16 years ago

May 5, 2005

Monday morning a crew methodically tore down the pink tower that has stood tall as a local landmark at the intersection of Arizona 79 and Cactus Forest Road for almost 60 years. Still festooned with strings of Christmas lights, the tower fell to make way for a right-turn lane. The tower sat feet away from Yolanda’s Chuckwagon Restaurant and Saloon. If it’s an issue of safety, bringing traffic 13 feet closer to the bar is going to make it worse, according to Yolanda Rael, who owns the bar with her husband, Oscar. Betty Isch drove past the tower for years without knowing that her father, Henry R. Granillo, built it. The Ischs had a fishing trip scheduled and missed the demolition Monday morning. Betty said she wasn’t sure she wanted to see it anyway. “It’s just going to be devastating to my mother,” she said. The tower has always been a favorite stop for tourist snapshots. It was about 7 by 7 feet at its base and was 35 feet high. The Raels owned the Chuckwagon before the road was even paved. Yolanda said they made a mistake in not trying to claim the site as a historical landmark. They looked into moving the tower, but it cost too much.

A house is going up, built by high school kids. No one can say these students aren’t doing something constructive. Since last summer, 16 advanced students in Shawn Cluff’s construction technologies class have made a short journey to 750 S. Central Ave. to work. The three-bedroom, two bathroom and garage home that sits there now is the result of about two hours of work per day, five days a week and sometimes on weekends. The house is expected to be completed June 3. The home will sell to an income-qualified family who already lives in Florence.

The Assumption Catholic Parish Cinco de Mayo celebration is on again, scheduled for May 7 on the church grounds starting at 11 a.m. Sylvia Tryon said the group of church volunteers “took a break and got re-energized” after last year when they lost their pep — and their sense of timing — and missed the celebration. Gibby’s Old Town Cantina took up the slack last year with an outside festival of dancers and singers.

36 years ago

May 2, 1985

Workers for Columbia Pictures are pictured tearing down the last remnants of the American Cafe, which burned on April 6, 1970. Pictured dismantling the remaining brick work are John Bergman with Columbia and Peter Kelm of Florence. While Columbia was in town filming “Murphy’s Romance,” the brick work served as support for three sets: the Ice Cream Factory, Bee’s Beauty Shop and a real estate agency. The 1970 fire destroyed the newly-remodeled American Cafe, owned by Ruth Knight, and also destroyed her trailer home behind the building. Owners of La Paloma bar and Florence Drug, on either side of the cafe, had to unload their businesses into the street for safety. The blaze was attributed to a grease fire.

Town officials are counting on the captive population of Arizona State Prison to make up for some of the services residents expect from government, but couldn’t afford before now. The boom is expected in highway user money for the 1986-87 budget following a head count from the special mid-decade census. Two years ago, Florence annexed Arizona State Prison and started counting inmates as part of the town’s population. Town Manager Ken Buchanan estimates that the town delivers services to 4,000 people in a 1985 total population of 6,085.

Arizona Knights of Columbus presented Rev. Reginald Phelan with $3,510 to help restore the Gila Chapel, the third-oldest Catholic Church building now standing in Arizona.

Pictured on the Braves Little League team are Terry Lievrouw, Brook Byrd, Jose Bandilla, Paul Neff, Matt Anderson, David Smith, James Cartwright, Edward Martin, Tony Frazier, John Neff, William Neff, Clay Cordova, Clint DeArman, Coach Bob Frazier and Assistant Coach Eddie Granillo.

50 years ago

May 6, 1971

Lou Melendez’s Carnival of Fun will open the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration Friday and will continue throughout the three-day affair. A coronation ball Saturday night will reveal the winner of the queen competition. Contestants are Linda Garcia, Anne Wolven, Alma Ayala and Evangeline Mariscal. Following the last mass Sunday, a car parade with the queen and her attendants will wind its way through town.

The FUHS Pom-Pon girls conducted a successful bake sale. Pictured are Kathy Kent, Kathy Roberts, Rita Celaya, Belinda Garcia and Carol Gomes, sponsor.

Kathleen Kent of Florence is among the outstanding juniors in 138 Arizona high schools who will receive alumni scholarships to Arizona State University.

David Padilla, son of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Padilla, has been elected president of the Florence Union High School student body for the 1971-72 school year. Vice President is Nancy Lippert; Barbara Rieffer is secretary; and Kathy Kent, treasurer.

The Florence Union High School annual athletic banquet will be held May 6 at the high school stadium. The event is co-sponsored with the school by the Rotary and Lions clubs. The beef will be donated by Bill and Twain Clemans, who have donated the beef for the last 20 years. Robert Busby is chairman of the barbecue and Cecil Haynes is chairman of the meat cutters. Other chairmen are Harriette Klingbeil, invitations; Frenck DeGrazia, music; Pete King, other food; Jake Aguilar, food serving; Arthur Gomes, coffee; Delbert Lewis, gates; Joe Valdez, public address system; Joe Padilla, grounds; Art Celaya, program; and Louie Padilla, barbecue pit wood.

73 years ago

May 7, 1948

Florence Chamber of Commerce learned at its meeting Tuesday that it was 31 years too late in its campaign to enlist the aid of the Carnegie Foundation in erecting a library building. James Diffen, who had been appointed to contact the foundation, said he was referred to the American Library Association in Chicago. That group also reported it could offer no financial aid.


Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.