A sample of Living Legacy of Clarkdale 2012

Three of five honorees share stories and memories

The Clarkdale Historical Society & Museum will present the 2012 Living Legacy of Clarkdale at 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday Sept. 23. Five honorees have been chosen to share their stories and memories of an earlier time in Clarkdale.

The event will include wine tasting and light refreshments. Janice Paul will provide music, and the honorees will give interesting bits of history and answer questions.

The honorees are Becky Cranmer, Minnie Tavasci, Stanley Jackson, Jerry Wombacher and Mick Ryan.

Emcee will be Steve Ayers, a reporter for the Camp Verde Bugle and the Verde Independent. He was been with the newspapers for eight years. Ayers has written a history book of Camp Verde titled, “Images of America – Camp Verde.” The book is told through about 200 photographs from three archives.

Ayers is in his fourth year on the Camp Verde Historical Society’s board of directors. He has served as both vice president and president. He also serves on the board of directors for the Verde Valley Archaeology Center.

Three of the five honorees met with the Verde Independent Wednesday afternoon to give a sample of the stories that will fill the Living Legacy event at the Clark Memorial Clubhouse.

Mick Ryan and Stanley Jackson could not make it.

Minnie Tavasci, Becky Cranmer and Jerry Wombacher were able to share some time at the museum.

Becky Cranmer was born in Seattle, Wash. in 1921. She came to Clarkdale in the fall of 1952. Her husband, Dr. Owen Cranmer went to work for Marcus J. Lawrence Hospital. Becky was her husband’s practice nurse for 17 years. The couple raised five children.

Many people around Clarkdale remember her youngest son, George.

“George was a handful,” Becky said. “It was a good thing he was last because if he’d been first, there wouldn’t have been any others.”

George is now a manager for Costco in California.

Becky’s three daughters, Victoria, Susan and Elizabeth will be here for the Living Legacy event to help their mother celebrate her 91st birthday. Her son Richard is a CPA in Cottonwood.

Jerry Wombacher was born in Clarkdale in 1935. His grandfather came to the area in 1902 and owned mines near Cherry. His grandfather Lee and grandmother Claire had four sons, Bob, Clarence, Joe and Dan, Jerry’s dad.

Jerry was married to Marian Cambuzzi, who passed away in 1995. The couple had two children, Marianne and Randy. Both live in the Phoenix area.

He married Cleo, who he had taken to the Junior Prom many years before.

“That was the first date we ever had,” Jerry said. “The next date was 40 years later.”

Jerry worked for the IRS for 28 years in Phoenix. “I came home every weekend,” he said.

He said Clarkdale hasn’t changed all that much. The population is close to what it was when he was growing up, and the business district has changed very little. He said back then a lot more people were living in each house, and all the homes, and a dormitory, were always full.

“People moved around a lot,” he said. “You put your name in at the utility office that you wanted to move.”

The Wombachers lived in Lower Town. “Upper Town had all the bosses from the smelter,” he said. Businessmen also lived in Upper Town.

But when it came time for Jerry to start kindergarten his mom kept him in Lower Town. “Mom didn’t want me walking down that hill,” he said.

Some time after Jerry’s grandfather passed away, Jerry ended up with his grandfather’s daily diary, from 1902 through 1956. “Nobody had looked at the diaries until 1997,” Jerry said. “I read them and I couldn’t put them down.”

Jerry graduated from Mingus in 1953. “We had a big rivalry with Jerome,” he said.

“When it came time to consolidate, my mother didn’t want me to go to Jerome,” Jerry said. “They were known for throwing rocks at the school bus after a game.”

He explained that the kids from Jerome were tough. They had to be, he said, they played football on a field of rocks.

He said that before football games or football practice, the team had to clear the big rocks off the field.

According to Jerry, life for kids in Clarkdale was never boring. They never had a shortage of things to do.

“It was kind of unlimited,” he said. The kids had the park, a bowling alley, a swimming pool, a movie theater and a tennis court.”

“On Saturdays we’d usually take a hike,” Jerry said. “We had our slingshots, and we’d go down by the river and go swimming.”

He said he and some of his pals used to hitch rides on a railroad caboose up Sycamore Canyon. “They came back at 4 p.m. and picked us up.”

One of the best things about growing up in Clarkdale was that everybody looked out for everyone else’s kids. “There were no gangs,” he said. “I don’t remember any bullying going on.

“I knew just about everybody and where they lived,” he said.

Minnie Tavasci was born in Rogersville, Tenn., in 1923. She came to Clarkdale in 1946 to accept a teaching job, one she stayed with for well over 30 years.

“It was my very first teaching job,” she said.

Minnie taught first and second grade her first year. “I had 38 students my first year,” she said.

She had expected to teach third grade. “I didn’t know about 6-year-olds,” she said. “But I was fascinated by them.”

She remembers one day when she was substitute teaching for another teacher. She said a little boy looked up at her and said, ‘I’m the meanest kid in this school.’

“I leaned over and said, ‘Good, because I love mean little boys.’ I didn’t have any trouble with him that entire day.”

Minnie married Paul Tavasci. “He started the Clarkdale Dairy,” she said. He also hauled cattle.

The couple had three children, Paul, Pat and Irene. Her son, Pat, still hauls cattle out of Buckeye.

Her mother’s family came to America in the 1700s and received a land grant from the King of England. Her brother found the grant after their grandfather passed away.

Minnie said that she remembers the women in town played bridge, and she had been told that she would have to join the bridge club.

“I went one time,” Minnie said. “It was all of the smelter big wigs.” She didn’t feel comfortable and never went back.

She is extremely proud of the Clarkdale school system.

“We’ve always had a good reputation of having a real good school system in Clarkdale,” she said. “I’d like to see that remain.

“Some of the things I treasure the most is seeing the kids I taught,” Minnie said. “They come up and give me a hug.”

For much more personal history about an earlier time in Clarkdale, make plans to attend the Living Legacy of Clarkdale. Suggested donation is $20 per person. Call (928) 634-8507.

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