Earl Hindman's journey began on Oct. 20, 1942, in the Copper Queen Hospital in the mining town of Bisbee, Arizona.
We lived in a small settlement on the outskirts of Bisbee. The settlement was started to provide housing for the "Jigger Bosses" of the Calumet and Arizona Company, the only serious rival to the Copper Queen Consolidated, and was named "Jiggerville."
Jiggerville was our "Magic Kingdom," and all of our houses were at different levels because of the terrain. We weren't jammed into the canyons like Bisbee was, but we had some really steep roads, a gulch running through it, and a place we called "The Dump," which was above Jiggerville, and you could go up on the dump and get a birds eye view of our houses.
I was 4 years old when Earl was born, my brother, Ray, was 8. Earl started walking and talking at a very early age, so we older kids had this really cute little kid to play with.
Our childhood in the magic kingdom was filled with games of hide and seek, shooting each other with rubberband guns, talking on tin-can telephones.
We would go up on "the dump," build big bon-fires and throw potatoes in to bake. We explored old mine shafts. We walked around Sacramento Pit to go to the Lyric Theater in Bisbee. Earl was fascinated by the movies, and he loved comic books, Superman, especially, and he pronounced muscles "Muskleeze." He had goals even at that early age. He was going to go on an African Safari like Frank Buck, and I believe he would have done that, had his journey not been interrupted.
Earl's dad, Burl Hindman, was a master mechanic. He worked at Bledsoe Mauzy Motors in Lowell, but times got tough and we had to leave Jiggerville to go "pipelining" with El Paso Natural Gas. We moved all along the pipeline they were stringing, changing schools about three times a year. From Texas, New Mexico, Blythe, Kingman, Wickenburg, we lived everywhere. Then we settled back in Bisbee and rented a house across from the "Iron Man" and Bisbee Court House.
In the early 1950's, we moved to Tucson. My 87-year-old Mom Eula still lives in that Tucson house. I hated leaving Bisbee, hated Tucson, hated Amphi School, but Earl took it all in stride, as he had always done.
When he went into Amphitheater High School in Tucson, he signed up for photography classes. In the meantime, he started acting in some of the school plays. The yearbooks from Amphi are full of Earl's photos, and he attended Phoenix Junior College on a photography scholarship and had aspirations of becoming a Life photographer like Jean Smith.
When it came to photography, Earl was a purist. He was not impressed with my photos because my 35mm camera had auto focus, auto exposure, etc. He would never buy a digital camera, no matter how much I raved about my Sony Mavica. Photography was his first career choice, but his deep voice and size, (6 foot, 3 inches) lent itself to drama, and the rest, as they say, is history.
When Earl left Tucson to follow his dream, he left his photos and Hank Williams albums in the back bedroom in the Tucson house. He left them there so any time he visited Tucson, he could go through his stuff. He was working from one end of the country to the other, taking whatever acting jobs became available, and he didn't want to drag his photos along with him.
Jiggerville is gone now. Phelps Dodge went in, put all the houses on flat bed trucks, moved them to below Lowell, naming the new settlement Saginaw. It was totally flat, and totally ugly. Then they started digging Lavender Pit where our houses used to be, a huge open-pit copper mine. You can see that huge gaping hole when you drive from Bisbee down to Warren. It's a tourist attraction now.
A friend of mine said, Earl is immortal. And I believe Jiggerville is also. I have often wondered: did Jiggerville make Earl special, or did Earl make Jiggerville special? I think maybe a little bit of both.
(Payson resident Dean Shield's brother, Earl Hindman, was known for his most recent role, Wilson, as the next-door neighbor to Tim Taylor on ABC's sitcom, "Home Improvement." The actor died Oct. 29, 2003.)