there were Presidents to elect, parties to throw, dignitaries to invite, community service to perform, and kids to corral. They even went onto the highway (with a police escort) and stopped a traveler from another state to join the rodeo celebration. Community service was a big item and every Christmas they took 25children and helped them select gifts for their families. They did much good.

My parents were members of the Roping Club. I remember dancing "Put Your Little Foot" with Homer Cummings there. Homer ran the horse boarding facility on Ft. Lowell where my parents boarded their horses.

My Dad was very outgoing and a hard worker. He worked all day as a contractor and into the night as an architect. He was a brick layer from 16 years old. He played with art (both oil, iron, wood, and colored rock), building with stone, helping out neighbors, and making sure jobs were available for those he knew or loaning them money which they ALWAYS paid back. My parents housed many families as they were moving into town and needed a lift up. My Mother (Mom) was the bookkeeper for my Dad and kept up with his plans and play-time.

Mom hosted many back-yard parties. Fish was often the meat dish or grilled steak. My Dad built a huge fireplace in the back-yard. It had more than just a firepit, it came with a double sided-meat grill for steak, plus a huge metal grill. It had an oven with a wood firebox, and a spit for turning shishkabob. Outside the covered firepit area was a 20' long spoke, round wagon-wheel overhead, covered by shading vines to protect the lazy-susan surrounding the vine house in the center of the cement table. It seated at least 12 people. In front of the firepit were large hand-colored and sealed cement tiles for easy dancing. I remember seeing my Dad on his hands and knees drawing irregular lines in the cement and later hand coloring the stones he created. it was beautiful!

Dad went to Cholla Bay (Rocky Point) Mexico many times during the year for a vacation. He loved to fish. He had a 30' Cabin Cruiser that he stored there beside his cabana. The cabana had 6 bunk beds, a kitchen and dinning room with an ice-box, propane stove, and a bath with a shower. We brought our own water and food from home. My Dad was friendly with the native Mexicans and often brought them gifts of bicycles, chairs, and special gifts that they requested. For his friendship they would gut and clean the fish he caught and pack them in ice for transport back to Tucson. They would also be sure that the water truck was available for the water tank on top of the roof, right away. We used the water for showers and flushing the toilet. One evening I went down to the main restaurant. They had just caught a big sea-turtle and were cooking it over a fire pit. I was invited to sample the meat. Yes, it had many flavors of meat - not just chicken flavor. It is illegal to catch these beautiful reptiles. I remember one time we kids bought fire-crackers and ran around lighting them and tossing them to hear them crack. Sid threw one on the roof, by accident, and it blew a hole in the Cabana roof. Dad was not pleased.

My Dad was also a hunter. He loved animals. He would hunt for filling the freezer with meat for the year. He often took my brothers with him on the hunt. My Mom even went, but I was never invited. Whenever he saw small animals he would set traps and catch them. Our yard was filled with wild animals that he had caught. He fed them daily and brought many people over to view them. When the Arizona Senora Desert Museum was finally completed they took all his animals and put them into their facility. My Dad continued to hunt and catch wild animals and he would continue to donate them to the Museum (you might call it a zoo). I remember having a wild Havalena Hog in our house. We would stomp our feet on the floor and it would follow us around the house.

The back yard Ramada was wire-caged in and a Lynx Bob Cat was added. Dad would play with the cat every night when he got home. The water had to be changed daily as the cat used it to urinate in. Dad fed it raw horse meat. The bobcat was not declawed and anyone without tough hands, like my Dad from cement and lime residue from bricklaying, would not have survived. It even bit through my right arm once. This cat was the mascot for the University of Arizona.

Out back behind the house, I remember 7 red fox, a badger, a porcupine, several skunks and many snakes. He kept one skunk for us to play with. There were pigeons, owls, raccoons, and even an elephant. He always said he was going to put alligators underneath my clothesline. Dad built a one-bedroom apartment out behind the main house for the teenage boys or for guests. Dad added to that apartment several rooms and a carport. He also dug a bomb-shelter under it. Later in life, he and Mom moved in, renting out the big house out front.

My parents were also involved with the yearly February Rodeo at the Fair grounds. Mom was the Usher Manager and Dad was the Grounds Manager. He loved to walk past the Brahama bulls and wild mustangs. My parents were always the best workers, showing up early and leaving late.

The Jaycees also worked the Fireworks at the University of Arizona. Dad learned how to make those beautiful bursting fireworks and the interesting ground works, which moved and entertained all those inside the paid seats. I was just a girl and although asked often was never allowed to learn any of those neat things.