The tourist business began blossoming when the Tucson Sunshine Climate Club was established in 1922. It was the idea of Jesse James, the Dodge automobile car dealer, to have an organization, separate from the chamber of commerce, whose sole purpose would be the promotion of the tourist trade for this area. He sold his idea to a few men who then sold others, and together they put up enough money to start the promotion program.
Tucson was one of the very first communities to go into such a promotion program and the results were good from the very inception. The organization was run by a board of directors of businessmen who hired a manager, Terry McGovern, who did an outstanding job as Tucson's tourist promotion director. He was succeeded by Hamilton Keddie, and I was the third manager of the Tucson Sunshine Climate Club, serving from January 1940 until October 1945. My successor was William Chamberlain, whom I had brought into the organization as a publicity man.
At the time the Sunshine Climate Club was formed, Tucson didn't have much in the way of tourist accommodations to offer. The organizers of the Sunshine Club recognized that something had to be done about the matter. They began plans for the construction of a tourist hotel on East Broadway. A corporation was formed and stock was bought by most of the Tucson businessmen, not primarily as an investment on which a return was expected, but more as an investment in Tucson's future.
An agreement was made with a national hotel firm with headquarters in Buffalo for the management. In fact, the hotel company ended up by owning the hotel, with the Tucson investors owning stock in the local operation. The El Conquistador Hotel was built where the El Con Shopping Center is now located and stood for years as a landmark. It had about 200 rooms in a large main building of attractive Spanish architecture and in a group of cottages. It operated only during the winter season and provided visitors with first-class accommodations for many years. The local investors never got a return on their investment and would have been surprised if dividends were paid.
As the tourists came to Tucson, more accommodations were provided by people who built and operated guest ranches and small tourist inns. In the late thirties Tucson was truly the guest ranch capital of the world with over 115 guest ranches operating in Southern Arizona. Most of them were small, but as a group they offered a wide variety of resort accommodations, from pseudo ranches to genuine working cattle operations which would accept tourists.
At that same time, Tucson also had fifteen private schools catering to children of wealthy eastern families. Between the tourists and the families who came here to visit their children in private schools, Tucson's economy received an injection of money that kept it quite healthy even during the Depression.
The Southern Pacific Railroad was very cooperative with such promotional efforts, since it was the primary system for transporting tourists in and out of Tucson. In 1940, the Rock Island and the S. P. combined their efforts to establish the "Arizona Limited," which was run daily out of Chicago to Tucson and Phoenix. It was a deluxe train that became very popular overnight and did much to establish our area as a favorite resort for people from Chicagoland. It operated only during the tourist season but was a great success until the war put an end to its runs.
During the early part of the 20's, Tucson went through a big battle over where its first high-school building should be constructed. Before this, the high school operated in a building, with the Roskruge Elementary School sharing half of the structure. It was located on East Sixth Street where Roskruge School is now.
The Steinfeld interests owned a great amount of land along North Stone Avenue, just north of Speedway. They were anxious to have the high school built on part of their property, recognizing that the value of the rest of their holdings in the area would be enhanced. Others in the community thought it should be built nearer the center of population, on the site where Tucson High School now stands. The town was split over the matter, with an election finally held to determine where the high school would be constructed. By a narrow vote, the electorate chose the more central site. At that time the city limits were located at the corner of Speedway and Stone Avenue. Growth took place in that general area later, but not like it would have, had the high school been built there.
Another battle took place in Tucson over the construction of the Broadway subway under the S. P. railroad tracks. Today it is hard to understand why anyone should question the need for such a passage, but at the time it was a proposal rather than an actuality, and there were many who opposed it. They argued that it was not needed and that its construction would make a few property owners rich.
There was a heated fight over the matter, culminating in an election that showed more people favored its construction than opposed it. It was built as a narrow, two-block-long underpass with one line of traffic each way. However, it did open up the area east of the tracks and permitted Broadway to become one of Tucson's principal east-west thoroughfares.
Another matter over which early Tucson was divided was the construction of a dam in Sabino Canyon to add to the community's water supply and to create a lake for recreational purposes. There was much discussion, reports by federal agencies counter reports by local groups and of course, great discussions wherever people gathered.
Finally the chamber of commerce became embroiled in a bitter battle over the matter, with the board of directors split. When the city and the chamber board agreed that the dam should not be built, the manager of the chamber, Al Condron, who had been a lifelong resident, resigned and moved away from Tucson.
One of the most important developments in Tucson's history occurred in the later twenties when a man by the name of T. N. McCauley moved here, bringing with him the corporate headquarters of the Dos Cabezas Mining Co. This company was organized by McCauley in the East, although the mine was located in the Dos Cabezas area near Wilcox.
After his move McCauley soon announced that he would construct Tucson's first skyscraper on the site of the Consolidated National Bank. This made him an instant hero with the local businessmen. There had been rumors that McCauley was a slick operator who had made millions selling worthless mining stock in the Dos Cabezas company to widows and other unsuspecting souls, but when he announced his large building, almost everyone overlooked his bad points and welcomed him into the community.
He brought to Tucson with him a group of young executives, many of whom remained to become fixtures on the Tucson scene. Walter Clapp, Ed Tout, a mining engineer, and Stanley Williamson were a few who proved to be good citizens of the Old Pueblo for many years.
Not long after arriving here, McCauley purchased control of the Consolidated National Bank and also Tucson's largest hotel, the Santa Rita. I well remember one time when he said how proud he was that the Consolidated's deposits had reached $6,000,000.
The Steinfelds, Albert and his son, Harold, announced that they were going to build the Pioneer Hotel on Stone and Pennington where a fruit stand and doctors' offices were located.
This building was announced soon after McCauley stated he would construct a ten-story bank and office building. The Steinfelds wanted to top that and stated their structure would have eleven floors. Both buildings were built at practically the same time, and all of a sudden Tucson had two skyscrapers in its downtown area. It was many years before a third high rise building changed Tucson's landscape.
In the late twenties Tucson was shaken by the shooting of Tom Marshall by his elderly wife. Mrs. Marshall was one of the city's wealthiest residents and one of its most generous citizens. They lived across from the university on Second Street in the midst of a large amount of land owned by her.
At the time I lived on Palm Road, which was about a half a block from the Marshall's back yard. The night of the shooting, I heard the shots and then heard the moaning of Tom Marshall before he was taken to the hospital. He lingered on for a few days and then passed away, following an operation.
Of course, Mrs. Marshall was arrested and released under bond. There was a great deal in the newspapers about the murder, and, naturally, many rumors as to why the kindly old lady had shot her husband, Tom, who seemed to be a paragon of virtue and a good husband, although no one accused him of being a mental giant. Mrs. Marshall was the one who had the money; Tom had been employed at the university as a maintenance man before the marriage.
Feelings ran high in the community. Mrs. Marshall's attorney, George Darnell, was one of the best in the state, and he asked for, and was granted, a change of venue. The trial was held in Nogales, where it was felt an unprejudiced jury could be more easily selected.
It was alleged by the defense that Tom Marshall had infected his wife with a venereal disease, contracted by him from one of his girlfriends. For this and other reasons, the jury found her not guilty, and she lived out her life in Tucson, continuing her generous ways of helping many college students, contributing to local charities and giving land and money to her favorite university, Arizona.
The 1920s were eventful years in Tucson. Besides the events previously mentioned, there were other happenings which caused much excitement in some cases, hard feelings in others, and people to leave town in one or two instances.
During those years an editor of the Tucson Daily Citizen by the name of Lyons was giving the police department and the sheriff 's office a bad time by alleging that they were permitting the operation of gambling, the peddling of dope and the sale of illegal alcoholic liquor. He claimed that he had evidence of their being paid off by the criminal elements in Tucson.
The Citizen carried articles daily on its front page reporting new evidence that Tucson was vice-ridden and presenting information that made people wonder. Lyons finally challenged the police by stating that on a certain day he would call from his office and have a man deliver some dope to him in his office. He made the call and the dope was delivered. Of course, this was extremely embarrassing to local police officials and really put them on the spot. Yet, suddenly no more was said about the matter, and the Citizen announced that Mr. Lyons and his family had left Tucson for parts unknown.
A few days later word got around as to what had happened. It had been learned that Mr. Lyons liked the ladies. One very attractive one, under hire by some interested parties, called on Mr. Lyons to ask his help with a family problem. He became very interested in her problem and soon was involved with her.
By a strange coincidence, a photographer happened to step out of a closet in this lady's bedroom and caught Mr. Lyons naked as a jaybird. And, by another coincidence, the photographs happened to get into the hands of police chief, who advised Mr. Lyons that he would arrest him the next day on charges of adultery, which in those days was not considered the petty crime it is today. Mr. Lyons got the message. There would be no "tomorrow" for him in Tucson. His family, including a daughter in my class in school, followed him within a few days.
Another man who left Tucson, but under much different circumstances, was the president of the university, Dr. Cloyd Heck Marvin. He was an outstanding educator, and, after leaving Tucson, occupied some very important positions, the last being president of George Washington University in Washington, D. C.
Around 1923 he had been employed to succeed Dr. Rufus von Kleinschmidt who had left the university, under pressure, to be kicked upstairs to the presidency of the University of Southern California, where he scored a great success. Dr. Marvin was very young to hold such an important position and a bit on the pompous side to boot.
I was in school at the university during his tenure and thought he was a pretty nice man, although we saw very little of him. I remember that the day his first child was born he called an emergency meeting of the entire student body about 9:30 a. m. to tell us of his good fortune and to announce that the balance of the day was a school holiday, whereupon some leather-lunged guy yelled, "Hooray for the iceman," much to the delight of everyone including Dr. Marvin.
However, he didn't get along very well with the faculty. Among other things, his age was against him. The faculty soon was embroiled in the matter and split into two camps over the merits of Dr. Marvin. The regents were naturally involved, as were many people in the community. It wasn't long before he announced his resignation, left Tucson, and the university was looking for another president.
There was much for young fellows like myself to do in Tucson in the twenties. Two or three combination swimming pool-dance hall spots around the edge of town were respectable and generally attracted nice people. However, if a guy were looking for trouble, he could find it, day or night, at any one of these spots.
Wetmore Park on the north side of Tucson had the largest pool in town and was a popular place during the warm months. It also had a large dance hall where traveling bands, as well as local groups, would provide the harmony to dance to. Clearwaters, on the west side at the foot of A Mountain, also had a pool and dance floor. These places attracted large crowds on the weekends when the college kids would take over, and, of course, the high school kids wanted to be where the collegians were.
The Blue Moon was doubtless the most popular dance place. It was located on Oracle Road and Drachman Street, and while it had no pool it was for twenty years Tucson's number one dance spot. Many of the famous big bands played there over the years.
Two places in the downtown area lasted for quite a spell as dance halls patronized by "nice" people. One was the Wintergarden, located on the second floor over the Opera House on Congress Street. The other was the Frolic, located in the, Rialto Theatre building on Congress, just east of Fifth Avenue. The life of the Frolic was short. It was having a struggle to make ends meet because the owners were attempting to operate a rather exclusive club in a town that wasn't ready for one. It finally burned out, and the building converted to stores.
A dance band in Miami, Arizona, provided the best music in the state at that time. Francis Gilbert's Band would visit Tucson, Phoenix and other Arizona cities often during the year and would always attract sell-out crowds. Both of the state's largest cities tried to entice Gilbert and his band to move permanently from Miami, but he would have none of it. His popularity lasted for years, and his music brought much pleasure to thousands of young people. He was a tall string-bean band leader who nearly always ended up getting pretty drunk before the evening was over-but who cared!
The place to go in Tucson for all college men and high school lads was Dooley's, run by a lovely little guy by the name of Dooley Bookman, who came to Tucson to play drums for my dad in his theatre orchestra. Dooley's was located on the west side of N. Stone Avenue between Congress and Pennington. His cigar shop, where he also served sodas and sandwiches, and had four pool tables in back.
He ran the place with an iron hand and permitted none of the type usually found around a pool hall to come into Dooley's. During lunch hour it was the gathering place for dozens of young men who would play pool, eat and visit, just as they would at a private club. Indeed, it was their club, and Dooley operated it that way.
On the weekends all the college and high school boys in town would meet there before they would go pick up their dates. They'd get their shoes shined next door, have a soda, and go from there for the evening. After their dates, they'd again gather at Dooley's for a drink and exchange lies about their conquests.
Dooley was a father confessor for many a guy in trouble of one kind or another. The parents knew that Dooley was a "right" guy, and, while they didn't encourage their offspring to hang around a pool hall, they knew they weren't going to get into much trouble at Dooley's.
Dooley was cramped for space, and he got his landlord to dig a basement under his place where he could add more pool tables and take care of more customers. When the addition was completed, Dooley announced he was going to have a grand opening which would feature a pool tournament to determine Tucson's champion pool player. The event was scheduled for Halloween and a gay night it was.
All of us Drachman kids learned to play pool at the YMCA, and once in a while we'd sneak into Dooley's for a game; but all of us had been told to not hang around Dooley's as we were too young. (We were in the thirteen to fourteen range, and probably a little on the young side at that.)
That evening started out as the usual Halloween, with a big gang of us roving up and down the streets on the east side looking for something to push over, tear up or carry away. There were about twenty-five of us. Eventually some of the guys began to get rough and were breaking streetlights, throwing rocks at passing cars, etc.
I knew they were heading for trouble with the police and suggested to Dick Drachman that we leave the gang and go downtown to see a movie. We had already seen the movie, so we went over to Dooley's where there was a large crowd. Many were in the basement picking at the plaster on the wall trying to find a diamond that Dooley said fell out of his ring into the plaster when it was being mixed. The wall had a rough finish and for years people were looking for that diamond. Knowing Dooley as I did, I believe he was up to one of his practical jokes, but he never did admit it.
The pool tournament was about ready to start, and it was suggested that Dick enter the tournament since he was a very good pool player for a thirteen-year-old kid. He took off his coat, which I held for him, and entered the tournament.
One after another he beat his much older opponents. Some were drunk, and others were just plain unlucky when they played Dick. He went to the finals and played a man three times his age and beat him when the older man miscued on a shot at the last ball, which was sitting in the mouth of the corner pocket. Dick knocked it in the pocket and was declared the city pool champion. After accepting a jointed pool cue in an expensive leather case, Dick and I went home.
Unfortunately the next morning on the sports page there was a headline reading, "Dick Drachman Captures City Pool Title." The story went on to tell about the tournament, whom he beat, etc., and even mentioned that his cousin, Roy, held his coat. Our fathers could read, and they read the riot act to the two of us. My dad thought it was funny, and, while he didn't approve of my hanging around Dooley's, he accepted my explanation that I was afraid if I stayed with the gang the night before I would have gotten into some more serious trouble.
Dooley Bookman, whose real name was Julius, was one of the most unusual characters to grace the Tucson scene during my lifetime. In addition to operating the unique combination pool hall and smoke shop, he was crazy about kids -- all kids regardless of color or social position. Every year on Halloween, Dooley would stage a Mardi Gras in the block on Stone Avenue between Congress and Pennington, which the city would close for the day and evening. All of the merchants in that block cooperated with Dooley in this popular annual event. Nearly all of the kids wore costumes of some kind, and there were all kinds of awards given for the various types of costumes, and for kids of various ages. There was always a couple of bands, lots of free candy and ice cream, and lots of little gifts for the kids.
The block would be jammed with people from dark until almost midnight. Dooley always dressed in a different kind of costume each year and would offer a special award for the first youngster who identified him. Dooley was only about five foot two, slender and not much bigger than many of the children who showed up for the Mardi Gras on Dooley Street, as it became known. He mixed with the crowd and generally was not recognized for a couple of hours.
He did this just for the pleasure of the children, although it always cost him quite a bit of money which may or may not have come back to him as an indirect result of the advertising his place received. Dooley died at the early age of 45 in 1935, and, with his death, Dooley's Halloween Mardi Gras also died, much to the sorrow of several thousand Tucson youngsters and hundreds of his friends who looked upon his place as Dooley's men's club.
Another smoke shop that got a lot of attention and business in those days was Jimmie Rand's, a tiny spot on East Congress next to Litt's Drug Store, which was on the corner of Congress and Stone, His place was about 10 feet wide and 30 feet deep. It had a narrow stairway in the rear that led to a very small room on a mezzanine that did not have enough headroom for a six foot man to stand erect. The upstairs room had a large poker table with seats for seven or eight.
Jimmie Rand was a "tubercular" but had effected a cure which allowed him to work the long hours that kind of place required. In addition to the smokes he sold, he also handled magazines. When punchboards were allowed, Jimmie had them too.
One of the things that Jimmie had which was better than any other in the town was a daily "baseball pool." For a dollar you could buy a ticket in the day's pool. You then rolled dice, and the numbers on the dice determined which big league teams were yours for the day. Each player had two teams. Further rolls of the dice determined which innings were yours. If, at the end of the game, your ticket had the highest total score, you won the day's pot, which many days would run up into the $400 to $500 range. This gambling game was a popular one with Tucsonans for several years but was finally closed because it was illegal.
The poker game upstairs was a hit-and-miss affair. It was not a "house" game in that the players did not have to pay part of the pot to the house. It was just a place where businessmen could find a little action in the dull afternoons or evenings. I saw some pretty stiff games in that little joint.
After Jimmie passed away, a man by the name of Otis Leggett operated it for several years. He was better known as "Lockjaw" Leggett, and I was responsible for his nickname. One day when he and I were there alone, a beautiful girl with a large bust walked by. Otis said, "Gosh, I'd like to bite her on the bosom, get lockjaw, and have her drag me all over town!" I told the story on him, and from that time on he was called "Lockjaw."
In the days when Dooley's was at its peak there were a couple of other pool halls in town, but they were like pool halls everywhere, hangouts for unsavory characters as well as young men looking for something to do. A few pool hustlers hung around these places looking for a sucker who thought he could play pool. Once in a while the hustlers would play each other, and the audience would bet on their favorite. The best pool player around southern Arizona for years was a man from Douglas by the name of Shy Greenberg. Shy had attended the University of Arizona and was an excellent athlete. He could do anything and do it well. He was a very fine baseball player, having played in the Coast League for Vernon and then being sold to Detroit of the American League. He didn't report for spring training because of illness and dropped out of the game after that.
While at the U.A., his roommate played in the finals for the intramural tennis title but was beaten by a boy that Shy disliked very much. He vowed to the winner that he would beat him in the tournament the next year, although he had never played tennis in his life. He started playing every day, and the next year he won the intramural championship, beating the winner of the year before!
Some of the other crack pool players of those days were Jake Schleisman, Bob Greenleaf, cousin of Ralph Greenleaf, a national champion pool and billiard player. And then there was "The Professor," a very tall, dark-haired man with a flowing mustache, and who always wore dark clothes. The only name we knew him by was "Professor." They could all shoot the eyes out of the pool or billard balls, knew all kinds of trick shots, and knew all the angles on hustling would-be pool players. We loved to see them tie into each other for big stakes. There was a lot of patter that went with their unusual talent.
One evening Shy Greenberg came to my office to borrow $25 which he said he'd pay back the next day plus $5 interest. He kept his word and paid me $30 the next evening. A few days later he came again and wanted to borrow $50 which I loaned him. He brought me $60 the following night. This continued several times, until one day I asked Shy, "Are you doing some bootlegging between here and Nogales?" He said he was. I told him that I was not going to finance his bootlegging operation any longer. To which he replied, "Hell, we got a good thing going. We could make some pretty good money together." I thanked him but said no thanks.
When T. N. McCauley decided to sell his properties in Tucson in the early thirties, a man by the name of Barney Goodman came to Tucson from Kansas City to buy McCauley's interests in the Santa Rita Hotel, the Consolidated National Bank and the bank building. However, some kind of problem developed that prevented him from operating the bank. The Valley National Bank bought the Consolidated Bank and the building from Barney Goodman.
Barney brought to Tucson his own crew to run his newly acquired Santa Rita. This consisted of Nick Hall as manager, Ed Myers to handle the finances, and Benny Klein to handle the food and liquor departments. They formed a good team and for many years did an excellent job of competing with the Pioneer Hotel with an old place that was about worn out.
When they first arrived in Tucson they made announcements about the physical changes that were to be made to old hotel, which no one believed. But they did remove columns from the dining room and created the lovely Rendezvous Room for dining and dancing. They also created a nice cocktail lounge on the mezzanine and the Mountain Oyster Club rooms in the basement. They brought in Don Cave and his band to provide dance music, improved the quality of food, and converted the Santa Rita into one of the places to go when having an evening out.
Nick Hall also began wooing the motion picture studios to come to Tucson to make their westerns. He was successful in his efforts, and the Santa Rita became the Hollywood headquarters in Arizona, with many companies coming to Tucson to make movies.
The Santa Rita brought many fine entertainers to the Old Pueblo. One I remember with a kind smile was Jane Jones, a tremendous middle-aged woman of about 275 pounds. She sang songs of the type Sophie Tucker made popular for many years. We got to be good friends, and I loved to listen to her sing.
One night we took her out to Mildred "Mickey" Loew's house to attend a little midnight party. Mickey had an English bulldog, Duke, which, as we walked into the house, was lying on its belly with its back feet stretched behind him and his front paws in front of him. Jane took one look at him and said, "My God, if I could have gotten into that position when I was a young woman I could have made a million dollars!"
Barney actually owned the Consolidated Bank for a few days and, as part of the consideration when he sold it to the Valley National Bank, he took a stack of unpaid notes, nearly all in a default position, many signed by prominent local businessmen who were having serious financial problems.
My cousin, Oliver, had a note at the bank which Barney had acquired. He wrote Oliver and demanded payment. Oliver came down to see me just before he was to see Barney about the matter. He said, "I'll tell that tough guy that if he can't wait, I'll declare bankruptcy, and he won't get anything for his note." Sounded like a great idea.
In about an hour he came back, with his tail between his legs, and shaking his head. "That guy Goodman is a tough guy and too smart for me," he said.
I asked him what happened, and he said that when he threatened to go into bankruptcy, Barney told him, "Fine. I know an attorney who can save you a lot of money. He specializes in taking people through bankruptcy. Let me know if you want his name." Oliver said he'd think about it. Oliver later paid the note.
At the time Barney Goodman learned that he could not operate the bank nor own the building, Hi Corbett obtained an option to buy it and needed only $15,000 cash to acquire title to the property. Try as he would, he just couldn't raise that small amount of money from any source and had to let his option expire. That makes one realize how tough things were during the depression.
Monte Mansfield, for nearly forty years the only Ford dealer in Tucson, was one of Tucson's outstanding citizens and was responsible for many good things that have served the community for years and years. In addition to being a civic leader, he also was an amusing guy with a great sense of humor. He liked to have fun. He, Hi Corbett and Harold Steinfeld were born in Tucson and were close friends, having grown up together. They used to tell tales on one another and their escapades on Gay Alley.
Monte was a member of the Arizona Highway Commission for many years and worked hard to improve the highways all over the state, but particularly in southern Arizona. He was the one who fought for and got the subway built on Stone Avenue under the S. P. tracks.
Just before the outbreak of the Second World War Tucson was one of several communities being considered as the site for a major Air Force bomber base. It was much sought by all of the candidate cities because of its large payroll. Monte Mansfield was appointed by the city and the chamber of commerce as a one-man committee to go to Washington to push Tucson's case. He made several trips to the national capital, and eventually he was able to call and tell Tucson officials that this city had been selected as the site for what has been known for years as the Davis-Monthan Air Base. Under the usual protocol procedures, Arizona's congressional delegation took joint credit for landing the plum, but the fact is that Monte really got the job done.
The Old Pueblo Club, the downtown businessmen's club, was one of Monte's pet projects. He steered it through some very rough waters during its long history. Its grateful members placed a plaque on the wall of the club in recognition of Monte's loyal efforts. He did far too many other things to mention, but whenever there was a job to be done to bring about an improvement for Tucson, Monte was usually at the head of the movement to get it accomplished.
Monte was an ardent American who thought that when the Second World War started we should all get involved in one way or another in our nation's war effort. Two days after Pearl Harbor, an emergency meeting was called at the chamber of commerce to which about one hundred business leaders were invited. We filled the meeting room to hear about some of the programs that we would be expected to participate in. Of course, there were some emotional patriotic speeches. Everyone was stirred by recent events and the comments by our national leaders. One of the speakers suggested that we would be expected to devote a great deal of time to the war effort and perhaps forget about our businesses as being number one in our lives.
Stanley Kitt, Sr., was sitting right next to me and got up and said that he had been through the First World War, and that it was found then that people had to go on living their lives, tending to their business, earning money so they could buy war bonds, contribute to the Red Cross, etc. He made a lot of sense.
However, Monte jumped up and said, very emotionally, "We are in a war! To hell with your business! To hell with my business! There's only one thing that's important now, and that is to work like hell for the government to help win this war! " He got quite a hand from the group.
Stanley Kitt slumped down in his chair next to me and whispered, "I guess I said the wrong thing. This war has upset me terribly. I hate to see our country go through another long war. So many of our young men will be killed, I can't stand to think about it." I tried to assure him that his comments were important and should have been made, but my efforts to console him didn't help much. A few days later his body was found in his car on the desert where he had taken his life. He was a fine sensitive man and also a good citizen.
Monte was chairman of the draft board in Tucson for most of the period of the war. He was a tough but fair board member. He generally could spot a man who was trying to avoid serving his country and would do everything he could to see that he served. Two amusing examples of his efforts are worth telling. A young man from Cochise County near Hereford, Arizona, owned a small ranch and claimed that he should be exempt because he met the requirements which entitled him to an agricultural exemption. Monte asked him to file a report as to the number of cattle he had on his ranch, and the board would consider his request. He came in a couple of weeks later and filed a statement that he had 250 head of cattle on his ranch.
Monte had done some checking on the young man and his ranch operation. He had also checked with the tax assessor in Cochise County. Monte said to him, before the board, "Young man, you claim you have 250 head of cattle in this sworn statement. Is that correct?" The young fellow nodded. Monte continued, "Well, young man, you are going to have to decide whether you are going in the army or going to the penitentiary. I have a copy here of a sworn statement you filed a few months ago with the county assessor in your county which states that you had only 55 head of cattle. Making a false statement like that is a penitentiary offense. Which will it be?" The young man chose the army, of course.
On another occasion a young man was attempting to evade service in the armed forces by claiming that he was a cripple and could walk only with the aid of crutches. He appeared before the board a couple of times, entering the room on crutches. The board told him they would decide his case shortly. When he came back before the board to receive their decision, which was to give him an exemption for physical disability, he was so pleased and excited that he walked out without his crutches. Monte saw what happened, ran after him and had him walk back into the hearing room, without benefit of aid from his crutches. He was soon drafted to serve his country.
Back in the thirties an old-time Tucson character known as Frying Pan Pete passed away. He had been a pauper all his life and never left enough to even pay for his funeral. Monte and some of the old-timers thought that Pete should have a decent funeral. Monte collared me and said that he and I were going to call on a few of Pete's old friends to ask them to contribute to paying for his funeral.
We collected $20 from this guy, $10 from another, going up and down Congress Street. We went unto Greenwald and Adams jewelry Store (before its name was changed to Grunewald and Adams), and Monte asked Sam Adams for $20 for the cause we were working on. Sam said he was busy and ignored us. Monte asked him again for the $20, but Sam continued with his arranging some items in one of the showcases, Monte finally walked to the back of the store, pressed various buttons on the cash register, which flew open, ringing a bell. Sam stopped abruptly, looked back at the cash register which he and he alone opened and closed, and saw Monte reaching into the drawer. Before Sam could say anything, Monte said, "Sam, I'm taking $20 to help pay for Pete's funeral. Have me arrested if you wish." We then walked out past Sam who was too shocked to say anything.
One day a few years later I was returning from lunch, and, as I walked past the entrance to the Pioneer Hotel, Monte Mansfield, Hi Corbett and Harry Lavender, general manager for Phelp-Dodge Arizona Mining operation, came out to get into Harry's limousine which was always driven by his chauffeur. They had just finished a few cocktails and were off to Nogales for lunch.
Harry grabbed me around the neck and said, "Roy, you're going to Nogales with us for lunch." I explained that I had already eaten lunch and had to get back to my office. Monte also grabbed hold of me, pushed me into the back seat next to Hi, and away we went to Nogales!
On the way down, the window was open and the wind blew Hi's hat out of the car. He asked the driver to stop, but Harry would have none of it. He said, "Let me have your hat Monte, and I'll put it up here where it won't blow out." Monte handed his hat which Harry promptly sailed out the window. Then he took his own hat and it, too, went sailing in the breeze. I was lucky that I didn't have a hat or it would have joined the others along the Nogales Road.
Harry Lavender was one of the most dynamic men I have ever known. He also was one of the strongest men I have ever seen. He was about 6'1" and had a large frame, weighing in the neighborhood of 225 pounds, all bone and muscle. Once, when he was having a drink with the future Mrs. Lavender at the cocktail lounge on the mezzanine of the Santa Rita Hotel, he got into an argument with a couple of cowboys which ended up in a battle royal with Harry going to the hospital with a broken leg. The other two men, one of whom was a well-known cowman around Tucson, and a former world's champion bulldogger, Roy Adams, ended up with bruises and contusions.
Later Roy Adams said that Lavender was the strongest man he ever encountered in all his life, and Adams was a guy who was in many, many fights. He was also a real he-man, long and slender, and strong enough to wrestle large bulls in rodeo events.
A waiter who was working in the cocktail lounge at the time of the fight, by the name of Victor, told Hi Corbett a few days later what happened. In his broken English, he said, "Mr. Corbett, Harry Lavender and his lady were there when the cowboys came in and sat down at the next table. They have their hats on, Mr. Lavender asked them to take their hats off, but you know, Mr. Corbett, those cowboys never take their hats off. They are born with their hats on. That was the cause for the fight. Mr. Lavender try to make them take their hats off."
Harry Lavender never realized how strong he really was. He many times nearly twisted my arm off, shaking hands, or playfully grabbing me by the back of the neck, practically lifting me off the ground. Once, he slapped George Stonecypher on the back and knocked him down, causing him to break his hip. Naturally, he felt very badly about the accident, and from then on he was a little more careful about how he greeted his friends.
During the summer of 1941 or '42 Tucson was swamped one night by a tremendous rainstorm that poured over three inches of rain in a very short time in the area just east of the town. The large arroyo, which ran right through the town, became a roaring torrent and flooded several buildings near its banks. However, the greatest damage was suffered by the Tucson Gas & Electric Co. plant. It was completely flooded, creating a blackout for the entire city.
In those days blackouts were not an unusual thing, but they generally lasted a few hours at most. This time, however, the generators were underwater and despite twenty-four hour work-days by crews making the necessary repairs, Tucson was without power for six full days. We didn't fully realize how dependent we were on that thing called electricity.
No air conditioning worked, the gas station pumps didn't work, the elevators didn't work. This blackout practically brought the city to a standstill. The Fox Theatre and all the others were dark. I played golf nearly every day because I couldn't work, nor could many others.
During the blackout Tim Cusick had to make a trip to Ft. Huachucha and asked me to go with him. Just before we got to Elgin, Arizona, we noticed a bunch of cattle laying on the ground, obviously dead. We stopped and counted twenty-five head which had apparently been electrocuted when struck by a lightning bolt that had followed the barbed wire fence to the corner of the pasture where the herd had gathered during the storm. We knew that the ranch was owned by Frank Brophy, whom we called from the Elgin store to advise him what we had found. He lost a valuable part of his Hereford herd.
Tim Cusick was a long-time Tucson attorney, having come to Tucson from his native Wisconsin as a health seeker after the First World War during which he had been gassed and suffered considerable lung damage. There was some question about his recovering when he arrived in the Old Pueblo, but, like many others, he made a full recovery and lived over eighty years.
One of his favorite comments to someone who complained about his bad luck, whether it was on a pool table, the golf course or the courtroom, was "Don't complain about your bad luck, Half the people don't give a damn, and the other half are glad!"
Before the Second World War was triggered by Pearl Harbor, the armed services were making a great effort to get men to enlist. One time when someone asked Tim if he was going to enlist, he replied, "Hell, no! I know two guys who are not going to fight for our country, me and the guy they send for me." But right after Pearl Harbor, Tim enlisted in the army.
A few years later Tucson was struck by another violent summer storm that actually caused very little damage, but, by washing out just one small bridge on the Benson Highway east of town, it became the all-time champion killer storm for this area.
The bridge over the small Julian Creek was only about thirty feet long and went out about 9 p.m., just before a cautious driver, Frank Mella, came creeping along the road. It was under a flow of "sheet" water about six inches deep. Mella lived in Tucson and realized the danger that existed under such conditions.
When his car reached the place where the road and the bridge joined, his front wheels dropped into the space left by the missing bridge. He was moving so slowly that he had no problem in stopping the car. He got out, waded through the water back down the road to attempt to warn other motorists of the pending doom, which awaited them if they did not stop.
Mella did everything he could to flag them down. But his screams and gestures were ignored by the drivers of four cars. One after another they hit the far side of the gap with a tremendous noise. No doubt the passengers were immediately killed, if not by the crash, almost certainly by the swirling waters.
Eleven people lost their lives, although it was months before one body was found, over five miles downstream. It was almost impossible to know for sure how many people were in the cars as there were no survivors.
Unfortunately, the ordeal for Mella was more than he could stand. His frustration over his inability to halt the cars left him a broken man, and within a short time he, too, died, the twelfth victim of the Julian Creek flood.
In the early 1940's Tucson was badly in need of additional hospital facilities since St. Mary's Hospital was the only complete medical facility in the community.
A man by the name of Lewis Rosensteil brought his wife, Dorothy, to Tucson for her health. Rosensteil, chairman of Schenley Distillers and involved with other large companies, moved his office to the city also. He and Reverend George Ferguson, pastor of the St. Phillips Church, called a meeting of five or six men and women to discuss the problem. We met at Lew Rosensteil's in his patio one evening. Present besides Lew and George Ferguson were Frank O'Rielly, Margaret Knight, Elmer Present and myself.
It was learned that Mrs. Erickson, owner of the Desert Sanatorium [view a private suite at the Desert Sanatorium] on Grant Road, under certain circumstances, might make a gift of the institution to the community. The group encouraged Rev. Ferguson to pursue the matter with Mrs. Erickson.
A short time later we found that she would make the gift providing the money would be raised by Tucsonans to convert the sanatorium into a community hospital to be operated by a board of directors made up of a broad-based membership representing all segments of the area. It was estimated that $250,000 was needed to make the conversion.
After many other meetings, to which more people were invited, the group officially formed itself as the first Board of Directors of the Tucson Medical Center. It was decided to go to the community and ask for contributions to the $250,000 fund. I was appointed chairman of the fund-raising committee. The campaign was conducted during December of 1943 and the early part of 1944.
One of the most generous contributors was the Rosensteil family who kicked off the drive with a substantial gift. The financial drive was successful in reaching its goal, and the Tucson Medical Center became a reality.
A lovely lady by the name of Margaret Sanger Slee was very active in the early days of the formation of the community hospital. Mrs. Slee was famed for her efforts in behalf of birth control throughout the world. On more than one occasion she had been jailed by officials who thought her philosophy regarding this sensitive subject was not only unpopular but against the law of the land. Subsequent events and conditions have proven how far she was ahead of the thinking at that time on this important subject.
Margaret Sanger Slee told us a cute story about the birth of her second son, Stuart, who was practicing medicine in Tucson at the time. She said she thought it best to let her children know about the facts of life, the birds and the bees, etc. She explained to Stuart's older brother when she was carrying Stuart that his little brother or sister was in her stomach and would soon come out.
The day that Stuart was born, the older brother ran around excitedly telling all the neighbors, " Stuart's out. Stuart's out!"
While I was running the Tucson Sunshine Climate Club I hired a photographer from Palm Springs by the name of Chuck Abbott. He was known as the "Cowboy Photographer," was a handsome guy, wore a western outfit including a Stetson hat, and specialized in taking pictures of important people visiting Tucson resorts. The photos were sent to their hometown papers, thereby bringing publicity to Tucson.
The local photographers were incensed because I did not employ one of them, but they didn't realize that it took a particular type of man to do this job. They formed a committee to protest the hiring, and Esther Henderson, owner of one of the town's most prominent studio operations, was chairman. She called on me and raised the devil about my having hired Chuck Abbott. I told her it was too late to do anything about the matter, but she wrote letters to the editor and kept the pressure on me.
I talked with Chuck about the matter and suggested he see Esther Henderson and try to placate her. He saw her and did a good selling job. The next weekend they went on a Sunday picnic, taking their cameras to shoot pictures together. This relationship continued until, not long afterwards, they were married. Esther laughed many times about having complained because I brought her future husband to Tucson.
The Abbotts became well known throughout the western states for their excellent photography. They finally settled in Santa Cruz, California, where their two sons grew to manhood.
Just before the U.S. became involved in World War II, Charles Herbert, a well-known motion picture cameraman who had worked all over the world for several of the newsreel companies (and also as a free-lance photographer), and I were trying to think up some publicity angles for Tucson for the Sunshine Climate Club.
We came up with one idea that made every front page in America. The Indian tribes of the Southwest were having a powwow which brought several hundred original Americans to Tucson for a few days. Chuck Herbert and I contacted several of the chiefs before we found one who would agree to have his tribe renounce the use of the swastika on their baskets, blankets and art objects because of the fact that Adolph Hitler's forces used the swastika as their national emblem -- nevermind that fact that the German swastika turned its arms one way and the Indian swastika turned the opposite. The chief had his tribe renounce the swastika as their emblem and made a very direct and attention-grabbing statement -- at least it was when we got through doctoring it up.
One night during the powwow Chuck and I drove to the San Xavier Mission some nine miles from downtown Tucson. In the back of the car we had some lumber for firewood. We found some Indian lads playing basketball in the open-air lighted court at the rear of the mission. We employed them as actors in our little performance we were about to stage in front of the Mission.
We dressed them in the Indian togs we had brought along, including large feathered headdresses. We built a large bonfire, around which the Indian braves danced. They threw into the fire large Indian baskets and Indian rugs with the swastika plainly showing. What was actually burned were some large cardboard hat boxes I had obtained from a department store and on which I had an artist paint the swastikas. The "rugs" were actually some old drapes we got from a cleaning establishment and on which the artist painted the swastikas.
The fire lighted the beautiful San Xavier Mission as the background against which the dramatic scenes were shot. The pictures came out beautifully and, together with the proper article and captions, were sent to the Associated Press and other news services. The big city papers ate it up like hotcakes. We received telegrams asking for more photos, which we had to go back a second night to shoot. The second performance at the mission was not as successful as the first, but Tucson got a lot of publicity, and Chuck Herbert sold a lot of pictures, which was the main object of the exercise.
During the thirties an organization of loyal University of Arizona football fans, the Towncats, would, at the end of each football season, have a big banquet to salute the Wildcats. The parties got to be wild affairs and eventually had to be abandoned as evening dinners because of complaints from the wives that their husbands would stay out all night or come home so loaded they couldn't stand up. The school officials frowned on the parties, so we broke the syndrome one year by having a breakfast and then had very proper affairs from then on.
Probably the wildest party the Towncats ever had was the one held at the Silver Slipper nightclub on East Broadway. The party lasted into the wee hours. This was during prohibition and there was no closing hour. The obtaining of booze was no problem; everyone had more than enough.
The last group of Towncats left the Silver Slipper about 3 a. m. By 4:30 the place was engulfed in flames and burned to the ground. Naturally, the Towncats were credited in throwing a party to end all parties, at least to the Silver Slipper.
Earlier that evening a bunch of us had gone downtown to get a midnight snack. There must have been twenty of us, including three musicians from the Silver Slipper orchestra. Someone spotted the bus that the Santa Rita Hotel used to use to meet the trains and transport guests to the hotel. We decided to serenade some friends. All went well for a couple of hours. We were cruising through the business district on our way to another home, when a car pulled in front of us, cut us off and caused us to stop. The driver of the car jumped out and came charging into the bus with a six-shooter about ten inches long in his shaking hand. George Martin was driving the bus and was the object of the abuse handed out by the man with the gun, who said that the bus was his, not the hotel's.
Everyone was laughing, which the owner of the bus didn't appreciate. However, we finally convinced him that he should join us and become our chauffeur. We continued our serenading tour until almost dawn, but didn't learn about the fire at the Silver Slipper until the next morning. I remember that one of the musicians who played a banjo, chewed tobacco the whole time we were in the bus, drank whiskey, and sang -- a pretty good accomplishment.