Archive for February, 2011

Show Low Historical Museum

February 15, 2011

Show Low began as a ranch claimed by Marion Clark and Corydon E. Cooley. This is where the legend of a town named by the turn of a card begins. Around 1876, the partners knew that one of them would have to leave, but could not decide which one. A card game would settle the issue. The game believed to be “7 Up” began and lasted through the night and into the early morning. Clark told Cooley, “Show low and you take the ranch!” Cooley turned over the Deuce of Clubs and won a reported 100,000 acres, cattle, crops and building. Today later Show Low’s main street is called Deuce of Clubs.

            Route U.S. 60 came through Show Low because of the influence of several Show Low community leaders. George Woolford’s property was cut in half as a result of the highway’s right of way. George and his wife, Lillie, were among the first to operate a café on Route 60 in Show Low. The Show Low Historical Society Museum consists of fifteen rooms, one of which is dedicated to the Woolfords. Their room exhibits George Woolford’s old roll top desk, which he during his service to the community as Justice of the Peace from 1912 to 1916 and 1941 to 1948, Navajo County Deputy Sheriff from 1921 to 1933, and Judge from 1933 to 1936. Lillie Woolford gave away more food than she sold at their café. The visitor can see examples of vintage souvenirs that they sold to early tourists, along with a table and ice cream dishes, sugar dispenser and butter dishes that were used in the café.

            In the heart of the museum is a 1912-2012 exhibit which celebrates Arizona’s 2012 Centennial. The exhibit “Show Low Past, Present and Future” features items that have been donated by the City of Show Low, local quilters and a photographer who has taken recent photographs of buildings that were in Show Low in 1912.

            The Silver Creek Railroaders model train club built a replica of the “Last Train to Maverick.” McNary was the main town in the White Mountains for years up to the 1980’s. The logging industry was the economic base for the region. The Apache Railroad brought the timber out of the mountains to the mill in McNary, which produced molding that was shipped by rail all over America.

            In June of 2002, Show Low experienced the worse scare in its history. The Rodeo Chediski Fire began to bear down on the community. The museum honors this event and the men and women who worked tirelessly to save our town.

            A room celebrating Eb Lewis was presented to the museum by his family in 1996. This is a favorite place for children who tour the museum. Among Eb’s treasures are his famous black derby, the skin of the mountain lion which he killed with a homemade spear and a homemade miniature brass canon. The famous Fourth of July Parade entry, the independently traveling Maytag automatic washing machine can also be seen.

            Corydon Eliphalet Cooley memorabilia is on display in the main Show Low room. Also, Show Low’s early days are featured in the people and places photographs that adorn the museum walls. A wooden aqueduct found under East Cooley, as well as a telephone switch board, similar to the one used by Jenny Stock, triggers many smiles and some memories.

            Don’t miss the old post office. As part of the 100th birthday of the State of Arizona, the museum’s post office will become a United States Post Office Centennial Station. The museum will have a cache cover with a special postage stamp and special cancel to mark the event.  The U.S. Postal Service used the museum’s post office exhibit as a Celebration Station on May 2, 2003, the same year Show Low celebrated fifty years of incorporation. Because the museum building was formerly used as a police department headquarters, it housed a holding cell. Walking down “Memory Lane” you encounter the Angie Borrego kitchen. Angie, the first person to donate to the museum, said her old wood cooking stove, “Just the right size for her.”

Show Low Historical Museum, 561 E. Deuce of Clubs, P.O. Box 3468, Show Low, Arizona 85902

Tel 928-532-7115, Web Site:

Afro-American Heritage Museum

February 2, 2011

Time was when there were several ethnic communities in Tucson, each with their own cultural heritage of foods, arts, and religions. While there was much of historic value in these neighborhoods, they were formed from the prejudice which forced them to live in segregated areas. Tucson’s cultural environment of prejudice supported the establishment of black communities along Meyer Street, South Park Avenue and “A” Mountain. Tucson possesses a long, rich black history, which Charles Kendrick and cofounder Standman Blair have gathered  in the form of photographs and artifacts in their Afro-American Museum which also serves soul food. Kendrick and Blair formed this museum. Kendrick, after forty-two years as a Tucson pharmacist founded Mr. K’s Barbecue. He was the first Tucson black to graduate from the University of Arizona college of pharmacy in 1955.

            Pioneer blacks, who settled in Tucson as homesteaders, buffalo soldiers, cowboys, educators and medical professionals, worked to bring an end to prejudice. Their contributions have been documented by the Arizona Historical Society, the African-American Historical and Genealogical Society – Tucson Chapter and the University of Arizona. These pioneers included Sergeant Frank Reed, a Buffalo soldier; Dr. Floyd Thompson, dentist and first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Dental Corps. Blanche Johnson; beauty shop owner; and pilot Roy Comeaux. Janet Harmon Bragg, who braved racism and sexism to become one of the first Black women to earn a full commercial pilot’s license, lived in Tucson in the 1960s.

            The Paul Lawrence Dunbar School where many black children received their early education resulted from the segregationist barrier which was broken down because of the efforts of the NAACP in Tucson.

            A great place to learn about Tucson’s black history is Mr. K’s Barbecue and Afro-American Heritage Museum on South Park Avenue. The building was once a grocery store and one of several Black owned businesses along South Park in the 1960’s. Today, it draws a culturally diverse clientele from all over Tucson. Kendrick and Blair collected black memorabilia over the years including photos, Buffalo Soldier artifacts, old-time general mercantile and pharmacy items, early school items, a slave whip, books, black postcards, black face minstrel art and more. Black face minstrel art was an important tradition in the American theater for about one hundred years starting around 1830. It became popular in Europe, where the tradition could be seen on prime time television as late as 1981. White blackface performers used burnt cork and greasepaint or shoe polish to blacken their skin and exaggerate their lips. They wore woolly wigs, gloves, tailcoats, or ragged clothes to complete the transformation. The unique postcard collection is both humorous and sad, reflecting life under the bondage of segregation. The museum has a small but important book collection, many of which are out of print, documents Black heroes. Their education collection has been gathered into a schoolroom setting.

            Perhaps the most striking artifact is the slave whip which Kendrick obtained in Texas along with a picture of a man who felt the sting of the cruel whip on his scarred back. The main method used to control the slaves’ behavior was the threat of having them whipped. The number of lashes depended on the seriousness of the offence. Austin Steward wrote that on his plantation thirty-nine was the number for most offences. Francis Fredric ran away and after he was captured he was given 107 lashes.

            Don’t miss Mr. K’s barbecue business which supports the museum. For those who love barbecue and who doesn’t?  Mr. K’s ranks at the top with homemade soul food specialties.

Afro-American Heritage Museum Mr. K’s Barbecue 1830 S Park Ave Tucson, AZ 85713 Tel: 520-792-9484