Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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Saguaro Show

PHM1014LL01“A saguaro boards a train bound for Chicago...”

It sounds like the opening line of a joke, but it really happened in 1893, when some of Arizona’s native desert plants were shipped to the Windy City. Why? Landscaping for a building touting the territorial bounties of Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

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Over the Counterculture

PHM1014Flash-4-OverCounterFor a brief blitz in the late ‘60s, Arizona produced a slew of influential underground publications.

The table of contents for the July 1968 issue of Phoenix-based bimonthly counterculture digest Orpheus teases such stories as: “Yiggers, Blonkies & Crackers,” “Confessions of a Pornographer,” “Declaration of Cultural Evolution” and “San Francisco’s Hipster Cinema.”

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A Grape Time

grapes, wineArizona has always had a footing in the fruit industry, at one point even having more grapes in the ground than California, according to Peggy Fiandaca, president of the Arizona Wine Growers Association.

The Valley had many farms in the 1950s and used the Grand Avenue railroad to transport fruit crates, such as those that held grapes, from Glendale to Phoenix and Los Angeles.

It was a simpler era, and grape crate labels reflected this with minimalist designs.

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Humble Pride

navajo code talkers, hopi code talkersMore than a decade after America honored its Navajo code talkers, Arizona’s Hopi code talkers are finally getting their due. But would they have wanted it?

Delores Yaiva never knew her father had been a code talker in World War II. Not until about six years ago, when she saw him featured in a documentary by an Arizona filmmaker that premiered at the Hopi Health Care Center in Polacca.

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Beyond the Map

PHM0814LASTL01It appears to be an entirely different place, a green countryside in the Midwest, perhaps. With open roads not crammed with cars, no chic coffee stop on every corner and not a single high-rise, the 1885 visage of farmland-Phoenix pictured on this map certainly looks nothing like Phoenix today.

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Whoa, Nellie!

From piloting to politics, the “Admiral of Arizona’s Navy” charted new waters in just about every state sector.

Even though she told the Arizona Republic in 1936 that roller skating “scares the life out of me,” Nellie T. Bush didn’t think twice when Arizona’s governor declared martial law and asked her to ferry armed National Guard troops across the Colorado River in 1934 to stop California workers from completing the controversial Parker Dam project. She probably didn’t even blink when her boat somehow got stuck in the water and her modest fleet had to be rescued by the Californians, in one of the more comical snapshots from Arizona’s long battle for Colorado River water. Despite the muddled mission being one of the most well-known aspects of her life, there’s way more to Bush’s story than that.

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Grave Matters

PHMPF34Mesa Cemetery, a manicured oasis for mourners and sightseers, reflects the community’s growth from Mormon outpost to cosmopolitan city.

Sneakers, shorts and spandex are the new black for visitors at historical Mesa Cemetery. Those strolling the landscaped, tranquil turf topped by stately Italian cypress trees are just as likely to exercise or picnic as they are to pay their respects to the departed. And since the launch last year of annual cemetery tours every spring, Mesa Cemetery is also a place for visitors to unearth some of the city’s colorful history. “I started here as a landscaper,” Mesa Cemetery coordinator Rick Fifield says. “It took me forever to mow because I was reading all the headstones.”

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