Twenty five years ago, in September 1979 or 1980, I visited Gisela and it has become the most remarkable trip I had ever taken in my life. At that time I was living in Germany. During my six-week vacation, I rented a green Toyota in Phoenix.
One balmy September afternoon, traveling on route 87, I spotted the Gisela sign and decided to take a look. When I arrived I thought I was dreaming. I still remember the elevated big sign "Welcome Downtown Gisela" on two massive wooden poles with shingles nailed on both sides, each of them with numbers of population, cows, dogs ("too many"), painted in white. Looking down at the saloon and the wooden "jail" further to the right, I took my camera and started to take pictures.
Five minutes later, I was surrounded by local folks who came from the Saloon, led by Virginia, the austere Saloon owner. They thought I was an IRS spy who was taking pictures to assess their property. After we cleared this amusing misunderstanding I threw a round for everybody at the bar and was coming back every Saturday. I was "stationed" in Phoenix, so it was not too far away.
I will never forget my last day in Gisela: The sheriff invited me to a midnight barbecue party. Being part of that beautiful scenery and original tradition, I felt like a movie star from a Western. I felt like wow, my dream came true in the middle of the desert.
The Payson Roundup mentioned my name in an article at that time. Unfortunately, I don't have that article any more, but I do have some pictures from Gisela. And every time I am looking at the pictures, I am reliving my vacation 25 years ago.
Willy Machan, New York, N.Y.