Mr. History

A Day At SkyRanch

2014-06-23 | Mr. History | Lifestyle

Photo Credit: Jerri Parness
Writer Jim McAllister Photographer Jerri Parness If it wasn’t for a chance meeting of K. T. Palmer and Tom Darlington at a Phoenix Kiwanis luncheon at the Adams Hotel in 1946, the town of Carefree may have never been built. Palmer had turned the subject to real estate when Darlington suddenly replied, “Someday I would like to plan and build a town from scratch.” Palmer quickly responded, “So would I.”   It’s not as though they jumped into the town building business at that time. They followed different vocations over the next nine years, and reunited in 1955. It was then when they purchased 44 acres of land – what was formerly a goat farm – that would eventually become the town of Carefree. At the time, the only way to get to the area was via the winding and rough Cave Creek Road. Scottsdale Road would not be extended to Carefree and until a year later.   Darlington and Palmer weren’t fools; they knew they needed something special to attract the wealthy to their... More

Wild at Heart

2014-06-17 | Mr. History | Community

Photo Credit: Bryan Black
Writer Jim McAllister Photographer Bryan Black Early in 1990, Sam Fox was working as a volunteer for the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center. One day she came across a book by Kay McKeever, an owl rehabilitation expert from Canada, who encouraged the use of non-releasable owls as surrogate parents for displaced owlets. Inspired by that success, Sam persuaded the director to give her permission to initiate a foster parenting program at the wildlife center as soon as a “suitable” bird was found.   Little did Sam know when she took home a 6-week-old sick barn owl that she had met her first and most beloved foster owl male parent. At the time it was still questionable whether the owlet would even live, much less acquire parenting skills. However, a special bonding had occurred and the saga of “Chia,” the foster parent barn owl, had begun.   Probably not too many people would think that loving and protecting owls would cause someone to leave a... More

Early Scottsdale: John Curry & Don Pablo

2014-06-16 | Mr. History | Community

Writer Jim McAllister The names John Curry and Don Pablo may not mean much today to many residents of North Scottsdale, but they were instrumental in the growth of the area around Pinnacle Peak and Scottsdale Roads.   Curry was a grizzled fellow who arrived on the scene with three other guys in the early 1930s when homesteads ranging from a few acres to as large as 640 acres were available at a small cost from the federal government. The only stipulation was that one had to live on the land and make some improvements within a reasonable time.   Curry and his pals were determined souls. They built a “road” stretching east from today’s Cave Creek Road using primarily hand tools and a lot of determination. The road would eventually become Pinnacle Peak Road and would extend to Boulder Pass near Pinnacle Peak.   Three hundred twenty acres of the land belonged to Curry, and in 1933, he erected a sign announcing that he would soon be opening a grocery store at the location that... More

For Land’s Sake: The Legacy of KT Palmer

2014-05-26 | Mr. History | Lifestyle

Writer Jim McAllister Although I never met Carefree co-founder K.T. Palmer, I feel as though I know him personally after reading his 1971 autobiography “For Land’s Sake.” Les Conklin of the Greater Pinnacle Peak Association told me of Palmer’s book with the caution that it may be hard to find a copy. Luck was with me as I was able to acquire one through a Goodwill store in Tucson. It must have been providence since the odds were long.   If I had to briefly describe Palmer, I would say he was a guy with spunk, foresight, energy, intelligence, guts and the attitude that the glass was always half full. That’s a lot for a guy who suffered from tuberculosis, heart problems, was about five and a half feet tall, and may have never weighed more than 120 pounds. He was small and not very healthy, but no one could ever accuse K.T. of being afraid to take chances or get his hands dirty.   Palmer was born in Mississippi February 4, 1899 according to his mother’s notes, but the... More

Desert Ranch and Legend Trail: The Early Years

2014-05-22 | Mr. History | Lifestyle

Writer Jim McAllister In the mid 1970s, the area north of the CAP canal in Scottsdale was mostly desolate compared to the lush green golf courses and surrounding homes of today. Pinnacle Peak Country Club opened in 1976 but it would be 1986 before Desert Mountain and Troon arrived. Terravita opened in 1993, Grayhawk in 1994 and DC Ranch in 1998.   As far as residences, all those properties were preceded by the lesser known Desert Ranch which had its beginnings in the 1950s with the arrival of the Donohoe family from Oklahoma.   The Donohoes enjoyed their winter visits to the Valley but were anxious to get away from the “crowds in Scottsdale.” They decided that 5,120 acres with a core section of 640 acres (one square mile) southeast of Pima Road and Stagecoach Pass would be ideal for them to operate a cattle ranch.   After 20 years, Dan Donohoe decided to look for a better use for the property. A master plan was developed in 1972, designed to include residential property, an... More

Three Local Heroes Remembered on Memorial Day

2014-04-28 | Mr. History | Adventure

As a veteran of the United States Air Force, Memorial Day is special to me. I think it is important to show respect to those who have served in the military, especially during wartime, in order to protect the lifestyle we enjoy.   In 2014, Memorial Day will be celebrated May 26. If you don’t already own an American flag, it would be a nice gesture if you acquired one and flew it proudly that day as a form of recognition and respect for soldiers past and present.   Locally, there are three former residents who stand out for their valor during wartime: Joe Foss, Harold Laynor, and Byrd Howell Granger.   Foss exemplified the courage displayed by American pilots during the World War II era of 1941-1945. After graduating from the University of South Dakota, he enlisted in the U.S. Marines and had to lobby to become a fighter pilot: At age 27, he was first considered too old for that duty. He earned his wings just before the attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.   As a captain,... More

Scottsdale, Cave Creek and the Stoneman Road

2014-04-27 | Mr. History | Adventure

For a history major, living in Scottsdale is a good deal. Whether north, south, east or west, the area is replete with great stories of a bygone West.   For example, there used to be a 19th century military supply road that ran from Fort McDowell on the Verde River northwest to Fort Whipple in Prescott. It operated between 1870 and 1890 as it passed through what is today’s McDowell Mountain Park before continuing to the area between Pinnacle Peak and Brown’s Mountain near Alma School and Dynamite Roads. It then went past what would become Cave Creek Road as it headed north of Black Mountain to Fort Whipple.   The road was named the Stoneman Road after Colonel George Stoneman, the army officer responsible for the route between the forts. The road was a vital link since it was a shortcut that eliminated the extra day’s ride that was formerly necessary by having to take a southern route 18 miles longer through Phoenix.   Stoneman Road has sometimes been referred to as “Whiskey... More
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