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).

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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

 

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 the Seventies

Here are more tales from the seventies. They do not appear in my book Home Sweet Jerome, Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City. Like the tales told in the book, these serve to illuminate the condition of the times and town in the seventies. The book is about how the town was rescued. (homesweetjerome.net)

Pat Jackson (early seventies) “When I moved in to the house in the Gulch, I found that the owners had let the chickens roost in there and that they also shucked all their corn for their tamales and left all the shuckings there. It didn’t have windows. In the little tiny kitchen, the sink board was rotted out. Maggots were in the sink board. Here it is, I’m eight months pregnant with Ian and all my friends in Jerome got together and helped me put together that house. Somebody brought a toilet. First they had to put in a new floor in the bathroom because if you sat on the old funky toilet, you’d fall through the floor. Then somebody brought me an old tin shower and installed it. Somebody else put a nice wood sink board in and a piece of nenolium—it was nenolium in those days—over it. And then somebody else found an old window and enclosed the window.“ Pat was the first licensed mid-wife  in the Verde Valley, a round woman with a kind face and a lot of energy. She has children by four husbands, and was a political organizer, mostly on behalf of women. She now lives in Alaska.

Charley Aughe Charley Aughe was a humble man who lived in the gulch sometime during the seventies with his wife Faye and was known as the “Curator of the Sedona Dump.” He was one of the lucky ones who had a county job. When people would leave stuff off, he’s pick out anything useful, and set up rows, like garden rows, and sell it for not much money.

Caroline Talbot Caroline Talbot was Kim’s second wife. When I interviewed her, she wanted to tell me about Kim who moved to the Gulch in 1967. His first wife was Gayle.

“In 1967, things were always getting ripped off from their house. Kim actually saw them take a coffee mug and a shirt and then chased them, but never caught up with them. They turned up a week later with a six-pack and an apology. Someone even tried to steal two gallons of anti-freeze when Kim was under one of the cars changing the oil. The cans had water in them. He moved away and toured Europe as a musician, lived in Phoenix, and then returned to Jerome in 1977. When Kim got here, rednecks ran the town. The hippies were starting to move in. They didn’t want anything to change. They tried to run the hippies out of town. I understood because I grew up in similar small towns in the Adirondacks, so it didn’t phase me. People get at each other’s throats and then later they’re best buddies again. They would fight over their different vision of how something was to go. Build something like this and not like that. It can be real comical.

Richard Flagg, circa 1976 “One of my early dreams was to be a vagabond. I was living in Flagstaff and visited a natural food store there, which turned out to be owned by friends of mine living in Chino Valley (Kit and his wife) right next door to Molly and Gary Beverly (the Chino Valley potters then). I saw a sign: “House for sale in Jerome, $4500.” Holy smokes, I said to myself. I could swing that. I bought it and rented it out. Jeanne Moss lived up stairs; and John Binzley lived down. Jeanne used to shampoo and cut people’s hair from an upstairs porch and the water and hair came drifting down. Then I went vagabonding. River trips down the OMO with Sobel expeditions where I made the cover of the first issue of Outside running a rapid and being chased by hippo. Sailied out of Somalia, traveled in Afghanistan and India. When I came back to Jerome I started an expedition business of my own, called Sacred Monkey Expeditions. Paul Nonnast designed the logo.” Richard Flagg still lives in Jerome but he is still a vagabond, spending some 8 months a year traveling in Cambodia and other countries in Asia.

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.