At some time or another, I suppose we all suffer from the Charlie Brown "phantom football kick" syndrome. We rush forward once more, certain that this time, Lucy will hold the ball for us to kick, only to fall flat as the ball is jerked away.
Brushing off the dirt and soothing our wounds for the umpteenth time, we struggle to understand how we could have been suckered in again. Surely, there is a limit to Lucy's duplicitous behavior. Surely our faith in human nature will ultimately be rewarded.
The disappointment factor so permeates our thinking that it becomes difficult to trust anyone. Most of our forefathers operated on a handshake. Today, we attempt to protect ourselves with stacks of paperwork and lawyers to interpret them. Even then our cynicism rides point until a deal is done.
In this frame of reference, it might be understandable that a large group of Payson's population might hear the news of a renaissance for the old Ox Bow Saloon and yawn. In fact, the news might, indeed, be met with weary cynicism. "Sure," one might hear, "and pigs will soon file a flight plan!"
Plans have been announced before. Money has been spent. Somehow the town always gets left wondering where the ball went.
Well, folks, get ready to kick some footballs right through the goalposts! Lucy has been replaced.
The one great venue which can put this town on a tourist map is taking shape right before our eyes. The Ox Bow is about to become a premier "destination" for performing arts of every description -- all very much family oriented.
Plays, musical reviews, comedy routines, storytelling, talent contests -- you name it -- are coming to the Ox Bow, and a great deal of new money is being spent to ensure success.
Dinner theater will be a regular event. Local charitable groups will be able to have a popular venue for fund-raising without spending the entire budget just to rent a hall.
Payson adults will have a new option of where to go on a weekend night.
Buggy rides will take folks to and from Green Valley Park and all along Main Street.
Indoor and outdoor dining will be offered.
The old place, on the National Registry of Historic Places, will gleam with new polish and clean rest rooms.
Already, truckload after truckload of old trash has been hauled away, and the grounds are being completely redone. The building will have the old authentic look, but will be updated to modern standards.
The new owner has deep pockets and is dedicated to making the Ox Bow into one of Arizona's best tourist attractions and a place where the entire town will be able to spend a delightful evening.
It will be "the" place to bring out-of-town guests. When the Event Center is built, the Ox Bow will be a natural place to attract convention attendees. Valley folks will have a great reason to come up for a cool weekend and actually stay in town.
A group is being formed to support the performing arts in Payson. There is abundant talent here of all stripes which is begging for a place to hone their craft. All they want is an opportunity and a place to perform. The new-old Ox Bow expects to fill that need.
This is the perfect anchor for a renewed Main Street. It is the needed draw to pull tourists in. It will become a place of civic pride and a fun place to attend.
The new owner and the site manager are already spending 20-hour days bringing this dream to life. It will take some time, no doubt. Mistakes will be made and corrected. A learning curve is necessary, as in all ventures, but this has the look and feel of a sure-fire hit, and a talented and dedicated force is driving forward to make sure it happens.
Unfortunately, rumors and negative speculation have already begun. It seems some folks just don't want to see this venture succeed or believe it can.
The Charlie Brown syndrome is being noticed in some quarters. Worse, there are even whispers of a dark connection to some nefarious individuals or groups. It just ain't so.
It is going to take time and the good will of many positive thinking citizens to bring about the confident acceptance needed to make this adventure one in which everyone can feel ownership.
It should become "Our Ox Bow" and a source of pride when we boast of Payson's attractions.
I have no personal connection to this undertaking other than a firm belief in its future and a shared dream with many others. I pledge to do anything I can to help it along, though.