Note to national and international Rogue readers: As Arizona marks 100 years of statehood this month, you'll have to put up with more than the usual number of AZ- and Phoenix-centric posts.
In 1962, Arizona marked its 50th year as a state. It's a vivid memory for me, although I was but a child. I loved the commemorative seal with the cactus wren, so much more appealing than today's gaudy centennial emblem. Fifty years of statehood was a remarkable event for those still living who had witnessed statehood and lived in Arizona Territory, my grandmother among them. The state in 1962 had barely more than 1 million people, with Phoenix not yet at the half-million mark. Phoenix was becoming a big city with comforts unimagined 50 years before, especially air conditioning. Still, the frontier was close enough to touch, living history was all around and much of the state was still wilderness. Vast empty distances separated the settled areas and those were compact and clear in their purpose.
Prescott, for example, the onetime territorial capital, was an enchanting little town with appealing rough edges. None of today's sprawl existed. It had only recently lost its status as a division point on the Santa Fe Railway between Phoenix and Williams Jct. Mining and ranching were the economy. The highway up Yarnell Hill was notoriously treacherous. Flagstaff was a major railroad town, also depending on sawmills for the logging industry and Arizona State College. The Mogollon Rim was virtually uninhabited, just one of many parts of the state as wild as ever. The state highways were two lanes, taking you to rich history that wasn't across the street from a Wal-Mart. Even in Phoenix, you could see old cowboys, the real thing, living out their last years in the elegantly-designed-but-neglected old apartments that graced the neighborhood between Seventh Avenue and the capitol.
You can dwarf it against the 15,000 years — and some say 25,000 — that the race of man has spent in this land of the sun...Yet that half a hundred years, whose culmination Arizona now celebrates, was the flowering of all the promise of all the eons before. The half a century built a bridge from buckboards to jet engines, from mud huts in the mesquite to the gleaming towers in the sky. In those fifty years, the modern world discovered the splendor of Arizona. In five decades, Arizona became a magic word around the world...Here is a future that gives us good reason to venerate the foundations laid by the past.
Old man Pulliam no doubt wrote this, rather than pushing it down the line to some PR flunky. He certainly believed it, as we all did. The sense of pride was everywhere, at least among the Anglo population. But note how this "conservative" publisher wasn't afraid of retrograde nutcases who think the world is 3,000 years old. He was a booster, but he had much reality to cheer, from the mighty acts that created the Salt River Project to turning a small farm town into a new city full of promise, including with major industries Pulliam himself had helped recruit.
The supplement makes for fascinating reading — letters from President Kennedy and Gov. Paul Fannin are included, and lavish photography, including from Ansel Adams — but not least the advertisements. There's housing, resort and land-company ads, as well as multiple placements by the Salt River Project. But also one from the Nuclear Corp. of America, which based three divisions in Phoenix, including rare-earth manufacturing and U.S. Semcor's solid-state unit. AiResearch touted its 3,600 high-skilled manufacturing and engineering employees. Sperry bought a full-page ad: The "new Arizona" was a major center of aerospace. Production of aircraft components led in manufacturing employment, with electronics second. A report predicted electronics would be No. 1 by 1980. Motorola, the big dog, had a quiz: How many electronics products from them could you identify? The Reynolds Metal Co. touted its Phoenix extrusion plant. Goodyear made aerospace components, as well as owning Goodyear Farms in Litchfield Park, "specializing in cotton, citrus and forage crops and in custom cattle feeding."
The Western Cotton Products Co. took a full page and other ag companies were represented as well — the Salt River Valley, one of the world's most fertile river valleys, had some 500,000 acres under cultivation, including miles of citrus and the magical Japanese Flower Gardens. (An overhead photo is captioned: "Citrus grove pattern in Arcadia district"). Dairies were important businesses. In addition, the huge Tovrea stockyards and packing houses sat between Phoenix and Tempe; statewide, the cattle business was still substantial. Copper, too: Several copper giants had full-page display ads. Thousands worked in those union copper jobs, populating towns such as Bagdad, Globe, Superior, Morenci, San Manuel, Hayden and Miami ("Bonanza Country).
Old Zonies will remember Korricks, Yellow Front, Hayden Flower Mills, Madison Pay 'N' Takit, Bill's Records, Barrows, the Jewel Box (41 S. 1st Ave.), Stapley's, Chic Myers, Neptune's Table, the Islands, Lulu Belle and, of course, Goldwaters. Toy's Shangri-La makes it a point to say D.H. Toy is "a pioneer Arizonan, arrived in Phoenix in 1915...In 1917, Mr. Toy enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the AEF." Talk about a local economy. All the major banks were locally headquartered, as were the newspapers, television and radio stations.
Nineteen-sixty-two. Most of the old city of Phoenix was still intact, from the Fox Theater and the Deuce to all the Luhrs properties. The territorial capitol building with its copper dome hadn't been fouled by the brutal 1974 executive tower. Seven trains a day still stopped at Union Station. Carl Hayden still sat in the Senate, along with Barry Goldwater. The delegation had two big objectives: winning The Central Arizona Project, and bringing home as much federal money as possible. The state still tilted Democratic, although that was changing fast. To be sure, most Mexican-Americans and African-Americans lived in segregation and poverty, even though Mexico's proximity was only inviting and the "illegal" part of immigration a non-issue. The story on the border is entitled, "Good Neighbors."
But Arizona's population was growing fast, with Midwesterners coming after "the Arizona lifestyle." As the crops were harvested, the state was planting all the ills that would grow into today's dysfunction.
Semi-centennial was halftime for Arizona, as the popular Clint Eastwood Super Bowl ad would have it. And from here we made all the wrong choices.