The Joan De Arc

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Phoenix, Arizona / Monday, July 20, 2009
Founded AD 1968 / $10.00

©  2009 by JPB Publishing Ltd.

Avenue Weather: Partly cloudy with possible late afternoon showers. High 113 / Low 89

On the INSIDE: Editorials A2 / Sports A3 / Nostalgia A4 / Crossword A5


Avenue looks back at Apollo 11

(BP) – Four decades after the monumental mission of Apollo 11, Joan De Arc Avenue today pauses to remember mankind’s first visit to another world.

     On July 20, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin successfully landed their lunar module on the moon’s dusty Sea of Tranquility. At 7:56 pm Joan De Arc time, Armstrong began his historic descent to the surface, and moments later the famous words “That’s one small step…” echoed around the street and throughout the world.

     At 3219 on the momentous evening, Carl and Barbara Bueker were ensconced in their master bedroom with sons Charles and John, watching the amazing events unfold on the family’s trusty old black-and-white television set. John Bueker recalls, “The video image of Armstrong stepping onto the moon was so god-awful on our TV that we couldn’t really make out what was happening. It was only after (Walter) Cronkite informed us that we knew a man was actually standing on the surface. An unforgettable and defining Joan De Arc moment though, nonetheless.” Barbara had difficulty viewing the proceedings at all, with her sons seated on the floor mere inches from the TV screen. “I couldn’t see past John’s head,” she says. “He practically had his nose up against the screen.”

     The Bueker girls, Sue and Barbie, were meanwhile witnessing the spectacle two thousand miles away during a visit to their grandmother’s home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For Barbie, the moon landing took on a deeper symbolic meaning, coming in the midst of her return to the neighborhood of her childhood after six years in Arizona. “The old Rosedale neighborhood just wasn’t the same when we went back that summer. It seemed like we had been gone forever,” she said. “One of the highlights of the trip of course was watching the moon landing in Grandma Bueker’s apartment on her little TV. I immediately appreciated the historical significance of the event, even at 15. It wasn’t just our little Rosedale neighborhood that had changed – the whole freakin’ world had changed. From Camelot to Woodstock, Mercury spacecraft to walking on the moon, in only six years!”

     Over at the Russell residence, daughters Patty, Susie and Annie were growing restless at the interminable wait for the moon walk to commence and desiring only to go outside and play. “I wouldn’t allow it -- history was about to be made and they weren’t going to miss it,” Konnie Russell remembers. “The grandparents were visiting from Indiana, and all seven of us huddled around the black and white TV. The touchdown was an incredible moment, and there was a huge sigh of relief that they had made it that far. But I kept looking at the screen for something exciting like green men, monsters, or cheese. Too many cartoons and comic books, I suppose.”

     As it turned out, there was a skeptic at 3230 that remarkable night. “After the big excitement had died down, Grandpa announced that he wasn’t sure the whole thing really happened,” Russell recalls. “He thought it could have been staged.” Later that evening, in an apparent attempt to refute Grandpa’s theory, Red and Konnie Russell ventured outside and viewed the moon through Red’s new binoculars. “But we couldn’t see Neil, Buzz or the LEM,” she said.

     The day after the Apollo 11 moon walk, young John Bueker received a very surprising phone call. “My 5th grade teacher, Miss Eden, called me to share the excitement of the Apollo landing and get my reaction to it all. She knew I was a huge fan of space and astronomy,” Bueker remembers. “I was so astonished to receive a phone call from a Sahuaro teacher that I hardly said a word to her. She finally gave up, told me to take care, and hung up.”

     Bueker paused and then added, “If you’re still out there Miss Eden, thanks for calling. I thought the moon landing was totally cool. You take care too.”


“Pizzas and Bongos” returns for encore

     “Pizzas and Bongos,” an obscure and quirky record album that was an early ‘70s birthday gag gift on Joan De Arc Avenue, surfaced again recently as an obscure and quirky early 21st century birthday gag gift for former Avenue resident Barbie Bueker Formichella. Ms. Formichella received the present late last year during a brief ceremony at her family’s Thanksgiving Day festivities.

     The precise history behind the original “Pizzas and Bongos” gift has faded significantly into the mists of time, but several theories have emerged to explain its provenance. “I believe (family friend) Doug Burkett was somehow involved with the original selection of that gift,” speculates family member John Bueker. “It so perfectly matches his sublimely warped sense of humor. I think he gave it to Barbie for laughs as a birthday present around 1973, and as I recall it succeeded brilliantly.”

     “Pizzas and Bongos” is a selection of Italian-inflected Latin jazz numbers recorded by the Irving Fields Trio and originally released by Decca Records in 1961. The album sleeve features an extraordinarily cheesy photo of an Italian chef tossing a pizza with a smiling Latina dancer cavorting in the foreground. By 1973, the LP would have been generally available in record store bargain bins.

     Bueker located a copy of the long lost album on eBay last fall and decided it would once more make a suitably amusing gift for his sister, 35 years hence. “For some reason out of the blue, I just started thinking about ‘Pizzas and Bongos’ again,” he said. “Weird, isn’t it?”

     For her part, Formichella was clearly thrilled to once again possess the long-lost collection of arcane Italio-Latino jazz melodies. “I can’t remember who originally gave it to whom now, but it does look awfully familiar,” she noted. Formichella declined comment when asked whether she plans to actually listen to the record.

     “Pizzas and Bongos” was the follow-up album to Irving Field’s acknowledged 1959 masterpiece, “Bagels and Bongos.” Amazingly enough, Fields is still alive and performing at the age of 93.



On the INSIDE: Editorials A2 / Sports A3 / Nostalgia A4 / Crossword A5


Moon Phases:    New: July 21   First Quarter: July 28   Full: August 5    Last Quarter: August 13