Saturday, February 11, 2012

Happy Birthday Arizona!

Welcome to my Arizona!

Arizona is the 48th state and last of the contiguous states to be admitted to the Union, and it achieved statehood on February 14, 1912. Arizona is the sixth most extensive and the 16th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. The second largest city is Tucson.

Arizona is noted for its desert climate in its southern half, where there are very hot summers and quite mild winters. The northern half of Arizona also features forests of pine, Douglas fir, and spruce trees, a very large, high plateau (the Colorado Plateau) and some mountain ranges—such as the San Francisco Mountains—as well as large, deep canyons, where there is much more moderate weather for three seasons of the year, plus significant snowfalls. There are ski resorts in the areas of Flagstaff and Alpine. Arizona is one of the Four Corners states, meaning that we touch borders on our north eastern section with Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

Over one hundred years ago, the cream of the Arizona Territory's manhood gathered in Phoenix, writing a constitution they hoped would bring statehood.
Saguaro Sunset

Back in 1891, territorial residents had been so certain statehood was imminent, they'd actually written a constitution and took it on the train to Washington, where congressmen snubbed their noses at these upstarts from that arid wasteland out West known more for Geronimo and the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral than for the kind of folks you'd want in your union.

But things changed and Arizona had gained some respectability, some friends in Washington, and this time, Arizona wasn't jumping the gun. Congress had actually passed and President William Howard Taft had signed the Enabling Act that directed the Arizona Territory to write a state constitution - even allocating a princely $100,000 for that end.

Congress directed that the delegates meet in Phoenix - and that Phoenix be the capital of the new state at least until 1925. And so, on Oct. 10, 1910, 52 men from 13 counties came together for the first time. (Greenlee County couldn't send a delegate because it had just been created, and women didn't have a voice because they didn't yet have the right to vote.)

The most populous county had the most delegates, and in those days, that was Cochise County, where the mining interests of Bisbee and Tombstone were paramount. Agricultural Maricopa County had nine delegates. Families that would become legends in Arizona were represented: Goldwater, Orme, Tovrea. They were led by Globe's George W.P. Hunt, who would become the state's first governor and whose white-pyramid tomb in Papago Park still looks down on the Capitol City.
Meteor Crater

The Rev. Seaborn Crutchfield of Tempe gave the opening prayer as the convention began: "As King Solomon prayed for guidance to wisely rule a great people, so we ask Thee to direct us in the adoption of a wise and just constitution."

And they were off: a motley crew far that was more indebted to labor unions and the working man than to the businesses and mines that thought they ran things in Arizona. The Arizona Democrat, a Phoenix paper that wouldn't last beyond 1913, reported: "A count of noses shows that about 40 percent of the delegates are men worth $30,000 or more. Better crowd than we thought they were at first."

A vast majority, 41 to be exact, were Democrats who looked toward "progressive" legislation - a word more "sane conservatives" saw as "reckless." They debated, but rejected, women suffrage; debated, but rejected, segregated schools; debated, but passed, three citizen-empowerment measures that were seen as radical: the right of people to petition their government, called an initiative; the right of the government to refer an item directly to voters, called a referendum, and the most startling of all - what opponents called "ultra-radicalism" - the right of voters to recall judges they saw as unfit.

With the constitution now meeting Taft's approval, he signed Arizona's statehood bill the morning of Feb. 14, 1912 - ushering in the best party ever held in these parts.

And, oh yes, at its first election after statehood in the fall of 1912, Arizona voters reinstated the recall of judges into the state Constitution. They also, by a healthy margin, gave Arizona women the right to vote - eight years before national suffrage.

It would be the first time, but certainly not the last, that Arizona showed its independence!

For all of the landmass of the state of Arizona, we have merely fifteen counties: Apache, Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave, Navajo, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai, and Yuma.

Yuma County was the site of the original Yuma Territorial Prison. When teaching a class in Florence for the Department of Corrections, I visited the Warden and saw pictures of original inmates from the Yuma Territorial Prison. Every one of the women’s pictures listed their crime as adultery. I asked the Warden, “Where are the men’s pictures? It takes two!” He had no answer for me.

This weekend we begin our celebration of Arizona’s Centennial with a parade. Our local Grand Marshal is Lavona Evans who is also one hundred years old. Her father named gave her this name by reversing the first three letters of Valentine’s Day and then adding ‘ona’ for Arizona’s statehood. Ms. Evans was actually our first landlord when we moved to Arizona. She was spry twenty one years ago and remains so to this day! The same can be said for our state.

Happy One Hundredth Birthday Arizona! I am delighted to be part of your community.

An Arizona Recipe!

Goldwater Beans (from my Mom - Dolores Repp)

2 lbs. pinto beans
1 can (24 oz) tomatoes
1 lg. onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped 
1 can (4 oz) El Pato jalapeƱo tomato sauce
1 can (4 oz) diced, roasted, green chilies
2 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste
½ tsp. ground cumin
Optional: 2 lbs. ground beef, browned  

Soak the beans in cold water overnight. Wash. Cover with cold water to 2 inches over the top of the beans and boil for one hour. Add the other ingredients. Reduce the heat and cook 4-6 hours more. If desired, add the browned ground beef.  NOTE: If I use the ground beef, I brown the onion and garlic with it.

This is a good recipe for the Crockpot and yields about 24 servings.

Isaiah 43:19
New King James Version

Behold, I will do a new thing, 
Now it shall spring forth; 
Shall you not know it? 
I will even make a road in the wilderness 
And rivers in the desert.

Have a wonderful weekend!