The Joan De Arc

All the fits that's news to print

Founded AD 1967 / $5.00
Phoenix, Arizona / Wednesday, December 24, 2003
©  2003 by JPB Publishing Ltd.
On the INSIDE: Editorials A2 / Entertainment A3 / Christmas Nostalgia A4 / Crossword A5

Avenue Weather: Partly cloudy with possible late afternoon showers. High 64 / Low 38

Louis Crandall visits Bueker home

            (BP)- Visionary artist and developer Louis E. Crandall, the founder of the vanished Phoenix amusement park Legend City, recently paid a visit to the Peoria home of former Joan De Arc Avenue resident and Crusader CEO John Bueker.

     Crandall and his wife Marie, long time residents of Provo, Utah, came to the Phoenix area for a visit in late October to attend a high school reunion at Louis’ alma mater, Mesa High School. The couple took time out of their very busy itinerary to brave the 101 Freeway and trek across the Valley from Mesa for the expressed purpose of seeing the Bueker residence and meeting John’s lovely wife Susan. Tasty snacks and apple cider were consumed over very lively conversation, and Louis inspected John’s collection of Legend City artifacts.

     Crandall somehow came away from the visit with the opinion that the Buekers are “sweet, sweet people.” Bueker replied to the compliment with his typical stoic modesty. “Yep, he’s right about that. We are awesomely sweet,” he said. After a long pause, he added “OK, well Sue is.”

     The two men became fast friends earlier this year when Crandall stumbled across Bueker’s Legend City web site tribute during a Crandall family gathering on Easter Sunday. Thrilled and intrigued that someone had actually invested so much time and energy in the creation of an online monument to his long lost theme park, Louis soon contacted John and initiated an ongoing and productive dialogue which has included the provision of a number of rare Legend City items for display on the Internet site.

     In August, Bueker made a pilgrimage to Provo for a three day stay at the Crandall Historical Printing Museum and residence, during which time the Crandalls entertained their guest with tours of the BYU campus and Salt Lake City, as well as an extensive perusal of the Crandall museum and home. Bueker and Crandall also discussed their favorite amusement park in great detail, and the emerging possibility of a Legend City book. Crandall has been so impressed with the Legend City web site that he has asked Mr. Bueker to design a web site for the Crandall Museum, a request that Bueker finds both flattering and challenging. “I suspect that this man has an inordinately high opinion of me,” confessed Bueker in a moment of atypical candor.

     Inspired by a visit to Disneyland in 1957, Louis Crandall determined to bring an old west theme park to the Phoenix area, where he worked for a local advertising agency. After months of searching, he acquired a parcel of land south of Papago Park that was precisely one half the size of the Magic Kingdom, and then spent three years designing and building Legend City. The park opened to much fanfare on June 29, 1963, and a little more than a year later, was bankrupt. Crandall was forced out as president and moved his family to Provo in 1965, where he has remained ever since. His printing museum is now attracting world wide attention as the home of the only working Gutenberg printing press on the planet. Legend City was sold to the Salt River Project in 1983, and unceremoniously razed to the ground that same year.

     Rumors of the building of a new Legend City continue to surface from time to time, but Crandall has so far passed on a series of proposals to bring back some version of his long lost amusement park. “It would just break my heart to try again and fail again,” he wistfully remarked during his visit to the Bueker home.

     Yet the 73-year-old refuses to completely rule out the possibility of Legend City rising Phoenix-like from the ashes. The latest proposals are for a western themed water park with the Legend City appellation, or possibly a more traditional rendering of the old park built entirely outside of the Phoenix area, perhaps in the cooler climes of northern or central Arizona. The blazing Phoenix summers are almost universally acknowledged to be the pre-eminent cause of Legend City’s demise.

     John Bueker is circumspect regarding the possibility of a new Legend City. “Hey, anything is possible,” he told the Crusader in a recent interview, “but I’ll believe it when I see it. In the meantime, I prefer to live in the past, thank you very much.”


Avenue observes 40th anniversary of Bueker move-in

By J. Bueker          

     Earlier this month, Joan De Arc Avenue observed the 40th anniversary of the historic arrival of the Bueker family at 3219. Joan De Arc historians unanimously concur that this was the single most important event in the history of the street.

     The Bueker’s passage to Joan De Arc Avenue was preceded by a five month stay in a rental home at 3008 W. Cactus Rd., where they had secured a one year lease after moving to Phoenix from Livonia, Michigan in July, 1963.

     The fateful and decisive moment came on a sunny morning in October when the local realtor, whose name has been lost to posterity, stopped by the house on Cactus Rd. to fetch a few “For Sale” signs that were being kept in the storage room by the carport. No sooner had Barbara Bueker mentioned to the gentleman that she and husband Carl might be interested in purchasing a home in the area than he was driving her around the local neighborhoods and showing her the available domiciles.

     After failing to impress Mrs. Bueker with the vacancies south of Cactus Rd., the persistent realtor drove into the Surrey Heights subdivision to the north, where there were some bargains to be had in the form of some government repo homes. Barbara was immediately taken with the house at 3219, since it was a relatively large 4 bedroom being offered at the extremely reasonable price of $15,000, with no closing costs or down payment. Given the significant financial advantages involved, she had little difficulty convincing her thrifty spouse that Joan De Arc Avenue was the place to be.

     The resourceful realty man got the Buekers out of their Cactus Rd. lease by promising their landlord substantial business for his insurance enterprise, and the big move was set for the first full weekend in December, the 7th and 8th. In the meantime, a few touch-ups to the house at 3219 were in order, such as the application of several coats of white paint to the walls of the master bedroom, which had inexplicably been painted black.

     The Buekers made the move that weekend as planned, with a little help from professional movers and a lot of help from Carl's new GMC Suburban.

     The first neighbor to greet the new family on the block was Konnie Russell, who crossed the street with her two very young daughters to welcome the Buekers to Joan De Arc Avenue. Helen Mitchell introduced herself a few days later when the Bueker cat Sam got herself stuck in a tree in the Mitchell’s yard. Soon after, the Bill and Hazel Dickey held a small party at their house to officially welcome Carl and Barb aboard.

     Some concerns arose on the street with the appearance of a “Room for Rent” sign in a front bedroom window of the Bueker home shortly after their arrival, but these were allayed with the revelation that the youngest Bueker child, John, had been making an unauthorized public display of the sign, which his mother had purchased for him at the Westown T.G. & Y. Barbara has never truly recovered from this embarrassment.

     And so the adventure began.



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

Moon Phases: First Quarter: December 30  Full: January 7  Last Quarter: January 14   New: January 21
Printed copies of the Crusader available at