January 24, 2010
Spoke yesterday to a standing room only crowd at the Cave Creek Museum. Sold a box full of books (plus three Even Lower Blows) Talked a bit about surviving last Friday's historic 100 year flood.
I think this is my fifth, or sixth 100 year flood. I distinctly remember the one in 2000, and I want to say there was one in 1993, one in, maybe 1983, one in 1976 and I know there was one in 1966 because that's when I first heard the term.
I was a freshman in college and went home to Kingman for Christmas. I was tired of the collegiate look (actually a uniform): penny loafers, no socks, light blue button-down long-sleeved shirt and yellow slacks (I'm not making this up!). I bought my uniform at Franklin's Men Store just outside the main gate, and, the last time I was down in the Old Pueblo, last October, it is still there, apparently still selling overpriced clothes.
So while I was home visiting my Kingman cowboy cousins I bought some rough out cowboy boots at Alex Toggery ($25!) and then went to visit my mother in Prescott (she was estranged from my father at the time). It was questionable whether to go because a huge snowstorm slammed the state and traffic from Kingman to Prescott was icy and slow. Fortunately, thanks to my father, I was driving a 63 Ford Pickup, and I got to Prescott fine, but got stuck in a snowbank coming up a snow-packed dirt road to the apartment building where my mother was staying. An old cowboy in a pickup came out to save me. His name was Johnny Mullins and he is, to this day, a famous Prescott cowboy. He's even in the movie Junior Bonner, when Steve McQueen is registering to compete in the July 4th rodeo, a cowboy says to McSween, "You know Johnny Mullins." Thanks to that snowbank in 1966 I can say, "Of course, we all know Johnny."
Anyway, after a short visit I left Prescott bound for Tucson and the University of Arizona. As i drove out across Prescott Valley I remember there was a pure blanket of crystaline snow sweeping across the valley without a roofline in sight. The only blot on the horizon was a lone sign that offered cheap acreage and housing sites. I thought to myself, "This is crazy. Who in the hell would want to live out here?"
I still feel that way, but today, Prescott Valley is a big, sprawling town. Anyway, the radio said because of massive flooding all of the bridges across the Salt River in Phoenix were out except for the Mill Avenue Bridge going into Tempe (The I-10 freeway was incomplete and stopped at 40th Street). When I got to Phoenix, traffic was backed up for about ten miles on every road leading to the bridge. It took me over two hours to get across.
The excuse by state and city officials was that this was a 100 year flood. A centennial fluke, and we shouldn't worry about it because we'll all be gone by the next time and maybe someone will build a few more bridges by then.
My goal at this point it to live long enough to witness a couple more of these rare and unique 100 year floods.
"Those who remember the past are condemned to repeat it to others who are tired of hearing it."
—Old Vaquero Saying
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