Up The Creek With A Hankerin' For History


For many people, knowing the history of the town they live in isn't that important. Although I've always been interested in Arizona history, the history of my former community, Gilbert, Ariz., did not have a real attraction.

Now that my wife Cindy and I live in Christopher Creek, however, we want to know more and more about its history.

Recently, we were able to meet with Dean Shields, a longtime resident of Christopher Creek.

Shields, a native Arizonan, was born in Cactus Flats, and she and her late husband, Bob, lived in Mesa. They moved and set up mobile homes for a living. As they traveled the state for their business, they became familiar with this area. Scanning the classifieds, they noticed an ad that read, "Looking for management couple in mountain resort."

According to Shields, she and her husband dressed up in their best polyester suits and went to the interview with Glenn and Rebecca Ashby.

Several days later, when Shields asked if they were being considered for the job, she was told that the Ashbys liked their resume, but based on the way they were dressed, they didn't think Shields and her husband would be up to cleaning rooms and toilets.

But after assuring the Ashbys that they really wanted the position, and that they were able to clean rooms and toilets, they got the job. They moved to Christopher Creek the first of April in 1975. No sooner did they start to move in, Shields said, it started to snow and it continued to snow most of that month.

River of thunder

Anyone who knows Christopher Creek is familiar with the line of small cabins right along the creek on the south side of the road. That is the Christopher Creek Lodge. Shields remembers listening to huge boulders rolling down the creek when rain or snow runoff flooded the creek. Shields said they lived so close to the creek that she could feel the rumbling of the boulders as they barreled down the creek.

When the water washed the dirt out from under their porch one time, Shields said she "abandoned ship" and went to Creekside to wait out the high water. A log rushing down the churning creek knocked cabin No. 2 off its foundation.

World's strangest tacos

Back then, Creekside Restaurant was fairly new, but it was, as it is today, the place to meet. A laundromat was where the craft store is today. The Landmark, then owned by Ma and Pa Strahan, was known as the "Big-Bar" and Woody's Mexican food restaurant was in the current ERA Realty building.

Woody, by his own admission, made the "strangest" tacos in the world. To make them fast, he simply cut a frozen hamburger patty in half and stuck it in the taco shell. That is, after warning anyone who ordered the taco, they would be better off ordering a burrito or perhaps a tamale.

When Shields moved to Christopher Creek, only two businesses Creekside and the Christopher Creek Lodge remained open all year. Christopher Creek was truly a frontier town, and that same spirit, and some of those early residents, still remain today.

Preserving history

When we first spoke with Shields, she told us about her efforts to compile the history of Christopher Creek, and that she was often told, "no one would be interested in that old stuff."

Well, we are, and many people feel it's important to keep our history alive by getting as much information as we can from the people who lived it.

People who know Shields say she has a number of artistic talents, including a talent for writing and jewelry making that readers can check out on the Rimcountry.com Web site.

To see Shields' line of silver and copper jewelry, log onto Rimcountry.com, click on the Galleria and then click on Dean's listing.

Shields also has a well-known brother, who co-starred on the TV show "Home Improvement." His name is Earl Hindman and he played Wilson, the neighbor whose face is always partially hidden behind a fence or some other object.

Anyone with historical photos, information or stories of Christopher Creek can call us at 478-5050.

Relay for Life

The Relay for Life cancer prevention fund-raiser took place last weekend at Payson High School.

What a wonderful event for the entire family. Cindy and I took our granddaughter, Rachel, and my mother, Ethel, to the opening ceremony.

The Christopher Creek team, which was led by Mikey Marazza and included Frank and Frankie Jo Marazza, George and Doris Billings, Dr. Jeff Ronn and his wife, Susan, and their sons Michael and Daniel, Sam Conklin, Sally Tharp and Bob Schilling, stayed all night at the field. The Christopher Creek team worked hard to raise more than $2,500 and enough interest to encourage others to participate next year.

Technical error?

My sister Kim is visiting us and she related a recent incident that happened at her work. Kim is a medical transcriptionist using a highly sophisticated voice-recognition program that recognizes the physician's voice and speech pattern. It automatically converts the voice to typed memos. However, occasionally errors are made, and she needs to verify and correct those mistakes.

Recently, a physician was dictating a medication for a patient who is being treated with "Clindomycin," and the computer transcribed the medication name as, "Clinton lies some."

Perhaps computers are getting smarter than we think.

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