Living in the shadows of the Mogollon Rim affords privileges that can’t be enjoyed elsewhere.
One such treat is the free fiddlers jam sessions held the third Wednesday of each month in the Pine Cultural Center.
Chuck Casey and his wife Barbara are among the local musicians who are regulars at the sessions that draw music aficionados from around the Rim Country.
The Caseys, aka Trouble in Paradise, are two of the best known professional musicians in Gila County.
Between the two, they play mandolin, guitar, violin, cello and other stringed instruments. In the past, Frank Allen, Bob Crose and Arvid Thompson have also been jam session regulars.
Chuck Casey is expecting Buckshot Dot, a native Arizonan raised on the Navajo Reservation, to join in on upcoming jams. Over the years, she’s built a reputation as an accomplished storyteller, singer, cowboy poet and guitar player.
“She’s the real deal,” claims Chuck Casey.
At most jams, it’s not unusual for visitors to show up and join in.
Chuck Casey recalls a Missouri musician passing through town stopping into strut his fiddling talent especially in head-to-head duels with the very talented Barbara Casey.
No matter who shows up, the group plays most every type of music from classical to rock, sometimes improvising by taking musical clues from one another.
The music is often recognizable to those a little gray on top. “Faded Love” is a ’50s favorite sometimes played. “Devil’s Dream,” “Red Wing,” “Soldier’s Joy” and “Tennessee Waltz” are other crowd favorites as is bluegrass.
At most jams, senior citizens seize the opportunity to take to the dance floor especially during the playing of the “Tennessee Waltz.”
Old-timers remember the jams were started decades ago by Strawberry native Stan Fuller, whose family has owned Fuller Ranch for generations.
Supposedly, Fuller began the jams as weekday dinner entertainment at the senior center. The sessions blossomed after Fuller invited other fiddlers to join him to provide free entertainment that some concertgoers are willing pay big admission ticket prices to enjoy.
While the jam sessions are no longer held in the dining hall, the post lunch agenda for many seniors is to stroll over to the cultural center to kick back and enjoy some of the finest toe-tapping music in Arizona.
Since the birth of the stints, they have become as much a part of Pine and Strawberry as are, well, berries and pine trees.
So, do yourself a favor and drop by the senior center for the next jam, 1 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 19, to enjoy a musical treat that won’t soon be forgotten.
Meet the school board
Mothers of Pine Strawberry school students will have an opportunity from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 5 in a Muffins for Mom session to discuss educational issues with members of the school board.
“Mothers of students are invited to the school to enjoy a muffin and visit with board members,” said principal/superintendent Cody Barlow. The meet and greet will be held in the school library.
Regular school board meetings are held at 4:30 p.m. the second Monday of each month in room 114.
Also at the school, students will be dismissed at 1:30 p.m. today, Friday, Jan. 31 when a flag ceremony will be held.
Early this week, Barlow announced the students who have maintained perfect attendance through the 100th day of school.
They are: Indiana Utz, Lacota Utz, Alyssa Baeuerlen, Dwayne Schank, Emma Paine, Abby Ast, Kayla Schank, Michael Aguon, Savannah James and Maddy Abney.
Sale ends tomorrow
The Pine-Strawberry Thrift Shop’s annual Valentine’s Day sale, which began Jan. 29, wraps up tomorrow, Feb. 1.
Also at the thrift shop, all items in the back sales lot have been marked down 50 percent.
The sale includes items that can be found in the entertainment center as well as furniture, appliances and inventory on shelves under the canopy.
Donations to the shop are gladly accepted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Pickups and deliveries are by appointment only.
The Pine Strawberry Thrift Shop is operated by Senior Citizen Affairs Foundation (SCAF). Proceeds from the Thrift Shop help fund the Pine Strawberry Community Dining Hall, the senior lunches, the Meals on Wheels program, and help needy citizens of the Pine and Strawberry communities.
Every third Wednesday SCAF members receive an additional 25 percent off of all purchases (must present SCAF membership card) at the thrift shop.
The shop is located in the heart of Pine at 3916 N. Highway 87.
Call (928) 476-4633 for more information.
The audio from the Jan. 17 Gila County Board of Supervisors meeting in Pine seems to confirm that chairman Mike Pastor said the need to have a financial and management audit of PSWID would appear on the supervisors’ Feb. 4 meeting agenda.
There are those water users very interested in finding out what an audit would reveal.
During my tenure as a Payson Roundup beat reporter I was once given an assignment to cover a story that centered on a community recognition ceremony during which a homeowners association near Christopher Creek would be honored for earning “firewise” status.
Since that original story years ago, several other developments have garnered the prestigious title including both Portals I and II homeowners associations.
The awards are doled out by the Arizona State Forestry Division for bringing subdivisions into compliance with firewise guidelines that include making homes defensible in the event of catastrophic fire.
With 2013-2014 winter currently going into the record books as one of the driest in recent history, the threat of wildfires, such as those that scorched the high country in the fire season of 1985, once again threaten the Rim Country.
The Pine-Strawberry Fuel Reduction Committee, which was formed in 2004, has led the fight to remove excess brush and trees that could put our communities at risk in the event of a major wildfire.
Those of us who have lived in Northern Gila County for long remember during the fire seasons of the 1990s and early 2000s, we packed our family heirlooms in our cars to be sure we had them with us in case of a forced evacuation.
Thanks to the fuel reduction committee and the firewise program, our towns are now much safer but there is more work to be done.
Residents can join in on the fire prevention movement by supporting the fire reduction organization, which is a completely volunteer, nonprofit community group dependent entirely upon private donations and grants.
Because the grants that once funded local brush pickup have dried up, the committee now has a goal to raise $60,000 to revive the program.
To raise the money, the committee is relying mostly on tax deductible donations.
Those who wish to contribute may do so by mailing donations to P/S Fuel Reduction, P.O. Box 67, Pine, AZ 85544.
For more information, call (928) 970-0713.