A former state legislator has written a book chronicling Scottsdale’s transformation from hick town to hip city.
Almost 70 years ago, a 12-year-old boy by the name of Paul R. Messinger moved to Scottsdale with his parents. He went to school and worked on a 20-acre family-owned dairy and poultry ranch on the corner of Indian School and Miller roads, dreaming of one day starting a business of his own.
“Back then, we grew up in an era when we felt that we could do anything,” Messinger says.
From maverick men to ceiling-shattering women, Arizona has no shortage of colorful characters that helped shape our great state.
Not your average temple-building Zoroastrian silver prospector, Charles Poston, a.k.a. the “Father of Arizona,” literally put Arizona on the map. The former California gold rusher relocated to the Southwest to explore the mineral potential of lands obtained from Mexico in 1853. Three years later, he secured funding to start the Sonora Mining and Exploration Company in the town of Tubac, located in what was then called the New Mexico Territory. Poston served as mayor, judge and treasurer of Tubac, which prospered as a silver mining outpost until Apache attacks forced its abandonment during the Civil War.
Boosters heralded the Carnegie Library as an “ornament to the city’’ when it opened in Downtown Phoenix in 1908, giving residents their first permanent public library. Today, the red brick building is one of the city’s historic jewels and will share the spotlight as adjacent Washington Street undergoes a pedestrian-friendly makeover to celebrate the state’s Centennial.
Riding the rails to the country’s first chain restaurants, prim and intrepid Harvey Girls helped civilize the Southwest and bring
tourism to Arizona.
In 1949, 18-year-old Joan Haydukovich had her eye on a $90 green coat – a coat her mother insisted she buy with her own money. In search of employment, she set off down the dusty roads of Winslow to La Posada Hotel, the gem of an otherwise lackluster town.
Arizona’s First Governor
George W.P. Hunt (1859-1934) nicknamed himself the “Old Walrus” during his seven-term reign as Arizona’s first governor, but don’t be suckered by the self-deprecation – the one-time teen drifter was a skilled and nimble political operator. A colleague once described the bald, big-bellied populist as a “behind-the-scenes manipulator who presided in the manner of a stoic, benign Buddha, if one could picture Buddha with a splendid handlebar mustache.”
Goodyear makes a railroad connection with its pre-suburban yesteryear in honor of the Centennial.
In its heyday, the Litchfield Train Station in Goodyear served as a vital gateway to the outside world: Hollywood stars alighted on the West Valley to film Westerns and rusticate at their ranches, and executives chugged in from the East to tend to their burgeoning business interests. The station even served as a launchpad for the area’s cotton industry.