Farewell Barbara Blackburn. Rest in Peace.

Barbara Blackburn was the reason Walt, Max and I moved to Jerome, Arizona. Greg Driver called today to say she had ‘passed.’

Barbara came to Jerome, AZ  when she left San Francisco in the arms of Dean, who was ‘throwing’ tires—vernacular for someone who repaired them. He was a handsome con man who convinced Barbara he was a talented photographer. She sold her home, bought a little travel trailer, some photo equipment for him, and off they went, landing in Sedona some months after, the money gone up their noses in a lot of cocaine.

A Sedona bartender told her she should look into Jerome. The first day in Jerome, Barbara put $15,000, the last of her money, into buying the Old Bakery and adjacent duplex, where she lived while she began to remodel the old Bakery building. It took her another six months or so to get rid of Dean.

Bakery ovens JeromeVarious_312

The old bakery ovens are still hanging around in the back yard of one of my friends. (Photo by Bob Swanson)

No Turkeys

We arrived in Jerome at 5 a.m. No cars on Main Street. No people. No sun. No nada. We’re dead-tired, think to catch a ‘motel’ in Clarkdale, which was a empty as Jerome. Turn around to explore Jerome’s ramshackle, twisty streets, for some sign of where Barbara might live. And after about ten minutes we notice a ‘NoTurkeys’ sign in a window.

Barbara greets us with a big smile and a joint. It’s nonstop party for the next three days with the hippies of Jerome. We were enchanted and totally exhausted by the time we left. Barbara invited us to stay with her when we moved.

A Magnanimous Dual Personality

Barbara was the only person I knew who had a dual  personality that she successfully kept together for years and years in San Francisco and Jerome: a banker/CEO/financial wizard by day and at night, a hippie that drank, smoke and dropped LSD, only to show up in straight work clothes the next day for whatever job she held. She was magnanimous, welcoming,  and inclusive to all she met, ready with a smile, cup of coffee, a joint, a meal.

She became CEO for John McNerney’s Jerome Instrument Corporation, and helped propel it into a four million dollar business.  Her special gift was knowing how to make a workplace easy for people to be in

JIC Circa 1980

Front step left: Nell Moffett Second Step: L-R: Paul Nonnast, Ester Burton, Darrell Fellers (Karen Fellers’ son) Third step: L-R: Iris McNerney, Kathy Davidson Fifth Step: L-R Ron Ballatore’s daughter Stephanie; Karen Gorman, Mary Nickerson, Susan Kinsella, Barbara Blackburn/ Sixth step: Lindsey Waddell (John Waddell’s son); Ed Dowling; Randy Murdock; Upper step: Sandra Strong, Carol Nesselrode, Pat Montreuil, Roger Davis Photo taken just after JIC moved from Earl Bell’s old lab near the Douglas Mansion in late 1980.

Barbara’s Acid Punch

She had a gift for making instant friends and weaving them into her life. She was a great hostess and her Bakery home became party central, for any occasion, for any friend that visited.

She was known for her acid (LSD) punch, a special for parties. Two very memorable ones were a JIC company party down at the river and a Valentines Party to commemorate a new office Barbara and I shared.

4 cans large Frozen Pink Lemonade

2 quarts gingerale

2 quarts club soda

2 bottles cheap champagne

1/2 gallon raspberry sherbert

100 hits of acid

The Great Outdoors

Many of our friends will tell you about rafting and backpacking with Barbara into many wildernesses. But our personal favorite was a ten-day backpack down Red Canyon in the Grand Canyon, with Walt and Greg Driver, to whom she was married for ten years. We hiked in the early morning hours; found a shaded cubbyholes to hide in during the heat of the day, played bridge, smoked joint after joint, and yes, dropped acid.

Would love if readers of this memorial would share favorite stories in the ‘comments’ section.

The Jerome Defense Fund

Barbara, Sue Kinsella and I formed “The Jerome Defense Fund” association and solicited donations for defendants of the Big Bust of 1985 to help them pay bail bond and legal fees. We held regular meetings, attended by many of those accused and their friends, and it became something between an information conduit and outlet for grief. We held a benefit dance, called Jail House Rock, with the help of 127 volunteers (twenty-seven of them musicians).

The Main Street stores, without exception, and many artists, made contributions for the large raffle that was held at the dance. We raised over $4,500 and split it among the defendants that needed money, including those who did not live in Jerome. Although it made a very small dent in what amounted to more than $75,000 in legal fees, the heart and solidarity behind it meant a great deal to the defendants.

Leaving Jerome
Barbara left Jerome the way she came in to it, in the arms of a con man that she met in a bar in Baja California. He claimed he was wealthy and owned a helicopter company in Tahoe that removed old growth trees. He had a special gift for cutting her off from her friends. John McNerney commented that he didn’t know any wealthy guys who had bad teeth.What was amazing was that Barbara didn’t find out just how strange he was until two years later when she got a phone call from the cops in Colorado who had arrested him with a car stolen from a dealership in Cottonwood, which he presented to her as a gift.

Last Communication: June 2016

“I have changed my life recently – moved from the mountains of Colorado to a more hospitable climate and one I could afford to live in: Albuquerque.  The medical services and doctors I can get here are wonderful and I am so in need.

Have had 4 stents placed -2 in femoral arteries and 2 in main aorta but yet have I have pulmonary arterial disease and congestive heart failure- both of which will not be corrected –-  “too much damage not enough benefit “-   have bought a sweet little home here in the old residential section of Albuquerque – and no snow!  Am on oxygen 24/7 and will always be – just trying to get my self strong enough  to walk more than ¼ block… it is a different life for me – but as an 82 year old said to me recently “at my age you do one day at a time”  ……. damn smoking finally took its toll

It’s been nice remembering the good days in Jerome.  Greg Driver called a couple of days ago – just to say hello – that was sweet.

Think of you and Walter often – hope life is still good in Oregon….hugs and kisses to you both.”

Razing the T.F Miller Building: Jerome, AZ 1953

In early 1953, speculation ran high that the entire town of Jerome, AZ would be razed. According to a former official of Phelps Dodge, “WITHIN A YEAR – GRASS WILL GROW ON THE MAIN STREET OF JEROME—JEROME IS FINISHED.”[1]

It was an easy time for the mining companies that abandoned Jerome to begin bulldozing town buildings. Phelps Dodge Corporation (PD) and United Verde Exploration (UVX) owned the land underneath Jerome, many lots and buildings on Main Street, the schools and hospital and much of the land surrounding the town for many miles.

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The iconic T.F. Miller building was ordered to be torn down by Phelps Dodge in 1953. “Jerome is finished,” a mine official said. Kids were paid a penny a piece to clean the bricks. (Photo courtesy: Jerome Historical Society)

In early 1953, bulldozing began. First to go was the T.F. Miller company store, which held sentinel at the top of town, facing down Main Street, a handsome four-story building, with its brick and sandstone façade. The building was the lifeblood of the mining community—a symbol of the dominant place it occupied in the lives of its residents. William Andrews Clark, founder of the United Verde Mine, built it in 1899 at a cost of $100,000, a grand price in those days. The large fire of 1899 caused only some warping of the I-Beams on the fourth floor and these were quickly repaired. It had been handsomely maintained. Jerome resident Joe Selna was still operating the commissary in the first part of 1953.

By the end of 1953, only rubble remained.

In October, Phelps Dodge Corporation sold the building to Joel Baldwin, Yavapai County Assessor in Prescott, AZ, for fifty dollars with the agreement that he tear it down. PD said the building was a ‘fire trap’ and that the Con OKeefe building next to was pushing dangerously against it. The Town of Jerome granted Baldwin a demolition permit with the agreement that he clean up the lot after the building was torn down and asked for $200 check as a guarantee. Baldwin sold the materials at salvage prices to a company in Los Angeles.

Baldwin also demolished the Ewing Transfer Building on Lower Main Street. Verde Exploration Ltd. pulled down The Con O’Keefe Building . It looked like the gloomy prophecy about uptown Jerome turning to grass might be coming to pass.

Although the O’Keefe building lot was cleaned up to the satisfaction of the town, Baldwin left a large rubble at the site of the T.F. Miller and Ewing buildings. Town letters of complaint to Baldwin and PD were stonewalled and the Town had to eventually clean up the rubble. To add insult to injury, Baldwin’s cleanup guarantee check bounced.[2]

Robert Sandoval, who was born in Jerome, had this to say in an interview with me: “When the Miller building was demolished, my brother Jesse and me cleaned bricks. They were stacked on pallets, 500 per pallet. We got a penny a brick. We’d use a small hatchet to get the mortar off. We got so we could clean a pallet of bricks an hour. I remember ten to fifteen kids cleaning bricks., even some girls. Everyone had their own pallet

The demolition of those buildings served as a wakeup call for the Jerome Historical Society. During the Society’s December 5 meeting, “Mr. McMillan moved that the secretary write the Verde Exploration[3] and the Phelps Dodge Corporation asking that we be given a chance to discuss the sale of any building that may be put up for sale in Jerome. We don’t want to remove them, but will assume taxation and liability for any damage.”[4] The society also appointed a committee to investigate acquiring buildings in Jerome.

In February 1954, The Society wrote to Verde Exploration asking if they could purchase the Mine Museum building, which they had been renting for fifteen dollars a month. Verde Exploration Manager, Clarence J. Beale wrote that the company would be willing to sell the building at a salvage price of seventy-five dollars and the paid-up rentals would be considered as payment for the lot. The Society voted to send $150.00 to purchase the building.

For the first time, Society took a giant step towards leveraging itself into becoming stewards of Main Street buildings. Board members worked closely together in signage, repairs, promotion, welded together strongly by a single goal— community building on a scale they hardly imagined when they began the society. Night after night, members met to rescue a shipwreck of a town and, at the same time, sail themselves out of the doldrums.

The Society began to replace PD’s threat of grass growing on Main Street with their motto, “The Past is our Future.”

In those days, neither money nor power drove their dreams forward, particularly remarkable when you look at a very wealthy town whose values today seem to be solely defined by money and power.

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

[1] News Bulletin, Jerome Historical Society newsletter, 1955.

[2] The Jerome Chronicle, Summer 1987, ‘The T.F. Miller company Building; Margaret Heyer Mason, “The 1950’s, “Jerome in Transition”, paper presented for the Jerome Historical Society Symposium, 1982.

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Dealing with Fear of Apocalypse

(Posted many months ago, but apropos post election)

Once again, history began at breakfast. Four horsemen trumpet apocalypse: conquest, war, famine and death. Yesterday’s news has already been eclipsed. Shocking surprises; the potential for disillusion. “Life is changing fast,” I say to myself. “Can’t keep up.”

The Four Horsemen: Conquest, War, Famine and Death

“Four Horsemen of Apocalypse” by the Russian artist Viktor Vasnetsov (1887)

Months ago, at a vista in Canyonlands National Park, the slow changes that sculpted this wilderness of pinnacles, canyons and rivers occured long before the creation of the four horsemen from the last book of the New Testament. The rocks I stood on were once ocean.

The doll'shouse formation was sculpted in slow time

View of the Dollhouse formations from the Golden Stairs in Canyonlands National Park. Photo by Hanna Flagg

In this scale, whatever legacies that ancient races left behind are lost in the detritus of petroglyphs and ruins—symbols of greatness and transience. Here, whatever news is brought to me at breakfast disappears into the breath of the wind.

On these pinnacles,  I start the slow movements of tai chi. The roots of the juniper and pinon coil downwards, forging pathways into sandstone. In the chalky dirt, I move carefully around the petrified logs of a pine forest that existed some 200 million years ago. The cataclysm that buried it happened quickly; yet the processes that mineralized the wood occurred particularly slowly.

Petrified wood and juniper forest

Petrified wood and juniper forest in Canyonlands National Park. Photo by Hanna Flagg/

Tai chi slows down my internal rhythms and grounds me into this present moment. The twin forests of death and rebirth at my feet remind me about the yin and yang cycles of change and the rhythms of fast and slow time. These will continue beyond any future I can project and any fears of apocalypse that bring knots to my stomach

If this wilderness, in its pristine and natural disarray, had not been preserved so that I could visit and quiet myself down, it would be more difficult not to give in to primal bewilderment. History would always begin at breakfast with visits of the four horsemen filling me with dread. I would protect myself by hoarding my treasures, arming myself with guns, and guarding my larders full of food and water. Greed and loneliness would become constant companions.

Instead, tai chi purges me of meanness; restores my enthusiasm and curiosity; helps me recover equilibrium in times of strong and confusing changes.

This afternoon in Hines, Oregon, students and I practiced tai chi, with the tall pines and yellow leafed aspens for companions.  It helped quell anxiety; reminded us to try and follow a path of peace, compassion and balance.

It’s what I can do.

The doll'shouse formation was sculpted in slow time

View of the Dollhouse formations from the Golden Stairs in Canyonlands National Park. Photo by Hanna Flagg

Adios, John McNerney

Note: Trying to move posts around. Put Malheur Siege and Music Biz blogs on “Pages.”  Want to have just Home Sweet Jerome blogs appear here.  Also: will be doing a digital version of the book and will include a few blogs that did not appear in the book.  Any favorites?

John McNerney, founder of Jerome Instrument Corporation (JIC), Jerome, Arizona in 1979, died on May 20 at his home in Todos Santos, Baja, Mexico. Iris, his wife was with him, as were a few of his closest friends. The lung infection he had battled with for many years finally caught up with him. He was 78 years old.

He was a 40-year friend. The sadness I feel is compounded with the recognition that as we grow old, our friends disappear around us. They become memories we carry in our hearts, but they cannot substitute for the comradeship, wisdom, stories and laughter that wove in and out of our histories as friends.

John and Iris moved to Jerome in 1973: “We bought a house for $13,000 in a desolate and empty town,” John told me. “It was all we could afford and the view was astounding. The first winter was brutal, there was one wood stove for four rooms, and no insulation. When the wind blew, the upstairs floor rippled. The cast of characters was astounding, old school bohemians and hordes of hippies that always seemed to be talking about how stoned they were. I had a patent on a mercury detector I couldn’t sell, my geology pick, and an old rusty saw. I bought a few tools and set myself up as a furniture maker.”  (Excert from “Arrival Tales” in the book Home Sweet Jerome: http://www.amazon.com/Home-Sweet-Jerome-Rebirth-Arizonas/dp/1555664547/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1463867069&sr=8-1&keywords=home+sweet+jerome

John volunteered to help re-invent the planning and design policies and reorganize the fire department. Iris took a job waitressing at the old Candy Kitchen restaurant (now Mile High).

JIC: Lifting Jerome out of Economic Depression

JIC was one of the catalysts that lifted Jerome out its economic depression and ghost town ‘appearance.’ (The others were the beginnings of a burgeoning art colony and a guerilla marijuana growing business.)

JIC Circa 1980

Photo of John and Iris and JIC’s employees in 1980, just after they moved into the old Jeorme high school. Front step left: Nell Moffett Second Step: L-R: Paul Nonnast, Ester Burton, Darrell Fellers (Karen Fellers’ son) Third step: L-R: Iris McNerney, John McNerney, Kathy Davidson Fifth Step: L-R Ron Ballatore’s daughter Stephanie; Karen Gorman, Mary Nickerson, Susan Kinsella, Barbara Blackburn Sixth step: Lindsey Waddell (John Waddell’s son); Ed Dowling; Randy Murdock; Upper step: Sandra Strong, Carol Nesselrode, Pat Montreuil, Roger Davis. Photo courtesy John McNerney collection.

John invented and began manufacturing a superior mercury vapor detector. One of JIC’s biggest buyers was the US Navy, which installed them on its submarines. Their closed air environment meant that breakage of mercury-filled instrumentation could cause nerve disease. “There’s a reason for that ‘mad hatter,’ John used to joke. ‘The reason those hatters got shaking fits is they used mercury-laden felt. “

Between 1981 and 1983, John recruited fifty employees and many sub-contractors from the four hundred people living in Jerome. The need for paying jobs was enormous, particularly for many people who stayed on the sidelines of Jerome’s burgeoning pot industry, participated in town politics and wanted to find a way to support themselves and their eccentric life styles in this quirk of a town.

John had an instinctive knack for recognizing someone’s skills in one field and assuming they could adapt them to another. “Maybe tourists only saw hippies, but in the four years I had lived here, I knew that many of my employees would be those so-called hippies. Many were geniuses. This tiny town was able to spit out all the talent I needed.”

Barbara Blackburn was a former VP of Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco, with special skills in managing personnel and setting up computer systems for tracking them. When John hired her, the only job she had been able to find was bartending for less than minimum wage. She became president of JIC. “She was a cut-loose hippie on weekends; but an extremely sophisticated financial professional during the week. She helped us grow into a first-rate company.”

Artist Paul Nonnast designed the detector’s instrument case on the basis of a hamster cage that he designed for a child’s pet hamster—an incredible labyrinth full of spinning balls and intricate ramps all done with phenomenal craftsmanship and imagination. “I didn’t know much about Paul,” John said, “but that cage made me want to. It was as though he had gotten inside the head of a hamster and designed from there.”

JIC hired my company to write their manuals and provide advertising and public relations services. (I got my promotional and writing skills in the music business when I worked as an artist’s manager for Bill Graham’s Fillmore Management.) My business partner was artist Gary Romig, my partner, who was known for his watercolors of birds (http://www.artofbirds.com/Gary-Romig.html).

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The poster for Jerome Instrument Corporation was created by my advertising agency and illustrated by Pam Fullerton (pamelajeanpress.com). The Einstein quote fit John McNerney’s philosophy throughout his life.

Jamie Moffett, a renegade computer engineer, put together wiring harnesses and internal software. Jewelers and artists were hired for assembly work. “Engineers who visited JIC and looked inside the instrument were always amazed at the meticulousness of the work,” John said. “Many commented it looked like a piece of art.”

Hiring an all-Jerome crew did have an unexpected downside. “I soon found that I was hiring not just their skills but their idiosyncrasies, many of which I couldn’t even have imagined existed,” John said. “Nothing was secret; everyone hung out their eccentricities like so much laundry on a line. After work I’d meet my employees and their friends in one of the town’s two bars. A few hours later, I’d be at a meeting to figure out how to raise money for fire safety equipment. To live and work in Jerome was to experience togetherness on a scale you’ve never even dreamed of.”

In 1989 John sold his company to Arizona Instrument Corporation in Phoenix. They continue to sell the mercury analyzer: http://www.azic.com

New Life for the McNerneys

After selling JIC, John pursued his dream of building a sailboat to use on the bays near Seattle, Washington and Baja, California. I wish I had a photo of that beautiful hand-made boat. My husband and I sailed on it when we went ‘boat camping’ with John and Iris on some of the islands near La Paz. That’s where I learned the term, ‘ fishing with pesetas. ‘ John would approach a fishermen camped out on one of the shores and ask to buy one of the fish they caught for our dinner.

In the nineties, John built a new home in Todos Santos, now a somewhat quirky tourist and art haven, not unlike Jerome. Many of the old timers that still live in Jerome knew of the beaches there as surfer heaven. We knew them for their emptiness and for the whales that would come up close to shore and say hello if we stood on the beach long enough. It was as though we had summoned them.

McNerney the Activist Against Gold Mining 

While living in Todos Santos, John and Iris became activists against two major threats to the well-being of Todos Santos. One was a gold mine that would have been built close to the location of the water sources for the town and in a biosphere reserve. “The proposed mine near Todos Santos was a preposterous idea: the mine would have needed to move a million pounds of rock to get a pound of gold,” said John. The ‘rallying’ slogan was Agua Vale Mas Que Oro!” (Water is Worth more than Gold!).” Carlos Mendoza Davis, the governor of Baja Sur, who was elected in October 2015, put the final governmental kabash on the mine. He agreed with protesters that it threatened to suck up water reserves and potentially pollute the aquifer with processing chemicals and mining wastes.

The other was an ambitious building development that proposes to double to size of Todos Santos. The audacious plan began with the bulldozing of thousands of mangroves flanking the beautiful crescent shaped beach at Punta Lobos and flattening the sloping dunes. Developers built a 1000-foot long, low concrete sea wall and buttressed it with large rocks on the ocean side. Not twenty-five feet from the sea wall, they began constructing the hotel and a few homes.

The beach all but disappeared. In less than a day, hundreds of years of nature’s work was destroyed by a construction boondoggle, and with it, the livelihood that had sustained many generations of fishermen and their families. The damage is irreversible. The fishermen refer to the developers as ‘tres cucarachas’ (three cockroaches).

punta_lobos

The old beach at Punta Lobos, Todos Santos, Baja CA

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No more beach. Walls and rock. The proposed development at Punta Lobos.

Last October, a strong storm surge—not unusual there— washed away the beach right up to the large rocks and wall. “The sea wall is like the Footprint of Godzilla—blocking the drainage from a large watershed to the east and interrupting the natural ebb and flow of the sea,” said John McNerney. “Thirty foot waves from new storms will wash away the sea wall and surge right into the new hotel. Hotel owners will need to supply life preservers in the guest rooms.”

That was John: he had an uncanny ability to capsulize the absurdity of the developers in a pithy, funny statement. 

Adios

Adios, amigo. I like to think you are floating somewhere up there among the giants in the Milky Way and have found some landing for your great soul among the stars. Muchos besos. Que te vaya bien.

During the early nineteen seventies, John McNerney prospected for gold in the northern Nevada deserts during summers. He came up with an idea to use accurate measurements of mercury vapor to find gold. “Mercury and gold ore often exist near one another,” John said. “Mercury is easier to detect because it lets off gasses— volatilizes—in the soil. Under a hot desert sun, the soil heats up, causing the mercury vapor to rise upward. If I figure out how to accurately measure the amount of mercury vapor, I would have a window deep down into the earth that could lead to a deeply buried gold deposit.” After many experiments, he wasn’t having any luck translating his idea into a practical system.

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Audrey Headframe, Jerome, AZ. In the nineten eighties, a small gold strike deep under this head frame cause new mining to occur for a very brief few year.

John’s chance encounter with an entomologist in a bar in Tuscarora, Nevada supplied a possible solution. “He was counting bug populations by driving down the highway with a large tube stuck out of the window of his truck,” John said. “At the end of the tube was an electrified screen. As bugs stuck to the screen, the electrical resistance of the screen increased and he was able to measure their concentrations. Who knows how he came up with this novel idea. I got to thinking about it when it occurred to me that the bugs were like the mercury gas atoms. Maybe their adsorption onto a gold-plated screen would cause an electrical interference that could be measured.”

It was John’s eureka moment.

With the help of some Arizona State University (ASU) professors, John put together some gold-plated screens and headed back out into the desert. He would use the screens to collect mercury vapor. As he headed into the desert on his motorbike, he had the ingenious idea for collecting higher concentrations of mercury vapor over the soil by hooking up the gold screens to a portable car vacuum cleaner.

“This seemed to be working quite well,” John told me. “I’m out there vaccuming the desert, looking for mercury vapor. “

Then, out in the distance I notice two cowboys on horses. I figure they’re looking for stray cattle. They notice me on my hands and knees and start coming closer. Maybe they think I need help. Maybe they’re flashing on those Western movies where some bedraggled guy is dragging his ass across a sandy desert because he’s out of water. They urge their horses closer.

“That’s when the cowboys notice I have a vacuum cleaner in my hands and seem to be hosing the desert. The cowboys are dumbfounded. Nobody could think of anything to say. There is no common language for what is happening. The cowboys turn and ride away.”

(Excerpted from my book: Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City http://www.amazon.com/Home-Sweet-Jerome-Rebirth-Arizonas/dp/1555664547/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1463867069&sr=8-1&keywords=home+sweet+jerome

The Incredible Hamster Cage

The previous blog told about how John noticed qualities in people that would help him with his manufacturing processes. John hired artist Paul Nonnast to design the detector’s case based on a hamster cage that Paul had designed for a child’s pet—an incredible labyrinth full of spinning balls and intricate ramps all done with phenomenal craftsmanship and imagination. “I didn’t know much about Paul,” John said, “but that cage made me want to. It was as though he had gotten inside the head of a hamster and designed from there.”

Paul was working as an apprentice for master sculptor John Waddell in Cornville www.artbywaddell.com/  His daughter Amy tells this story.

“Ah, that hamster cage,” said Amy Waddell. “You don’t know how many times I’ve told this story of a tall man—whose intensity scared me as a kid—eyes fixed on whatever he was working on, always sweating a little from that innate focus. I remember tiptoeing up the steep narrow splintered steps to his apprentice studio and pushed open the trap door to see all of his colorful spheres floating above me. He created magic worlds.

“Perhaps it was his idea to make it, perhaps mine, and perhaps I knew nothing about it until the moment I walked upstairs to his room one day and he unveiled it. I was very young, maybe seven or eight years old. The circular cage was a thing of beauty—about two feet in height and two and a half feet in diameter. A thin mesh ran all the way around the circular top and bottom plywood plates. There was a pole up the middle of the cage, and tiny pegs created a circular staircase from top to bottom with little kidney bean-shaped platforms that extended out at various levels. there was a large gourd strung up about an inch from the bottom, acting as a little womblike screen. Paul made a rather large habit trail in there, as well. A find ramp start at floor level, then wound up all the way around the cage.

“I was beyond thrilled. It was so beautiful. I couldn’t wait to put my hamster inside.

The hamster was in Nonnast heaven. It ran the habit-trail, drank from the large botle ffixrd to the side of his cage, ventured up the rap I rmember his little black eye and his ktle pik ears and the little fuzzy body as he traispe around his magnificangt  new digs—from pauper to royalty for no apparent reason.” https://www.flickr.com/people/paulnonnast/

 Prospecting for Gold

Two ironies  here. The first is that although John’s mercury detector was useful as a prospecting tool, the market wasn’t large enough to bring in big sales. Nor was the market dentistry, where John’s brother Rick thought the detector might sell. In those years dentists used a lot of mercury in their fillings, and there was a big suicide rate among them. The big market turned out to be U.S. Navy submarines.

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First ad created when JIC rigured the market was dentists and gold prospectors.

The second irony was that when John retired from Jerome Instrument Corporation, he turned against gold mining. One of his biggest regrets is finding the Jerritt gold mining prospect near Elko, Nevada, which John described as a most beautiful canyon that began filling with mining waste as soon as the mine opened. The Jerritt mine was shut down after it contaminated the Owyhee River and other streams with atmospheric mercury used in gold processing. The mine could re-open when it installed better mercury emission control equipment. “By that time the damage was done,” said John.

And by that time, John was living in Todos Santos, Baja, Mexico, where a large corporation wanted to mine for gold. John helped spearhead a successful grass roots movement against it. https://homesweetjeromedrapaport.wordpress.com/tag/john-mcnerney-mercury-manufacturing-jerome-az/ “You could say that my life has come full circle,” John McNerney said. “I used to be involved in helping mining companies find new sources of gold. The world needs metals, but mined responsibly. No one needs any more gold.”

(If you like this story,you may want to read about the Jerome that John helped rebuild: Home Sweet Jerome: http://www.amazon.com/Home-Sweet-Jerome-Rebirth-Arizonas/dp/1555664547/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1463867069&sr=8-1&keywords=home+sweet+jerome

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.

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