Resident Recalls Payson Of Yesteryear

Payson People

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If you meet Terri Luke, you might not suspect that she earns half her living selling authentic Chicago hot dogs.

"A Solty Dog" is the name of Luke's catering company. It is a play on her maiden name.

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Terri Luke

"My dad was a meat cutter in Phoenix and they called him Solty," she said.

Luke grew up dining on the meat her father brought home from his specialty shop, Hobie's. She and her brother would complain, "Filet mignon again. Can't we have spaghetti like normal people?"

Luke serves her customers a quality 100-percent beef product. Polish dogs are her best sellers, but she can make an authentic Chicago dog even though her family moved West when she was a young child.

Luke has always loved to cook and entertain, something she missed with her "empty nest."

She went though an unexpected amount of paperwork and licensing procedures to get A Solty Dog started.

"My son said to me one day, ‘Mom are you sure you want to do this?' This was so different from my background -- I was active in the Valley and had my own business, was in marketing with United Blood Services.

"Learning to drive the cart was a whole new experience for me because I've never done anything like that before," Luke said. "At times I have had to take the cart off the Blazer and pull it out physically to get it in place. There is a real quick turn ratio."

Luke moved to Payson just a year ago, but she has been visiting the Rim Country since she was 7. When she saw the opportunity to move to the Rim Country and start her business, she took it.

"For all these years I have been coming here for weekends and summer vacations, so I have been familiar with the community and have loved it," Luke said.

She remembers the dirt road trip from Phoenix to Payson took at least four hours when she was a child.

"Invariably, every time we came, we lost a tire."

The family built their cabin at Thompson Draw Two near Kohl's Ranch.

"We were from Chicago, so being in the forest was a big adventure for us," Luke said. "When we first came up here there was a group at Kohl's Ranch that was having a big barbecue."

That evening Luke and her 13-year-old brother, Walt, and another young friend went for a walk near the Tonto Creek and got lost.

"We were with the family dog, Peggy, and we didn't realize the danger we were in. It was dark before they found us."

Luke said one resident gave her parents the alarming news that there were mountain lions and bears and other animals out there.

"We were able to come back close enough so they found us within a couple of hours, unharmed, but really scared," she said.

The Solty family cabin did not have indoor bathroom plumbing. The bathroom did come complete with spiders. Luke remembers it as scary, especially at night.

"We had an outhouse," she recalled. "In fact it was a double- seater my parents had gotten from somebody. I still have it," she laughed. "We use it as a storage shed now."

Name: Terri Luke

Occupation: Owner, A Solty Dog Mobile Catering as well as Big Brother Big Sister Community Relations Specialist

Age: 50ish

Birthplace: Chicago, Ill.

Family: son, Dennis; daughter, Nicole

Personal motto: Whom the gods would destroy, they first make angry.

Inspiration: My late father and mother.

Greatest feat: Raising great kids.

Favorite hobby or leisure activity: Cooking, reading and hiking.

Three words that describe me best are: Friendly, humorous, down-to-earth.

I don't want to brag, but ... I have great legs.

The person in history I'd most like to meet is: Eleanor Roosevelt.

Luxury defined: A week at a spa.

Dream vacation spot: Newport Beach, Calif.

Why Payson? Weather and very, very nice people.

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