Sun Cities Today Blog

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Archive for the month “December, 2011”

Happy Trails to you…

I’m jumping the gun (pun intended) with the title of this blog; after all, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans hit television show was from the 1950’s. I suspect even in those days there were reruns playing and anyone living in Sun City in the 1960’s could well have been watching Dale and Roy  close their show with this campy little ditty: Happy Trails To You .

Seems like a fitting end to this blog i have enjoyed for the past year and a half. When we relaunched the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum site, i would have liked to made it more interactive (i learned years back communication that goes two ways is far more enjoyable than one way diatribes). Unfortunately most organizations struggle with letting people join in the discussion.

In what was a compromise, i threw in enough money to add the wordpress blog to the backside of the museum’s site and started writing. My hope was those reading it would feel comfortable joining in with their thoughts, comments and perspectives. Some did, but 90 posts later, the bulk of the commentary is just my mindless ramblings of the Sun City way of life.

My three-year term is done with the museum (though i may stay on as an occassional docent/guide). As most of you know i have been elected to the Rec Centers of Sun City (RCSC) board of directors. Rather than staying attached and doing this blog as an extension of the museum, i have asked for it to be carved away from the museum’s site.

That saddens me, because there has been no greater pleasure serving in any capacity, than i have gotten from the museum. I have gotten far more than i have given and learned more than i ever bargained for. The museum is a treasure that most will never ever come to understand. My hope was in some small way i could share that education with those taking the time to read it.

For those of you unwilling to click on the attached link to the youtube video of the Happy Trails, here are the lyrics: “Happy trails to you, until we meet again. Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then. Who cares about the clouds when we’re together? Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather. Happy trails to you, ’till we meet again. Some trails are happy ones, Others are blue. It’s the way you ride the trail that counts, Here’s a happy one for you.Happy trails to you, until we meet again. Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then. Who cares about the clouds when we’re together? Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you, ’till we meet again.”

I love this one line: “Some trails are happy ones, Others are blue. It’s the way you ride the trail that counts.” It is the way i live my life, trying to give back more than i take. I toyed with how to handle the” end of this trail,” and while the easiest way to do it would be to just let the blog slip off into the sunset along with Dale, Roy and Trigger, i have opted for a road more ambitious.
On January 1 (or thereabouts) this blog will no longer be about and for the museum, but will become my own personal views on the Sun City way of life and what is happening on a daily or weekly basis. There will undoubtedly be some who will not like that. Sorry, but i love the written word and especially the potential to reach people in ways others may elect not to want to do so.

With that said, all there is left is to say…”Happy Trails to you, till we meet again.”

The Visionary…

I know, with this title you thought it would be another look back at the legendary Del Webb. After all he was the genius behind Sun City, the Yankees and half of Las Vegas. Not the case, though i am going down a road i had traveled before. In this blog i had talked about the first live-in owner of what is now the Del Webb Sun Cities museum (John and Chloe MacDonald) and the writer John D. MacDonald.

John D. MacDonald was an author of great note and i pondered whether some of his Travis McGee series had made it into the collection of books on John MacDoanld’s shelves in his reading room.  When i wrote the blog i had just completed gathering the entire 21 books in his series that stretched from 1964 to his death in 1984. Rather than plowing straight through them, i have taken time to read them interspersed with any number of other authors.

His writing style is simply spectacular; using words to paint pictures in the mind as he wove intricate stories of human frailties and resourceful rescues by the oft time hero Travis McGee. You couldn’t help but fall in love with the nomadic lifestyle aboard the Busted Flush (his houseboat won in a card game), and his odd relationship with the brilliant retired economist Meyer (ah, even the mystery of his real name still lingers).

There is perhaps no series or author i have enjoyed more. The stories are very good, the writing style is great. All that aside, the brilliance of John D. MacDonald’s understanding of life as it unfolded over the 20 years he wrote these books was a study in the evolution of mankind. I found myself longing to take paragraphs from chapters and reproduce them to give people a glimpse of how perceptive he was. I didn’t though, who really cares.

As i near finish of the series, it struck me, i do. I care about writers who have that foresight to see the future and weave it into their stories. That’s genius. It’s what gives stories credibility and honesty. Sure the constant barrage of fearles fighting and lusty love affairs is enjoyable, but the ability to create a sense of understanding of what is happening before it actually does is almost scary.

Rather than blather on, let me give you an example of just how good he was (this is an excerpt from Cinnamon Skin written in 1982, final two paragraphs of chapter 7):  “The food was better than i had a right to expect.Walking back through the mall to the exit nearest our part of the parking lot, we passed one shop that sold computers, printers, software and games. It was packed with teenagers, the kind who wear wire rims and know what the world is about.  The clerks were indulgent, letting them program the computers. Two hundred yards away, near the six movie houses, a different kind of teenager shoved quarters into the space-war games, tensing over the triggers, releasing sounds extraterrestrial. Any kid back in the computer store could have told the combatants that because there is no atmosphere in space, there is absolutely no sound at all. Perfect distribution: The future managers and the future managed ones. Twenty in the computer store, two hundred in the arcade.

The future managers have run on past us into the thickets of CP/M, M-Basic, Cobal, Fortran, Z-80, Apples and Worms. Soon the bosses of the microcomputer revolution will sell us preprogrammed units for each household which will provide entertainment, print out news, purvey mail order goods, pay bills, balance accounts, keep track of expenses and compute taxes. But by then future managers will be over on the far side of the thickets, dealing with bubble memories, machines that design machines, projects so esoteric our pedestrian minds cannot comprehend them. It will be the biggest revolution od all, bigger than the wheel, bigger than Franklin’s kite, bigger than paper towels.”

Let me remind you, this was 1982, not 1992. These kinds of futuristic assessments have filled the pages from almost the very start of the Travis McGee. Better yet he would delve into the human psyche and talk about what was happening to us morally, spiritually and physically. Reading this series not only left me smiling and feeling good but also enlightened. That’s quite the trifecta.

If you ever get the chance or come across an old worn, torn Travis McGee/John MacDonald paperback, don’t hesitate to buy it. The only problem is you will soon be on the hunt for the other 20 of them…they are that darn good.

It’s all in the packaging…

Last year i posted a story and a picture on the fabulous tree you see on the right of the screen (it’s the one we put up every year at the museum). It was more or less an odd look back at how much better things were made and how much simpler life was 50 years ago.  In our “disposable” society today, nothing lasts 50 years (heck, we’re lucky if we get 5 out of anything these days). In my opinion, that is a sad commentary on all to many facets of the way we live.

This year i asked Judy to snap a photo of the box (pictured immediately above). In comparison to todays fancy packaging, it really is a quaint but unattractive little piece of cardboard. It was functional though, taking up barely a small fragment of a shelf we have in the coat closet in the museum’s living room. Think about that six-foot artificial you have at home and how it takes up five times the space. Clearly a difference in packaging. marketing and standing the test of time.

Let’s face it, those of you who stop by the local Christmas tree lot or trudge into the woods to cut your own, none of this is relatable. I personally never liked sticking one of those freshly cut trees in my living room, though the smell was better than the musty metal ones. I just got tired of the commercialization of Christmas and the craziness of buying stuff just for the sake of buying stuff. Of course it didn’t help the year i gave my wife a vacuum cleaner for Christmas and she told me we would never exchange gifts again (cut me some slack, it was an 8 lb Oreck and was awesome…by the way, since that day, i do all the vacuum duties).

Sometimes i get so lost in the ramblings i forget where this was/is all going. Oh yeah, the packaging. The box above is straight forward. functional and still works; just like Sun City. It was built for a purpose and while others have grown far more elaborate and glitzy, none is as affordable or has as many amenities. We still work better than most and wouldn’t think of throwing it out for a newer, nicer model.

I look at our future in Sun City almost akin to how  i see this box and that wonderful old aluminum tree. As others fight to shine bigger and brighter, we simply need cling to the values that made us what we are today. Sure we can remodel and update, but we always need keep an eye on the things that matter most…a great sense of community, a place where people living here play a key role in preserving our past and insuring our future by taking ownership and responsibility. It’s that simple.

May each of you have a safe and blessed holidays season.

The greatest story ever told…

Jubilee

  Given Christmas is just around the corner and the fact a whole whack of folks are deeply religious and the bible is the basis for their beliefs, i will readily accept the book adjacent can only be considered the second greatest story ever told. I suspect even that position would be challenged by the vast majority, but for those of us living in Sun City, Jubilee is truly a remarkable piece of work.

In the back of the book, there are roughly 75 names listed of contributors. They range in title from writers, helpers, workers, interviewers to supporters. Truth be known, there were two primary authors; Jane Freeman and Glenn Sandberg. Sorry to say Glenn died in his sleep Feb 6, 2003 but Jane is still with us and going strong at the age of 90 something.

For anyone remotely interested in Sun City’s history, this recap written for Sun City’s 25th Anniversary, is as good as it gets. Jane will tell you bluntly there are a few errors, but for the most part it is an inside look at the men, women, organizations and the Webb Corporation that made it all happen. It is a great read, light yet substantive. It’s a journey back to a time when those adventurous enough to come here were comfortable enough with their decisions to give it there all to make sure Sun City succeeded.

The book is filled with pictures, anecdotes and stories of the trials and tribulations of carving a community from the cotton fields in the “middle of nowhere.” Insightful would be an understatement as the authors tried to give readers a chance to understand both how difficult and enjoyable it was to be a part of something so special.

Perhaps there is no better tribute to the book than to say, without out it, the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum would not exist. As the contributors were putting this together they began gathering tons of materials. DEVCO was closing their Sun City office and as they were throwing things into the dumpster, Jane Freeman was diving in after it. Once they saw her they were more than willing to give it all to her. Hence, today the museum has a collection that exists nowhere else in the country. Awesome if you ask me…but then i’m partial.

The Del Webb Sun Cities Museum is open Monday – Friday 1:00 to 3:00 pm. We also will give groups tours (with advance notice) and those groups are invited to use the McMillin Terrace for meetings or a gathering space before or after the tour. For more details call the Webb Museum at 623-974-2568. For those unable to stop by, our website at delwebbsuncitiesmuseum.org is great place to see us up close and personal…even from afar.

Perhaps the best news of all is, we have copies of Jubilee for sale at the museum (or online) for $20. I can’t imagine a better Christmas gift, but then again, i do have a bias.

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