Monday, October 23, 2017

On the Road Arizona - Douglas

This is an excellent article.  I tried to figure out how to cut and paste, but didn't have any luck.  I am going to try to get the pictures on here and rewrite it also.


There are many reminders of what a prosperous and modern town Douglas was nearly a century ago.

G Avenue was crowded with merchants, banks and the Grand Theater, acclaimed as the best in the West when it opened in 1919. The 1,600-seat Grand hosted musicals, movies and traveling shows with John Phillip Sousa and a young Ginger Rogers.

In 1913, El Paso & Southwestern Railroad built an impressive Beaux Arts-style depot in Douglas that was busy with passenger traffic heading in every direction. The railroad added the El Paso & Southwestern YMCA in 1905, a sprawling Mission Revival building, for its employees.

Douglas’ most prominent building is the five-story Gadsden Hotel with its elegant lobby of white Italian marble, a Tiffany stained glass skylight and gold ornamentation. The original 1907 hotel was destroyed in a 1929 fire but was replaced within the year by the current 150-room Gadsden, designed by Henry C. Trost, the Southwest’s most prominent architect of the early 20th century.

Mining executives, ranchers and politicians did their business at the Gadsden and its Saddle and Spur Tavern for six decades before the decline of Douglas’ smelters and mining industry. The historic hotel has the required ghost stories and a legend of Pancho Villa riding his horse in the lobby, chipping off a sliver of marble from the grand staircase.

John Huston filmed “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean”  with Paul Newman in the Gadsden in 1972.

Gadsden embodies town's golden age

Today, the Gadsden is a bellwether of Douglas. It’s magnificent lobby is a legacy of the town’s prosperity but it clearly needs an infusion of millions of dollars to upgrade its well-worn infrastructure. The aging hotel owner, who bought the property nearly 30 years ago for $1 million, sold it to a Douglas couple in December 2016 for an undisclosed price.

Meanwhile, tourism and the town’s economy have struggled since the last smelter shut down in 1987. A state prison and the Border Patrol provide hundreds of jobs but are not exactly an inviting presence for travelers.  A Walmart and other commercial developments near the border have gutted commerce from once-thriving G Avenue.

Tourists don’t seem to make it past Bisbee, 30 miles away, and there is little to draw them to Douglas.

Growth and economic vitality has moved across the border to Agua Prieta. The Sonoran town with 80,000 residents is nearly five times larger than Douglas. Aqua Prieta’s maquiladoras, cross-border factories set up by American companies, provide thousands of low-wage jobs. 

Unfortunately, there is little investment on the American side in major industries that could revive Douglas. The town has historic neighborhoods, hundreds of historic buildings and the infrastructure to thrive if some white knight tech company came calling. 

Douglas also has a tolerable climate at an elevation of 4,000 feet with milder summer temperatures than much of the Arizona desert and a mild winter. In the first half of the 20th century, Douglas was a crossroads for tourists traveling by rail, air and later automobiles.

​U.S. 80, a southern cross-country route, was touted as the Broadway of America for motorists. Douglas boosters noted it was the “all-year high-gear” highway without the steep grades and snow of Route 66.  

American Airlines flew to Douglas after 1929 and its location on the border made it attractive during Prohibition. The pitch to tourists was “Douglas sunshine and Agua Prieta moonshine.”

That proximity to the border and the night life of Agua Prieta is in contrast to the town’s early ambition of being a wholesome, modern place, unlike rowdier Bisbee with its saloons and brothels. 

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Thornton Wilder, who at age 65 discovered Douglas by chance in 1962, was known to close down the Gadsden bar with his drinking buddies and head for a nightcap in Agua Prieta. Wilder was looking for an escape and rejuvenation when his 1957 Thunderbird broke down on a cross-country trip outside of Douglas in late May of 1962. 

'Our Town' author found refuge in Douglas

He checked into the Gadsden and stayed for two months before renting a three-room apartment, according to Tom Miller’s story in Smithsonian. Wilder wrote the beginning of his 1967 novel “The Eighth Day” in Douglas in between trips in southeastern Arizona and to the University of Arizona library in Tucson, 120 miles away. 

“Doc” or “the Professor” as he was known, according to Miller, eventually grew weary of the small-minded slurs of some of Douglas’ townsfolk and moved away in late November of 1963, spending 18 months in the town. “The Eighth Day” won the National Book Award. Wilder, who died in 1975, never returned to Douglas, the place where his novel was hatched.

Wilder is a polar opposite of the hard-working miners who inhabited Douglas during its half-century of good fortune. Yet Douglas in the early 1900s seems to have its similarities to the Grover’s Corner of Wilder’s play “Our Town.” 

Maybe nothing can save Douglas and the Gadsden Hotel from their decline, but it’s fun to imagine a renaissance of both.  A thriving Douglas could restore its architectural heritage, including the Grand Theater and YMCA. The town could pay homage to its mining past.

And maybe it's farfetched but how about Thornton Wilder Days? Local and visiting scholars  could pontificate at Cochise College on the brilliance of the literary lion, but the weekend event would have to include storytelling and drinking at the Saddle and Spur and a last call in Agua Prieta.

​Founded: 1901        
Elevation: 4,020   
Population: 16,989

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A Post From May, 2008--Hands Across the Border


(Last night after going through some boxes here at home, I found a letter from a student about this wonderful program.   I knew I had written about it before and found this post from May, 2008.  I am reposting and at the end is the letter from the student.)

Tuesday we held our Fifth and Sixth Grades Awards Assembly. This is always a wonderful assembly to end our school year. We give out many special awards in honor of former students and teachers. They are awards for most outstanding sixth grade student, most improved sixth grade student, sportsmanship awards named after a former student, a student who has displayed courage named after another former student, and a fifth grade boy and girl chosen for their kindness to others. This award is in honor of my dear friend, Ellen Widmer, who died almost five years ago. Ellen taught at Gilbert Elementary for many years. I remember when we told her that this award was going to be named after her. It was in May before she died the following October. She was so touched by this. Nancy Proffitt, one of our dear friends who taught with Ellen, along with a former student of Ellen's, presented the Ellen Widmer Kindness Award.

A few years ago when we were involved in the Hands Across the Border student exchange program, Dottie Dawn suggested that we give an award in my mom's name for the boy and girl who were the most outstanding student ambassadors. My mom was very supportive of the Hands Across the Border program. We would often meet in Douglas at the house down there to plan with our sister school from Nacozari, Sonora. When we could no longer participate in this program, I still wanted to do some type of award in my mother's name. So I decided to do a combination Citizenship/Leadership Award and name it the Margaret Shannon Award.

My mother worked for Phelps Dodge Corporation for many years. When she retired, she was the manager of the Hardware Jobbing Division of Phelps Dodge. She had always been involved in politics serving
as a precinct committeewoman and working on different campaigns. She always stressed the importance of community service. Shortly after she retired, she ran for the Douglas City Council and beat an incumbent by a wide margin of votes. She served for 12 years up until she was almost 80. During that time, she was the vice mayor. When she died in 2002, she was still a member of the Cochise County Fair Board of Directors.

Last year's recipient is a wonderful young man, Ryan McCord. As a sixth grader, he was our student council president and showed great leadership and citizenship skills. I was proud for him to be the first winner of this award. This year, Ryan was the Hatch Award winner for the most outstanding sixth grader. I know that he will continue to be a great leader in the future. We don't have to worry about our future with children like Ryan McCord!!

Last year, Kerri came to the assembly and presented the award in her grandmother's name. Since she is teaching now, I asked my Aunt Teresa to please
help me give the award. She was leaving for California on Tuesday, but made sure it wasn't until after the Awards Assembly. I know she would have helped me give this out, but this year had special significance for our family. The young lady who won the award is the great granddaughter of my Aunt Teresa's best friend, Dorothy Huber. Teresa was the Maid of Honor at Dorothy's and Paul's wedding. They had been friends since they were about six years old! The young lady's father was there for the assembly and Teresa was so proud to be giving this award. My mom would have been proud, too. She would have loved having an award for both citizenship and leadership named after her.

hose we love are never really gone, as long as their stories are told." This is from my favorite children's book, The Last Dance. My mom's and Ellen's stories will live on with these awards!.

The end of the school year is always a time for tears. Relationships between teachers and families are built over the course of a school year. I believe these relationships are so important in the educational world. I believe that children learn best in an accepting and warm environment. I value the many relationships that I have built over the years, both as a teacher and as a principal. I was reminded of a quote that I really like. I concluded our staff 
luncheon today with it. "Don't cry because it is over, smile because it happened." I am smiling now. I hope you are, too!


Thank you

Dear Mrs. Rogers,

Thank you so so much for accepting my mom and i to go to Mexico in HATB.  I learned many extra things about Mexico's culture that I what I did before; such as more spanish words, and how my buddy was at home, and things like that.  I loved the copper mill and the barbque was my favorite thing of all time.

You deserve so much credit and I hope you are getting it.   Considering you've put together HATB every year well, I find that rather amazing.   You are a very unique person to be ableto withstand all of the pressure you have each and every day, and that is why you are the best principal I know.


Sincerely grateful,

Saturday, October 21, 2017

1992 Family Reunion Dispatch Article

From the Douglas Dispatch July 2, 1992

Under Picture:

Gathering Family

Early arrivals at the reunion of the Scott, Roughan, Nefsay family gathered around their aunts Margaret Shannon, left center, and Teresa Scott.   The nieces and nephews are, from the left, Bill Scott Jr., Kelly Kinas, Romy Scott, Sheila Rogers, and Patrick Scott.

Early Douglas Family to have reunion

Dispatch Staff Writer

"There will be 146 members of my family between the ages of 85 and four months, here this weekend," said Teresa Scott.  "It is the first family reunion in 15 years and all of my parents grandchildren are planning to attend."

Miss Scott and her sister, Margaret Shannon, will host a well organized family reunion over the Fourth of July.  The plans include a visit to the Bisbee Mine Tour and the twin plants in Agua Prieta.  A special Mass is to be offered Sunday at St. Luke's with Father McGovern from Sun City West officiating and Father Liam from Douglas and Father Coleman from Bisbee as cocelebrants.  Some members will be traveling to the family cabin at Cave Creek in the Chiricahuas.

"It will be the Scott, Roughan, Nefsay family reunion which also includes the Reidy family who lived across the street long enough to be considered family, too." Miss Scott said.

Ellen and Matthew Roughan decided to make their home in Bisbee in 1903.  After repeated visits their daughter and son-in-law, Edward and Katherine Scott moved to the area in 1912.   Mr. Scott went to work for the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad and continued when it was later sold to Southern Pacific.

The Scotts had 10 children, seven of whom they reared.  THe remaining five will be here for the reunion:  Teresa Scott and Margaret Shannon, both of Douglas,  Matthew Scott of Phoenix, Thomas Scott of Bethesda, MD., and Bill Scott from San Francisco.  Two have died,  John B. Scott and Dorothy Park.

Teresa Scott, the organizer of the reunion, is retired from the city of Douglas where she worked for the Water Department for 40 years.   She now has a computer service which she operates from her home.  Her sister, Margaret Shannon, is a Douglas city councilwoman and retired from Phelps Dodge.

The brothers are also all retired.  Matthew from the Internal Revenue Service; Tom as the chief clerk with the Senate Appropriations Committee and Bill from the Immigration and Naturalization Service in San Francisco.

Friends of the family are encouraged to stop by and visit any time Friday or Saturday.

Friday, October 20, 2017

One of the hardest parts of being an educator

One of the hardest parts of being an educator is losing a student, parent, or staff member.  I, unfortunately, had this happen way too many times.  And each time it was so difficult at so many levels.  

Last night on Facebook a wonderful parent at Gilbert El, posted that it has been 16 years since her son, Tyler, was killed in an automobile accident.   I will never forget that day.    Tyler was one of the sweetest kids in the entire world.   He was a in one of our multi-age classes at the time.  I believe he was a second grader.

I will never forget getting to school that morning and hearing this terrible news.   His classmates were so upset as were all of the teachers.  It is almost incomprehensible to try to explain this to young children.

I will also never forget his funeral services.   Several of his little friends sang a song and it is something I will never forget.   If he had lived, he would have probably already graduated from college because I know of several of the children in his class have graduated.

I lost touch with his mom through the years but thought about her often.  I knew she still lived close to Gilbert El.   Then one day I found out she had remarried and was pregnant with triplets. She had three boys.   A child can NEVER be replaced, but I was so thrilled for Donita to have three boys.

My last year as principal at Gilbert El the boys were in preschool. They were so cute!

When I came back and decided to run for the board, Donita and her family were some of my biggest supporters.   The boys were still at Gilbert El and probably in about fourth grade.    They took signs and helped put up  the big ones for me.   They posted pictures of the boys with my signs.    It was amazing.

Tyler was a wonderful little boy who touched the hearts of a lot of people. He will always hold a special place in my heart as does his mom and her family. I was devastated when this happened and don't believe that I did anything more than anyone should do in a time like this.  However, to have his mom do so much to help me get elected meant more than words can ever explain.

Unfortunately, this happened more than one time during my years as an educator.   As a principal, we lost children to  accidents and to cancer. We also lost several staff members.  It was always a very difficult time.  I remember thinking one time that the true definition of being a leader is to be the one who doesn't fall apart when everyone else is.   I always had to remain calm and help all of my staff, kiddos, and families get through these horrible times when my heart was breaking, too.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

An Article My Mom Saved from the Mesa Tribune (3/12/79)

One of the greatest privileges I had as a teacher was having Wendy Aaby as a student.  I had her when she first moved to Gilbert in second grade and then when I moved to third grade, she was in my class.   Wendy was  paralyzed from the waist down after she had a brain tumor and the radiation she went through severed a spinal chord. 

Her mom was amazing.  She was so trusting of me as a teacher.  It was the first year I did my Bisbee/Tombstone trip and Marilyn (her mom) let her go with us.  Our wonderful health assistant, Mary Sisung, went along to tend to her physical needs. 

Wendy taught me so much as a teacher and she taught the students in my class so much about empathy and compassion.   Wendy died when I was in Douglas and I asked her best friend at the time, Charissa, if I could share about how amazing she was.  And she said yes.  Charissa is/was one of the kindest most amazing students I ever taught I feel privileged that we have kept in contact through the years.   She even helped with my campaign for GPS Governing Board.

When I came across this article, I was so touched that my mom had saved it.  I am sending it to Wendy's mom.

Students learn "lesson on wheels"

By Linda Schwartz
Staff Writer

Gilbert-There is no way Wendy Aaby could have felt alone.   

Usually she is the only student in a wheelchair at Patterson Elementary School but last week the second grader had company on wheels.

Using one adult-sized and one child-sized wheelchair brought to the school for the week, students and teachers took turn spending several  hours in the chairs.

Wendy's teacher, Sheila Rogers, came up with the idea to help Wendy feel more comfortable among her classmates and to give the other students an understanding of what it means to be confined to a wheelchair.

"It has been a positive experience for everyone involved," said Mrs. Rogers who challenged Wendy to what has become a frequent recess activity--a wheelchair race.   

Principal Leona Shreve was one of those who learned from her several hours in the chair.

"I found many of the things I had tried to get "Wendy to do were not that easy," she said.  "I felt very restrained because I wanted to  be able to do things quickly and I couldn't.   It has been an eye opener for the rest of us."

Several of Wendy's classmates said they enjoyed the wheelchair experience, although they complained of tired arms.

Maneuvering the chair over bumps and steering around corners takes considerable practice and strength.

Wendy's mother, Marilyn Aaby, said the child has been paralyzed for two years.   The spinal injury was the result of chemotherapy given Wendy, now 9 years old, following surgery for a malignant brain tumor.

Mrs. Aaby said Wendy has come home this week excited about seeing her classmates on wheels.   

"It has taken a long time to get used to the fact that she will never walk again," said Mrs. Aaby.

What a blessing it was for me to have Wendy as a student for two years.  I was so sad when she died at a young age.  And I will always be grateful for the lessons I learned from Wendy and from the fact that her mom trusted me implicitly with her education in all areas.   I was truly blessed to have Wendy as a student and Marilyn as a parent.   I learned more from her than she learned from me.  And I believe that the other students did, too.
It was such a privilege for met to be Wendy's teacher for two years!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Kenny Chesney - While He Still Knows Who I Am - An Alzheimer's Tribute

This song speaks volumes to what Alzheimer's is all about.   It brings tears to my eyes when I listen to it.   The last two years with Teresa was so difficult.  I love the message.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Former resident selected as superintendent in Douglas (headline in Douglas Dispatch)

July 28, 2010


After hours of interviews, a public forum and an additional executive session, former Douglas resident Sheila Rogers was selected as the district's new superintendent.

In a special meeting on Monday, July 26, the Douglas Unified School District Governing Board finalized a two-year contract at $105,000 annually.

Since 1989, Rogers has served as principal of the Gilbert Elementary School, and 38 years with the district.

In addition to her term as principal, she has worked as an interim personnel director, helped implement a classified and job description study and developed and implemented a district staff development program.

Earned Certificate

In 1989, Rogers earned her Principal/Supervisor/Superintendent certificate.

She has a bachelors degree from Arizona State University in Elementary Education with a Special Education certification.  She completed an additional 30 hours of graduate work in Special Education and earned a masters n Educational Administration and Supervision.

She has served as an adjunct professor at Northern Arizona University in Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership since 2002.  

In 2005, she was selected as the Arizona School Psychologists' Administrator of the Year and in 2009 as the Gilbert Education Foundation Administrator of the Year.

She is a fourth generation Arizona resident. 

I also found a couple of cards that mean a lot to me.


A couple of weeks ago, I read an article explaining that you had become the new Superintendent of Douglas Schools.   Congratulations!  What an honor!  They have picked an amazing leader and educator--you will be perfect for the job!

I've been to Douglas before.  My third grade teacher took me there.  (I was her third grade teacher.)

Michelle (Jenkins) Miranda


Dear Sheila,

Kerry just told me about your new position, and the move to Douglas.

I was very surprised and happy for you.  I guess you can go home--after all.  I hope your aunt is doing well.  She is such a sweet lady.

I hope all of your family is well.

I am really doing fine.   I will be 80 in September--and no complaints.

I think often of the years I spent working with you and all of the others  I felt really blessed to include all of you as friends.

I wish you much success and happiness in the coming years.

Pat O.

Pat was my aide at Patterson and Houston and then moved to Gilbert El. She was more than an IA.   She was an integral part of my classroom.   She was a dear friend.   She passed away in 2011 and I still miss her.  Ironically, her grand daughter-in-law is now teaching with Kerri.