It's easy to get caught up in the glamour of all the famous people who are related to Payson resident Alyce Faye Hicks.
There's President Jimmy Carter; Sen. Sam Nunn; actor Jack Nicholson; comedian Andy Griffith; Pulitzer Prize winner Harry Ashmore, former publisher of the Arkansas Gazette; and Nobel Prize winners Mike Nimrod, William Nunn Lipscomb and John Nunn. And she's got the letters (including one from Carter himself) and books to prove everyone of them is kin.
But the word that comes to mind when you spend time with Hicks is "feisty." And that's at the age of 74.
"They call me Ricochet Faye," Hicks said. "Everybody hates me, and I'll show you why."
She pulls out a stack of newspaper clippings.
"I'm a fire-eater," she said. "I write letters to the editor -- a whole bunch of them. I write about everything -- everything I don't like.
"I've written about 25 of them and (Roundup editor Jerry) Thebado prints it all. I love it."
One of her favorite targets is Payson Mayor Ken Murphy.
"Oh boy, I got Murphy," she chortled. "I'm on his list, too -- the mayor's list. I told him it's all sour grapes."
One can only imagine how feisty she must have been in her prime. Well, actually, imagining isn't necessary because Hicks doesn't mind reminiscing a bit about the good old days down in the Valley.
"I've broke up a few meetings," she said. "You better believe I have."
At one time she managed an overflow house for wayward juveniles.
"At South Mountain High School they had a woman who was dean of girls and she called a meeting and she had 500 girls there," she recalled. "Three of them were mine -- detention kids.
"She told them they couldn't wear patent leather shoes because boys could see reflections. They couldn't wear spaghetti strap dresses. They couldn't wear red dresses.
"Yet there she stood on the stage behind the podium in a red dress with spaghetti straps and high heeled patent leather shoes. The kids came home mad at her, so the next school meeting I went and sat in the back row.
"After the meeting was over they asked if anybody had anything to say, and let me tell you, I said it."
In 1961, Hicks started writing for a black newspaper in South Phoenix, the South Phoenix Roundup.
"Five of us owned it -- me and four fellows," she said.
When the town tried to assess South Mountain residents for a sewer system that would start in the Camelback Mountain area and not reach them for 10 years, Hicks called a meeting.
"Five hundred people showed up, and the city sent some hecklers," she said. "It was my microphone and my sound system and John Franks, the city attorney, tried to take it away from me.
"He grabbed me and pulled me back into a folding chair and it collapsed and I hit the floor hard. He was standing there and he put his hand out.
"I thought he was going to hit me so I caught him with a left hook. He stumbled on the chair and fell on his hands and knees.
"The crowd went nuts. Of course, some of my friends were there. Associated Press picked (the story) up and it went all over the country."
Hicks tries to stay away from meetings in Payson, preferring to do her handiwork from her typewriter these days.
"I don't want that to happen here," she said with a twinkle in her eyes. "That's why I don't go."
Hicks also writes fiction. She has published one novel "an intrigue" called "Jungle Vixens."
"It was a man's style and I have a name I use when I do men's stuff -- Vic Hendricks," she said. "A lot of my short stories were detective stuff that I sold to various magazines."
While Hicks grew up in the Valley, she was no stranger to the Rim country.
"My dad used to be a federal trapper up here and a hunter," she recalled. "He was a mountain lion chaser. We lived at Roosevelt Lake in a tent for awhile."
Before moving to Payson for good 10 years ago, Hicks spent seven years in Tonto Basin. The mountains of Payson beckoned this lady who was "born in the Ozarks," but there was a more practical reason for relocating.
"You had to go 60 miles to get a loaf of bread," she said.
One thing you can take to the bank. With that notorious left hook, she was no doubt given a wide berth when she left Tonto Basin for Payson.
Name: Alyce Faye Hicks
Occupation: Retired investigative columnist and writer
Employer: Self employed.
Birthplace: Little Rock, Ark.
Family: Four children, three are dead and my son is a musician who lives in Tonto Basin, four grandchildren, and six great-grandkids in the Rim area and two in Phoenix.
Personal motto: Stay free of self-sabotaging behaviors. Don't cuss, don't drink, don't smoke, don't do nothin'...
Inspiration: I had a childhood friend and he was a sailor, so my inspiration is the U.S. Navy.
Greatest feat: Six teenagers in high school at the same time, all clean, well-fed, staying out of juvie -- juvie's juvenile detention.
Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Fishin' and I oil paint.
Three (or so) words that describe me best: Motormouth. Not exciting, but excitable.
I don't want to brag but ... I'm left-handed and I love it (a lot of good people are).
Person in history most like to meet: Dr. Carl Sagan, the astronomer, and John Nunn, my great-great-great-grandpa.
Luxury defined: Deluxe pontoon boat in Roosevelt Lake, two large Garcia reels and a few dozen waterdogs.
Dream vacation spot: Right here. I traveled a bit, and I don't think I want to go any further than where I am. The fishin' is it. I don't care to go to floor shows or dinners.
Why Payson? I was born in "the Ozarks" -- in the mountains. I came up here to spend the rest of my life in the mountains. The Valley is not my home.