Elderly woman's stubbornness gave quite a lift
to mining official
John Jennings, Tucson Citizen
[note: this typescript was created in February 2004
from a newspaper clipping contained in the Oracle
's collection of artifacts from and about
Eulalia Bourne. We are guessing that the original article appeared
in the early 1980s.]
Go fly a kite, she told him.
It was more than a decade ago, and Eulalia "Sister" Bourne
was in her middle '70s. The mining official and his gussied-up attorney
spent a whole afternoon trying to talk her into selling her ranch
and taking a check.
Sister, who picked up her monicker from a sibling who couldn't pronounce
her real name, is a living legend in Arizona education. She started
teaching on the even of World War 1 and put in stints at country schools
all over Pima County. Then she sat down and wrote three popular books
about her experiences.
She also was very active in state Democratic circles, rubbing elbows
with governors. But most of all, she was independent. And she has
run her ranch, not far from Mammoth, her way since the early 1950s.
So when those mining people showed up, asking about buying the place,
she was hesitant. After haggling awhile, it was agreed that if she
did sell to the mining firm, she would be allowed to keep her cattle
on the ranch and live there until she died.
Then the sale price was kicked around for another hour or so. Finally
that was pinned down to everyone's satisfaction.
Next came the discussion of "up front" money to hold the
deal open. The handsome mining official with the patch over one eye
was insisting that their offer was a fair one.
The firm would hand Sister a check up front for $1,000. The only string
attached was that if the sale fell through, she would have to give
back that money.
The firm's nattily attired attorney shoved the check toward the slight,
elderly woman in work shirt, blue jeans, and straw hat.
No thanks, she said, and told him where he could put it.
But it was a virtual certainty that the sale would go through, the
mining official told her.
She would be crazy not to take the money.
Sister stood her ground. She wasn't the least bit interested unless
that $1,000 was free of strings.
The fight raged on for a couple of hours, with the mining official
pleading, cajoling and arguing with the wiry, gray-haired woman. The
attorney kept shoving the check toward her. She kept shoving it back.
Finally, she had enough. "Out!" she ordered.
The heated discussion continued as she shooed them out of her house.
Finally, the mining official reached his boiling point.
"I've had it!" he shouted. Then, turning to the attorney,
he snapped, "Give the crazy old woman the check!"
"No strings?" Sister asked, "No strings," the fellow grumbled.
Turned out that the sale went through without a hitch, just like the
man had promised.
Sister thought that was the last she'd see of that good-looking fellow
with the patch over his eye.
He was a frequent visitor to the firm's mining operation next to
the ranch. And he always made a point of stopping in to see her -
and to remind her what an ornery old thing she was. He also told her
about his hobby and this nutty dream of his.
You see, he was quite a balloonist and he had this silly notion that
he could fly one of them contraptions across the Atlantic Ocean.
The man's name? Maxie Anderson.
Their friendship ended when he died in a balloon accident last June
in Europe, but not before that silly idea of his came to pass. He,
Ben Abruzzo and Larry Newman made history in 1978 when they soared
across the Atlantic and landed their balloon, the Double Eagle II,
Two years later, Anderson and his son, Kris, made the first non-stop
balloon crossing of North America.
Maxie Anderson gave Sister a silver medallion after the Atlantic crossing.
He had clung stubbornly to his dream, and all that effort finally
Makes you wonder where he could have learned about stubbornness, doesn't