By Ted Edmundson
This is a three-part article series. Part 2 was published November 28, 1998, and Part 3 published on December 6, 1998. However, all three parts have been combined into this article.
Part 1 - Published November 21, 1998
My first exposure to Arizona was in October, 1929. My mother had ten kids, five girls and five boys, was quite frail, and about ready to go into TB. Her doctor suggested that we take her to the Arizona desert. Incidentally, she lived to be eighty-nine and dad died at the age of fifty-nine. We should have come out here for dads health.
In those days you could travel one hundred miles each day if you really pushed it hard. You planned on four flat tires every day and usually had at least five.
We were seven kids (two had died before we left Kansas and one, Ruth, had married and moved to Oklahoma) and mom and dad, for a total of nine people in an open touring car. All of the little ones sat on the bigger ones' laps. Diapers were hanging out the windows to dry and we were a sight to behold. Our car was a 1927 Chalmers open touring car with a canvas top and button on isinglass windows in case of rain. There were fenders and running boards and the interior of the car wasn't more than 4 feet wide. We pulled a small, two-wheeled trailer with all of our worldly possessions.
We left Emporia, Kansas, and made Hutchinson the first night, which was one hundred miles. The next morning we stopped at a gas station, and there were very few of those in 1929. Of course, we all piled out to go to the "john". After loading up, we drove three miles down the road only to discover that little brother Warren, who was three years old, was missing. We of course turned around and drove back to the gas station to retrieve him, and there he was standing out in the middle of the road crying his eyes out thinking we had abandoned him.
The next day we made Dodge City where we stayed in a motel beside the Arkansas River for several weeks. Dad was a floor contractor and got a contract to do the hardwood floors in the new Montgomery Ward store in Dodge City. One morning we were awakened at about 6 o'clock by a loud roar and ran outside to see a tremendous flood coming down the usually dry riverbed. The wall of water was at least six feet high and two blocks wide. We were, of course, frightened out of our minds. We discovered that little brother Warren was missing and we all panicked because we kids used to play under the bridge in the dry riverbed. We thought surely he was washed away in the flood. We conducted a search and found him hiding under his bed. Dodge City was a wild little town in 1929. I have memories of people being shot on the streets during the time we were there. At seven years of age, these memories made a lasting impression.
After two days traveling we arrived in Dalhart, Texas where we spent a couple of days with mom's sister Leona and her family, the Pearsalls'. There were nine of us and nine of them. It was a visit that still holds a precious spot in my memory.
After several days, we arrived in Springerville, Arizona. The man in the "tourist court" asked dad where we were headed. Dad told him we were going to Phoenix. He suggested we not go down the Coronado Trail through Globe and Miami because it was a terrible road. He suggested we go through Flagstaff and Prescott. All of the roads in those days were gravel, and it took two days to arrive in Prescott. We thought for sure that we had landed in heaven. I'm not too sure to this day but what we did. It was a Sunday evening and they were having a band concert on the town square. We all fell in love with Prescott. The point of this is that, because of a word from a total stranger, our lives were completely changed. We arrived in Phoenix eight years later.
We spent our first night in Prescott in a cabin at the Pine Lawn Auto Camp on West Gurley Street. The next morning dad went downtown and got a contract to lay and sand the hardwood floors for 49 new houses in Jerome.
A week later, we rented a small 15 by 25 foot cabin in the Pine Crest, which was a small subdivision in what was then west Prescott. I enrolled in first grade at Lincoln School and attended school there for six years.
Shortly after we arrived in Prescott, the Pearsall's, whom we had visited in Delhart, Texas, came out to visit us. There were nine of them and nine of us. For sleeping arrangements, mom made us all lie on the floor of the little cabin to see if we all would fit. It was a tight squeeze, but we all made it. If anyone had to go to the bathroom during the night, they had to step carefully. Most of the Pearsall's still live in Prescott some seventy years later. They are fine people and I have enjoyed my relationships with them.
We built a small house in 1930 on Linden Street off Copper Basin Road. The house and half acre lot cost nine hundred dollars. Our house payments were nine dollars a month and we had a very hard time making them. We lived there for eight years. I'm sure raising all of us kids was very hard on mom and dad. We had no running water, cooked on a wood stove, heated with a potbellied stove and use an outside toilet for eight years summer and winter. We had five goats, three hundred rabbits and one hundred chickens, they all kept me busy taking care of them.
We walked one and one half miles to Lincoln school each morning and usually walked back home each evening. I would take the five goats down to Aspen Creek and stake them out to graze on the way to school and bring them home each evening. My dad was a strict disciplinarian and gave me a good licking when he caught me riding one of the goats home. Needless to say, I didn't do that again!
Part 2 - Published November 28, 1998
Since we had no running water in the house, we drew straws to see who was lucky enough to take the first bath in a washtub in the middle of the kitchen floor. Of course, we only took baths once a week on Saturday night and we were not about to carry and heat new water for each kid. It was all the same dirt anyway.
I carried water from our neighbor's house about 200 feet. My duty was to keep water supplied for all household needs and each morning and evening I had to fill the coffee cans in each rabbit hutch and supply the chickens and goats with water. It was tough in the winter to knock the ice out of all of the cans and refill them with fresh water.
Times were very hard during the "Great Depression" and the rabbits furnished us with meat, the chickens furnished us with eggs and the goats with good fresh milk. Mom would bake good homemade bread and light rolls about every day. On our way home from school, we would smell that wonderful fragrance about a block from home and we would run that block at break neck speed. Mom also baked corn bread and cooked side pork and beans, which were not expensive to prepare.
Across the street from our house, people by the name of Clow had a TB sanitarium. They nursed many people with the terrible TB disease back to health. One year, a young man came to stay the summer with his brother who had TB and was at the sanitarium. His name was Richard Nixon. He loved my mother's chocolate cake, which meant he had very good taste! We became good friends and he rode horseback with my brother Garland nearly every day. His brother, who had TB, died of the disease a couple of years later. Richard wrote to my brother, Garland, when he was Vice-President and acknowledged the good times he had in Prescott. We had some wonderful times growing up in what was called Cortez Park in southwest Prescott.
In the 1930's, the favorite spot in the Prescott area was Granite Dells. It was located three or four miles out Highway 89. There was a beautiful swimming pool with a hugh tree by the side of the pool. We would swing out over the pool on a rope attached to the tree and drop into the pool. There was an island in the center of the pool with a great diving board on it that we loved. There was a bridge connecting the island to shore. Granite Dells was the favorite hang out for all young Prescottonians in the thirties.
On the north side of Highway 89 was a delightful area called the "Gardens". This area also had a nice swimming pool and a dance hall where most young Prescottonians danced away nearly every Saturday night to the tune of a young man named Leonard Ross whose band was called "ROSEYS RHYTHM RUSTLERS". My brother, Garland, who was considered by many young girls to be the most handsome young man in Prescott, played guitar with Rosey's band. Garland passed away some twenty years ago, but Rosey still plays at the Pine Cone Inn and is a very talented musician. Playing the trumpet at over ninety years of age, I think he must be ageless. I still have the guitar which Garland bought in 1935 to play with Rosey's great band.
I have fond memories of our family life. I remember my dad at the end of each meal would make "Grandpa Pie". This was a combination of bread with cream and syrup poured over it. We called it, " bread-n-cream-n-syrup". I thought that was all one word until I left home.
My sister Marge and brother Garland, were a bit older than I and we sang as a trio on the radio station here in Prescott called KPJM, which meant Prescott Journal Miner. We had a program once a week. We sang harmony and we weren't that bad. We also sang at Prescott community Sings, which were first held at the Plaza and later at the fairgrounds stadium. I also sang with Zoe Mclain at these functions. Zoe still lives in Prescott and entertains very effectively around Prescott and she is very much enjoyed.
When we moved here from Kansas, the town was less than 4,000 people and Jerome was 15,000 people. Prescott was a wild little town. Slot machines and gambling were common all over town. Brothels were common with no effort to disguise their purpose. At the band concerts on Sunday evenings at the Plaza, young boys 10 to 15 years of age would walk around the Courthouse in a counter clockwise direction and young girls would walk in a clockwise direction. If a boy saw a girl who appealed to him, he would wink at her and if she winked backed at him, he was privileged to turn and, holding her hand, walk with her in the direction she was strolling.
A very popular place in the thirties was called the Granite Tubs. It was a naturally hollowed out pool in Aspen Creek about eight feet in diameter and six feet deep. All of us boys would swim nude in the Tubs and I'm not so sure but what some of the Prescott girls would observe us while hiding in the huge rocks above the Tubs. I know for sure that the boys used to observe the girls swimming nude in the same pool.
We used to look forward to rodeo time on July 4th. We would sneak into the rodeo grounds and sit on a corral fence I was sitting next to a drunken cowboy when a Brahma steer ran into the fence and knocked the drunken cowboy off into the arena. The steer got him down on the ground and started mauling him until I thought he had killed him. Finally, the Brahma steer backed off and let him regain his feet. The drunken cowboy got up and instead of climbing the fence, he stood up and ran to the steer, doubled up his fist and attacked the steer. He hit him on the nose as hard as he could. The steer shook his head and ran away. From this, I learned that you never ever say die.
We also enjoyed what was called "Slippery Gulch" which was held on Goodwin Street between Montezuma and Granite Street. It was a block of games of chance for money and enjoyed by nearly everyone in Prescott.
Prescott had almost 5000 population in the thirties and the business district ended on the west side of Grove Street, before you reached Prescott College.
One day I was visiting with my brother, Ralph, who was one of the five police officers at the time for the city of Prescott when word arrived that the Mercy Hospital was on fire. We raced to the hospital, which was located on Grove Street where the Prescott College is now located. We carried all of the patients out to the street while the hospital burned to the ground.
Part 3 - Published December 6, 1998
When I was about 10 years old, a lady named, Grace Sparks, who was head of the Yavapai Chamber of Commerce, took me and my guitar to Peoples Valley at the Hays ranch for what I believe was the first calf auction and barbeque ever held there. I sang "TYING KNOTS IN THE DEVILS TAIL". My guitar was bigger than I was. I believe the calf auction has been held at the Hays ranch ever since that time.
I went through Lincoln School with my best friend Jack Ogg, who I am still proud to call my friend. He is now a retired Appellate Court Judge and loved by nearly every one in Prescott. Jack and I were constant companions for the eight years I lived in Prescott growing up with my two younger brothers Warren and Billy. Warren was 4 years my junior and Billy was 6 years younger, and we were always involved in doing kid things. Billy had muscular dystrophy and couldn't walk, so we took an apple box, added a handle and wheels and made it into a cart in which we took Billy nearly everyplace we went. Billy died at age 68. He was really an amazing person and lived a very happy, productive life. He married a lovely girl who also had MD. They were happily married for many, many years in California, where she still resides.
We had great fun hunting arrowheads and other artifacts all over west Prescott and we picked wild grapes in the fall from which mom made delicious wild grape jelly.
Jack Ogg and I had a trap line along Aspen Creek in west Prescott where we caught fox, ring tailed cats, skunks and various other wildlife. We sent the hides to Denver and were paid seventy-five cents for each hide. This furnished us with money for candy, shows and Christmas presents. Jack and I also caddied at the old Hassayampa Golf course. We were paid thirty-five cents for nine holes. We found golf balls, which we usually sold for five cents each, if they were in good condition. Each Sunday, at the golf course, I would churn five gallons of ice cream for their lunch. In payment for my labor I was given a large bowl of it. Needless to say, Sunday was my favorite day of the week.
Christmas at our house was our favorite time of the year. We drew names to see for whom you would buy a gift. The economics were such that we were not to spend more that one dollar for a gift, and that was something we would have to save up for, for weeks. We would walk off into the woods pulling a sled near Copper Basin Road, and cut our own Christmas tree, and decorate it with strings of popcorn and decorations we made from colored paper. We would gather around the tree and sing carols several nights before Christmas. We kids would always go down to the courthouse the night before Christmas Eve, and Santa Claus would give each of us a gift. Nothing very expensive, but no one had any money, so we were happy to get a little car three inches long, or a doll, or whatever they gave us. I'm sure some of the businesses in Prescott chipped in to buy these gifts for the poor little kids of Prescott who were so appreciative. I remember when I was nine or ten, my little brother Warren (who was four years my junior) and I were in the "Five and Dime" store trying to decide what gifts to buy, when Warren looked down at the floor and saw a twenty dollar bill looking up at him. He grabbed it up, and we ran all the way down to Allen's New Way Market, on the corner of Gurley Street and McCormick. The market was owned by Meryl Allen, a dear man who always extended us credit when we needed it, which was all too frequent. (Incidentally, he just died, and lived across the street from Sharlot Hall Museum on the corner of Beach and Summit Streets.) Well, we presented that twenty dollar bill to mom, and let me tell you, that was the brightest, happiest, merriest Christmas I can ever remember. I'm not so sure to this day but what that twenty dollar bill was dropped straight out of Heaven.
Our eldest sister, Ruth, lived in Oklahoma, and compared to the rest of the family, was considered "well off". She sent a Christmas box every year with a gift for each member of the family. Christmas came each year with that box from dear sister Ruth.
Dad was an old-fashioned Quaker who had lived in What Cheer, Iowa. He moved to Emporia, Kansas, and since there was no "old fashioned Quaker church" in Emporia, he attended the Friends Church. At one of the meetings, he spotted my mom and winked at her. That wink started the whole Edmundson family. We just had a three-day family reunion in June 1996, attended by 125 people at our home at 318 Sunset Park Drive, Prescott, Arizona. Although, it was a bit early, wasn't that a beautiful Christmas gift?
In 1937, we had 4 feet of snow in one storm and the temperature dropped to 26 degrees below zero. It was impossible to make a nickel, so we moved to Phoenix eight years after we intended to.
Phoenix was a small town of forty thousand people and was a fun place to live. After spending three years in the US Coast Guard during WWII, I returned to Phoenix and lived there for thirty two years employed by Eller Outdoor advertising company, but that's a whole other story.
In 1979, I retired and moved back with my wife, Louise, to Prescott where we have lived very happily for 19 years. We have two beautiful daughters who are both very happily married and who have two sons each. We also have one granddaughter. At this writing, I am very much involved in being retired on our beautiful acre and a half in west Prescott and loving it. My favorite saying is "I wasn't born in Prescott, but I got here as soon as I could."
I made a tape of songs I have written over the past 60 years called, "Where I Live". The tape has done well and brought us great joy. We are very happy here and grateful that God has allowed us to return to Prescott and enjoy these past 19 years with the great friends we have here in Prescott.
Ted Edmundson is a musician and "involved with being retired".
Our readers' thoughts...
Uncle Ted left out the funniest part of story of leaving his three-year-old brother Warren behind at the gas station. When he told the story at family gatherings, Ted confessed that he and the other brothers knew they'd left Warren behind! They thought it was pretty funny. But when they got down the road a couple miles, they decided they're better 'fess up.
Warren Edmundson was my father; actually my step-father, but he raised me from five years old.
April 26, 2011
Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number: (citn212p). Reuse only by permission.
Prescott looked pretty much like this aerial view taken about 1930 when the Edmundson's arrived. Ted and his family moved to the southwest part of town. This view, taken from the north shows Alarcon Street in the middle.