Characters Recalled and Collected—Part 1
Until I started to school I had been around very few kids but I had already met some adult characters who continue to influence me to this day. My dad collected characters. Well, he had been a photo journalist for a time while sporadically attending colleges in
Missouri and continued
to write a lot after we moved to Arizona.
People, I can vouch, are the prime fodder for writers. We borrow this accent,
that mannerism, those strange experiences someone relates and so on.
|Also keen on geology,|
Mr Goodding looks at a rock.
As I remember, he was a slender man of medium height, about the same size as my maternal grandfather. He had the first four wheel drive vehicle in the area, a Dodge “Power Wagon” which had been a military vehicle, I think. Riding in it influenced my Dad to buy a Universal Jeep soon after that time, around a year later. From the knowledge my parents acquired from their association with Mr. Goodding, I can still identify many grasses, weeds, shrubs and trees that grow in the southwestern US.
Mrs. Goodding I can only picture as a plump, grandmotherly woman who enjoyed children or at least seemed to. I loved her! She made me a paper doll, kind of a kewpie doll shape, and then cut clothes for her out of gift wrap paper. That small beginning got me into what became a major hobby in time. I am not sure if she had any children or not. If so they were grown by then. I think there may have been a son or daughter, perhaps both, but I do not recall them visiting.
Another Jerome neighbor was Alex Fields. He worked for the mines but lived in one of the homes I called “the private houses” which were built on leased land but not in the style of the hill’s identical company homes which had been built to house mine employees. It was one of those which we rented as the mines began to slow down after the end of WWII. Alex had grown up in a remote location in the
Forest area, to the south and east
from the narrow south end of the Verde
had been built. He was an avid hunter and Dad went on several hunting trips
with him and learned special tricks for hunting big game in the southwest. Alex’s
wife, Helen, was a friend of my Mom’s and gave me some treasures left behind by
her grown daughters to include more paper dolls and some ‘play dress up’ clothes
including two pairs of real Dutch style wooden shoes her girls had worn in a
school or church program. Camp Verde
Alex was fairly short, perhaps five foot eight or so and husky in build. Although he had little formal schooling, he was an intelligent man and knew a great deal. He had expertise not only in what he did at the mine which I think was electrical work for the machinery but a lot of other practical skills as well. Helen was a tiny, slight woman, even smaller than my mother, who I grew past at about age eleven. The Fields’ had a little Boston Bulldog named Corky. When my first brother came along, he was fascinated with that dog and named his stuffed toy dog Corky, too. They transferred to Ajo, another Phelps Dodge mine town. about the same time we moved from Jerome down to Clarkdale. He came back to the Verde after retiring and then died of cancer a few years later.
In about 1952, Dad went elk hunting alone up to the northwest of
Flagstaff. There was a big storm that year in
November and many hunters were stranded. Dad had killed a trophy-sized elk and
managed to get it hoisted into a tree with a powerful pulley-based hoist but
then left it and came out of the remote area just as the storm set in. A couple
of days later, Alex went with him to fetch it. They butchered the big bull
since the carcass was too large and heavy even for two strong men to handle.
The elk had been fighting with others since it was that season and had broken a
bit off of several tines on his antlers. Otherwise he would have been in the
record books at that time. Each quarter weighed over two hundred pounds; the
elk was as large as a big steer. We enjoyed that fine meat for months. I know
that was a story told many times and fondly remembered whenever Alex and Dad
got together later on. My second brother, born in 1959, was named Robert
Alexander partly in memory of this friend.
Several other characters came through our home and lives about the same time although they did not live in Jerome. There are some odd links in this next situation I will share. At that time
had a Fish and Game Commission that was in charge of managing almost every
aspect of the wildlife. One project at the time was transplanting beaver from
some streams in the White Mountains ( )
on the far eastern side of the state into streams along the Mogollon Rim. Dad
got involved with this project in order to write about it and took a lot of
|Some of the beaver transplant|
crew in Sycamore Canyon
Although it was a bit later, there was another link of acquaintances. About the time we moved from Jerome to Clarkdale, a man named Don Smith was assigned by the Fish and Game department to be the local game ranger. Of course Dad met him since there were already many connections to employees of that agency. Don and his wife Lucy became at least casual friends and their son Grady, who was Charlie’s age, became pals with him and they were in Cub Scouts together. Eventually Don was transferred to the
Yuma area and he also became an acquaintance
of Jim Walton’s who by then was out of the Marines and in law enforcement in
A final Fish and Game man was Ollie Grimes who was an expert trapper. At that time, there was a push to get rid of an excess of coyotes and a few other predatory or nuisance-designated animals. Ollie handled the setting out of poison baits and steel traps to manage this project. He and Dad became friends. Dad had done some fur trapping as a boy in
before the family moved into the city, so he was not unfamiliar with this kind of
effort. Ollie’s wife whose name I cannot recall—Nellie? It was an old fashioned name, anyway--was a
school teacher, and they lived in . They did have some
grown children and a bunch of us all went camping once down along West Clear
Creek and the Tonto region. The details are very vague but I think it was fun!
I must have been maybe six or seven at that time, probably the summer before Camp
and the Kaibab adventures. Camp Wood
|Ollie Grimes, left, talks to a rancher about predators.|
This is only the first part of characters! Life was to bring many others to cross my path.