Page A2 / The Joan De Arc Crusader / Sunday, June 18, 2017

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“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 infrastructural enhancements.    
     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 missed.     
     The Crusader passes along its sincere condolences to Mary’s children Larry, Mark, and Jodi, and we congratulate Mary on a long life, well lived.


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Chuck’s Corner
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 empty storefront.     
     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?  Yeah, right.
     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.

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