Down the Road in Casabel by Guy Gillespie (Class of 1961)
Excerpts from The Valley View Issue #11 Cascabel Newsletter 1/2020
We moved from Marana, AZ to Cascabel, AZ during the Christmas holidays in 1958. I was a sophomore in high school and would be attending Benson Union High School, twenty five miles from home. We were really out in the boonies! Our closest neighbors were the Smith family a 1/2 mile north. Their son, Nolan (class of 1961) was my age and we would be driving to school everyday even though neither of us was old enough to get a driver’s licence. We carpooled for two and one half school years. Before we had our driers license, a Police Sergeant would meet us the first day of school when we crossed the San Pedro River bridge into Benson and he would lay out the rules and the route for us to drive to an from school within the city limits. They threatened to make us get on the school bus in Pomerene if we deviated from their suggested route. We never had an accident and when we got our drivers; licenses we finally became “visible” to the Benson Police Force. Nolan and I were the only two kids from Cascabel going to school in Benson. My little brother would be going to the Poole School 10 miles north. Grades one through eight were taught there by one teacher. River Road was a “twelve foot wide road dirt road” in those days with no bridges or culverts over the washes and a lot ore blind curves than today. We seldom saw another vehicles, If you drove the River Road at night you did not see any lights between Pomerene and the Apodaca Ranch house, that was 18 miles.
In 1959, more families with kids moved closer to us. The Manual Salcido family moved to the Apodaca Ranch so in the summer there were 5 daughters and one son. Nolan’ cousin, Vonna Bennett, her sister Gaye, little brother Peanut an her mother, Gypsy , moved onto the Bennett place south of us so we had two more girls to admire. During our senior year, Dave Williams moved back down the river. Dave, Nolan, Vonna and I carpooled to school. We all had our drivers’ license so not as exciting as before. Dave and Vonna got married the summer after we graduated from high school (1961)
Being a cowboy was both fun and dangerous every day. I was often horse back all day long by myself, trying to rope and doctor 800 to 1500 pound bovines who did not appreciate my efforts and always wanted to fight when I turned them loose. Riding bucking colts and driving up rough 4×4 roads was a daily adventure. It was exciting, fun and never a dull moment.
I went to the U of A in September 1961, got married, had two kids before I graduated,. Was in the USAF Reserve for almost 30 years, 6 years as a Jeep tour guide and 15 years as a wildland firefighter. Somewhere in there I also worked at Southern Pacific RR for 12 yeas as a switchman, brakeman and a conductior. I got to fly on jet fighters and aerial tankers and cargo places all over the world.
My wife and I have been married for 56 years and we have had a lot of fun camping, hunting, fishing and traveling, raising and training bird dogs, kids, grandkids, great grandkids and now 2 great grandsons.