Characters who lived in Cave Creek, Arizona in the early 1900s — miners, prospectors, cowboys, dude wranglers, humor, lifestyles, real people.
There’s Something About Cave Creek
Do For You?
The subtitle, It’s The People, is what this book is about — people in a small Southwestern community in Arizona. In the early days Cave Creek was 30 miles north of Phoenix, but now Phoenix and Scottsdale are contiguous with it. Cave Creek didn’t go anywhere. Other communities did.
In the 1970s writer Gene K. Garrison interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people, both in Cave Creek and nearby Carefree for publication in various magazines. The ones who stand out in her mind are the cowboys, miners, prospectors, dude wranglers, a squatter, strong women, and a man dedicated to saving the desert. She felt that their personalities should be preserved for posterity. They are the kinds of people who put smiles on faces. We need smiles.
The only industries in the area were ranching and mining.
Lifestyles in the 1930s and 40s left a lot to be desired — no paved roads, electricity was a long time coming, plumbing was a thing of the future,and medical care was a long way off. People had to be resilient and hitch up the buggy or saddle the horses to go from place to place, dig wells or haul water, make their own clothing and saddles, hunt deer, javelina, and rabbits. Domestic chickens, pigs and cattle supplied protein for the diet. The word “diet” was not used in the same context as we use it today. Children did their share of work by taking care of the animals, cleaning up after them, gathering and chopping wood, and helping around the house. There weren’t many toys to put away.
Characters were plentiful. There was a sure-shot woman sheriff who wouldn’t put up with any nonsense, especially from outsiders who attempted to start a booze business by operating stills. Everyone knew she meant business.
Another sheriff didn’t want the job, but neither did anyone else. He felt duty-bound, but uncomfortable, during his two-year term. Most of his activities centered on breaking up altercations at bars, and that was dangerous. Actually, he was a gentle man, a musician, who said he played all the “pluck instruments.”
And that brings us to the social life. Nobody had much of anything in the material sense, but they had homegrown music with guitar-players, violinists, and whatever talents newcomers to the area brought with them. And they had booze, which flowed at least every weekend. Dances and parties broke out at private homes, bars, the Legion Hall, and sometimes at the cement slab in a park-like area in the center of town.
As Garrison said in the book, “There must have been teetotalers in Cave Creek, but they kept quiet about it.”
Mail delivery was three times a week, and while the mail carrier was in Phoenix picking up the mail, he also put something on the running board to bring back — big squares or rectangles of ice for the iceboxes in Cave Creek. The kids hung around for the deliveries,
scrambling for cold, wet ice-chips to
pop into their mouths on hot, dry days.
Guest ranches sprung up during that era — Spur Cross Ranch, Rancho Mańana, and the Sierra Vista Guest Ranch.
They provided the jump in employment that the residents needed. Suddenly they were dude wranglers, cooks, maids,
entertainers, and merchants. And they were invited to mingle with the guests at parties — for atmosphere.
A charming little couple, Lora and Lawrence Tozier and their Red Rover mine were the subjects of a chapter. They lived in a house set in scenery one would expect to be a movie set for a Western, and they actually owned a gold mine, which was no longer operating. They were a well-educated, well-traveled couple living miles from civilization without a phone, or even a bathroom.
On the way back home from the mine property, Garrison saw a cowboy packing up his horses, so she stopped and had a chat. She says in that chapter titled Mendin’ Fences, “Didn’t know him, just liked his looks, and what he was doing.” She liked his Kentucky accent too. So that’s the way she operated — by intuition, mostly. She wasn’t burdened with assignments, but chose her own subject matter.
That’s why the book is so revealing of individualistic personalities in an era that perhaps no longer exists. They are people you will never have a chance to meet, people of no pretense who were honest, trusting, and open. They are part of history now, and we are better off knowing them — how they talked, what was important to them, their adventures and everyday lives.
Illustrated in black-and-white photos, some photographed by the author; others supplied by the Cave Creek Museum; some given to Garrison by a young woman, Janet M. Roberts, who visited the area in 1932; and others by an outstanding photographer, Herb Cohen, who was as interested in preserving images of the old-timers as the author was in writing about them.
Do you need a smile? Take a glimpse into the past through There’s Something About Cave Creek (It’s The People). You just might like those people.