125 Years Of Payson History, As Told By Storytellers


The colorful past of the 125-year-old town of Payson will come alive on Saturday, Oct. 6. A timeline parade is part of the 125th anniversary celebration of the town.

Parade entrants will portray the history of the Rim Country from 1882 to the present.

After the timeline parade, history will come alive, when out of the mouths of storytellers, Payson's past becomes an oral tradition.

Along the parade route, storytellers will be located in designated historical locations.

Each storyteller will be dressed in period costume and will recant stories from Payson's beginning. The storytelling will begin right after the parade. Listeners will have bales of hay to sit on, as stories are told throughout the day.

The good, the bad, and the ugly stories which make up the history of the Rim Country, will be shared by local historians, authors, and business owners. Memories, folklore, dreams, and history, will come alive on Main Street.

During the past 125 years, many buildings have been built on Main Street. Some still stand, while others were torn down or even burned to the ground. The stories remain to entertain, inform, and teach those who live in Payson today.

Those who enter Git a Rope on Main Street after the parade are in for a treat. Payson historian and storyteller, Jinx Pyle will share stories of Payson's past in his store at 404 W. Main St. Pyle along with his wife, Jayne Peace Pyle, have written many books about the origins of Payson. Their families go back several generations in Rim Country.

The Pyles are the leading researchers and experts on the early days of Payson. Listening to Jinx Pyle is always a treat.

When we look at the Pleasant Valley War, an expert comes to mind, Leland Hanchette. The Pleasant Valley War reminds us of the famous feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys. Listeners will enjoy the expertise that Leland Hanchette brings, as he relates the story to them. Hanchette will share his stories in front of Gasoline Alley at 407 W. Main St.

On down Main Street, you'll discover why Body Elegance Day Spa earned the Governor's 2004 Arizona Main Street Award for the best restored historic business.

Owner, Shelley Wayland, will give tours of the 1910 Stewart Home. The walls of the Stewart home were built from hand-chiseled rock. Throughout this historic property, original linoleum and wallpaper hang in frames on the walls. There's even a page from a 1939 Arizona Republic newspaper hanging on a wall. As Shelley Wayland tells the story of the house at 500 W. Main St., she will be dressed in period costume.

Well-known artist and author, Jay Kemp, will entertain listeners with stories of Payson's colorful history at Somewhere in Time, 503 W. Main St. Kemp brings with him 32 years of television production. Kemp is also well-known in Payson for his award-winning sculptures and oils. He is the author of several books.

Marty Stuckenberg, dressed in period attire, will tell stories in front of Eagle Mountain at 501 W. Main St. Stuckenberg will delight listeners with stories about the early days of Payson.

A mountain man and the lady he rescues can be found outside the historic Piper Mansion at 505 W. Main St. Parry Morton and Marquerite Young will portray Milt Dale and Nell from the Zane Grey novel, "The Man of the Forest."

They will be dressed in the Rim Country costumes for which they are well-known. Using humor, performing artist, Pam Barnes, will tell of Payson's past. Barnes recently appeared with the Payson improv group, Humor Me.

She also appeared in Shoestring Productions. This longtime Payson resident will dress as a pioneer and tell her stories in front of the Totem Pole on Main Street.

As parade goers enter local businesses on Main Street, they're likely to encounter merchants dressed in period costume with many stories to tell. Mike Stuart of Gasoline Alley plans to put a gas pump and a classic car in front of his store. He will be dressed as if he worked at the local Blakely Station. Don't be surprised if he asks to check your oil.

Down at Bootleg Alley Antiques & Art, the Mooneys will be dressed as the Pipers, early owners of their building. You might even hear Mrs. Piper tell Mr. Piper to hide the bootleg in the well and get dressed for the party at the Piper mansion across the street. The walls of this historic building, located at 520 W. Main St. from 1882, hold many stories from Payson's beginning.

Further down at 615 W. Main St., where the Winchester Bar stood so many years ago before it burned to the ground, you'll find Pollack Custom Works. As fitting for the proprietor of a store that sells guns, Marta Pollack will be in costume as Annie Oakley.

Those who venture into Pollack Custom Works will hear stories of sharp shooters of the Old West. In addition, Jason Pollack will demonstrate falconry.

As listeners leave Main Street, they should have a greater sense of Payson's past. They will learn how, in the course of 125 years,

Payson arrived at the present. And, as they meet the merchants and other business owners on the street, participants should be able to envision Payson's future.

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