“The more I see as I sit here among the rocks, the more I wonder about what I am not seeing.”
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
Tumacacori is the site of Mission San José de Tumacácori, an 18th Century Franciscan mission. It takes its name from an earlier mission site founded by Father Eusebio Kino in 1691, which is on the east side of the Santa Cruz River south of the national park. This particular mission was founded at an extant native O’odham settlement and represents the first mission in southern Arizona.
The later Franciscan mission, now in ruins, was never rebuilt once it was abandoned after repeated Apache raids in the 19th century. Nearby Tubac was besieged in 1861.
Downtown Tucson is divided into the Presidio District, Barrio Viejo, and the Congress Street Arts and Entertainment District. You could throw a rock from one end and hit the other. But the old barrio is filled with old adobe mud-brick buildings and other rustic reminders of Tucson’s past. In the shadow of some of downtown’s taller office buildings and hotels, the neighborhood is strangely quiet, despite the fact that one could walk three blocks north or east and find themselves smack in the middle of the Rio Nuevo bar and restaurant scene.
This is a unique place, one I like to visit often, and home to a number of supremely talented artists, musicians, and other eclectic Tucson personalities.
This photograph was made using a vintage Yashica-D Twin Lens Reflex, a 1960’s-era medium format film camera. I just loaded some new film into the old beast, after several years, and started making new pictures. I look forward to sharing them with you.
“Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction. As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”
~Henry David Thoreau
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Automobile culture reached Arizona in the early 1900s and brought major roadway projects (see yesterday’s post about Miracle Mile Road) and an increase in tourism, which delivered new money to Flagstaff in the 1920s. Fundraising began in 1926 by local community leaders to establish first-class accommodation to replace some of the outmoded and run-down hotels.
Ground broke for the 73 room Community Hotel (named in honor of the prominent citizens who funded its construction) on June 8 of that year. It was finished in six months, opening its doors on New Years Day, 1927.
My first visit was back in 2005 or 2006, when I had the chance to tag along with a friend of mine. We worked together at a local Tucson photo lab and he happened to be a drummer in a band called “The Deludes.” I was able to hop aboard for a show they’d booked at the hotel’s “Cocktail Lounge.” It was a prohibition-era bootlegging operation, but the secret wasn’t kept long – local officers disrupted the illegal business in 1931. Ironically, the speakeasy reopened only two years later when prohibition was lifted.
It is one of the oldest operating hotels in Flagstaff and is a registered historic landmark, and its sign is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Flagstaff.
“Unless we tell stories about ourselves, which is all that theater is, we’re in deep trouble.”
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Winter-time in Kansas City is like summer-time in Tucson – the streets looks deserted most of the day, as if everybody packed in the middle of the night and fled without notice. Instead of tumbleweeds, the crisp air carries dead leaves and newspapers.
I went on a walk in downtown Shawnee, through the nearby cemetery and up towards city hall. The temperature has been hovering in the teens and twenties; needless to say, I didn’t see any other pedestrians, save for the poor pitiful fool dressed as the statue of liberty, promoting a tax prep service on the corner. There ought to be a law against that kind of cruelty.
Pictured here is the Old Aztec movie theater.
The Old Aztec was designed by the Boller Brothers architectural firm of downtown Kansas City, Missouri. Their designs ranged widely in size and style, from minor vaudeville houses to grand movie palaces. To date, about twenty surviving Boller Brothers theaters are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Old Aztec is clearly among the smaller houses, commissioned by Shawnee’s third mayor, Mr. Marion Summeror, and opened on Labor Day in 1927.
It was named Aztec in the 1940s after it was acquired by Dickinson Theaters. The current signage was installed in 1972 after the theater was purchased by the Pflumm family. Closed for renovations in the summer of 1975, the theater never reopened. There was a time in 2005 when the building changed hands again. Renovations began again, too. The outside has been finished, but the project stalled and the status of the theater is not known.
I like the way old towns feel, although that sense of Main Street life has largely melted away. This little intersection in Shawnee is surrounded by an ocean of strip malls and shopping centers, traffic congestion and highways. But for one block, you can dig your hands into your pockets, bury your head between your shoulders, and walk down the sidewalk against the wind. You can look up at the old marquis and consider a time, almost a hundred years ago, when people walked the same streets, through the threshold and into theater, to watch a silent film dance across the canvas screen of a true American movie house.