Please read below for some great information provided by P. J. Lawton.....
I had the opportunity to have a chat with two people who were involved in the OTS operations in the 1950s.
The first person was Sandy Shatz McEwen, who was a member of the Jaycee-Ettes and whose parents were active in not only OTS, but also the Tucson Rodeo Parade. She has fond memories of spending the weekends at OTS and helping putting on shows and working at her dad’s copper shop at OTS. On the weekends, the Jaycee’s would open the park to visitor’s for a donation to the box in the parking lot. They would perform Can-Can Dances and gunfights. The members of the Jaycees’ would provide all the entertainment as well as concessions. She showed me several photos and a couple of very interesting booklets from 1956 showing the events surrounding “Four Color Days” (also known as “Old Tucson Daze”), hosted at the park in November. Some excerpts from this booklet are:
“First annual Old Tucson 4 Color Days, November 24 and 25, 1956. Price of admission: $1.00. (This event was in conjunction with KVOA and NBC’s introduction of color television to Tucson).
Program of Events: Saturday. November 24
10:00 A.M.- Four Color Parade
2:30 P.M.- Raising of Four Flags of Old Tucson. Featuring re-enactment of American Flag raising by
Lt. Col. Joseph West, May 20, 1862, and starring John Westt, NBC, Hollywood.
Series of street scene dramas, featuring Spanish, Mexican, Confederate and American historical eras.
4:30 P.M. – Jaycee-ettes Can-Can Dance
5:00 P.M.- Motorcade Parade to Tucson Sports Center. Led by Pima County Sheriff’s escort.
6:00 P.M.- Perry Como show in Full Color on Channel 4, live from NBC, New York
7:00P.M.- NBC Spectacular, Channel 4, High Button Shoes, starring Nanette Fabray.
Live from NBC, New York
9:00 P.M to 12:00 P.M- Four Color Ball, featuring Dean Armstrong.”
Also in this booklet were the following concessions at OTS:
“Ward’s Saloon and Trading Post (Soft drinks and curios)
Wagon Wheel Café (Cora Lang)
The Candle Shop (Candles and sea shells)
Old Tucson Rock Shop (Rocks and Minerals)
Tom’s Popcorn and Peanuts
Eunice’s Floss Candy
Kenyon’s Sno Cones
Copper Nugget Shop (Copper jewelry)”
Also in the booklet was a short history of OTS and included the following:
“It was sitting in the County Park, idle, subject to vandals and weather, until 1945, when the Tucson Jaycee’s leased it from the Pima County Board of Supervisors for $1.00 per year, and started restoring the old movie set and surrounding buildings. They not only worked to restore the set, but established a town with at permanent population of two people, the Caruthers, who ran the general store and acted as security for the set. The Jaycee’s elected a mayor and council and appointed their own sheriff; all to serve 1 year.”
It went on to say: “The movies set was open to the public, and shows by the Vigilantes were put on each weekend. Two shows a year were presented named: “Old Tucson Daze”. The public was charged $1.00 per person admission, and the monies collected were used In the used in the repairs to the old movie set. The rest of the year the public was welcome, and collection boxes installed at the two gates. All donations were then used on the set. The Tucson Jaycee’s even established their own newspaper, the “Old Tucson Bull”
In the next installment, my chat with Bud Krietmeyer.
March 20, 2015
Christie Conlisk here. I’d like to see that book. My parents were Lester and Verna Conlisk – both very active in the Old Tucson Daze.
Like to hear from you.
Last week, I had a pleasant drive down to Elgin (forgot how pretty that area is), to visit with Bud Krietmire, a former Jaycee and Vigilante. He first moved to Arizona in1946 and quickly became involved with the Jaycees and community outreach. He was one of the first members of the Tucson Vigilantes. If you don’t know who they were, here is a quick look at their activities. The Jaycees are a national organization, committed to bettering their home communities through public service. The Tucson Vigilantes were an off shoot from the Jaycees’. Their primary activities included riding in the rodeo parade, taking care of the rodeo museum, and for 14 years, they were the caretakers of Old Tucson Studio. Unfortunately, the local Jaycees’ disbanded several years ago. Perhaps the best known activity they were involved with was just before Rodeo weekend. They would have the Sheriff’s Dept. stop a car on first the Benson Hwy, then after it opened, I-10. During the traffic stop, the vigilantes would find out if the occupants were willing to participate in the rodeo festivities. If so, they were “arrested” and taken downtown and “hanged”. Then they would be completely outfitted in western wear and they were put up in Tucson for the rest of the rodeo events at no cost. I actually got to participate in this ritual way back in the 1970s, while a deputy with the Pima County Sheriff’s Dept.
Bud said that by the 1950s, there were 250- 300 members of the Jaycees. He recalls how he spent many Sundays at OTS making bricks with which to repair buildings. Also OTS would open on the weekends to guests, who could enter by putting 25 cents in one of the two donation boxes located in the two parking areas around the park. He would participate in gunfights and other activities, such as baking pies at the original Phoebe’s Pie Shop. Two times a year OTS would hold a special celebration and were permitted by the county to charge $1.00 per person. These events took place the first weekend in March and again in November. They were known as “Old Tucson Daze”, and would feature concessions, entertainment, and in 1957, was featured on the Dave Galloway Show, live. Once a year, usually in October, the Jaycees’ would hold a kick off, members only party at the park.
I enjoyed chatting with Bud and thank him for his patience in my questioning of him.
I don’t know what my next installment will be, but am open to any suggestions.
Adios mi amigos,
Really enjoy this
PJ, this is AC from Nicaragua, I would like to say hello to you, I have not seen you since you left…..I was in Tucson 3 months ago and I tried to get a hold of you but I could not. Please reply. Best wishes, AC
Where is this ? Is this a location for the film Tombstone? Tell me the details. Thank you.