Living Life Back in the Day

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We have enjoyed our month at Fortuna de Oro RV Park.   Fortuna is  a 55 and older park with many daily activities and weekly special events.  It is easy to stay busy here and I did.  Randy chose to spend more leisure time but still enjoyed golfing, pickle ball and bocci ball.

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Fortuna de Oro caters well to the clientele.   There was a car show with many old beauties from the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.   We even saw a 1964 Ford Falcon Convertible like the family car that was “mine” when I first went off to college and met Randy.  Maybe we belong to this “back in the day” culture after all!

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The park also sponsored a terrific show by Jay and the Americans. I didn’t think I knew the group but once they started singing, I recognized many of their songs such as Cara Mia, Just a Little Bit Closer, Only in America and This Magic Moment.

The group currently has three of the original “Americans” and is on their third “Jay”.  The first Jay lasted only a short time while the second was with them through much of their successful recording years.  Second Jay retained the name of the group when they disbanded.  Upon his  bankruptcy, the Americans bought the name back for $100,000 and reformed with a third Jay.   They had connections with many recording groups and musicians in the 60s and 70’s and had entertaining stories to tell.  They were instrumental in launching Neil Diamond’s career when Neil brought them the song, “Sunday” to record.  Although he originally said he was too shy to perform,  Jay and the Americans encouraged and helped Neil to  record it himself. (Thinking of you Cindy Berg!)

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The lead guitarist from the USA Band accompanying them looked so much like our guitar playing friend John Sloan, especially in profile,  that we went up and talked with him after the concert.

Outside the park we had more musical experiences from back in the day.   We saw Elvis performing at a local diner for $10 a ticket.  Who knew he too winters in Yuma and gives bargain performances.  We learned then that we are a decade too young to be true Elvis fans.  We knew chorus lyrics – but not every word, of every verse, of every song like everyone else in the room!

Continuing with the Elvis theme – We enjoyed dinner in an “Elvis Room” at a local pizza establishment with friends from our RV park neighborhood.

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We had a crazy amount of food because we all ordered the family specials. We took home more food than we ate!

These folks are all from Canada and regularly spend five winter months in the US.  Randy golfed with the guys numerous times and we had a few group dinners and happy hours.   It is fun to make new friends on the road.

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Our next door neighbors at the park also became friends.  Peggy and Myron are from Wisconsin and we hope to visit them when we head east next summer.  We went with them to Lutes Casino, “Where the Elite Meet.”  The building dates back to 1901 and is part of the Historic Downtown area.    During the 1950s, the billiard hall casino came into the Lute family as collateral for a failed loan.  The restaurant/bar (but not a casino) is an eclectically decorated place and Lute’s signature meal is a hotdog-hamburger.  Randy and Myron tried it and approved.

We also explored more of Yuma’s historical places from back in the day.  We went to the Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park.   This depot was a supply hub for the southwest during the Apache Wars.

A few old and rehabilitated buildings  remain.  Some hold exhibits  including old vehicles and a section of the plank road through the sand dunes in the Imperial Valley west of here.

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This house served as home or office for a variety of territorial government officials but was originally built in 1859 as a riverside home by steamboat captain George Alonzo Johnson. Built for his bride, this is the first, and thereby oldest, adobe house built by an Anglo in Arizona.

One of the more interesting exhibits at the park was about the Colorado River and where the water goes – think Nevada, Arizona, California and a little bit left to Mexico.  These pictures show the Colorado river from the same site in Yuma before and after a series of dams were built to control flooding and provide water to the southwest.

We also visited the Yuma Pioneer Cemetery.   The cemetery was hosting a fund raising event for Saddles of Joy which provides therapeutic rides for special needs children.

The cemetery was divided into sections for Catholics, Yuma’s society folks and a variety of other categories.  I don’t think this group had a lot of clout.

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Nearly all the pioneer cemetery was dirt, but other sections had marble headstones and more decorative graves.

Part of the event was storytellers throughout the cemetery representing people who lived back in the day and had stories to tell about their life and death in Yuma and the Arizona territory.  Actors were near where the grave sites were for their character.

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This was Sheriff James T. Dana who was the sheriff of Arizona City from 1868 to 1871.  (Yuma had three names over time beginning with Colorado City, Arizona City and finally Yuma.)  He holds the unfortunate distinction of being the only sheriff ever killed in the line of duty in Arizona (while it was a territory and now as a state).

He was originally buried in the cemetery near downtown and his was one of many bodies who “surfaced” during the Colorado River flood of 1916.  Those bodies were reburied in the pioneer cemetery but are only marked with a “county” designation.  His remains are included in that group but his exact location is unknown.  It was a very interesting evening and one we’d gladly do again when we are next in Yuma since they highlight stories about different residents each year.

Tomorrow we are off to Tucson for the month of February.  We can explore places Randy remembers from when he was a boy there back in the day.

About Serene

We live full time in our fifth wheel and travel and volunteer. We remember everyday how blessed we are to have the opportunity to live this season of our lives in this way. Our black lab, Elko, keeps us company along the way.
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2 Responses to Living Life Back in the Day

  1. Britta Hulbert-Couture says:

    Thank you Serene for such an interesting blog of Yuma. Audrey and Earl loved it there and all of the many activities.
    Enjoy Tucson….. Hugs from Jon and Britta

    • Serene says:

      We have talked with many people who knew Audrey and several who remember Earl as well. It has been bittersweet to be here without Audrey, but we have had a good time and know why she enjoyed her life here.

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