It’s Official: Happy 100th birthday, Arizona! It has been an amazing journey since 1540 when the first Europeans wrote about your native people, your incredible ruggedness and spectacular beauty. And now, Arizona, you celebrate your centennial year as a state of the United States of America! Even before statehood, the powers-that-be have on occasion adopted symbols to help the world to get an idea of what differentiates Arizona from the other states.
When you first meet Valerie Cook, owner of VJ Ranch in New River, chances are she will be standing at the ranch gate surrounded by her pack of adoptable dogs. The VJ Ranch is a successful dog rescue operation―having found a “forever home” for 332 previously doomed dogs in 2011.
Valerie will likely be wearing her favorite T-shirt, the one encouraging pet owners to do the right thing and have pets spayed or neutered. According to the Arizona Humane Society, in Maricopa County alone, 94,889 animals entered the many animal shelters last year. Sadly, 48,567 of those animals were put down because
no “forever home” could be found.
Vaudeville was the most common form of theatrical entertainment in the early territorial towns of Arizona. Traveling troupes of musicians, dancers, comedians and actors were highly anticipated social events of the year for the local citizens. If a town could rally its local resources to build their very own opera house―why, that town became something very special on the traveling vaudeville circuit.
“Prescott should have a good opera house,” began the 1904 article in the Prescott Daily Journal Miner. Local business leaders were anxious for the Feb. 12 meeting to see if a plan proposed by the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge No. 330 to add an opera house to their new lodge could become a reality. A deal was struck to the tune of $15,000 and entertainment-hungry Prescott citizens would soon have their very own beautiful opera house.
Geocaching and letterboxing are two great, family-orientated activities that can be enjoyed for only the price of gas. Geocaching utilizes the latest technology of satellite GPS-enabled devices, while letterboxing entails decoding of a written treasure map. Both are not only intellectually challenging, but also force the “treasure hunters” into the outdoors.
Geocaching is a relatively new sporting activity. It involves using a mobile Global Positioning System (GPS) to locate hidden containers called “geocaches” —or simply “caches”—anywhere in the world. The homemade caches are waterproof containers that contain some trading trinkets and a logbook for the discoverer to document the find.
Jewish pioneers were some of the first to arrive in the new, 1863 Arizona Territory. They soon became community leaders in those early years in the commercial, agricultural and mining industries. The historic building in which the Arizona Jewish Historical Society’s new Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center in central Phoenix is located, first opened in 1921 when 38 Jewish families came together to establish Congregation Beth Israel, the first permanent Jewish congregation of the city.