Thursday, March 03, 2011

A Roscoe Willson Moment

March 3, 2011

I'm all fired up by all the Arizona centennial talk (John Booth, Marshall Trimble and I are working on a centennial video project). Yesterday I dug out one of my Arizona Republic's "This Is Arizona," the Fiftieth Anniversary publication celebrating a half century of statehood in 1962.

Leafing through the 560 page book (printed on pulp paper by the way) I was struck by how few of the advertisers have survived the last half century. Many of the big time players of 1962 are long gone, like The Nuclear Corporation of America ("Head in the clouds, feet on the ground, creating for tomorrow, producing for today"),Yellow Front (early day Costco), Korrick's ("Arizona's Leading Department Store"), Hallcraft Homes, Stapley's, Guaranty Bank ("Fastest Growing Bank In Arizona"), Goldwater's Department Stores (yes, owned by Barry Goldwater's family), The Feed Bag Dining Room in Mesa, Sunbeam Bread, Bonanza Airlines, Kamera Corner, Neptune's Table, The Red Dog in Scottsdale, Superstition Ho (not a prostitute but a hotel), Blakely's Gas Stations (featuring "Free! Blakely Arizona Cactus Tumblers!") Chic Meyers (The House of Television), The Safari Resort (featuring Paul Shank's French Quarter), Guy Isley's Refrigeration in Mesa, Southern Arizona Bank, Mountain States Telephone (a division of Bell which features a "Picture Phone for the house of tomorrow"), Put & Take Markets ("5 Locations In Phoenix"), Western Savings, Valley National Bank and every other bank that ever existed before the shakeout and buyout fever of the new millennium), and last but not least, Inspiration Consolidated Copper Company. How inspiring, eh?

Surprisingly, there are a few who have survived: Mac Alpine Drug Store (same location at 2303 North 7th St.), Woody's Macayo ("Native Mexican-American Kitchen Supremo!"), Holsum Bakery, Rainbow Baking Co., Hotel Westward Ho (although I don't think it's still a hotel), Arnold Pickles (although they no longer pickle under that name), O'Malley's Lumber, Salt River Project and Arizona Public Service (although it doesn't hurt to be a monopoly), Arizona City, Sun City ("4,000 of the happiest seniors" who are now dead), Hinkley's Lighting (on north Central), Safeway, Bashas', KPHO (featuring "It's Wallace," surprisingly not listed as "Wallace & Ladmo"), KTAR (radio AND tv station, Channel 12), Camelback Inn and Durant's (on Central, which still has the same tuck and roll blood red booths!).

But what really tickled my memory banks was seeing the Roscoe Willson column "Arizona Days" because as a kid growing up, I remember reading his weekly column and laughing because he was so old he would talk about Old West moments like this: "I'm proud to say I was one of those who voted in a pre-statehood election on December 12, 1911 to send Maricopa County Sheriff Carol Hayden to congress." Unlike other historians who wrote for the paper, like Kearney Egerton and Bob Thomas, Roscoe was so ancient, he would say something like, "after the outlaws fled I walked over to the sheriff's office to talk with the head of the rangers."

This was hilarious to a kid growing up in Kingman.

Fast forward to last weekend. My son Thomas Charles and his girlfriend Pattarapan gave Kathy and I a Christmas present of a homemade Thai dinner. The two of them showed up Saturday afternoon and put on matching aprons. Here they are getting set to rumble:

As Pattarapan cooked, Thomas brought along his new record player to spin some tunes for us. He found an old surf record by The Lively Ones playing tunes from South of the Border.

I knew almost every song (Miserlou, Pipeline, Torquay) and on one of them I shouted out "That's 'Telstar' originally done by the Tornados, an English instrumental group from 1962. I remember the first time I heard it, I was dancing with Karen Johnson in the Girl's Gym. . ."

They started laughing. Why?

"I'm Bob Boze Bell and this has been a Roscoe Willson Moment."

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