Page A5 / The Joan De Arc Crusader / Sunday, April 1, 2018
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Crusader Interview: A chat with founder John Bueker
by Sue Bueker Nolan

     This year marks the 50th anniversary of the award winning, timeless neighborhood newspaper the Joan De Arc Crusader. The inaugural issue, published in the spring of 1968, was the brainchild of 10-year-old John Bueker. Originally a thinly disguised plea for something John wanted, and crudely typewritten, it was published in the form of a daily paper. The Crusader endures and thrives under his creative hand. Charming, funny, and often poignant, The Crusader has served to commemorate many of the exciting, as well as the mundane, happenings on our beloved old street and beyond. I recently chatted with John about how it all went down.

Sue:

John, you were just a kid when you first published the Crusader. Do you recall the reason you created it in the first place?

John:

Well as a matter of fact, I would cite you as a crucial influence in the birth of the Crusader. I was fascinated by the whimsical, typewritten news flashes that you and our father exchanged over the issue of his refusal to take his kids to the Neptune’s Garden aquarium shop in Phoenix. That’s what really switched on the light bulb in my head. I started experimenting with creating my own little news flashes, and it was probably Carl who encouraged me to turn my ideas into an actual little newspaper.

Sue:

What was the theme of the first newspaper you published? Do you still have a copy of it? I hope you will post a copy of it.

John:

My first paper was called “The Sloppy Gazette.” Sadly it was not preserved for posterity and I can’t remember now what the precise contents were. I would dearly love to have a copy of that thing. I did hold on to it for years, but eventually it disappeared. I think the theme was probably the same as all the early Crusaders: the goings-on at 3219 in particular and the street generally. The good news is that most of the early Crusaders were preserved and are now posted online in the Crusader Archives.

Sue:

The Crusader was an instant hit with us Buekers. To what do you attribute its growth in popularity and continued success?

John:

I think the Crusader captures a time and place we all remember fondly and would like to return to. After the paper went online, I started receiving emails from complete strangers who also grew up in Phoenix during the ‘60s and ‘70s and could therefore relate to all the Crusader references to Chris-Town, Legend City, Wallace and Ladmo, Westown, and so on. It was simply a great time and place to be alive. People love their nostalgia, and at the end of the day, that is the primary function of the Joan De Arc Crusader.

Sue:

Do you have a favorite issue or article you'd like to talk about?

John:

The Christmas issue from 2008 has always been one of my favorites. That edition covered topics like the Amber Inn, Chuck Bueker’s and Tom Mason’s high school film “Untitled,” the old Jade Palace restaurant, and the Christmas when I received my electric football game. I’m rather proud of that issue. I’m also fond of the May Day issue in 2010 that covered the Joan De Arc reunion we had that year. It’s kind of a goofy Crusader, but pretty funny and of course very sentimental.

Sue:

There's a little something for everyone in each issue, isn't there? Could you elaborate?

John:

I think that’s really a function of the paper’s theme and scope, although sometimes I will write a story about some obscure Joan De Arc memory of mine that has absolutely no meaning for anyone except myself. I rather delight in those. For example, I once wrote about a Christmas memory of Father and myself going off to an odd location in Surrey Heights to gather some soil for our Christmas tree that year. There’s no particular reason I should even recall this event, but it’s a fond memory and where else could I write about it but in the Crusader?

Sue:

How would you say the Crusader has changed over the years?

John:

Well in 1993, I got the idea to bring back the Crusader for a one-off “25th anniversary commemorative issue,” which was really just a brief parody of the old paper done for old-time’s sake. But everyone enjoyed it so much that I did some more, and then I slowly developed this idea of making the Crusader a more substantial publication and a vehicle for my writing about the old days. Then when our brother Charles signed on with his splendid “Chuck’s Corner” column, I think the Crusader really started to resemble an actual newspaper of some sort. I added little touches like a crossword puzzle, almanac, quote and so forth.

Sue:

How do you envision the future of The Crusader, say 5 years from now? Any changes forthcoming?

John:

My favorite Crusaders are the ones in which everybody participates, namely our entire family along with our Joan De Arc neighbors. I loved the “50th Anniversary of the Avenue” issue in 2011, when everybody recalled their fondest memories of the street. I also thought the Opel Kadett feature from a couple years back was quite wonderful. So I would say going forward, I would hope for more of these issues where everybody contributes their own memories, because it just makes for a much richer Crusader. Everybody remembers different stuff and saw everything from a unique perspective.

Sue:

Thank you for sharing, John. This interview was way overdue!

John:

I agree, and thank you, Sue. And I think everything worked out fine. After all, I believe we did eventually make it to Neptune’s Garden!

______________________________________________________________________________________________________ JDA

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