It’s time to get back to our weekly history lessons about Fountain Hills.
In the early months of 1972, the community was experiencing booming growth. Work was progressing on Del Trailor’s Fontana, a 220-unit family residential development in the northeast part of Fountain Hills.
The models were opened in August with a grand opening party with 1,200 people in attendance including a VIP list of dignitaries from Phoenix, all of the employees of McCulloch Properties, Del Trailor and LPE Advertising and their spouses.
A buffet dinner was served at the Sales and Reception Center. Two Mariachi bands added to the festive atmosphere of the evening. After dinner, shuttle buses took the people for tours of the models.
A Special Recognition Award was presented to Trailor by Bob McCulloch Jr. Some 50 percent of the units were sold by the grand opening.
Speaking of parties, that was not the first grand scale party held in Fountain Hills. That distinction belonged to Lorne Pratt, the McCulloch vice president of sales, who started the successful “fly to see before you buy” sales program that he started in Lake Havasu. He carried over the program to other McCulloch Planned City developments, including Fountain Hills. He hosted the party at his home on the corner of Fountain Hills Boulevard and Fountain Hills Place.
I don’t know who made up the guest list, but it included many familiar political faces from the county and state levels as well as all of the McCulloch employees who worked on the Fountain Hills project. I got an invitation at the ad agency because I put together the Fountain Hills Times each month as well as some ads for builders.
The invitation said it was a costume affair and to dress in Roman Empire attire.
When we arrived, we were glad we did dress up as best as we could in Roman attire. I went as a member of the Centurion Guard and my wife wore a long dress she made from a sheet. She copied a dress she had seen Susan Hayward wear in the movie “Demetrius and the Gladiators.”
That was coincidental because Bob McCulloch, Jr. came wearing the actual costume worn by Victor Mature in that same movie. Pratt, through his contacts in Hollywood, got the costume for McCulloch. (He was the former manager of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and originated the idea of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.)
The food was quite lavish and tasty. But have you ever eaten prime rib without any silverware? They said that wasn’t used in the days of the empire. I’d rather think that was not the case. But I enjoyed myself anyway after finding a roll of paper towels in the kitchen.
Well, I fully intended to talk about those early-day construction projects in this column, but as you can see, I got to reminiscing about those parties and I thought you would enjoy that too.