Hashknife Pony Express riders have for more than a decade thrilled Pine Strawberry School students by thundering into town to re-enact, with much fanfare and pomp, an exchange of mailbags much like the original Express riders did in the American West from 1860 to 1861.
For area students and other onlookers as well, the scenes were lessons in the enduring legacy of the Pony Express.
As thrilling as those past episodes in Pine were, the Hashknife’s most recent ride failed to live up to expectations.
On Jan. 29, students eagerly waited at the post office for 20-plus minutes probably expecting to see riders charge four abreast down Beeline, cowboy hats brushing in the wind and overstuffed mailbags slung over saddle horns.
However, all the students witnessed was a single Pony Express rider gently saunter into town where he mingled politely with the school children allowing them to admire and pet his horse.
There was no exchange of mailbags the students could see and when the rider departed, it wasn’t the hurried gallop reminiscent of the Pony Express riders who once toted mail from St. Joseph, Mo. to Sacramento, Calif.
“I was disappointed, it wasn’t worth all the hype,” said one man watching the re-enactment for the first time.
It’s not entirely clear this week what occurred to put the crimp into the Hashknife’s celebratory appearance in Pine.
There have been no explanations, but a check of the current Hashknife roster reveals that two former Pine-Strawberry School students, who later became Pony Express riders, are no longer with the group.
The two once played a big part in the annual Pony Express appearances in Pine.
Certainly the horseback journey into Pine represents a side trip of sorts on the Hashknife Pony Express ride from Holbrook to Scottsdale.
That is probably an added burden, but if the group decides to next year continue the tradition, it should do so by re-creating a sense of history that will thrill the children and do the Hashknife riders proud.
The disappointment of what occurred last week might be best expressed by an onlooker watching the lone rider gambol out of town, “Maybe we can ask them to go big again next year?”
PSWID audit approved
The Gila County Board of Supervisors, acting as the board of directors for the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District held a special meeting Feb. 4 in Globe and Payson to consider calling for a special financial and management audit of the district.
All three supervisors voted to hold the audit which will be done by an outside company.
For complete details of the supervisors’ meeting, see the Payson Roundup.
Spelling Bee, Science Fair winners named
Pine-Strawberry School Spelling Bee competition has wrapped up and the champions crowned.
Emma Paine, a fifth-grader, spelled her way to a gold medal finish. Eighth-grader Savannah James was second and Darby McFarlane, a fourth-grader, was third.
Paine and James will compete in the Gila County Spelling Bee championships on Feb. 20 in Globe. McFarlane will attend as an alternate.
Also at the Pine-Strawberry School, science fair winners are preparing to advance to the Gila County championships.
Junior Division winners are: Krislyn Alford (animal science), Hope Carl (behavioral and social sciences), Jerusha Paine (chemistry), Ryan LaFave (computer science), Samantha Jones (engineering), Shaila Hein (earth/planetary science), Brittany Fleming (environmental science), Meredith Kiekintveld (medical/health science), Maddy Abney (physics and astronomy) and Bobbie Price (plant science).
Elementary Division winners are: Hope Carl (behavioral and social sciences), Makenzie Abney (chemistry), Brandon LaFave (engineering), Adam Leneberg (environmental science), Abby Ast (medical/health science), Emma Paine (physics and astronomy) and Joerge Ramirez (plant science).
Grand Prize winners included Alford (eighth grade), Paine (seventh grade), Ast (sixth grade) and Lexi Ward and Raci Miranda (fifth grade).
The Pine Strawberry School science fair winners, along with other champions from around Gila County, will compete in the Regional Science Fair to be held Feb. 26 at Bullion Plaza Cultural Center and Museum in Miami. Judging will start at 8 a.m., with doors open to the public from noon to 3 p.m.
The county winners qualify for the Arizona State Science and Engineering Fair to be held March 31 through April 2 at the Phoenix Convention Center.
Last year, 21 students from Gila County earned medals at the state science fair. The students came from Pine, Payson, Young, Globe and Gila County Regional School districts.
Fuel committee special meeting
While the Pine Strawberry Fuel Reduction Committee meetings are traditionally held at 6 p.m. on the last Wednesday of each month in the Pine Senior Center Dining Room, a special meeting has been scheduled for 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15 in the dining room.
Also the committee has finalized the February schedule for work on the Bearfoot Trail.
It is: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 23, which will be a major work event on the trail. Lunch and snacks will be courtesy of the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona (MBAA). Bring your own lunch, snacks and water on both Feb. 8 and Feb. 15.
Volunteers should meet on the east side of Beeline Highway at mile marker 270. Additional parking can be found across the highway at Strawberry Trailhead. In case of inclement weather, the sessions will be rescheduled.
Give your ears and soul a musical treat by dropping by the Pine Senior Center at 1 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 19, to enjoy a fiddlers jam session.
Chuck Casey and his wife Barbara are sure to be at the session that draws music aficionados from around the Rim Country.
The Caseys, aka Trouble in Paradise, are two of the best known professional musicians in Gila County.
Chuck Casey has hinted Buckshot Dot, a native Arizonan raised on the Navajo Reservation, could join in on the jam. Over the years, she’s built a reputation as an accomplished storyteller, singer, cowboy poet and guitar player.
At most of the monthly jams, plenty of other musicians stop by to showcase their talents.
The music is great and the jam is free — what more could one ask for?
Surprise your honey
Want to give your BFF a special Valentine’s Day treat?
Such gifts can be found at the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library where boxes of scrumptious See’s Candy are on sale. Favorites include 1-pound boxes of nuts and chews, 1-pound Classic Red Heart boxes of assorted chocolates and 1-pound, 5-ounce boxes of assorted lollipops.
While at the library, also purchase raffle tickets for the chance at winning a bountiful basket of See’s Candy valued at $165.
Tickets are $5 for six or 10 for $15. The basket will be raffled off at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14.
All proceeds from the raffle and candy sale benefit the local library.