Thomas Wolfe was wrong, you can go home again, you might get a little dizzy though! The week before last me, my Dad, my Sister Ellen, and Brother Bob went to Payson, Arizona for a church reunion that my parents helped start back in the early 1960’s. We lived there back then you see, Ellen doesn’t have any memories but that is where she was born. Dad was the Payson District Ranger on the Tonto National Forest.
Back then Payson was out in the sticks so the government provided us a house. This is where we lived. It was exactly like the house we left in Coyote, NM where Dad was a Ranger for the Santa Fe National Forest. I remember every detail about the houses. Or at least I think I do. Now it is a storehouse for the local parks department.It is just exactly like I remember except it was yellow when we lived in it.
Here we are, Ellen, Brother Bob, Dad, and yours truly. Best BIL in the world, Irv took the pic. (Sister Ellen’s post on this trip.)
This is Dad’s former office. Now part of the Rim Country Museum in Payson. It was closed the day we were there but the nice people at the museum opened it up for us.
A listing of the Rangers. Dad is listed as the Ranger from January 1960 to July 1962. We were proud of him then, and we are proud of him now.
The getting dizzy swooning part is when we went into the main part of the museum. It used to be the Assistant Ranger’s house. I hadn’t been in it for about 50 years. The details I remembered were overwhelming. It is bizarre to go into somebody’s house that you knew very well and it is now a museum.
The biggest shock and vertigo was the next door elementary school. I went to First Grade there and now the brand spanking new school is named after my first grade teacher. I had her in her 45th year of teaching. Everybody now speaks of her in reverent terms about how great she was. Maybe so but from my first grader’s perspective she invented shock and awe. Have you ever been slapped out of your seat and onto the floor. I have!! I have to tell you though that doing some research on Julia Randall I have some newfound respect for her. She started teaching at age 17 in 1916. She taught first grade from 1923 until she retired in 1969. The Payson Roundup website has a great article on her. She really was a true western pioneer teacher.
The old Ranger Station is now a very nice park with ponds and fountains and such. This used to be where the Forest Service had the helicopter landing pad and close to the warehouse where the guys who worked for Dad used to work when they weren’t out fighting fires. Brother Bob and I told him how we used to go pester his guys and he was shocked.
You see the Forest Fire fighters nowdays may train by playing frisbee football. The guys we knew way back when trained on whiskey, cigarettes, and poker. Dad was a little shocked that we hung around them. He got doubly shocked on this trip when Bob and I told him about jumping off the platforms they used way back when to teach the firefighters how to jump out of hovering helicopters. Of course brother and I were shocked that he was shocked. He wanted to know what else we did. We think we may have told him too much already.
Anyway, I have to tell you I was very happy over going back to Payson. The woods that brother Bob and I roamed are now there for everybody to enjoy, Dad’s work, and the work of others like him is honored, and everything looks great!