Thursday, December 28, 2023

Happy New Year

 AJ, AZ   High 61  Low 39

I hope everyone had a wonderful and peaceful Christmas. Mine was spent very quietly by myself.

And now we have a new year almost upon us. 2024 has a lot of promise for many new and wonderous adventures.

My final post for 2023 is going to be one that fills me with a sense of joy and excitement. Pictures of my most beautiful and talented and magical grandson.



Happy New Year

Friday, December 22, 2023

How About The Irish Cowboy and Another Stroll Around Florence

Another day and another restaurant for lunch in Florence. Once again I arrived early so I could do some more exploring. 

Continuing my tour of Florence I found the E. N. Fish and Company Store - built in 1874 it became a Wells Fargo office along with Collingwood & Co. Joseph Collingwood was the first postmaster in Florence. Over the years the building was a hotel, telegraph office, saloon and is currently a personal residence.

The Collingwood Windmill (or what is left of it) was erected, before the town created a water system, to supply water to a showplace house. The house and its servant's quarters were both listed as National Register of Historic Properties. Sadly, the house and quarters have been destroyed by time. The windmill is a Perkins tower mounted windmill, 30 feet tall. 

Silver King Motel (currently Silver King Marketplace) was built in 1876 by William Long who was also a partner in the Silver King Mine. The Silver King suffered several fires and rebuilds over the years. It closed in 1977 but was reopened in 2009 after several renovations were done. 


Now here is what you all need to know - the Florence Fudge Company is located inside. I think they also sell sandwiches and stuff but the fudge is more important. Definitely worth a visit while you're in town. 


Blue Mist Motel - This motel sits directly across the street from the Arizona State Prison.  It was built in 1946, the heydays of auto travel across the United States. Gene Autry, the singing cowboy, was an original investor in the motel and often stayed there.  

How it became named the Blue Mist Motel has an interesting back story. Joe O'Betka bought the motel and said the new name was a matter of "subliminal advertising". "At that time, a lot of people driving through here didn't have refrigeration in their cars. So my wife and I decided to come up with a name that would make 'em want to stop in, jump in the pool and use our air conditioned rooms."

And of course, there is a murder story to go along with the motel. In 1984 Robert Moorman's adoptive mother, Roberta, came to town to visit Robert at the prison. Prison officials allowed him a temporary furlough to visit her. Before he went to her motel room, he bought some knives and used them to dismember Roberta. He was caught and then executed in 2012. We do not know which room this event happened in. 

The Conrad Brunenkant building was constructed in 1890 and is the oldest two story red brick building in Florence. This building was originally a bakery so how could I not include it.


There is a beautiful church in Florence, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church. It wasn't open so I didn't get to see the inside. 


I still had time before I met Paul, so I went out to the cemetery. I don't know about all of you, but I love wandering through cemeteries, thinking about the people who lived in this area and what their lives were like. So many stories. 

The Florence Cemetery has very few rules, so just about anything goes. The cemetery is in the desert, and for those of us who love the desert, it is beautiful.

Time to head down to Main Street and the Irish Cowboy for lunch. 

Mural on Main

Charles Rapp Saloon was built in 1875. It was advertised as an "Elegant Club and Reading Room in connection with the Bar." It was the first location of the Tunnel Saloon and is currently the Ponderosa Dispensary.

 Lunch Time!!

The Irish Cowboy opened this year on main street. Sabrina, who is an owner and partner, grew up in West Cork, Ireland. And you know she is Irish the minute she asks you for your drink order.  Paul had their fish and chips and I had the pork chop. Both of them were excellent.  It's the kind of place where you would want to hang out after work and have a pint or two. 


 I just have to leave you with one more story of a very notorious woman.This murder actually happened in Phoenix but the female defendant was jailed at the Florence prison.

I found this information at Arizona Memory Project. If you are interested in AZ history, this is a great website to check out.

Winnie Ruth Judd - born in 1905 and was also known as Marian Lane. She was a medical secretary in Phoenix and was accused of murdering her friends, Agnes LeRoi and Hedvig Samuelson in October 1931. Of course, it was all because of a man.

The man at the center of these murders was John J. (Happy Jack) Halloran. He was married but was quite the playboy and he and Winnie had an affair. Winnie worked with Agnes and Hedvig and found out that they were also "friendly" with Jack. One night an argument broke out between the three women (maybe over Jack?) and all three were shot. Agnes and Hedvig died and Winnie was shot in the hand.

The murders were discovered when Winnie transported the victims' bodies from Phoenix to Los Angeles by train in trunks and other luggage which began to leak and smell. The police met the train at the station and asked her to open the trunks. She claimed her husband had the keys and she fled. This led the press to call the case the "Trunk Murders". 

Her trial was in January 1932 and she claimed self-defense. She was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. She was placed on death row at the Arizona State Prison which is in Florence. In 1933 she changed her plea to insanity and was found to be insane and moved to the Arizona State Mental Hospital. During her 38 year stay she managed to escape seven times. The last time she evaded the police for over six years when she fled to California and changed her name. She demanded that her case be reviewed by the parole board and in 1971, Governor Jack Williams signed the pardon. She was instructed never to tell her story or talk about any part of it ever again. Winnie died in her sleep at the age of 93.

Not sure where we will end up next but I do know it will be in 2024.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Welcome To Florence AZ - Where Time Stands Still

Our weather has really been incredible. Highs in the 70s and lows in the upper 40s and 50s.  Lots of sunshine with just the right amount of clouds for beautiful sunsets.

Paul and I meet for lunch a couple times a month and we decided to branch out and try some things that were new to us. The town of Florence is undergoing a renovation while still retaining its old west feeling. While waiting for Paul, I decided to do some exploring. 

The city was established in 1866 and was the 5th oldest settlement in Arizona. Florence also has quite an exciting past, so join me for some good ole stories of the good ole days.

Main Street

My first stop was the Second Pinal County Courthouse. The first courthouse is part of McFarland State Park which is also in Florence. (Haven't made it to the state park yet.) This courthouse was built in 1891 and some interesting trials have been held here. 

 Let me tell you about two of them.

Pearl Hart - Pearl was a Canadian outlaw in the American Old West. She committed one of the last stagecoach robberies in the U.S. and gained notoriety because of being a woman. This stage ran between Globe and Florence and on May 30, 1899, Pearl and her partner, Joe Boot, lifted $431.20 off the passengers. A posse caught up with them on June 5 and her trial was in October. She gave a very convincing plea that she needed the money to go see her very ill mother. The jury found her not guilty which enraged the judge, but immediately after being released she was rearrested for tampering with the U.S. Mail. 

Eva Dugan - In 1930 Eva was convicted of killing her employer with an axe and was sentenced to death. Her final statement was defiant to the end. "Well, I'll die with my boots on, an' in full health. And that's more'n most of you old coots'll be able to boast on."  While in prison she paid for her own coffin by giving interviews to the press for $1 each.  Her plea for insanity was denied and she was taken to the gallows at 5 a.m. on Feb 21, 1930. The trap door was dropped at 5:11 a.m.. At the end of the drop, the snap of the rope decapitated her and sent her head rolling. She was one of the last persons to be hanged in Arizona. The gallows were replaced in 1934 by the gas chamber. Eva was the first and only woman to be executed in Arizona. 

Take a close look at the clock tower on the courthouse. Time does stand still. The county ran out of money to finish the clock tower, so the clock was painted on and time forever stopped at 11:44.

Here's another great story for your history lesson.

Duel at Tunnel Saloon - Pete Gabriel was the Pinal County Sheriff in November of 1884. Joe Phy was his friend that he appointed as a deputy. The problem was, both of them had very bad tempers. In 1886 Pete decides to retire and throws his support behind Joe to replace him. But Joe gets into a fight and lets his temper get the best of him. Pete has to arrest him and then fire him. This situation created a lot of bad blood between the two hot heads. On May 31, 1888 Pete was headed to Florence and was very drunk by the time he arrived. Someone tells Pete that Joe is looking to pick a fight with him so Pete heads for the Tunnel Saloon. Joe finds him there and at 8 p.m. both men open fire and exchange 11 shots. Pete is hit in the right lung and another shot hits his intestines. But he is still able to get up and shoot Joe who is hit in the left thigh and the belly. As he bends over in pain, Pete shoots him point blank in the right shoulder and the bullet collapses both lungs. Against the odds, Pete survives but Joe dies. 

It's time to meet Paul for lunch at Mt. Athos Restaurant for some Greek food. I had chicken souvlaki and Paul had the gyro sandwich. The food was very good and our waitress was a joy. She was so excited about decorating the Christmas tree in their lobby. 


A very enjoyable day with more to come. It's amazing the stories small towns have to tell. 

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Southern Arizona Transportation Museum and Beyond Bread

We had two more stops in Tucson before heading home. By this time, we were ready to take a break but we decided to stop by the train museum first.

We only saw a small part of it which was the museum that gave a great history of the railroad in Southern Arizona.  We didn't see the trains or the trolleys. So much to see, so little energy. 






 I really cannot do justice to the impact that the railroad had on the lives of the people who lived in the Tucson area. One of the volunteers was very knowledgeable and was happy to share his love of the railroad. Maybe I will be able to visit this museum in the future and if you have any interest in the history of transportation in Arizona, take time to stop by. 


Our next stop was for lunch. And what a great lunch it turned out to be. Paul had spotted a place called Beyond Bread that he thought might have good sandwiches. Anything with bread is my kind of place. 

And it is definitely a "must do again".  Just take a look at this picture.

Beyond Bread is local to Tucson which means they do not have a restaurant in the Phoenix area, which is so sad. We both highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who is hungry.

After lunch it was time to head home and for me to find another adventure to enjoy.


Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Mini Time Machine Museum

Where do I even begin with this museum. It is incredible, and amazing, and wow!  So much more than I expected.

Seriously, the only thing I can do is post a few of the hundred or so pictures that I took just to give you a quick look at what to expect when you visit.

The time and patience it took to create these masterpieces is mind boggling. Notice the fox hanging out by the chicken coop.

The museum is the permanent home of over 500 miniature houses,  artifacts and figurines displayed in three exhibits:  History and Antique Gallery, Exploring the World and the Enchanted Realm.

The History Gallery takes you through various time periods and customs of the times.




 This is a collection of 52 dolls, each formed from a grain of wheat, with painted features, sculpted hair and a body and limbs of wire wrapped with thread. Costumes are Swiss silk with dried plant accessories.


Queen Elizabeth's Inauguration


The Old West

Exploring the World shows off exhibits from the U.K., France, Holland, Italy, Germany, Japan, Thailand and Spain.


The Enchanted Realm was my favorite. You enter into an imaginary world full of woodland creatures, snow villages, witches, dragons and fairy castles which tell magical stories.

 This village is under the floor.


This tree has holes so you can see inside and watch the the mouse family.


And finally - this one is for you, Todd. A 1969 or 1970 El Camino.


There are more pictures than I had planned on but I just couldn't stop.  Do yourself a favor and be sure to visit this museum if you are in Tucson.