A Reminder Of Why I Live Here

CAROLING WITH CAROL

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Whenever I forget how much I enjoy living in the Rim Country, the universe sees it as an opportunity to give me a lesson.

Of course, there are other nice places on the planet. In fact, I just visited several of them on my vacation -- Payson to Yuma to San Clemente, Calif., to London (Bridge).

Yuma has its historic "Main Street," so the water mirages on its concrete road and walkways were unbroken by tourists. Yet, it was once a quaint place to walk. Old trees provided shade as shoppers strolled. Musicians played in a bandstand.

Alas, the merchants wanted more parking, so trees are gone and there is a concrete fountain, instead of a bandstand.

San Clemente's beach in California boasted warm sands and chilly waters. Yet I cannot decide what I like better -- the sound of the surf or the whisper of the wind through the pines.

Highway 95 follows the Colorado River. The water was blue; the palm trees were green -- all in stark contrast to the desert.

This dry, dusty desert is what many people still conceive as Arizona, I thought as my love and I stopped at Parker Dam, the deepest in the world, 233 feet of the 320-foot dam are under water.

It was 98 degrees outside. (The same temperature it had been at the beach, sans humidity.)

The Colorado's meandering waters became more attractive, as we neared Lake Havasu City with boaters, fishermen and jet skiers splashing around in their play.

Lake Havasu City rose like a multi-colored mirage out of the brown earth.

Spring Break does not happen there anymore. The water was apparently so crowded it made it impossible for Sheriff deputies to get to those in need of assistance and the town of 55,000 people could not handle the influx.

But, the city does have London Bridge.

The Bridge was built across the Thames in London England in 1831. Robert McCulloch, founder of Lake Havasu City, had the bricks numbered as the bridge was dismantled, then shipped them across the Atlantic. The bridge was reassembled across Thompson Bay on the Arizona side of Lake Havasu, between 1968 and 1971.

I have moved around a bit (not nearly as far as the bridge!) kept in touch with many friends some that have slipped away, more that have not, yet I settled here in Rim Country.

Abiding here is the only instance I can conceive of using the word "settled" on a positive note.

My community is here.

I challenge anyone to find a more giving town of individuals, service organizations and businesses -- from a little boy putting coins in the Humane Society's hound bank to volunteers for Habitat for Humanity.

Evan Morton asked the community for help to pursue his aviation dreams -- he got it.

Payson Supply Line sends care packages to soldiers.

There were barely enough seats to go around at the Black and White Ball, when the Mogollon Health Alliance needed funds for a dialysis center.

High school students received around $75,000 in scholarship money from clubs.

Do you want to dance while you support a cause? Love the thrill of outbidding someone at a charity auction? There are many each year in Payson.

When Child Protective Services needed children's furniture, they turned to the woodshop class Richard Alvarez at the high school.

I hardly interview any group raising money for a cause that the Tonto Apache Tribe or the Mazatzal Casino has not helped.

The list seems almost infinite.

Back in the 1950s "We all had these little kids," Pat Cline said. "Don Manthe was the town pharmacist, but I'm telling you, he was the baby doctor and everything else."

According to Cline, Gladys Meredith said, ‘what we really need is a well-baby clinic and a clinic where people can get patched up.'

So, the Jr. Woman's Club started the Payson Little Theatre and did fashion shows, variety shows, plays, and bake sales to finance the clinic.

"We did something constantly to raise money," Pat said.

When the small one-building clinic opened, Pat was its medical records clerk for many years.

Memories of past performances at that Little Theatre bring smiles to Elaine Drorbaugh's face.

Pat Cline played "a country hick" in one play and Pat was taller than the short fellow, the man that seemed to be on stage with her in every scene.

Or, "Miss Julia Randall" who Elaine describes as "a good sport."

Miss Randall carried a Reader's Digest on stage to help her remember her lines and when she left it there, could be heard calling, "My book! Get my book!"

I suspect reporters are not supposed to get teary-eyed when the person they are interviewing gets emotional.

Well, I am human first.

Sante Ceolin bears my gratitude for reminding me last week that the Rim Country is the best place to live in the United States.

He and his wife of 61 years are moving away and they are looking forward to spending time with their grandchildren, but...

"I say this with a deep heart," he told me. "It will be harder to move to Prescott, where I will find another church, than it was for me to leave France to come to America."

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