Christopher Creek did itself up proud again last Saturday night. Nearly 70 Creekers including 17 of our Colcord neighbors and a couple from OW Ranch made quite a statement at the Northern Gila County Fair’s Demolition Derby. Christopher Creek Crash Dummies’ pit crew did themselves proud, as well, getting ol’ 1177 banged out enough to get into the finals. Dean Dodson did an excellent job piloting the ’76 Cordova in front of his wife, Genny, two sons, “Bobber” and Aaron, and granddaughter Mariah. It’s time now for the fair committee and the promoter to step up for next year, ’cause the Crash Dummies are not done. Look for ol’ 1177, Second Edition!
The Delbert Worcester Plane Crash - Part 1 of 3
The reunion story of the 1950 plane crash in See Canyon is told as it was observed: disjointed, chaotic, emotional, and back and forth between past and present.
He was 18 he when buzzed his mother while she was tending her garden on a small farm in Ohio. He was flying a Piper Cub. This wasn’t the best idea, as his mother had already lost two of her nephews in plane crashes. He had to get rid of the plane, she told him, that’s all there was to it!
Flying lured many young fellas who grew up between the World Wars. He worked at the family poultry business, housed in a three-story building, with chickens on every floor. He worked mostly without pay, so when he turned 20 the family bought him a new automobile. He headed for Arizona.
We were hearing the story from an 85-year-old man from Ohio, with some of the detail filled in by his wife and daughter-in-law. While we were listening to the stories, Jan Clark was serving plates full of cheeses and crackers, then cookies and milk, all the while making sure everyone was comfortable. The conversation was held in one of the family cabins at Mountain Meadows Bible Camp in See Canyon, just above Christopher Creek.
Now and then, the proceedings were interrupted by cell phone messages, pictures and on-the-scene reports. Earlier, around 11 a.m. on the morning of Friday, April 12, 2013, Bill Osier and brothers, Tom and Alan Worcester, left the camp and started up See Canyon on the 184 trail.
Bill, who is manager at Mountain Meadows, had made a discovery about a year earlier while hiking and exploring at the base of the shear face of the Mogollon Rim. They were heading for the crash site.
Cell phone updates were being fed back to the group of anxious family waiting back at the cabin. “We think we are close. It’s pretty steep and rough ... and ... Bill has gone ahead. He looks like a mountain goat ... scampering back and forth ... over the rocks.” The report coming over speaker-phone was broken by labored breathing and the sounds of the fellas moving up the rough terrain at nearly 7,000 feet.
About then, Charlotte, Del and Shirley’s daughter-in-law, received a picture over her cell phone. The picture showed an area of mountainside, but it did nothing to jog Del’s memory.
In 1949, a young fella drove from Ohio to Arizona. He was full of adventure and having worked hard at the family business most of his young life, he was happy to be out on his own. Young Del had a passion for flying as did many young fellas his age. As Arizona was the nation’s premier location for training WWII pilots, he had little problem getting his flying lessons.
Del’s lovely wife, Shirley, was relating how Del, raised on a farm, learned to drive at the age of 8. He learned about the clutch and the gas pedal first and didn’t quite have the brake part down just yet. As he drove into the barn his dad was frantically attempting to get him to shut down, but was too late.
Jan showed us the framed letter that had hung in her family’s large 1910 hand-hewn log cabin on the banks of Christopher Creek. The letter was dated Feb. 5, 1950. When Jan Clark’s father, Howard Walker, bought the property in the early ’50s, she was just 6. Back then, families would lease a small cabin for an entire season and were apt to return year after year. She tells of the Wall family who had stayed summers in one of the cabins, first with the Kisers as the owners and then with the Walkers as the new owners. The Walls passed the mysterious letter on to the Walkers and it had hung in the main family cabin more than 60 years.
The letter was difficult to read, so Jan read it aloud for us. It began, “I, Delbert Worcester, stayed at your cabin, being in great agony as I crashed my plane one mile away ...” A half-mile was scratched out and changed to one mile.
Continued ... and that’s another week in the Creek.