Ray, Arizona, a really nice place to grow a couple of years older. A remembered narrative about the mountains, desert, and life in 1944-45.
Title graphic: Ray-Sonora, Arizona

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Ray, Arizona around 1944
Yes--there is Teapot Mountain again but as taken by my mother. The picture includes the elementary school (far right) where I was in sixth and seventh grade (I believe). Maybe you can help me, since we are standing right here anyway. Within a block or so of "here" there was a machine gun nest. Hard to believe--but the structure couldn't have been anything else: concrete; in the ground; covered (?); field-of-fire openings; overlooking the town. I solicit all reliable memories of the nest or any leads for research into the story behind them.(Some responses.)

Across the creek, closest to Teapot, you can see Boyd Heights (?), where there were no retail stores--just homes. Seems reasonable that downtown was the center for all commerce. If I am wrong drop me a note. It was a long ways--I'd estimate a good mile from there to town. Except for church and a couple of friends, I didn't get over there often. Makes me wonder about the social structure of the town.

The large building left center of the picture, this side of Boyd Heights, is the crushing building for the Kennecott company. We used to prowl around everywhere. There was a trash area below the crush that we would visit occasionally. We would get dynamite boxes and blasting cap cans and scraps of fuse. The boxes deserve a paragraph for themselves. The metal blasting cap cans had a slip over cover and were the ideal size for buttons and small miscellaneous around the house. The fuse cord was fun to light and watch the pfsst of fire come out the other end. If you slit the cord at intervals the progress of the flame could be watched at each little opening. All good fun.

We also found unused, good dynamite sticks and blasting caps. I was too timid to play with these items and either left them in the trash or maybe turned them in to someone--don't remember. Good experience--later, as a props person for a local playhouse I was asked to come up with some prop dynamite. No problem, I knew just how they should look.

The rest of the picture doesn't make sense to me. My house should be just over the edge of the bluff that the school sits on. But there were no big buildings that I recall. Unless the perspective is misleading. There was a two story abandoned brick shell just up the road from my house. All I remember about that building was that when the cottonwood trees were distributing their seeds, the seeds would collect in wide patches in the corners and crevices of that building. Boys do like to play with matches--at least in this brick and concrete building there was no danger when the flames would race though the drifts of feathery, light seeds.

Author on a donkey--Medical Doctor

Here I am on my donkey. Yes, mine--my mother paid $10 for her. Medical Doctor was her name for the large MD brand on her hip. We didn't have a corral, and we didn't feed her. When us kids, two or three about the same age, wanted to ride we went down to the garbage dump on a bar in the middle of the creek, where the donkeys fed, and caught them. I could usually catch MD. Other kids caught other donkeys. We would break off broombrush limbs to steer with and to urge them to speed up with. They never went very fast (with one major exception). The best donkey for riding--fastest and most agile--was Choppo . Choppo was a nice looking, little gray donkey. Except it took a good rider to stay on him--I never could!

The exception to the slow donkey was when you were riding and some cowboys on horses would come upon you. Cowboys is probably right and some wrong; they were usually teenagers on their horses. Well you get a guy in a saddled horse swinging a lariat and lashing the back of your donkey and the donkey will run, and the rider, on the donkey bareback, will fall. I know!

Speaking of horseback riders. Walter Cox and I were messing around down by the garbage dump when two of the teenage cowboys on horseback approached. They had long poles--probably the poles used to tamp dynamite into the holes drilled into the copper ore in the underground mine. Each rider speared a cow pie and started chasing us with this cow pie on a pole. Even in the more or less open desert around the dump the horses weren't too hard to elude--just run behind a cholla cactus barrier. And make your way across the creek jumping from rock to rock after the cowboys had found other things to do.

Mineral Creek was an intermittent stream. But most of the time there was enough water in it to make it too wide to jump but shallow enough so boulders sticking out of the water made a pathway. Near Ray there was no swimming hole. There were plenty of places to look for minnows and frog's eggs. The water was clear and drinkable (at least for us as kids). As I recall the water split into two branches upstream from the dump which then would have been on a very large bar. I don't recall a flood specifically but from the width of the stream bed there must have been times when the river was thirty yards wide in places. (Am I exaggerating? Help me out someone.)

Below town--actually below the (replacement facility)--the creek turned a muddy red-orange color from the iron minerals that replaced the copper in the leachant from the mine. In that part of the stream you stayed out of the water which was no longer fit to drink. The mud banks were not nice--not like the gravel and rock upstream from Ray. But the mud was fun. Throw a rock into the mud and there was a satisfying sploosh and an impressive crater in the pudding like mud. We could find tie plates from the railroad that, when dropped flat from the railroad bridge into the mud, would make a tremendous plop, splash and then slither across the mud in an engaging fashion. Kids!

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Assembled by ovk. Last reviewed 06/29/2005.
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