Looking Back Photo 12/23/20

Tucson boys chorus, outstanding musical organization, will appear in Coolidge on Dec. 16. From Dec. 15, 1950.

One year ago

Dec. 18, 2019

Coolidge’s 90-year-old water tower received an illuminating makeover, with a brand new lighting system and new lettering and paint. The project, in cooperation with the Arizona Water Company, cost around $67,000, although much of that was covered by business and community donations. The water tower was to be lit up with different colors throughout the year to reflect various holidays. At the lighting ceremony, the tower shone green and red for the Christmas season.

A local Coolidge veteran, Michael Starkey, was evicted from his one when it turned out he’d been making out rental payments to a scammer posing as his landlord. The real owners sent Starkey a letter in April of 2019 saying that he need to start directing payments to them, but the person he’d been paying, James Canty, told him to ignore it. Unfortunately, Starkey received another letter in November summoning him to court and that he was being evicted. The DAV was working with Starkey on finding a new home.

Coolidge updated the zoning code to reflect local farmers switching from cotton to hemp production. Hemp requires less water than cotton and has many uses including for paper, clothing, livestock feed and CBD oil. The city council’s amendment added hemp processing to operations that could be approved with a conditional use permit. The change was made concurrent with a potential hemp processor considering Coolidge for a new location.

Five years ago

Dec. 16, 2015

An vintage cotton picker was added along Arizona Boulevard in order to help publicize the Coolidge Historical Museum. The museum itself is set a ways off from the main road, so members of the Coolidge Historical Society were hoping the placement of the cotton picker would help draw visitors to the museum. The cotton picker they acquired is dated back to the early 1950s, and society members thought it a fitting symbol for the historical museum.

Coolidge was below state averages in AzMERIT testing according to a report by curriculum director Jess Miller. The spring of 2015 was the first time students took the AzMERIT assessment exam, and proficiency scores were reported back to schools in the fall. School board members expressed disappointment in low scores across many different academic subjects. Superintendent Charie Wallace speculated students didn’t attempt to do well on the test because it wasn’t a requirement for graduation.

Members of the American Legion’s Ladies Auxiliary held their annual holiday party on Monday, Dec. 13. In celebration of reaching their goal of collecting over 5,000 Christmas cards, Sons of the American Legion member Jim Kayser had his shaved at the event. The cards would be sent to Missouri and then on to troops around the world.

70 years ago

Dec. 15, 1950

The city council instructed Coolidge police to crack down on gambling by inspecting local establishments and making arrests. The gambling ban was the first official step taken since an October meeting when the Coolidge Ministerial Association had demanded Coolidge suppress gambling and other forms of vice. Complicating the matter was the fact that the police chief was due to resign at the end of the year.

The Tucson Arizona Boys’ Chorus was scheduled to pay a visit to Coolidge on Dec. 16. The chorus was under the direction of Eduardo Caso and the program was set to play in Coolidge’s high school auditorium. The admission would be $1 per person and proceeds were to help the chorus pay for their trip to Atlantic City in May of 1951. The boys’ chorus had a repertoire of major classics, old carols, Mexican novelty numbers and cowboy songs.

The Coolidge superintendent announced that the town could potentially build a new school with federal funding assistance. The city would conduct a survey to establish whether they fell under Public Law 815, which said that construction funds would be provided in areas where the federal employment composes a load greater than local school facilities can absorb. Native American students enrolled in local schools would also be counted in the survey. The new school would be in addition to the new Coolidge Junior High School which was scheduled to open right after the Christmas holidays.

90 years ago

Dec. 18, 1930

Organizations in Coolidge organized a Christmas tree celebration for Christmas eve on the following Wednesday. The tree was contributed by the Arizona Edison company, along with electric lighting. The company also had strung electric lights around the city’s business district for the holidays. City officials expected nearly 1000 kids to attend, all of whom would receive treats of candy, nuts and fruit. Other planned events included Christmas caroling, inspirational talks and the arrival of Santa Claus.

Secretary Wilbur of the interior department approved a tentative agreement regarding water rights of the Upper Gila valley. The decision would result in ensuring the Pima Indians’ prior right to water, but that there would be sufficient resources for irrigation of lands for the San Carlos irrigation and drainage district. The agreement was also meant to hasten the completion of a suit involving the adjudication of Gila water rights.

A new Coolidge school was nearing completion. However, workers were rushing to finish the building so that it could be ready for the second semester of 1931. According to the general contractor, the goal was to have classrooms available for use immediately after the holiday season. Workers had just begun to work on the finishing of the inside walls. The general contractor also invited city officials to tour the building and get a general idea of the finished product.


Aaron Dorman is a reporter covering Coolidge and the surrounding area. He can be reached at adorman@pinalcentral.com.