Memories of Benson: 4th of July Arrival

(Ed. note: I screwed up, this was supposed to be no. 1 not no. 4.)


(My Prologue to Personal Memories of Benson: the First in a Series… Hopefully!)
By Bill Guerra (

Anyone who’s witnessed Benson’s 4th of July celebration can readily attest to the foregone conclusion that it’s sure to be a blistering hot day! Parade spectators will invariably arm themselves with a cool one and search out a shady spot where they can track the slowly moving floats, various horse units, the Bobcat Alumni band, and, of course, the fez-hatted Shriners zig-zagging the parade route on their little go-carts.

During last year’s BUHS Centennial (1914-2014) Celebration, I was reminded by one of our old neighbors, Bea (Blakey) Hernandez, of one particularly memorable Fourth! The year was 1945. President Roosevelt had died a few months earlier at the beginning of his fourth term; the war in Europe was over; within a month and a half the atomic bomb would be twice employed on the Japanese mainland and the war in the Pacific would also come to a conclusion. Bea says she clearly remembers my mother’s sister Josephine Comaduran King (Aunt Jo to us nephews and nieces) emerge from our house and hold up one finger. A few minutes later, she re-emerged and held up a second finger – confirmation to Bea and other observant neighbors that twin boys – my brother Bob and I (!!) – had made our arrival into the world of Benson, Arizona.

My Benson ‘Credentials’

For the next 18 years, Bob and I – along with our five siblings (the youngest, Donnie would come along some 18 months later) – would progress through childhood and adolescence to young adulthood. The seven children of Susie and Manuel Guerra were born during a 17 year period ranging from 1929 to 1946. In addition, our mother, and her mother, were also native-born Bensonites. I mention this to emphasize a long term ‘connectedness’ to Benson that extends beyond my personal remembrances, but which, by family experience and storytelling, effectively lengthens the depth of our family’s roots – mine included. Even though I’ve not actually resided in Benson for more than half a century, I still happily try to make the journey home two or three times a year – at least, now that I am semi-retired. During my 27 year military career I sometimes went three or four years, while serving in overseas assignments, without visiting mi tierra!

Equally interesting – to me, at least – is that after all these years four of my siblings live and reside in Benson, while a 5th , twin brother Bob, lives a short distance away in Tucson. This ‘homing phenomenon’ is by no means unusual. At school reunions I’m always amazed at the number of friends and classmates who spent many years away from Arizona and the Southwest but who ultimately decided to return – if not to Benson, at least to the Tucson or Phoenix areas!