This week, I will be taking a random look at different things that have happened in our town over the last 44 years. Remember, the numbering is used to separate the items and is not meant to be a ranking of them.
14. One phone booth: Life had to be tough on the teenagers in that first year of move-ins (1972). Sally Atchinson and her two children were the first people to move into their home on Calaveras Avenue. Sally, who still lives in Fountain Hills, recalls how they didn’t have telephone service when they first moved here. “The only telephone service was a pay phone on the northeast corner of Shea and Saguaro boulevards,” she said.
People would wait hours to use the phone.
15. The first fundraiser: It was the project of a young mother named Mercedes Altweis. She led a campaign to raise $10,000 to install a multi-purpose concrete slab behind the Fountain Hills Elementary School (later called Four Peaks Elementary, and now it is The East Valley Institute of Technology or EVIT). The slab later had the lines installed for volleyball and basketball.
16. Miss Fountain Hills: Beauty pageants have nearly gone out of style these days, but at one time we had a Miss Fountain Hills Pageant and the winner got to compete for the title of Miss Arizona. The first competition was in 1976 as a part of the Town’s U.S. Bicentennial celebration. Linda Anderson was crowned Miss Fountain Hills. Her two attendants were Mary Ryan and Elaine Haemmerle. They all rode on the Fountain Hills’ float entry in the Fiesta Bowl Parade, “City at the End of the Rainbow.” It won the Community Award.
17. First homes started: In my days at LPE Advertising in Scottsdale, I had a memo on my desk when I returned from lunch one day that said that a firm from Chandler was pouring footings for the first two houses in Fountain Hills.
Itsaid to be at the McCulloch sales office at 2 p.m. and I would be taken to the site. There, I met Dick Hadley and Dick Jordan, principals and owners of Cocopah Construction. I took their picture watching the first concrete pour into the trenches that had been dug that morning before.
One of those houses was purchased by a woman named Sally Ballee (later Atchinson), who with her children, became the first residents of the community.
Incidentally, the first duplex was built by Savittieri Construction, but I can’t remember the street.
18. Witness to the first accident in Fountain Hills: I was heading home after interviewing a new family that had moved into Fountain Hills in early 1972.
It was around 9 p.m. and quite dark. I pulled up to the Shea-Saguaro intersection (Shea was only a two-lane road in those days.), I saw headlights coming from both directions. I was sitting there waiting for them to approach the intersection. In those days, there was only the one stop sign, which was on Saguaro Boulevard. There was nothing built south of Shea and no reason for a road going in there.
I looked both ways before I pulled out. I had never witnessed an accident before, but that was about to change. I remember saying to myself, “Oh no, they’re going to collide right in front of’ me.”
The vehicle heading west was a Volvo station wagon. The other vehicle was a Ford pickup truck.
Before I pulled out, I took one last look. The man in the pickup turned left with no advance warning right into the path of the Volvo. He had no time to react. I had car parts flying all around me.
I got out of my car to see if I could be of any assistance to anyone in either vehicle. There was nothing left of the Volvo from the windshield forward. Suddenly I could hear empty beer cans landing on the pavement. I turned around and saw the pickup driver tossing them out the window of his truck.
I could smell alcohol on his breath. He did ask me if the people in the other car were okay. I assured him they were and just had cuts and bruises.
“Fortunately, they were wearing seatbelts,” I said.
Soon, the emergency vehicles arrived and I finally got to go home. That was one memory-filled evening.