TRUSTED NEWS LEADER FOR COTTONWOOD, CAMP VERDE & THE VERDE VALLEY
Mon, Feb. 17

Verde Heritage: CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

"By Opal Neese."

"When my mother was 7 years old, her parents decided to move to Arizona, leaving a comfortable home in Utah. They came down through southern Utah and crossed the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry. They had several wagons and a band of horses, but troubles developed which found them on Christmas Eve, far from their destination, which was the Gila Valley, and alone in the wilderness."

"My mother and her little sister Ella had been warned that Santa Claus might not be able to find them when they went to bed that night, but nevertheless the children put out their shoes. In the morning there was a nickel in the toe of each shoe and their faith was restored in Santa Claus."

"Today with all its tinsel and lavishness, we are still celebrating Christmas. No nation under God ever had more to celebrate than we have, but what does it mean to you? What has it meant in the past? I asked Nelson Burns of Cottonwood. He said, 'I think Christmas is the most important holiday there is, for the world to celebrate.'"

"It doesn't matter whether it is on the right day, or what the value of your presents are. It concerns a lot of other things."

"'I think our happiest Christmas came when our boy, George, one of our twins was about 5 years old. George had been very sick. In fact the family doctor began to have doubts about George's recovery, so he called in a specialist from Phoenix. The specialist said George had an infection in the bone marrow in his leg, and would have to go to a hospital in Phoenix.'"

"'At that time we were poor and hospitals were expensive. But our doctor assured the specialist that while we had little money, we were honest people and eventually he would get his pay. So the specialist took the bone cap off George's leg, and removed the infected marrow. George was cured, our prayers were answered, and that was the happiest Christmas we have ever known.'"

"'George's health was completely restored, he did service to his country and today is superintendent of the Window Rock Public School at Ft. Defiance.'"

"Mrs. Joe Lawson who resides in Shady Park Trailer Court says of her most memorable Christmas since coming to Arizona:"

"'We homesteaded a claim in northern Arizona over 50 years ago. Our neighbors were all homesteaders and our homes were far apart.'"

"'After a few years my husband and I felt we could afford to have our neighbors come to eat Christmas dinner with us. Our house had only 3 rooms, but somehow I managed to prepare dinner for three dozen people on a small four-hole wood burning cookstove, by cooking the venison roast the day before and the turkey on Christmas morning. The two tables were made by placing boards on sawhorses. Our closest neighbors were Mr. and Mrs. K. M. Quinn and Mrs. Quinn came over a few days early to help me bake the cakes, make pies and candy and help trim the tree.'"

"'Christmas day was very beautiful and mild for Northern Arizona. The men and children congregated out in the yard, where they discussed their ideas and plans. The children played games. We were all young people and the hardships we were enduring were but adventures to us. I can't remember the names of everyone present, but I do remember that the Billy Adams family, the Oscar Hubbards, K. M. Quinn and my husband's parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Lawson, were there. The lovely memory of that Christmas Day has always remained in my mind.'"

"Mr. and Mrs. William Farar who reside east of the Verde River, south of Bridgeport, remember with pleasure the Christmas of 1938, when they lived in the Mohawk Valley east of Yuma. They had been in the desert country only 4 years. Not many people lived there. They were young and their children were all young."

"They can't remember what presents they gave or what presents they received, but they do remember that they cooked a nice Christmas dinner and with their children and 2 neighbor boys as guests, took their dinner and went into the desert. They spent the day there, and unless you too have known the spell of the desert, it would be difficult to try to explain. I have known and so I know they had a wonderful time."

"The year was 1921, and Mr. and Mrs. Bill Gray had just been married a year. Mrs. Gray was the daughter of the pioneer Verde Valley family of Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Jordan who lived in the big two-story red house beside the present Evalyn Jordan home at Bridgeport."

"The snow was deep at the Gray home in Garland Prairie but Bill and Alice were young and couldn't bear the thought of missing Christmas at the Jordan home in Cottonwood, so early on the morning of December 24 they mounted their horses and started for the valley. At times their horses slowed through shoulder-high snow, for they were coming down the Mooney Trail. It was after 3 o'clock that night when they finished the 60-mile trip to the bright lights and warm fires of home."

"The rest of the 9 Jordan children and their families, who all lived in the Valley, arrived the next day to enjoy being together for the day and the big Christmas dinner. The end of the joyous meeting came to the group, led by father Jordan and his bass voice, singing the sweet carols and songs all out of the long ago."

"Mrs. Lou Nelson of Cottonwood who is 73 years old remembers well a certain Christmas. He parents, Mr. and Mrs. John T. Eagar moved their family to Colonia Morales, south of Douglas in Mexico. There was no industry in the community, and the only money her father could make was from a little freighting. Many other families were new in the community and, like the Eagars, had only what they could raise. When Christmas came there were candy, nuts, cookies and the first oranges Lou had ever tasted, but the doll her heart had longed for wasn't there."

"To add to her hurt some little girls in the town had received dolls. Mr. Eagar, seeing Lou's despair on Christmas Day, went to the small store run by Ed Haymore and persuaded him to open his store and sell him a doll. So Lou became the happiest doll mother in town. By today's standard, it wasn't much of a doll, but that was long ago."

(The Verde Independent; Wednesday, December 23, 1970; page 7.)

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