The Joan De Arc

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Phoenix, Arizona / Monday, December 25, 2023

Founded AD 1968 / $10.00

©  2023 by JPB Publishing Ltd.

Avenue Weather: Partly cloudy with possible late afternoon showers. High 60 / Low 48

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





Bueker sibs gather for one last Chris-Town stroll

     (BP) - With the purported demise of the storied Phoenix shopping mall Christown Spectrum looming, former Joan De Arc residents and siblings Susan Bueker Nolan, Barbie Bueker Formichella, Charles Bueker and John Bueker gathered at the shopping center in June for one final family visit together. The wistful exercise in Avenue nostalgia was held in conjunction with the annual summer birthday festivities for Sue, Charles, and John.
     The event is believed to be the first time since 1968 that all four Bueker siblings have been together in the mall at the same time. “Yeah, by the late ‘60s, Sue of course had become way too cool to hang out in public with her ultra-square family,” noted brother John with a telling roll of the eyes. “The utter humiliation would have probably completely destroyed her.” The Bueker sibs spent the better part of an hour strolling the mall and reminiscing about their endless memories of the center, which was originally called Chris-Town. At the conclusion of the event, the four reconvened for lunch at the Metrocenter Red Lobster, which stands in the shadow of another classic Phoenix mall that will soon disappear forever.
     The ultimate fate of Christown Spectrum is unclear, but developers have announced plans to radically alter and repurpose the property, spelling the end of the center as Phoenicians have known it for over 60 years. In February, mall owner Kimco Realty Corp. submitted an application to the city of Phoenix to rezone about 13 acres currently used for parking to allow for multifamily residential development. As of this writing, those plans have yet to be implemented and no further announcements have been made.
     Chris-Town Mall was the unchallenged pre-eminent shopping location in Phoenix during the 1960s and early 1970s, and like many Phoenicians on Joan De Arc and elsewhere, the Bueker family visited the center quite frequently. The first enclosed air-conditioned mall in the Valley, Chris-Town soon developed into a definitive social and cultural Phoenix mecca. The Buekers first visited the mall shortly after their move to Phoenix from Michigan 60 years ago in the summer of 1963.
     The Bueker sibs expressed intense nostalgia paired with a resigned sadness after their hour-long mall reunion.
     “I spent so much time within the walls of Chris-Town in my pre-teen and teen years,” Susan recalled. “Chris-Town was the context for many of my memories, both good and bad. So our visit was bittersweet, although I really enjoyed seeing the blown-up vintage photos on the walls.”
     Barbie Formichella probably knew Chris-Town the most intimately of the four, having worked there and even lived next door for a time. “There are very few physical places that evoke so many vivid and fond memories for me, and this is one of them,” she observed. “I shopped, worked, hung around and even lived right behind the mall years ago. I’m just glad we got to enter the building one more time before it actually disappears. It's nice to see that there are so many others, on Facebook for example, who remember the glory days and enjoy sharing their memories.”
     Charles Bueker was similarly moved by the event. “It was a little bit like visiting a sick friend: happy to be there and see what’s left, but wondering if this is the last time,” he said. “The visit naturally evoked many fond memories. The best part was remembering where all the familiar places used to be. Finding the space where Chess King once existed was a joyous moment. Angels sang.”
     The mall has changed significantly since its halcyon days in the ‘60s, with the entire west wing of the center being demolished in 2006 to make way for a new J.C. Penney store, but enough of the old mall apparently remains to invoke serious nostalgia. “As long as the old Court of Fountains is still here, Chris-Town lives,” mused John Bueker. “The old place does seem to be hanging on for now, but I guess it’s all just a matter of time.”
     Chris-Town Mall first opened in August 1961, about two years before the Buekers’ arrival in Arizona.

Bueker and Eide revisit storied street hockey rivalry

By J. Beaver

     A legendary Surrey Heights sports rivalry of the 1970s was revived in November when former Joan De Arc resident John Bueker and his old neighbor pal Glen Eide reunited for their first street hockey match in almost half a century. The competition took place in the driveway of John’s current residence in Glendale.
     The renewed rivalry was inspired in part by Bueker’s acquisition last year of a Franklin hockey goal, a generously nostalgic Christmas gift from his wife. John’s original hockey net was a childhood Yuletide present in 1969 and a mainstay of the old street hockey scene on Joan De Arc and elsewhere in the neighborhood.
     Street hockey emerged as a popular pastime in the Surrey Heights and Westown neighborhoods in the early 1970s, inspired in part by the exploits of the Phoenix Roadrunners local professional team. Some of the premier ice hockey players in the neighborhood participated in those legendary games including Dale Holmes, Randy Matthews and Rocco De Vincenzo. Though colloquially referred to as “street hockey,” the contests were typically held on neighborhood driveways or occasionally on the concrete pavement at Sahuaro School.
     Bueker and Eide agreed to a relatively casual hockey match, taking turns alternating on offense and goaltending. The booming sound of a tennis ball ricocheting off a metallic garage door brought back many memories for the pair. “They still have the original garage door at 3219 and the old dents are still visible,” noted John. “Between tennis balls and basketballs bouncing off that door, we dinged her up pretty good over the years.”
     The old neighborhood street hockey games were competitive and memorable despite their rather makeshift character. “We had John’s hockey goal, but we also had to use two trash cans with a stick across the top for the other goal,” Glen remembers. “But we did not cheat ourselves. We had some great games.” The Eides’ home on Willow Ave. was a particularly attractive site for the hockey contests with its enclosed carport in lieu of a garage.
     Glen Eide, who now makes his home in Las Vegas, was an exceptionally adept street hockey player who became infamous for a ferocious slapshot from which opponents quickly learned to flee in terror. Unfortunately for Glen, a right-handed player, only left-handed hockey sticks were available for the big rematch with Bueker, a left-handed player who supplied the sticks for the game. “It was just an unforeseen glitch, honest,” said a smiling Bueker.
     At the end of the grueling match, believed to be their first since 1974, Bueker and Eide agreed to call the contest a draw. The aging hockey gladiators posed for photos to mark the occasion and then needed to rest a bit.                           


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



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