Page A2 / The Joan
De Arc Crusader / Sunday, June 18, 2017
“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.” – Voltaire
A little too much progress at Sahuaro?
The Crusader generally welcomes the capital
improvements being made at Sahuaro Elementary School this summer, which
include a greatly expanded parking lot and the construction of new playground
facilities. The school has been markedly neglected in this regard by the
Washington School District over the years and is highly deserving of these
However, was it really necessary to tear down all of the wonderful shade
trees that had been carefully planted around the school periphery about
ten years ago, along with long-standing softball backstops and other
classic playground features? Our understanding is that these changes have
been in the planning stages for two years now, and our feeling is that
more thought could have been put into preserving these beloved and
worthwhile aspects of the school grounds. Those shade trees were planted
to replace the beautiful mulberry trees that had surrounded the school for
decades before unfortunately succumbing to disease. Surely a way could
have been found to keeps these trees intact.
Change is inevitable, and the new parking lot and playground facilities at
Sahuaro will certainly be welcomed additions to our school that will
doubtless improve the overall experience for students, parents, and staff.
We just think the whole thing might have been handled with a little more
delicacy and foresight.
A fond farewell to Mary
The Crusader is sad to note the passing of
Mary Wells, the long-time Avenue resident who left us earlier this month
at the amazing age of 94.
Arriving on Joan
De Arc in 1964 with husband Art and children Mark and Jodi in tow, Mary
enthusiastically immersed herself in decades of community service with the
Sahuaro PTA, the Girl Scouts, and her church, in addition to being a
devoted wife and mother. She later went back to work as a certified
gemologist, working tirelessly with the jewelry she loved until she took
her well-deserved retirement.
Mary was a true Joan De Arc matriarch, a good neighbor and friend, to
dozens of Avenue families over her five decades at 3218. She will be
Crusader passes along its sincere condolences to Mary’s children Larry,
Mark, and Jodi, and we congratulate Mary on a long life, well lived.
We welcome your letters at
News from Around the Block &
Around the World ©
By C.H. Bueker III
My first Metrocenter experience
Our family moved to
North Phoenix in the early 60’s, choosing to live briefly in a Westown
rental dwelling and then a purchased home in the neighborhood of Surrey
Heights. At the time, these suburban bedroom communities stuck out of
metro Phoenix like a sore thumb, and if we wanted to do any serious
shopping, the solution was to drive some miles south to Christown, the
nearest retail mall.
While traveling south down the Black Canyon freeway to this indoor
shopping experience, on the section of road between Peoria and Dunlap, it
was fairly common to suffer the pungent olfactory assault of broccoli
fields. At one time they also grew potatoes there and I remember
that because word got around that folks were encouraged to glean the field
after harvesting was complete and so we gathered a sack full of spuds to
rot in the garage, because what were we going to do with a sack of
potatoes? The shame of our Irish ancestors lingers to this day.
One day word got around that a new shopping mall was going up in the
middle of that stinky broccoli field, and not just any mall, but a really,
really big one. It was going to be called Metrocenter, which was
kind of funny because it was absolutely not in the center of anything
metro. I guess it sounded better than “Broccoli-Center” to their crack
marketing team, so Metrocenter it was. It wasn’t all that convenient
for most of the metropolitan area, but it was close to us, closer than
Christown, and that’s all that mattered as far as we were concerned.
My first experience with Metrocenter was before it even officially opened.
It was such a huge place that most of the storefronts were going to be
vacant at the grand opening and the owners didn’t want it to look so much
like a ghost town, so their marketing directors had a pretty genius idea.
An “art” contest was announced, with a cash prize being awarded to the
team or individual painting the best mural on the blank drywall face of an
So this is how it came to
pass that Bette Zimmerman and I spent an entire weekend with buckets of
paint, faithfully reproducing an Incan-inspired mural (designed by Barbara
Stewart) onto the walls of an empty shopping mall.
Bette was a student in my mom’s art class at Alhambra High School and I’m
pretty sure she needed some extra credit in her class and that’s the main
reason she was there. Bette went on to become second runner-up in the Miss
Arizona pageant and so I imagine she ordinarily would have better things
to do than slop paint on the wall with some random nerd, but we did go on
one date together just to make sure we were horribly ill-suited for each
other. Spoiler alert – we were horribly ill-suited for each other.
We didn’t win the contest. I’m pretty sure that nobody secured the prize
money because when I called to see if we had won, the lady on the phone
asked which mural we did before saying “Oh, it was, um, the entry from
students at Camelback High.” The stupid one with flowers and butterflies?
Coincidentally, I happened to
catch Bette’s performance in the beauty pageant. Her talent was “art” and
they specifically mentioned her “work” at Metrocenter. Does this make me
co-runner up for Miss Arizona 1975? Let me put on my swimsuit and
you be the judge.