Jerome AZ’s Katie Lee: An Eclectic and Wild-Riding Career

Great news:  Katie wrote a wonderful article on finding/returning a rare artifact called a “chamahia” to the Hopis.  Read about it online at High Country News starting Sat., Sept. 5, 2014:  https://www.hcn.org/articles/katie-lee-and-the-chamahia-the-spirit-in-the-stone/

Katie Lee is venerated as the most flamboyant of knights among a growing legion of pro-wilderness activists. Katie has taken up the torch that conservationists Edward Abbey and David Brower left burning after they died—to sing, write and lecture about the importance of preserving and restoring wilderness refuges; the histories of ancient races embedded in its sinuous sandstone canyons; and the lonesome characters the West still breeds. Today, her unwavering commitment to her principles and feisty eloquence are primarily directed at draining Powell Reservoir and freeing the Colorado River through Glen Canyon.

Katie Lee is venerated as the most flamboyant of knights among a growing legion of pro-wilderness activists. Katie has taken up the torch that conservationists Edward Abbey and David Brower left burning after they died—to sing, write and lecture about the importance of preserving and restoring wilderness refuges; the histories of ancient races embedded in its sinuous sandstone canyons; and the lonesome characters the West still breeds. Today, her unwavering commitment to her principles and feisty eloquence are primarily directed at draining Powell Reservoir and freeing the Colorado River through Glen Canyon. Her career odyssey began in Hollywood and ended in Jerome, AZ where she now lives. She has published five books, including a trilogy about Glen Canyon, recorded fourteen CDs, made two DVDs, and has become much sought-after for appearances in TV shows and documentary films about the Southwest. At 95-years old, Katie is just beginning to glimpse the legacy of her eloquent activism and spreading fame. She is a woman of uncompromising beliefs. She has followed byways she chose, each interesting and richly complex. What a gal! Hollywood Actress A native Arizonan, Katie began her professional career in 1948 as a stage and screen actress. She performed bit parts in motion pictures in Hollywood; had running parts on major NBC radio shows, including The Great Gildersleeve and The Railroad Hour with Gordon McRae; was an actress and folk music director on The Telephone Hour with Helen Parrish in the early 50's. Folk Singer In the mid-fifties, Katie began a new career as a singer in cabarets such as the Gates of Horn in Chicago, The Blue Angel in New York, and The Hungry Eye in San Francisco. She began her recording career in 1956 with Spicy Songs for Cool Nights, a folk album. In the next three years, Katie recorded two albums of psycho-therapy parodies, Songs of Couch and Consultation and Bed of Neuroses. When Katie began exploring the Colorado River and Glen Canyon (before it was dammed), she began singing the songs of the rivers and the canyons and began composing songs of her own. She stopped performing in smoky cabarets and began performing in colleges and other concert venues throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. In 1964, she recorded Folk Songs of the Colorado River for Folkways. Katie re-published it in 1976 as Colorado River Songs. In 1975, Katie recorded Love’s Little Sisters, a collection of folk songs about the early American ‘ladies of the night,’ in Mickey Hart’s (Grateful Dead) studio in Novato, California. Folklorist: Songs of the Cowboys Noel: Highlight the following quote---maybe by putting it flush left??? Actor and singer Burl Ives said: “The best cowboy singer I know is a girl—Katie Lee”—Burl Ives While Katie was touring the country as a folk singer, she interviewed cowboy songwriters and researched the roots of traditional cowboy songs. She wrote what has become a classic: Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle: A History of the American Cowboy in Song, Story and Verse. She recorded many of these songs in a two-album set by the same name in Mickey Hart’s (Grateful Dead) studio in Novato, California. During the nineteen eighties and nineties, Katie was a featured performer at cowboy poetry festivals in such cities as Elko, Nevada, Austin, Texas, and Ruidoso, New Mexico. The festivals revived the West’s great legacy of cowboy songs, which are different from country western songs, which Katie loathes. “Country and Western is neither of either,” Katie once said in an article in folk song magazine Sing Out! “Its lyrics are about tight miserable places like phone booths, dingy bars, and stuffy bedrooms and some poor twit whose wife or girlfriend just dumped him.” In conjunction with her book, Katie made an award-winning television documentary, The Last Wagon, which celebrated the lives of Gail Gardner and Billy Simon, two Arizona cowboy legends. The film won the 1972 Cine Golden Eagle Award. She recorded two CDs of western songs— His Knibbs and the Badger and Fenced—for her own label, Katydid Books and Music. Glen Canyon Ever since Glen Canyon was buried by Reservoir Powell in the nineteen sixties, Katie Lee has sung, stomped, photographed, written about, and fought to restore the magic of Glen Canyon and to let the Colorado River run free. Katie held a knife-edged anger and bitter sadness when Glen Canyon was drowned by Powell Reservoir (which she refers to as ‘Rez Foul’). These were difficult emotions to write from and she didn’t try until the nineteen eighties when she spilled her feelings into a thinly disguised novel. After it was rejected by half a dozen or so publishers, Katie decided to follow the advice of her friend Edward Abbey and write a nonfiction book about her travels in Glen Canyon. Her considerable body of work on Glen Canyon includes the book trilogy Glen Canyon Betrayed, Sandstone Seduction and The Ghosts of Dandy Crossing; her CDs, Colorado River Songs, and Glen Canyon River Journeys; and her DVD, Love Song to Glen Canyon—all paeans to the magic of a canyon that is now lost under the waters of Reservoir Powell. Glen Canyon Betrayed was first published as All My Rivers are Gone: A Journal of Discovery through Glen Canyon (1998) with an introduction by author Terry Tempest Williams. In 2006, the book was re-released with a new title, Glen Canyon Betrayed, and added an index and afterword. In conjunction with the book, Katie published a CD, Glen Canyon River Journeys, readings from Glen Canyon Betrayed, interspersed with songs. In 2004, Sandstone Seduction-Rivers and Lovers, Canyons and Friends was published by Johnson Books. This collection of essays are about events that shaped and inspired her life. Link to store The Ghosts of Dandy Crossing, published in 2014, is one of the few historical documents about Katie’s relationships with people that lived in Dandy Crossing just as the reservoir began to fill, irrevocably changing all their lives. (Dandy Crossing was a ferry crossing on the old Colorado River between Hite village and White Canyon village, about three miles downstream from what is now Hite Marina). Author Diane Sward Rapaport once asked Katie why she is still so attached to Glen Canyon. She replied, “It’s as if my feet are still stuck in the sand at the edge of the river. It’s where I live. This other life I walk around in all day—well, that’s a passing thing. And in many ways it’s my defense against the sadder mechanisms of life around us. And God knows we all need those mechanisms from keeping ourselves from going crazy in this mad world.” Maude, Billy & Mr. D—Western Folk Opera In 1956, Katie read an intriguing Western short story

One of the rare photos of Ed Abbey and Katie together. Abbey was mentor and friend and their lives wove around each other. Photo collection, Katie Lee.

Her career odyssey began in Hollywood and ended in Jerome, AZ where she now lives. She has published five books, including a trilogy about Glen Canyon, recorded fourteen CDs, made two DVDs, and has become much sought-after for appearances in TV shows and documentary films about the Southwest.

At 95-years old, Katie is just beginning to glimpse the legacy of her eloquent activism and spreading fame. She is a woman of uncompromising beliefs. She has followed byways she chose, each interesting and richly complex. What a gal!

Hollywood Actress

Katie Lee with the Great Gildersleeve (Willard Waterman).

Katie Lee with the Great Gildersleeve (Willard Waterman). The story she tells is that she got more fan mail than he did and got fired for it. Photo Collection Katie Lee.

A native Arizonan, Katie began her professional career in 1948 as a stage and screen actress. She performed bit parts in motion pictures in Hollywood; had running parts on major NBC radio shows, including The Great Gildersleeve, Halls of Ivy, and The Railroad Hour with Gordon McRae.

She was an actress and folk music director on The Telephone Hour with Helen Parrish in the early 50’s.

Folk Singer

In the mid-fifties, Katie began a new career as a singer in cabarets such as the Gates of Horn in Chicago, The Blue Angel in New York, and The Hungry Eye in San Francisco. She began her recording career in 1956 with Spicy Songs for Cool Nights, a folk album. In the next three years, Katie recorded two albums of psycho-therapy parodies, Songs of Couch and Consultation and Bed of Neuroses.

Katie Lee in her torch-singing days.

Priceless. Katie Lee as a torch singer, singing among leering cigar-smoking men. Photo Katie Lee collection

When Katie began exploring the Colorado River and Glen Canyon (before it was dammed), she began singing the songs of the rivers and the canyons and began composing songs of her own. She stopped performing in smoky cabarets and began performing in colleges and other concert venues throughout the US, Canada and Mexico.

In 1964, she recorded Folk Songs of the Colorado River for Folkways. Katie re-published it in 1976 as Colorado River Songs.

Katie Lee with the Great Gildersleeve (Willard Waterman).

Katie Lee and Josh White. Photo collection Katie Lee.

In 1975, Katie recorded Love’s Little Sisters, a collection of folk songs about the early American ‘ladies of the night, in Mickey Hart’s (Grateful Dead) studio in Novato, California.

Folklorist: Songs of the Cowboys

Actor and singer Burl Ives said: “The best cowboy singer I know is a girl—Katie Lee”—Burl Ives

While Katie was touring the country as a folk singer, she interviewed cowboy songwriters and researched the roots of traditional cowboy songs. She wrote what has become a classic: Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle: A History of the American Cowboy in Song, Story and Verse. She recorded many of these songs in a two-album set by the same name in Mickey Hart’s (Grateful Dead) studio in Novato, California.

Katie Lee with the Great Gildersleeve (Willard Waterman).

Katie Lee recording her cowboy songs. Photo collection Katie Lee

During the nineteen eighties and nineties, Katie was a featured performer at cowboy poetry festivals in such cities as Elko, Nevada, Austin, Texas, and Ruidoso, New Mexico. The festivals revived the West’s great legacy of cowboy songs, which are different from country western songs, which Katie loathes. “Country and Western is neither of either,” Katie once said in an article in folk song magazine Sing Out! “Its lyrics are about tight miserable places like phone booths, dingy bars, and stuffy bedrooms and some poor twit whose wife or girlfriend just dumped him.”

In conjunction with her book, Katie made an award-winning television documentary, The Last Wagon, which celebrated the lives of Gail Gardner and Billy Simon, two Arizona cowboy legends.  The film won the 1972 Cine Golden Eagle Award.

One of the best histories ever written about cowboys.

“A beautiful job, exact, comprehensive and witty. Should remain a basic history of the subject for many year to come.” – Edward Abbey.

She recorded two CDs of western songs— His Knibbs and the Badger and Fenced—for her own label, Katydid Books and Music.

Glen Canyon

Ever since Glen Canyon was buried by Reservoir Powell in the nineteen sixties, Katie Lee has sung, stomped, photographed, written about, and fought to restore the magic of Glen Canyon and to let the Colorado River run free.

Katie Lee singing to preserve wilderness and let the Colorado river run free. Photo collection Katie Lee.

Katie Lee singing to preserve wilderness and let the Colorado river run free. Photo collection Katie Lee.

Katie held a knife-edged anger and bitter sadness when Glen Canyon was drowned by Powell Reservoir (which she refers to as ‘Rez Foul’). These were difficult emotions to write from and she didn’t try until the nineteen eighties when she spilled her feelings into a thinly disguised novel. After it was rejected by half a dozen or so publishers, Katie decided to follow the advice of her friend Edward Abbey and write a nonfiction book about her travels in Glen Canyon.

Cover illustration by Serena Supplee, renowned artist of the Colorado Plateau. www.serenasupplee.com

Cover illustration by Serena Supplee, renowned artist of the Colorado Plateau. http://www.serenasupplee.com

Her considerable body of work on Glen Canyon includes the book trilogy Glen Canyon Betrayed, Sandstone Seduction and The Ghosts of Dandy Crossing; her CDs, Colorado River Songs, and Glen Canyon River Journeys; and her DVD, Love Song to Glen Canyon—all paeans to the magic of a canyon that is now lost under the waters of Reservoir Powell.

Glen Canyon Betrayed was first published as All My Rivers are Gone: A Journal of Discovery through Glen Canyon (1998) with an introduction by author Terry Tempest Williams. In 2006, the book was re-released with a new title, Glen Canyon Betrayed, and added an index and afterword.

In conjunction with the book, Katie published a CD, Glen Canyon River Journeys, readings from Glen Canyon Betrayed, interspersed with songs.

In 2004, Sandstone Seduction-Rivers and Lovers, Canyons and Friends was published by Johnson Books. This collection of essays are about events that shaped and inspired her life. Link to store

The Ghosts of Dandy Crossing, published in 2014, is one of the few historical documents about Katie’s relationships with people that lived in Dandy Crossing just as the reservoir began to fill, irrevocably changing all their lives. (Dandy Crossing was a ferry crossing on the old Colorado River between Hite village and White Canyon village, about three miles downstream from what is now Hite Marina).

Fort Moqui at Dandy Crossing

Fort Moki, an old Ansazi ruin, at Dandy Crossing, downstream from Hite Marina, and close to the entrance of White and Farley Canyons. Photo by Katie Lee

Author Diane Sward Rapaport once asked Katie why she is still so attached to Glen Canyon. She replied, “It’s as if my feet are still stuck in the sand at the edge of the river. It’s where I live. This other life I walk around in all day—well, that’s a passing thing. And in many ways it’s my defense against the sadder mechanisms of life around us. And God knows we all need those mechanisms from keeping ourselves from going crazy in this mad world.”

Katie Lee in Glen Canyon

“This is a way to truly be in touch with Mother Earth. I swim the pool with tennies, chimney up the crease to the vulva, throw my tennies into the pool and rest here, ten minutes or more—I wedge half way down and jump into the pool—no way out the top. Photo by Martin D. Koehler

Maude, Billy & Mr. D—Western Folk Opera

In 1956, Katie read an intriguing Western short story “The Rider on the Pale Stallion”, by Helen Eustis in the Saturday Evening Post. In 1990, Katie transformed it into lyrics and music and gave it a different title. She considers it her best work; and has performed it many times in concert to a spellbound audience. (Published by Katydid Books and Music, 1990)

Ballad of Gutless Ditch

Katie was always composing when she was on the road, driving in her 1955 classic Thunderbird. One day, the words to this wonderful free-verse Western adventure just fell out of the sky and became a powerful ballad that is full of the magic of love, lust and betrayal. Katie published 500 copies of a special limited edition signed by her and by nationally renowned artist Robin Anderson who illustrated the book with twelve etchings. (Published in 2010 by Katydid Books and Music)

Afterword 

Scholars and journalists can find a considerable archive about Katie Lee at Cline Library, Northern Arizona University, in “Colorado Plateau” special collection. Rare holdings include letters between Barry Goldwater and Katie Lee about the building of the Glen Canyon dam; two 8 mm films taken by Natalie Giganoux that show Natalie, Katie, Leo Walters and Frank Wright on a boat trip through Glen Canyon before it was dammed and so on.

Advertisements

People That Moved to Jerome AZ: 1954-1967

Since posting the list of people that moved to Jerome, AZ between 1967-79, many have written me with comments/corrections, which I appreciate. Although these lists are difficult to get completely accurate, the families that once lived here and their children and grandchildren appreciate the effort.

The list of people that were here in 1953, after the mines left Jerome and it became a village, are posted in my book, Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City. The list was amended slightly in the second printing; the third printing will have only a few more corrections. Many of these people continued to live in Jerome until they died. (A few examples would be Ruth Cantrell, Flossie McClellan, John McMillan, the Tamale ladies, Father John).

For sure, Jerome was never a ghost town. It may have looked like it in various neighborhoods, but after 1953, the population never went below 250.

The lists of Jerome residents from 1954 to 1979 will eventually be turned over to the Jerome Historical Society.

Here is the new list. It should be compared to the list of people that moved to Jerome from 1968-1979 (earlier blog). If anyone knows of people that ought to be switched in these lists, please let me know.

Please also add spouse names and or children. This list needs amending,

Sam and Clara Ater

Earl and Betty Bell (when did the kids move here. . .e.g. Patti. . .etc.)

The Blasés ( ? and Edith)

Gene Bollen

Walter and Marcia Brubaker

Leo Buss (Spelling??)

Duke Cannell

Charles and Helen Coppage

Bill and Anna Cram (Janet, Roger, Becky, Phillip) and Uncle Veri

Walter and Gladys Crow

John and Mary Dempsey

Rocky and Cele Driver and daughter Kya

John Duffy

Joan Evans

Frank and Thelma Ferrell

John Figi

Winifred Foster

Paul and wife Gross and daughter Minnie and Dani

Ralph Grummet

Ava and Alfredo Guitterez

Phil and Mary Harris and children Troy and Travis

Joe and Louise Heyer (Antique shop)

Barbara Hogan

Shan and Roger Holt and son David

Ashley (and husband?) Hostetter (Ashley had a gallery on main street)

Mary Johnson

Inez Kelly

Knudsons

Jere Lepley

Harriet LeVerring

George and Rosella Kennedy (had AZ Discoveries)

Ruth Kruse

Peggy Mason and their children Carter and Carietta

Louis and Louise Martinez

Charles and Fran Matheus

John and Kathryn Mathews. John was a painter; and Kathryn a potter

Him and Cheryl McCully and son Brad and daughter Molly

Dick and Esther Meusch (had a bottle shop on lower Main opposite Hotel Jerome)

Mooreheads

John and Deanna O’Donnell

Bob Palm

Russ and Esther Parr and children Karl and Terry

Walter (Shorty) Powell (fine art painter lived in High House)

Lynn Rose and son Skip

Tom Scott: (Scotty’s Rock Shop, Jerome)

Minnie Sewell and son Paul

M.E. “Jim” Shaffer (mgr Central Hotel)

Ernest Beach Smith and wife (?)

Levi and Margaret Smull and grandmother Jennie Richards and aunt Mary Smull

Dorothy Stickles

Milo and Jeanne Stoney and her brother Curley)

Max and Helen (Jane) Troyer

Doc and Nellie Wallace

Hazel Williams

Wil(ton) Tifft (photographer and Wood shop

Tom and Frankie Vincent and sons Henry P., and Ed and daughter Maeve

 

Gulch Radio Rocks Arizona’s Verde Valley

Fans of rock, soul, reggae, blues and R& B can now turn their radio dial to 100.5 FM KZRJ-LP Gulch Radio, broadcasting from the mountain village of Jerome AZ. The 100-watt stereo signal covers the Verde Valley, and listeners report getting the station from as far away as Flagstaff and the Blue Ridge Mountains in eastern Arizona. Gulch Radio.com streams the same music on the internet, as it has done since 2004.

Gulch Radio poster

KZRJ Gulch Radio Sunday poster created by their art department.

The romance of music on the radio sparked KZRJ co-founder Richard Martin’s soul when he first tuned in to The Mighty 690, a Tijuana/San Diego border blaster beaming such rock greats as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley across the American west. “How do all those people get in there to play music?” Richard asked his dad, referring to the shiny chrome, push button radio while sitting on the front seat of the family’s two tone green 1950 DeSoto sedan.

In 2002, Richard Martin and Chuck Runyon, who loved music as much as Richard, co-founded Gulch Radio. Both are long-term residents that arrived during the 1970’s, raised their families and built their businesses. Now they had time to make dreams that started so long ago come true.

Free-Form Radio

KZRJ Gulch Radio is the only commercial-free station broadcasting live in the Verde Valley. The founders describe it as “free form” radio—free from the bonds of playing corporate-prescribed, listener tested-to-death songs. Free from having to push current and potential ‘hits’ from major record labels. Free from advertising and corporate sponsors to answer to. No begging for bucks either.

“Gulch Radio is a haven from over-amped and over-repeated news that is available over so many other radio and television stations,” Richard Martin said. The station’s only news is a daily weather report and hazardous weather reports. The station will also provide news that affects the local population, such as fire or smoke pollution, emergency highway conditions and Emergency Alerts.

Gulch Radio logo

Gulch Radio logo created by their art department.

Old-Fashioned Radio

“It’s all about the music,” Gulch Radio station co-founders Richard and Chuck said. The station is a throwback to old-fashioned radio at its best.

“Nothing presents music better than radio,” says Richard Martin. “Sure you can pack your pod with picks, but after awhile, the ‘random shuffle’ just doesn’t do it. Listeners want programs with live DJs who are passionate about the music they play. The best rivet the listener, shaping mood and memory. It’s like magic when a DJ seems to pluck just the song someone has been yearning for, even when they didn’t know it, maybe one that echoes their most furtive desires or sparks a forgotten memory. But when a DJ gets it wrong, the listener’s attention drifts to other stations. In the radio biz, it’s called a train wreck.”

Programming that Stirs Memories

Richard Martin DJs his “Ric ‘N Roll Show—The Morning Groove” from 5-8 AM weekdays and his “Geezer Rock Show” on Sunday afternoons from 4-6, pulling on his memory of thousands of songs. Richard calls them ‘the good ol’ good ones.’ He has the generous and magnetic personality that grabs listeners right away. They feel as though Richard is talking right to them.

Gulch Radio Ric 'n Roll Show

Gulch Radio’s “Ric ‘n Roll Show” with DJ and co-. founder Richard Martin. Poster created by the station’s art department.

Other locally produced shows, include ‘Gulch Fun’ with Mr. Carsos every other Saturday from 6 until 8 PM. “The Frank Zappa Hour” on Saturday evenings at 8 PM is hosted by local radio pro Jeff Demand. Thursday nights at 7 and Saturday mornings at 5, The Hermit picks the platters on “Stuck In the Psychedelic Era.”

On weekday evenings after 9, listeners can tune into “UnderCurrents” with Gregg McVicar and hear an eclectic mix of Americana mixed with Native American tunes.

Saturday nights also feature “The Grateful Dead Hour,” “Beale Street Caravan,” and “Mountain Stage Live”—quality National Public Radio productions. (Complete program listings can be found in the music pages of the stations colorful website at www.gulchradio.com.

KZRJ Grateful Dead Hour.

Poster for Gulch Radio’s Saturday evening show created by their art department.

“The music brings back great memories from when I was young and the world was wide-open and full of promise,” said Susan Dowling, a former resident of Jerome who now lives in Kingman and listens to Gulch Radio on her computer.“ Now, as an old hippy, the music still resonates. Back in the psychedelic era, it’s where I live.”

Gulch Radio’s Slow Build to Success

In 2002, Gulch Radio started up with a very low power AM radio signal that only could be heard in Deception Gulch. The deep canyon blocks most other radio signals. The little transmitter provided music for the artisans that lived and worked there.

But as avid music lovers, Richard and Chuck dreamed for a ‘real’ radio station that could play high fidelity stereo. An AM or FM license was the only way to accomplish that.

In 2004, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened applications for AM licenses. Richard and Chuck filed an application, but because they weren’t radio pros, fatal mistakes were made in filings and the application was denied.

Gulch Radio tower

Looking up at the new 100 foot+ radio tower built for Gulch Radio, Jerome AZ.

Instead, Gulch Radio became Gulchradio.com, an Internet station that an avid following from Brazil to Japan. More importantly it provided a great learning experience for acquiring technical and production skills and the opportunity to build a vast music library. Today the station has 24,000— most of them purchased from i-Tunes.

In October 2013, Gulch Radio applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a license for a low power FM radio station that had become available for Northern Arizona. The owners hired an engineer and lawyer to make sure the station would be compliance with all the legalities the FCC required and that the complex application was filled out correctly. In early 2014, The FCC awarded Gulch Radio one of its coveted FM licenses.

A station that started small is now the Verde Valley’s newest giant. It can be heard live over 100.5 FM KZRJ-LP and all over the world on Gulchradio.com.

First published: http://verdenews.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=63918


Jerome AZ: Tales from Arriving Hippies

“There were a lot of interviews and stories omitted from Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City, which are included in this blog and many of others on this site. www.homesweetjerome.net

Barbara  Henley: 1970

“For two summers, Guy [her husband way back then] and I camped out in Sycamore Canyon helping a friend dig out a gold mine that he had a claim on. We never did find gold, but we did have a lot of fun. We went back to California to retrieve a small inheritance of $1500 and decided to move to Mexico. We packed our stuff into a van and stopped in Jerome to see our friend Ed. He offered us three houses that he owned for $500 in Mexican town, just below the post office. We gave him the money, moved in, stuffed the holes in the walls with rags and used an oil drum to heat the house and cook on.”

Barbara lives in Jerome, with her new partner Rick in a home below the Hotel Jerome. 

Baehr: A Hippie Reincarnates Himself Twice

As you walk down Gulch Road, where citizens have now added speed bumps to slow cars and discourage traffic, you can still see a tiny  shack, bramble and weed laden with a sign over the door: ‘Baehr the Painter.’  I always wondered about it and now I do.

Baehr the Painter

The shack, rehabilitated from a wrecked garage, is now covered with vines. Photo by Bob Swanson (www.swansonimages.com) was taken circa 1985.

Quote is not attributed because I can’t remember who commented:  “Baehr was one of Jerome’s earliest hippies, long hair, denim dressed, came in to the Candy Kitchen for coffee barefoot and drank it as he squatted near the booths of the Candy Kitchen. He was one strange hippie in a town full of them. He disappeared from town in the sixties and a few years later I saw him at a wild New Year’s party. He walked in, hair cut short to half an inch and wearing a polyester suit. It was his new incarnation as a cop. He was hardly recognizable. Rumor now has it that he is a truck driver in Texas.”

It turns out this was a garage that was rehabilitated when Pat Jackson lived in the house above it and that the sign came from uptown. Here are the before and after photos.

Baehr the Painter

The ruin of the garage before it got rehabilitated. Photo collection of Richard Martin

Baehr the Painter

After garage was cleaned up.
Dan Ellis, Pat Jackson, Patty Westbrook, Leon Nelson finishing up cleaning of Gulch Rd Shed. Photo collection Richard Martin.

Jane Moore just commented on this new blog (see comments below) for further illumination. The comments on these blogs are often as good as the stories.

Mimi Currier, 1970

Jerome looked like Dogpatch. Hardly anything painted. Lots of sagging wood. Lots of boarded up windows and torn up roofs.

The day we moved into our house in the Gulch, it rained and rained. The only ones who stayed dry were the cats who stayed on the bottom floor under the bed. The support posts were eaten by termites and the whole house sat on its doorposts. Nothing was painted. $25 per month plus fixing. We put up a new roof. We jacked it up and put on support posts. We couldn’t hook up the water because we didn’t have a septic. We hauled water from Hilde’s [Rippel Barber] or the nearby stream. We got three ‘burros,’ from John Dempsey who wanted to get rid of and they always got the first drink. We carted up an old outhouse that still had WPA labels on in the back of our ‘57 blue Chevy Air Force pickup that still had AIR POLICE written on the sides and roof. Little truck. Big outhouse.

Mimi  lives in Jerome and is active on the Jerome Humane Society. Her husband Lew is serving on the Jerome Town Council

Scott Owens, Sculptor
I arrived in 1971 after graduating college with a degree in English. I thought I was on my way to get my master’s degree at a university in Oregon. On the way, I visited my friends Benny and Val and ended up living for a few months in a tiny garage in the Gulch. Jerome was a magical place and I couldn’t leave. A few months later I bought a house for $2000 and started carving pipes from pipestone.”

Scott is a fine arts sculptor, working primarily in marble in part of a warehouse he rents from Freeport McMoran.

 

Jerome AZ 1967-1979 NEWCOMERS

Thanks for reaing these blogs and, hopefully, my book Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City. The blogs and the book are different.

List revised per comments February 15, 2015.

A new list of people that moved to Jerome AZ between 1954 and 1967 will be posted soon in my newest blog. The people that lived in Jerome in 1953, after the mines left Jerome to become a village, are posted in my book, Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City. The list was amended slightly in the second printing the third printing will have only a few more corrections. Some continued to live in Jerome until they died. (A few examples would be Ruth Cantrell, Flossie McClellan, John McMillan, the Tamale ladies, Father John.)

Here is a corrected list of hippies/renegades/freethinkers/artists that moved to Jerome AZ between 1967 and 1979. These names were compiled by Diane Sward Rapaport, with thanks to  Mimi and Lew Currier, Susan Dowling (Fox), Diane Johnson, Jane Moore, and Henry Vincent. List later commented on and corrected by Mary Phelps Bachman, Irene Baxter, Pam Clark, Mark Galligan,  Hanna Flagg, Sage Harvey, Richard Hileman (formerly Bob Grand), Carmen (Cox) Kotting, Anita Latch, Steve Murdock, Richard Martin, and Kathleen Williamson and many others that have left comments about who to include.  Thank you all

The accuracy of this list is not vouched for. . .somewhat because there are people that are suggested that moved here in the late fifties and early sixties (like the Bells and the Harris’).  Some hippies that moved here in the seventies were here only a brief few months.  That said, it is interesting to see that the list is important, and will be more so as time goes on. The major question I have is how to get is more accurate?

This is a large list—no wonder the old timers thought of it as an ‘invasion.’  Big population shift.  I just counted 320 including kids (and it’s getting larger),  But it’s tricky.  There were people that were living in Jerome in the seventies but who moved there between 1954 and 1967.  Shorty Powell was one of them (there’s a great photo of him in  Ballad of Laughing Mountain, published in 1957. Or John Riordan who was born in Jerome. After the Vietnam War he returned to Jerome and was living with his grandmother Flossie McClellan. And there is some disagreement as to whether some of these names belong to a list of 1980 newcomers.

Lists like these are very important, particularly to family and friends, as I found when I compiled the list of people that lived in Jerome in 1953 for my book Home Sweet Jerome, Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City.  They are the ones that have helped correct that list (a few more corrections and additions will be made in the third printing.

When there is more or less a complete list here, I’ll turn it over to the Jerome Historical Society.

What is interesting about this list is how many are still living in Jerome (and many close by in the Verde Valley), creating, contributing, etc.

The next task is to try and figure out how many artists (artisans, musicians, writers, etc) this list contains. A lot I know. . but it would be good to break it out like that.

Question: I thought Darien Zalefsky, John Ziegler and Pat Conlin moved after 1979. Does anyone know for sure?  What about the Seavers? Rosemary Martin? Gufstason. I think these were all 1980’s but does anyone know?  Who was Wilma (with Esther Burton)

I loved some of the ‘addendums.’ E.G. from Jane Moore: ” Lee Louden’s first wife was Cindy (Cindy left with Dewey, who was with Priscilla, to catch a flying saucer ride in Oregon along with some other hippies!”  Kathleen Williamson picked up on it and added more. (See comments)

Need last names

Michael and Pat

Baehr the painter who became a cop

Chrystal

Janice (lived with Ferne and Gary Shapiro for awhile

Ernie (ran hippy health food store in the Flatiron)

Dewey who was with Priscilla-now have her last name (Priscilla Rose Lane)

Bongo Bill

Virgo Bill

Red haired Peggy

Sunaguachi (think she changed her name after i moved in 1980) but what was her real name)  came with Shawn/Vajra

Tinker

Little John

Vajra was called Lavender Rose because she sold herbs

Who was Teddy Jepson???

1967-1979   updated 2/15/15
Benny and Val Aldrich

Linda Allen

Dick Armstead

Mary Marc Armstrong

Delores Ashkar

Charley and Faye Aughe

Craig Bacharach

Glenn Baisch

Natalie Barlow

Hilde (Rippel) and Jerry Barber and daughters Christina and Cynthia

Tom Barber (lived with Pat Montreuil in early days)

Don Bassett

Oscar Betz

Irene Baxter and son Russell)

Gayle Belotte (and daughter and son Rennie and Tricia)

Sunshine Bernheim and her children, Oaken, Onami, Cedar and Rainbow

John Binzley

Bill and Betty Bland and Abe

Joanie Brock (son Neeth)

Tom and Karen Brown (educators)

John and Linsey Brower

Esther Burton

Catherine Bailey Campbell and daughter Blair

Jeanne Campbell

Richard Campbell (later moved to Camp Verde) artist

Dan Carey

Earl & Milly Carpenter
Lee Christiansen (and first wife)

Slim Chance

Jeri Clark and daughter Sage and son Lucas Lyerla

Susan Cloud (and Michael Rodriguez)

Bart Coble/Pam Clark and son Troy

Leah Conroe-Luzius

Jill Cooley

Boyd Copper

Richard Cotroneo (‘Crazy Richard’)

Rosie Douville and Jade Colours

Ed Cooper

Mimi and Lew Currier and son Chris

Ramon and Pauline Dana

Ted Darling

Cathy Davidson

Roger Davis

Johm DeWar

Susan and Ed Dowling

Lee Downey

Nancy Driver (and later Dana and Greg)

Rocky and Cele Driver and daughter Kya

Mary Druen and husband??? Jerome Druen

Bob Dunn

Frank Ebert

Jim Faernstrom (came with Natalie Barlow)

Tony Fam

Gary Felix

Karen Fellers (and son Daryl)

Hanna and Richard Flagg (daughter Mica and son Cayum)

John Foster

Bob Frey

Mary Frey

Noel Fray

Jodelle (Jody) French

Diane Freer

Mark Galligan

Joe Garfunkel (‘Guacamole Joe’)

Diane Geoghegan

Ferne Goldman

Bob Grand (Went back to his old name Richard Hileman and now lives in Clarkdale))

Sonny and Wanda Gurley

Dave and Debbie Hall and Debbie’s sister Suzanne

Carole Hand

Sue Hand

Joe Haney (First wife was Jeanne Moss)

Guy and Barbara Henley (daughter Jasmina and son Elijah)

Vince Henry and Marci, and their children Dawn, Crescent, Carlos, Jason and Deborah.

Linda Heidenreich

Michael Higginson plus (wife ?and their kids, Aurora Wind and Sky)

Stuart and Jean Hood and daughter Carson

Gail Hull (lived with Mad Michael Smith for a few years)

Pat Jacobson

Les Johnson

Richard Johnson

Ed Johnson

Diane Johnson and daughter Cherry

Bart Koble/Pam Clark (were they here in seventies or did they move here in eighties?)

Bob and Dixie Koble (not hippies)

Carmen (Cox) Kotting

Mick King

James Kinsella (brother Jay arrived in eighties)

Priscilla Rose Lane (and Dewey, her boyfriend?)

Suzi Langton (was she here in the seventies)

Anita Latch (was with Bob Grand (now Hileman) for a time)

Annabel Lee

Katie Lee and Jo van Leeuwen

Ray Levy

Neil and Noel Logan

Paula and Pam Logan (the twins). . .see Bo Wilson

Nancy and Lee Louden (daughter Nina); Lee’s first wife was Cindy; and Nancy Louden was Nancy Dubin before she married Lee

Moses McCormick

Jim and Cheryl McCully and son Brad and daughter Molly

Kelly McKee

Joanne McKeever

Craig and Shirley McLain

John and Iris McNerney

Rosemary Martin

Pat and John Mathews (Did they come in the seventies or earlier)

Erin Madden

Moses Malone (and counterfitter??)

Erin Madden

Murat Maneth

Richard and Pat Jackson Martin. Shawn, Ian and Evan were Pat’s kids by another marriage; Adam was Richard and Pat’s son.

Rosemary Martin

Greg and Sue Martz

Willy and Kathy Matthews

Judith Menkelenin now Brown the Astrologer run out of Town for being a witch

Dan Meyers and sister Jane (who then became Jane Meyers Waddell)

Ed Milazzo

Jamie Moffett

Nell Moffett

Dick Moll

Terry Molloy (ad girlfriend Lorrie)

Pat Montreuil

Jeanne Moss (came with husband Joe Haney)

Jane and Dave Moore

Randy and Crystal Murdock

Tom and Truly Murphy

Leon Nelson

Scott and Carol Nesselrode

Mike Neuman

Mary Nickerson

Paul Nonnast

Nancy Norman

Marybeth Phelps (Bachman) and daughter Rayna

Linda Quaid and daughter Rebecka

Billy and Laura (or Laurie?) Platt

Rick Oberlin

Gary and Shirley Olson

Scott and Ruth Owens and their daughter Anne

Bob Palm and Ted Darling

Linda Perry

Hilde Rippel and Jerry Barber

Marcella Robinson

Michael Rodriguez

Ed Roland (‘Black Ed’)

James Rome and Marilyn

Gary Romig and Pam Fullerton Romig
 and son Lars

Dave Rentz

Charles Runyon (Chuck/s dad) and Ruth, and sons Matt and Mark

Chuck and Karen Runyon

Dick Ryan and sister Laurie (house burned down in the Gulch)

John Sajner

Gabe Sajner

Pat Scanlan

Michael Schuh

Paul Scott

Alethea Selaya

Gary Shapir
0

DeDe Shamel

David Skimmins

Michael Smith (‘Mad Michael’)

Nancy Smith (dauhters Crystal and Sarah)

Richard Spudich

Ivy and Gig Stearman

Beth Steele

Nancy Stewart (and son Abe)

Harry Stewart

Glen Stockton

Will Stone

Kim and Caroline Talbott (caroline was second wife; Gayle Belotte was his first wife and daughter Trish, and Rennie (son)

Paula Taylor and Michael Kamrar

Liz Terrell

Michael Thompson

Phil and Peggy Tovrea

John Tudan

Jerome Tweedy

Doyle Vines

David Vogel

Lindsey and Jane Waddell

Dan Waddell

Tracey Weisel

Jeanne Welch

Tom Welch (bought Villa Zero from Esther Burton (who named it that)

David White

Kathleen Williamson

Bo Wilson (was with Paula—twins with Pam—need last names)


Carol Wittner

Grey Wolf

John Yates

Jim and Karen Youell andchildren Ty and Phaedra

Charlene Zack

Darien Zalefsky

 

Jerome AZ Seesaw: Riches to Rags to Riches

Marshall Terrill, an author and a reporter for the East Valley Tribune, emailed me and said he loved my book Home Sweet Jerome and wanted to write something about it.  It’s every author’s dream. After I got his email, I looked him up. He is noted for his biographies of Elvis Presley, Steve McQueen and Pete Maravich, basketball great. Wow, I thought to myself, what an honor.

Terrill wrote me questions and asked me to write the answers and to please stick to two paragraphs. They were good questions and I thought a long time about how to answer them. The article Terrill posted was wonderful. My answers, way too long, were shortened. Here’s his article, which was generous and praiseworthy: http://eastvalleytribune.com/eedition/page_42427fd9-1903-594e-9f23-e06eb4f4ee05.html#page_a14

For the historical record, here’s the long version of my answers.

Difference between Aboveground and Below Ground Jerome AZ

Terrill: 1.) Give us a taste of what Jerome when it was a thriving copper town before 1953?’

 The major boom years were 1895 to about 1930 with a population peaking at about 15,000. Two mines worked full time, employing about 4000 people, and pulling out some of the richest copper ore ever seen in America. Aboveground, Jerome AZ was a rich and glamorous city, the center of Northern Arizona with the finest hospitals and schools; and plenty of social activities, not all savory.

Below ground, in the city of 88 miles of tunnels, life was not so glamorous. For the working miner, it was a 12-hour hardscrabble life, with plenty of dust to infect your lungs, and where being able to shower after work on company time was considered a ‘perk.’

The Dry

“The Dry” where me showered after work— first they showered off all the muck; then took off their clothes and hung them high in the rafters to dry, headless ghosts of the men below, Photo by Bob Swanson (www.SwansonImages.com). The Dry no longer exists. It was razed circa 2005.

In the nineteen thirties, a number of events began to turn Jerome in a downward direction, including the depression, the sale of the United Verde to Phelps Dodge, and the drop of copper prices after World War II.

Environmental Degradation: Mining’s Biggest Insensitivity

Terrill 2) You cite 1953 as a sort of Ground Zero for Jerome when Phelps Dodge discontinued mining. My jaw dropped when I read about how the company not only pulled out of town, but salvaged parts of buildings and took anything of value before leaving Jerome. Was this sort of behavior par for the course with other copper mining towns or was Jerome’s case particularly insensitive?

It was standard operating procedure, however insensitive and cruel it was. You close down a mine and salvage what can be re-used. If you could give employees jobs in your other mines, you did. The rest of the people you forgot about and took no responsibility for. Move or stay was their problem. The Mexican laborers and their families who had built their own houses, pulled them down, salvaging what they could, and went to find jobs elsewhere. The houses that Phelps Dodge built for employees, usually management and middle management, were either torn down or shut down or put on flatbeds and carted away to other towns. The hospital, United Verde apartments and company hills houses were boarded up and the electricity shut off. The 4-story Miller Building, the company store, was pulled down to avoid taxes and potential liabilities from what Phelps Dodge called ‘safety issues.’ Nor was their any expectation that the 140 or so adults and 86 children that stayed behind, would have the wherewithal, the money or the will, to continue living in Jerome and maintain the infrastructure. “Jerome is finished,” one mining official said. “Within a year grass will grow on Main Street.”

Perhaps the biggest insensitivity, if you could put that rather bland word on it, was the immense environmental degradation Phelps Dodge walked away from. Not just in Jerome, but in the Verde Valley. But remember, this was the fifties. There were no environmental laws in place. No law equaled no responsibility.

Toxic tailings

When it rained, water that was contaminated with copper sulfate flowed through the taiiings and into Bitter Creek, turning the water azure. Photo by Bob Swanson (www.swansonimages.com)

Supernatural Attachment.

Terrrill 3.) Jerome was literally a ghost town in the 1950s and 1960s. For the few people who stayed behind, what did they state their reasons were given the poor conditions of homes, sewer, water and power?

First, Jerome was never a ghost town. That was an invention of the Jerome Historical Society as a way of encouraging tourism. Jerome was a village that 220-300 people lived in, with perhaps 100 houses and maybe eight buildings that weren’t being lived in. The high school, with the exception of a few years, was still operating in 1972. If you stayed in Jerome after the fifties, you kept up your house as much as you could. The houses that were not lived—such as those on Company Hill— in deteriorated pretty fast. And the big problem that emerged with advertising Jerome as a ghost town was that many tourists became predators who thought they somehow entitled to the ‘leavings.’ They would wander into houses that obviously looked lived in and become entirely surprised to find someone quite offended.

Jerome's "Pretend Ghosts"

Jerome Historical Society members dressed up as “Spooks: on Main Street in the nineteen fifties to help publicize Jerome as a ghost city. Courtesy Jerome Historical Society

Virtually everyone that stayed, or moved there in the fifties and sixties, talked about the love they had for Jerome, one that I characterize as a supernatural attachment. They always talked of the superb views. People that left and came to visit told me they always wanted to come back to live there again. And people that did live there in the fifties and sixties told me what how peaceful, enjoyable and quiet village life was. For sure the kids had a superb life, the mines, the tunnels, the empty buildings and homes were just one big massive playground that was entirely open to them. And then, layered into all that, was the sense that everyone was working towards the town’s restoration, and there was some sense of hope that someday, Jerome would become a history Mecca, and later, an art Mecca—even though towards the end of the sixties, the town needed something of a miracle to stay alive, not just in terms of fixing its deteriorating infrastructure but its very poor economy. In those years, Jerome was one of the poorest towns in the state.

Love, Need and Hope

Terrill 5.) The late 1960s and early 1970s saw an invasion of dissatisfied hippies move into town and had to not only intermingle with the old-timers, but had to come together in planning the future of Jerome. How did that happen?

Well, that’s the whole book and more, and it’s the question that impelled me to writing it, and what probably makes the book a fascinating read. Love, need and hope make powerful allies. That’s what binds uncommon people together, overcomes antipathy and impels them forward in a common mission. Virtually everyone shared a love of the town, a need to make sure it didn’t fall down the mountain, and a hope that it could become a viable place to live.

“The way I felt about it, I kind of resented it at first, this hippie group moving in,” said John McMillan, one of the most respected of the town elders. “But I found there were some pretty smart kids among them and they got into the politics of Jerome and took over the Town Council and did a pretty good job. I don’t resent that at all because these old timers, they can’t run the damn place forever.”

Restoration didn’t happen all at once, but what made it start to happen, is that the hippies became ‘joiners.’ Some joined the fire department; some joined the historical society; some ran for town council, and so on. And it wasn’t so much that there was a plan, but a need to get infrastructure in order, town accounting organized in order to get grants. And the other piece, the one that’s the most controversial, is that the hippies began to grow large marijuana gardens that brought cash into town and enabled everything from artists starting their own businesses to having the money to rebuild their houses. When you add income to love, hope and need, and begin to build a viable economy, then suddenly a future for Jerome became a whole lot more possible.

Riches to Rags

Terrill 5.) What inspired you to research the history of Jerome and make you want to put it all down in book form?

I wanted to know the history of where I had chosen to live. When I moved to Jerome in 1979, several layers of history were entirely visible and wove in and out of each other, but without context. There were large amounts of mining wastes and a big open pit; a denuded mountain; large houses on Company Hill that looked like they were ready to fall apart and were emblematic of what I heard was a ghost town; large, boarded buildings, such as the hospital, or the Daisy Hotel which was windowless and roofless. And because the town was encompassed in about one square mile of real estate and only had about 400 people living there, my first question was how did Jerome swing from rich to decrepit.

A typical house wreck in Jerome AZ

One of my all time favorites ruins, now the cover of the book Rich Town Poor Town. In 1985, the building was in perfect splay when Bob took the shot. Then it fell down. (Photo by Bob Swanson, www.swansonimages.com)

Although there was a fair amount written about the boomtown mining days, what happened afterwards was scant. So I started asking. Old-timers and newcomers began telling me stories that edged on preposterous—how Jerome’s mortician flew over the town in the sixties and threw out seeds of paradise trees; how the historical society acquired most of downtown for $10; how the biggest theft in Jerome was money hidden in the church and discovered after the priest died in 1979. So if you were a historian, like me by education and curiosity, you became a detective that was sucked into researching the veracity of those stories. I became hooked. And the more I heard and studied, the more devilishly contradictory and intriguing it all became. It was as though I found myself in the middle of a movie, in which I was playing some role that wasn’t quite clear to me, with a cast of extraordinary heroes and scoundrels that had already been part of many dramas. So there we all were, careening towards a future for Jerome that was not possible to predict, in a falling down town. Better than any novel you could concoct.

Rags to Riches: America’s Loveliest Town

Terrill 6.) What is your view of Jerome today, and has it reached its full maturity?

I would use the word restoration instead of maturity. With a few exceptions, Jerome has reached full restoration. Jerome has become the art and history Mecca that residents had hoped for. The town draws more than a million visitors a year. Business is booming. If you visit Jerome in the early morning or even after five when the visitors more or less disappear, what you would see is an astonishing lovely village, perhaps one of the most beautiful in America, surrounded by empty land that is beginning to be reforested and a breathtakingly beautiful eighty mile panoramic view of valleys and canyons that changes with the weather and time of day—“heaven on earth” as photographer Ron Chilston likes to say. Buildings on Main Street, the Grand Hotel, Douglas Mansion, The Little Daisy, have been lavishly restored. Many rebuilt homes are beautiful and comfortable. Those old decrepit Company Hill houses are now jewels on the hill. The whole town has become an oasis—one huge garden of flowers with thousands of pine and fruit trees. A variety of activities can accommodate visitors of every taste and age, from looking for ghosts to sipping wine or cappuccino, dancing to rock ‘n roll, to visiting Jerome’s mining museums, to going to the quirky museum of old trucks at the Gold King Mine (which was never a gold mine).

Fall in Jerome AZ

“Fall in Jerome” by Mark Hembleben, a plein air artist currently living and painting in Jerome. Hembleben has an art studio in the old Mingus Union High School. The painting shows why artists love to paint this lovely village. (www.markhemleben.com).

But for many residents, there is a downside to success. Lots of cars and motorcycles go up and down the hill daily and with them a lot of noise and low rumble. Quite a few people own homes right on the main highway and noise and fumes from cars creeping into the houses are intolerable. A kind of frenetic people bedlam makes it less pleasant to be uptown or even near it during the day. And then there is some fear that the income that can now be commanded from vacation rentals will mean a decrease in residential population, a decrease in taxes coming into the town, and a degradation of the community spirit that once re-built the town.

Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City by Diane Sward Rapaport

New Life for Jerome Arizona’s Holy Family Catholic Church

When Scott Kolu sang “Salve Regina,” a traditional hymn to the Virgin Mary, from the balcony of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Jerome a few years ago, I was transfixed. I felt as though heaven was singing right through me and down to the beautiful old altar. The church’s acoustics were perfection.

Interior corner of the HOly Family Catholic Church in Jerome AZ

These sweet statues that were once part of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Jerome AZ are being repaired. The window painting was removed in the nineteen nineties. Photo by Bob Swanson. http://www.SwansonImages.com

Scott, a baritone, who once sang with the Royal Hawaiian Opera Company, is the cantor, caretaker, historian and advocate for the restoration of the oldest church in Jerome.

He wasn’t always Catholic. He was a renegade from growing up in a family of conservative Orthodox Jews with a Rabbi father and converted to Catholicism eleven years ago. Today, he lives in the Holy Family Catholic Church’s convent, where he can monitor day-to-day restoration.

A year and a half ago, Scott outlined the structural problems of the church and his dreams for renovation to Father David Kalesh, pastor of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Cottonwood. The three-story brick and stone back wall facing Main Street is bowed, its foundation crumbling, mortar for its brick and stone façade in need of repointing.

The Holy Family Catholic Church is one of the oldest churches in JErome, AZ

Image of the Holy Family Catholic Church as depicted in an old postcard of Jerome, AZ.

Not surprising for a building that was built in 1896, burned in the fire of 1898, and was rebuilt as a brick and stone structure in 1899-1900. It was known as the ‘miner’s church.

Father David and Scott Kolu became strong allies.

Together they are bringing Jerome’s Holy Family Catholic Church back to life. Father David conducts Mass on the third Saturday of each month at 8:30 a.m. When long-time and much loved Jerome resident Don Walsh died in late September, a funeral service was held to a packed church of family and friends.

“The church has immense historic value,” Father David told me. “Most important are the memories the church holds for former parishioners and their families who visit Jerome. I would like to help the church become the polished jewel that it once was.”

After Father Juan Atucha Gorostiaga (Father John) died in 1979, the church interior was in shabby condition. Some funds for repair came from money that was recovered from the discovery of its theft from the church. The night after Father John died, one of Jerome’s hippie newcomers discovered someone coming out of the church with garbage bags. The thief fled, and the garbage bags, full of silver coin and old bills, were handed over to the police. When they looked inside the church, more money was found. According to Ron Ballatore, one of the policemen, $8000 was recovered. “The Phoenix diocese asked that it be given to three of his loyal parishioners for fixing up the church,” said Ballatore in an interview that I did with him in the 1980’s. “What happened to it after that I don’t know. I do know that Tony [Anthony Lozano, Sr.] spent years repairing that church pretty much on his own.” (A more complete version of these stories are found in my Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City. www.homesweetjerome.net)

Lozano’s work included cleaning the interior of the building, repainting the altar and sanctuary, and making repairs to the antique pipe organ. “Unfortunately, the roof leaks above the organ were neglected, and a big rainstorm in 1981 inflicted a lot of damage,” Scott Kolu said as he showed me the rotten felt and damaged rubber gaskets on each key.

Interior HOly Family Catholic Church, Jerome AZ.

This is how the interior of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Jerome AZ looked in 1985. The lifelike statue of Saint Anthony Mary Claret was stolen then mysteriously returned and thrown on the floor of the church, breaking it into pieces. Photo by Bob Swanson. www.SwansonImages.com

The organ, designed especially for smaller churches, was built by the prestigious Kilgen and Sons Pipe Organ Company in St. Louis in the early nineteen hundreds. Only two others of the same compact design still remain in the United States. (Perhaps the most well known Kilgen church pipe organ is housed in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.)

“We are ecstatic that Mr. Charles Kegg, President and Artistic Director of Kegg Pipe Organ Builders (www.keggorgan.com) is willing to take on the restoration project,” Scott said.

I sent an email to Mr. Kegg and asked him why.

“I would like to restore it to its original condition so that it can remain an example of this almost extinct style of American pipe organ,” he said. “The pipe organ in Jerome is rather unusual. . . It was being sent to a place where electricity probably didn’t exist at all at the time, so this organ was built using methods from the mid-19th century and with the intention that it must play under difficult circumstances with little or no maintenance. This was not uncommon at all for remote locations. . . Jerome must have been an outpost much more remote than other locations that would want a pipe organ. Another thing that makes it unusual is that it has survived, virtually intact.”

Scott is in the process of restoring the altar and sanctuary to some of the glory that Tony Lozano accomplished. During the nineteen-nineties, well-meaning seminarians repainted the altar and painted over the two golden images of The Holy Ghost and All-seeing Eye of God with their white fluffy clouds above them. “You can still see their faint outlines beneath the paint, so they can be redone,” Scott said.

The seminarians also removed the old window paintings of the Twelve Apostles in the sanctuary and The Holy Family that graced the large window in the church’s balcony. “Eventually we will find a way to replace them,” said Scott. “I already have an arrangement with Penelope Davis, who runs the kid’s art program in Jerome, to repaint a more modern holy family in the large balcony window.”

“At least the tin ceiling wasn’t repainted,” I remarked. “In 1984, I walked in to the church to see Tony Lozano painting the blue fleur de lis designs on the ceiling with his fingers. He was a most devout man.”

“I sorely miss the statue of Saint Anthony Mary Claret that used to stand in the back of the church.” I told Scott. “It was so lifelike that it unnerved me every time I visited. Sadly, the statue was stolen sometime in the nineties.” (St. Anthony founded the Claretian order.)

“The finale of that story is that the statue was returned,” Scott said. “Someone dumped it on the floor of the church, and it broke into pieces. Now only the bust remains. Such a desecration.”

Scott’s passion for restoring the church is equaled by his love of the town of Jerome.

“I’ve been coming to Jerome since the nineteen eighties,” Scott said. “The beauty of this town isn’t just the view, but like the church, every step you take, you know someone else has taken that same step. I love the fact that I fit in. There’s a belonging that you get here that you don’t find anywhere else.”

I quoted him the lines from Kate Wolf’s song “Old Jerome.” (Complete lyrics are found in the author’s book Home Sweet Jerome.

They say that once you live here, you’ll you never really leave,          

The town has a hold on you until the day you die.

“I don’t know whether you never really leave Jerome or whether Jerome doesn’t leave you,” Scott replied.

Before I left the church, Scott rang the well-functioning bell, made and smelted by a 17-year old living in Jerome who went on to become a bell maker. Its peals resounded throughout the church and town. “You have to know how to pull it straight for the clobber to hit it decently,” Scott said. I tried. It was too heavy for me to even get a good pull. I thanked him for his time.

The article was first published in the Verde Independent newspaper in Cottonwood, AZ. The photo gallery featuring Vyto Starinskas’ photos are spectacular. http://verdenews.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=63344

Today, I heard from my Facebook friends that a new business downstairs was going to replace Scott. Worse, Scott was going to have a hard time finding a place to live in a town that always made room for people it loved that had contributed positively towards the town. Jerome has turned scrooge: what counts these days, more than compassion and humanity is money, and this in a place that professes those values. A blasphemy, indeed.

(Diane Sward Rapaport is the author of Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City. www.homesweetjerome.net The blogs are different from the stories that are included in the book, but the book does include some great stories about Father John, the beloved priest who died in the late 1970’s.  The book is available in many stores in Jerome or for $18 post paid by sending me a check at Box 398, Hines OR 97738. Happy New Year. I’ll include an autograph. Diane Rapaport )