Welcome to The View From Baja Arizona, a new blog on Word Press.
A little background on who I am and where I’ll be coming from in this blog.
I have a long family history in Tucson going back to 1945 when my grandfather Harry Schlanger moved to town because of my grandmother’s asthma. He had been a homebuilder in Detroit, and one of his good buddies Al Cobo bought a winter home here. Cobo went on to became mayor of Detroit.
Harry and Al bought a couple of square miles “way out in the middle of nowhere” (north of Ina Road and First Ave) and there’s a nice little subdivision out there called Cobo Catalina Foothills Estates.
Like a lot of old timers, us grandchildren tell stories about what in Tucson our grandparents used to own in an around Tucson that is now worth lots of money.
My parents came to Tucson from a little town in Texas in 1954 to take care of Grandpa Harry. My dad tried to develop a high rise building for AT&T in downtown. Like so many people who tried to make something of downtown, he was squashed. The existing phone building with the big microwave tower on it sits pretty much on the parking lot my dad owned in the 1960’s. There was a much bigger planned 14 story building covering that whole block, but the entire site could not be assembled and one little 10 foot wide lot whose owner wouldn’t sell sat vacant until the 1990’s.
My grandfather and then my dad also owned a little tourist court on Benson Highway called the Sun Ray Motel that had a regular cast of winter visitors including the prospector who staked out the claims for what are now the big copper mines west of Green Valley. As a kid I used to go rock hunting with the guy where now there are giant piles of tailings and holes in the ground.
The motel still exists, though the widening over and over again of what became Interstate 10 destroyed the ambiance of the place.
During my life in Tucson I saw the sleepy little “old pueblo” morph into a clone of Phoenix. The spectacular Hispanic “old town” was flattened in the name of “progress” along with virtually everything I knew about the city as a kid. My memories of Tucson are of ghost places now covered with buildings and parking lots. You had to have been here 50 years ago to know what was lost. There are still remnants, and folks struggling to save what’s left. More on that in a later chapter.
I’ve a had a long career in water issues in the area, mostly out beyond what most folks then considered “Tucson”. I variously represented a bunch of water companies in the Northwest (Canada Hills and Rancho Vistoso) that Oro Valley subsequently bought, I helped get Marana in the municipal water business, and helped create Rancho Sahuarita and Vail Valley Ranch (Rancho del Lago) south of town. So…yes…I’m part of the problem as well.
I am also editor/publisher of the internationally infamous Frumious Bandersnatch satirical newspaper and parody website. Some of you might remember the Bandersnatch from the 1960’s at the University of Arizona. It lives on, though not much about Tucsonan it any more. With readers in 182 countries, it is part of the “world” wide web universe.
Today I live 45 miles south of Tucson, which most readers would not consider part of Tucson. More on that issue in another chapter of this adventure. But like a lot of us on the fringe, we still see Tucson as the dominant force of our universe. Tucson is where we go to shop, where we get serious medical care, where we seek out entertainment, and what we watch politically for amusement. We also watch Tucson tv stations and read Tucson newspapers.
We’re out beyond your edge. But something we know that most of you don’t realize yet…your edge is expanding outward and will eventually overtake us.
Out here on the edge, where we can the lights of Tucson glowing at night, we ponder the bigger picture. We all live in a unique region some of us call Baja Arizona because we know we’re different than our fellow Arizonans up in Maricopa County.
We’re more diverse and tolerant. In fact, we’re darned proud of our diversity. If Baja Arizona was its own state, SB 1070 would never have happened.
Tucson is the kind of place where if a visitor from Mexico is having a problem we’ll step up and help. And a lot of us speak passable Spanish. I once saw a couple with a Sonoran license plate struggling to get help at a gas station off 3rd Avenue and I-10 in Phoenix. No one from the station would help with the issue which was simply the folks needed air in their tires. I understood what the problem was, and because I’m from down here, of course I helped. Probably the last time the folks from Sonora ventured beyond Tucson. You see this sort of helpful relationship with our friends from Mexico every day and everywhere in Tucson. We’re not afraid.
We see ourselves as being more liberal and progressive and more environmentally sensitive than our brothers and sisters to the north.
The View From Baja Arizona will seek to highlight who we are, how we got here, and where we might be going.
Like my fellow Baja Arizonans, I’m kind of eclectic…chimichangas to champaign…libertarian on some issues, progressive on others…I don’t fit the traditional Democrat or Republican definitions. I love the Tucson Folk Festival and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. And I really love adobe.
Come along for the ride.