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Lois and I participated in the Arizona History Convention in Yuma and I presented a paper on John B. “Jack” Newman. The conference was well attended and had numerous papers on a wide range of subjects, as well as several other presentations. Of course I knew that I would enjoy it, because there’s not much I like better than history; but I was really happy that Lois felt well enough that she was able to attend several presentations, and she made the Friday night dinner. She was pretty worn out, so slept in on Saturday, but Saturday afternoon we drove around looking for the place we lived in 1968. We found a place that kind of resembled it, but we don’t know if we found the right place or not.
After a questionable forty-five minutes of driving around we went the Chretin’s Mexican Restaurant for lunch. When we lived in Yuma we were dirt poor (I made $318/mo as an ADOT Grade Inspector on the I-8 construction project), so we ate at a restaurant only one time; it was Chretin’s.
Our first experience was kind of embarrassing. Our little guy, Keith, was only three months old, and not eating solid food yet, but he got hungry every time he smelled food. He was asleep on the bench and we ordered, they brought our sodas, and about that time the delightful aroma of chili peppers, tortillas, and frijoles refritos wafted past. Keith set up a howl as Lois scrambled to feed him, it took about five minutes to get the stuff ready and he was in fine voice. Before our food came they brought the bill. The food came quickly and I ate, then relieved Lois in feeding the boy (I wish I had done that the other way, but I was young and dumb). Lois ate her food quickly and we adios’d the place. With Lois wondering if she would ever get to eat her food hot again. The food was good, the “atmosphere” rather cold.
So we gave it a try as just a couple. Like us Chretin’s is celebrating its seventieth year. The place has a nice South-of-the-border feel, we ordered, the meal came in a timely manner, and the food was tasty, actually comparable to Globe-Miami Mexican food; the highest praise that could be given. There was nothing about the experience that wasn’t pleasant; and we were not rushed away…
The conference was at the Hilton Garden Inn Pivot Point. So named, because the hotels sits next to the base, or pivot point, of the old railroad swing bridge that allowed the river steam boats to pass. It’s really an ideal place for a history convention. The hotel and meeting rooms are great and in addition to the pivot point, complete with a steam engine and multimedia presentation including a laser “ghost railroad”, but it’s also next door to the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Park, is on the riverfront park (with a swimming beach), and is an eighth of a mile from the Yuma Territorial Prison State park.
My presentation was on Friday afternoon, and I’m not very happy with my performance. The sessions were set with three twenty-minute readings on similar topics to be followed by a fifteen minute Q&A of the three presenters. Our session was “early entrepreneurs,” and I was the third presenter. There was a bit of a technical problem with the computer that took five or more minutes, and the two presenters before me took all their time (maybe a little more?). I was not off my first page when the monitor indicated I had five minutes. Since I had been prepared, not to speak, but to read my twelve page paper, I attempted to ad lib a summary, meaning I omitted much of what I wanted to stress in the paper. What I learned is: 1) Try not to be the last speaker, 2) Next time I present a paper use an outline and speak it, 3) If time is shortened have pre-planned omissions so you cover the most important points.
I had two questions from the audience that let me cover some of the missed items, one by the official State Historian Marshall Trimble that allowed me to debunk some of the false mythology connected with Jack Newman.
That night we had dinner in the Carriage House of the Quartermaster Depot; Prime Rib, BBQ Chicken, cream cheese mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, a great salad, and chocolate cake. The closing dinner was equally as good, but omitted the desert; bummer… lol
Lois wasn’t up to the closing dinner so I attended alone. I was seated next to Marshal Trimble, so really enjoyed his conversation, stories, and he even sang part of a song to us. A delightful lady, Brenda Warneka, sat in the empty seat on the other side of me, adding another bright personality to a table full of interesting people. Brenda was kind enough to snap a photo of me with Marshall, and I returned the favor.
Shelly Dudley owner of Guidon Books in Scottsdale, was kind enough to offer my books at the Guidon booth, so between activities I worked her booth and sold and signed two each of my books and distributed quite a few bookmarks and pens. I also got an order from Tom Foster of the Bullion Plaza Museum for six copies of The Baleful Owl.
I loved the book stock from Guidon. Shelly had a marvelous collection of Western and Arizona history. (I bought one from her, though I could have gladly gone broke buying out of print historical fair from her.) If you are interested in new and collectible Arizonia, Western, or Civil War material you can’t beat the Guidon Bookstore in Scottsdale. I recommended an early copy of Dr. Bird Grainger’s rework of Arizona Place Names to a researcher, he bought the $100 book and a less expensive book, so maybe I partially returned Shelly’s favor.
I mingled a little with a wonderful contingent from my home town, including Lee Ann and Rick Powers, Tom Foster, Brass Hat, and the Haaks. I also had numerous conversations with other seriously accomplished historians and writers.
On Saturday afternoon the largest motorcycle ride I have ever witnessed passed through Yuma. It brought traffic to a stop for about fifteen minutes; don’t know what that was all about.
The only real downside was the wind, Arizona was clobbered with high winds, so it was no worse in Yuma than Tempe. But I had my nifty new hat, and it was too windy to risk wearing it…
Mystery writer, Southwestern Historian, researcher, husband, father, grandpa, with an opinion on everything.