The University Neighborhood in the 1930s

Four Workmen
This photo is of the four men who worked for Mrs. Marshall. The photo was taken
in 1939 on the south side of 1018 N. Euclid. From left to right: Frank Gutierez,
Robert Garcia, Mike Lizarrago, and Miguel Tapia. Miguel Tapia appeared earier in a
photo at the Marshall home with his wife Angela, holding Robert Garcia as a baby. IP

Newcomers to Tucson remark that there is no change of seasons here. They are thinking of autumn-colored foliage, winter ice and snow, spring and the first green leaves; and think we have summer all year. We do have a change of seasons, but they do not know where to look.

This is a chronicle of the change of seasons in the University Neighborhood in the 1930s:

The first of the year began in September, with a cloud of dust. Students returned to the university. Many more cars, many of them old 1920s models, zipped along the unpaved streets. With joy and enthusiasm, students greeted returning friends and met new ones.

Students drove their cars faster than the townspeople did. Most of the streets and all the alleys in the neighborhood were unpaved. A haze in the air heralded the start of the school year.

A burning "A" appeared on the horizon on a Friday evening; it was the start of freshman week. Traditions Committee members poured a flammable liquid on the whitewashed rock "A" on Sentinel Peak and set it on fire. On Saturday, with buckets of whitewash, the freshman class climbed the mountain to rewhiten the "A."

Cheers from the stadium were heard in the neighborhood; it was Saturday and a football game was In progress.

One fall Saturday, a small group accompanied a college student, who showed them around campus. The adults looked proud, the younger siblings looked mildly interested. Parents were visiting the campus.

Another Saturday, groups of adults were seen greeting friends, reminiscing about school days; the alumni returned for Homecoming celebrations This was not an unexpected event, because for a few nights preceding that, lights could be seen and pounding could be heard all night. Homecoming decorations and floats were being prepared by the fraternity that was in our alley.

Then the dust settled and all was quiet, winter holiday vacation break. Then more dust, the students returned. The new semester began.

In 1938 the streets were paved and sidewalks installed, but the alleys were still unpaved.

When walking through campus in these pre-air conditioned days one had no doubt about the activity going on inside, because all the buildings had open windows. The music practice building did not need a sign; every room had a soloist or instrumentalist practicing-- all in a different key and at a different tempo. From 1927-56 the former South Hall was the music practice building, much to the discomfort of occupants of nearby dormitories.

Every class shared its lecture with anyone who walked nearby. The law building, as previously described, held "moot court," with student attorneys endlessly arguing cases.

Spring Break or Easter vacation brought a quieter campus. About this time students with transit and levels on tripods peered at other students holding rods with numbers on them. The surveying class was mapping the campus again.

The last of the school year was near when a few students were seen walking about campus wearing cap and gown-- graduation time. The perpetual cloud of dust settled as the students drove home.

Soon students returned to the campus, but these were fewer, older and more serious. Teachers from over the state came for summer school and to study for advanced degrees. They brought their families, There were many rentals to choose from since the college students, the winter visitors and as many residents as could possibly manage, left town for the summer. Rental prices were half price during the summer months to encourage winter residents to keep their rented home for the next year.

Businesses that catered to the students or to winter visitors closed for the summer. Tucson was quiet; it was the end of our year.

Then, in a cloud of dust, new and returning students signaled the start of the school year! Tucson does have a change of the seasons.

The Marshall Charitable Foundation was formed January 30, 1930 in the Marshall home, with Thomas Marshall, president; my father as vice president and Mrs. Marshall as secretary and treasurer. Julian McPheeters, a Methodist minister, and L. A. Lohse, a Tucson attorney were the board members.

The Foundation was organized for charitable and educational purposes and was similar to a plan Louise's mother had made in 1900.

I have a carbon copy of the proposed incorporation as well as several revisions made in later years. (The word Charitable was dropped by 1940). The annual meeting was to be held the first Monday in October, starting October 1930.

On October 13, 1930 Louise became violently ill. It was December 3 before the doctors came to the conclusion she may have been poisoned with bichloride of mercury. Because the housekeeper prepared all the meals, Louise thought she might be the source, so the housekeeper was replaced. However, Louise became very ill again in April, this time after Tom had given her a malt drink. Samples for testing were sent to a laboratory in Chicago. A telegram from the laboratory stated that it was a lethal dose of arsenic -- isolate the patient immediately. A Tucson laboratory X-ray report also came at this time.

Perhaps it was a combination of this news or the poison that impaired Louise's judgement or she was motivated by fear that prompted her to get a gun and shoot Tom several times. He was not mortally wounded and was recovering until the surgeon decided to remove a bullet. The surgical team probed for hours but could not find it; they had misread the X-rays. Because of this operation, infection became serious and Tom's physician accompanied him to Los Angeles where he died a few days later. Louise had been charged with assault but when Tom died the charge was changed to murder. The trial was held in Nogales, Arizona. After hearing the evidence, it took the jury just twenty-one minutes to declare her "not guilty."

Newspaper accounts at the time were more sensational than accurate.

In reading the newspaper accounts and trial preparation and court documents, and comparing them with original material not used in the trial, it is amazing to see that the whole story has never been told. It will be revealed in the narrative biography that I am working on now.

A strange coincidence: while my parents were living in the Santa Catalina Apartments, the Marshall's housekeeper had been a next-door neighbor; a few years prior to that the chief defense attorney had lived in the same apartment!

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