2007.09.26 Homecoming is history

Written by David Green.


When I received a short note from Morenci teacher Caryn Shaner about homecoming, I suppose I could have tried to discourage her.

She told me the theme for homecoming floats would be Morenci history. The theme is usually something like movies, TV shows, super heroes or board games. Some tiring idea that repeats every few years.

Morenci history, she said. Something different, something that could connect the youngsters with some older folks and help them learn more about their community.

Instead of asking, “Are you crazy?” I said that I loved the idea. I think I used the word delicious.

Then I contacted the local pastors to ask that Caryn be added to their prayer chains.

Morenci history? I challenge you to come up with four significant events in Morenci history that could be translated into a homecoming float for high school classes. Floats generally follow the theme of “Beat Clinton!” or “Trample the Redskins!”

This is the first year for Clinton to compete in the Tri-County Conference and Morenci’s football team will face the Redskins for the final game of the season. Doing anything to the Redskins sounds a little rude. I wish they would come up with a new mascot.

I started thinking about Morenci history and the first thing that came to mind was when the so-called rubber factory burned down—burned twice, actually. Now how can you work the Redskins into that theme? If only we were playing the Madison Trojans that night.

Maybe we don’t need a “Cudgel Clinton” theme this time around. Just show some Morenci history, and the more obscure the better, perhaps.

That meant it was time to contact Jim Whitehouse who really knows that sort of thing.

He remembered the story about Harry Moore and the napalm. He wasn’t sure Harry was involved, but so many stories from that era were about Harry, he said, so he made it a Harry story.

There were a pair of guns next to the monument in front of the auditorium and a couple guys (one of them Harry?) made a napalm-like substance in chemistry class. They packed the gun barrels with it one night, set up a fuse and waited for a passing vehicle, which turned out to be a large truck.

They touched off the fuel and twin jets of fire raged all the way across Main Street in front of the truck. The driver, in an understandable panic, slammed the brakes and the truck jack-knifed in  the middle of the road, doing a much more effective job of stopping traffic than the totally unnecessary stoplight.

The gun barrels were soon filled with concrete, Jim says, and if you don’t believe him, go down to Wakefield Park and check it out.

That might make an interesting float and perhaps his next recollection would, also: the old swaying football bridge across Bean Creek. He remembers when David McVay fell through a rotten plank. Maybe Clinton football players could fall through on a float.

Jim eventually realized that our biggest claim to fame is that Morenci, Ariz., is named after us. Maybe the sophomore class could make a model of the big open pit copper mine. “Send Clinton to the Pit!” or some such nonsense.

I mentioned the float business to my father who thought along the lines of “how it used to be” rather than a specific historical event.

 Maybe the old town band could be replicated with their distinctive hats or perhaps a float could depict forming corn shocks.

I sent a few ideas off to Caryn: making a wrecking ball to destroy old buildings such as the hotel, the mill and the auditorium; depicting the arrival of rail service to Morenci; taming the virgin land with a team of Bulldogs; making a sawmill or a brick factory. Really great float ideas. I almost mentioned Jim’s suggestion about the famous football winning streak of the early 1950s. And that brought to mind the track winning streak and a host of other athletic achievements.

Homecoming is scheduled Oct. 19. Construction begins that week. There must be four historical moments that would work.

Or are they even sticking with local history? I wrote Caryn and asked how things were going. She never wrote back. Did she ever return to school? Is she now just part of Morenci History?


  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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