In Ajo, Jeff and I looked in vain for the house I lived in when I started school. We decided that it has been torn down. In this picture of me waving to my mother on my first day of school, you can only see the houses across the street. We couldn’t find them either. We did find the second house I lived in though. Here I am waving in front of that house, both of us a bit worse for the wear since 1945.
October down, two to go. Let’s try something different this month. How about SOUL? I’ll be eager to see what our poets have to say when inspired by this word challenge.
In the personal department, I placed an article on Monday and got rejected on a nonfiction manuscript on Tuesday. However, the rejection came with a door slightly ajar if I want to rethink the approach and try again. I also got wonderful news from a generous donor who pledged $6,000 to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library fund so that was a true highlight.
I’m finalizing plans for an early February trip to Ajo, Arizona and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. That’s the setting for a story I’m working on and I need to be there and see it for myself so I can describe it more honestly.
In Ajo I hope to locate my old neighborhood, if it still exists, and visit where I started school. The building has been turned into art studios, I’m told, where artists rent former classrooms. I sent the principal of the “new” school a note to see if I might drop by to say hello. I hope she responds. And I want to see the old downtown where Rosemary Geiger and I used to go to the movies on Saturday. It will be a trip to remember and I’m already getting eager.
It’s pronounced Ah-ho and means garlic in Spanish. I’m mentioned from time to time that I lived in Ajo, Arizona for about four years when I was a boy. On July 13 I posted a picture of me on my first day of school as I set out to walk down the street with my friend Rosemary Geiger (not shown in the picture). Here’s that link. https://davidlharrison.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/13521 . I have only scattered memories of Ajo and don’t remember many names of kids I knew there. Only weeks into 3rd grade my family moved back to Springfield. I lost track of my classmates and have never been back to Ajo since 1945.
Imagine my amazement and delight when a couple of days ago Cindy Sullivan added a comment to the July 13 post to say she is from Ajo and her mother was a librarian there from the 50s to the 80s. She also informed me of a FB page about Ajo called ajomundo. Ann Havens then commented to say that she’s from Ajo and guessed that judging from my picture she’d say I lived on Morondo Street or Esperanza Street. While I was still smiling from ear to ear over the unexpected discovery, after all these decades, of not one but two people from Ajo, a third joined in. Linda Heard is not only from Ajo, she lived in the same block starting in 1947, only four years after I left Ajo!
I realize that this discovery is more important to me than it might be to you, but finding a link to one’s childhood is an exciting thing. I loved the west. I loved the songs and music. I loved the desert and cactus plants and distant mountains. I began collecting minerals in Ajo, camped at White Horse Lake in the mountains, caught my first fish there, heard bears in the woods, saw my first antelope, breathed in the pine scented high country. When we moved back to Springfield I sobbed. I was leaving my friends and might not ever see them again. And now, thanks to Cindy, Ann, and Linda, I have a connection. Happy day!