History Matters...Doesn't It?

Discussion in 'Sun City General Discussions' started by BPearson, Dec 1, 2019.

  1. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Maybe everyone is really busy buying stuff online or something eh? Or maybe people have just quit caring. Or, maybe everyone is just really happy how everything is going. Or maybe, ignorance is bliss.

    Whatever the case, let me give you my thoughts on the question of history on whether it matters: Only fools look to the future while ignoring the past. Bold statement (literally) and it will help you understand where i will be trying to go in the coming years.

    Some of you know i love to read. As much as i enjoy writing, a really good fiction novel is like pure gold. I read while working out on the elliptical and i read every night. With my recliner looking out at the pool, it's a tranquil setting where i can get lost before trudging off to bed.

    I've got a serious collection of series by some of the more well known authors. Periodically the well runs dry and i stop by the library. On one of those excursions i came across an unknown author to me; Jon Talton. Turns out he was a columnist for the Arizona Republic for years and had moved on to Seattle in a similar capacity.

    I loved the first book he wrote and found the 9 book series online and bought them. His main character was David Mapstone, a failed history professor turned MSCO deputy assigned to solve cold cases. His background and knowledge of history of Phoenix gave him an incredible insight solving these impossible crimes. Here is a link to the books.

    In this case, the history did matter...a lot. Oddly, once the series was done, i was doing research as i was writing the Del Webb series. I came across a website, the Rogue Columnist, and found a history of the depression years in Phoenix. It was so good i used a cut from it in the series. Turns out as i was looking for the owner/author, it was none other than Jon Talton.

    He is as well versed historically as his Mapstone books indicated. This past week i spent hours reading the Rogue Columnist. He just retired from the Seattle paper. I sent off a note of congrats and some questions in the blog he has at the bottom of columns. He responded and his comments were instant validation he was the real deal.

    He clearly cares; he knows history matters. He has been focused on getting people to get their head around the problems staring us all in the face. That ultimately, ignoring them will only make matters worse, not better. I felt i had met a kindred spirit, albeit on line. He knew if people knew the history they would be more invested in finding solutions.

    With that set up out of the way, i will break it off here and come back tomorrow morning with why any of this matters. For some, it will make no sense, hopefully for others, it will fit how we move forward.

    We'll see eh?
  2. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    I stopped at the Museum Saturday afternoon. There were several new exhibits i wanted to read and being it was slow, i was able to take my time and enjoy the story behind each. The Boswell/Sun Health exhibit in the new addition was excellent, though i knew most of the facts behind it. Still worth the time to revisit the intriguing story and how the community got involved and committed to its success. It went from a small local 60 bed facility to a new-age creation based on the dynamic promotion and investment by Jim Boswell. Webb/DEVCO played an integral role, but Boswell was the key. Once the hospital was in place, Sun City exploded, as sales spiked beyond anyone's wildest imagination.

    The back bedroom has always been where the revolving displays have been housed. The latest is on Jim Boswell. As much as i should be better versed on him, i was left in awe as i read his life story. For those of you who don't know, Jim was a 49% share holder in DEVCO. The Boswell family owned all of the land Sun City was built on and were cotton farmers, in fact the largest in the country and with holdings around the world. With the country moving away from cotton in many products, the sell off to Webb was an easy decision.

    The rest of the story is where it gets good. Jim Boswell was heavily invested in Sun City. He was always involved, not so much on the front end, but always in the back ground, always supportive of John Meeker and some of the risky steps he took to keep Sun City moving forward. The exhibit contains personal perspectives on Jim i had never heard or read before. Fascinating and revealing of the character of the man who gets little credit in the Sun City story. I hate to admit it, but it brought tears to my eyes; see, i'm a sucker for how and why we were successful.

    The simple reality is, Sun City should never have succeeded. It was shot down by virtually every expert the company talked to. It was a leap of faith by Webb and Boswell that brought them to invest the million two hundred thousand dollars in such a crazy idea. The men doing the heavy lifting, Breen, Ashton, Jacobson, Johnson and Meeker were all driven to make it work. There was no how to manual on what to do; it was all hit and miss, step and re-step. And when it was failing, they didn't panic, they refocused and rebooted. Damned if they were going to let Del and Jim down, failure wasn't an option.

    The Sun City communities around the country were all struggling in 1964. In 1965 Meeker refocused and looked within. All of his energies were directed to Sun City AZ. He understood fixing one community was far easier than to try and fix them all. The best aspect of his efforts were the residents living within Sun City AZ were up to the challenge. They accepted ownership and the responsibility to make it work. They were as heavily invested as the company, hell, maybe more so. Their future was at stake, while the company could and would just move on, one way or the other.

    That's why history matters. That's why the character of those involved and their story is so compelling. I know, it was a different time, a different era. I know those involved from both the company and living here were of different stock. They were more willing to get involved and be a part of something very special. I guess not so much today, as the most common refrain is; let someone else do it. Where i get most frustrated is when the RCSC virtually ignores our history and the rich traditions behind our success. Unless and until that changes we will simply continue to grow further and further away from where we came.

    And that my friends is tragic in my humble opinion.
  3. CMartinez

    CMartinez Active Member

    History does matter, in all phases of life. It the learned lore of familial history which keeps families together or apart. All history matters, the problem lies in who does it matter it to, who is remembering the history. I will admit, I did not like history in school, so I remembered the facts needed to pass the test and move on. The history was there for my learning, but I chose not to get involved with it and take it into my life.

    So it goes for the RCSC, the history is there, but it is being erased by the GM, and there is no one left to really remember what the history was. The GM ensures the history is eradicated from the books, making her the omnipotent power. Who do we have to preach the history too. Who, in Sun City, really wants to know of its unique history? I feel more than we can count, it's just not getting out there to the people to care. Yes, you have written magazine articles about the marvelous history, but where does on go for "the rest of the story?"

    What is needed, in my opinion, is a live history teaching seminar, running over a period of time to articulate the history and bring it to life. There is nothing better than a live story, told by an interactive story teller, to bring it all alive. Gee Bill, who could do that for the residents of Sun City? Offer up a history of Sun City in an interactive way to engage an audience and from there take the audience to a place of caring about what that history means to them and this community.

    There are two great Sun City historians in the community who also happen to be great orators. Think of what this could mean for the community.
  4. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Dang C, what a coincidence. I don't know who those two guys you are talking about are, but Ben and I are starting a Coffee Brake with Ben and Bill series at the museum on at least a monthly basis. It is a members only event as we are trying to give members added value for their membership. We are limited to 25-30 attendees and i think the first one on the 14th of the month is already "sold out." The museum will be running 2-3 of these kinds of things each month after the holidays. Plus we are looking to expand our entire presence on the internet in ways yet imagined over the next 5 years. Way cool stuff coming.
  5. CMartinez

    CMartinez Active Member

    Well, those two guys I am speaking of come highly recommended and are known for their knowledge and speaking ability. Oh My, isn't that a coincidence that it was both you and Ben I was thinking of. I know you are just getting the show off on the road, but could it be more than monthly or a greater audience? What you two have to say is of such importance, the word really needs to get out. I know there is a quality commitment there, but the more people who hear the message, the better it is for Sun City.

    I know, haven't even had the first meeting yet, and I am egging you on for more. Well, how about recording your fireside chats and then let them loop at the museum for all to share? Garner more interest in future meetings, eh?

    Thanks to both of you for taking the bull by the horns and stepping up, Does my heart good.
  6. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Thanks C. We are looking at the possibility of recording it. We need a better platform to play it on. This is just the start of where we want to go.
  7. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Let's continue with where this is headed. To be clear, it's not some sort of revolution we are leading. Ben and I come from different backgrounds, kind of. He from WI, me from MN. I ran a union, he taught gifted high school students and more importantly served as a county commissioner for a very long time. Both of us liberal, both had to be elected and re-elected. We both came to understand accountability and transparency. When we first met in the mid 2000's, when we ran for the SCHOA board, we became instant friends. We led a charge to rebuild a faltering organization, and while it was a challenge, it worked beyond our wildest imagination.

    There were two primary components; communication and education. It was a pretty simple premise, reach out to people being honest and open and they would respond. It was what i did when i ran the local and changed the internal dynamic. It was why and how Ben was re-elected year after year. We didn't invent anything new, we took tried and true techniques and put them in play. Nope, not everyone got involved, not even close. That said, we knew what we were doing and the outcome was predictable and measurable.

    So i am clear, neither of are the driving force at the museum. Ben has been on the board the past year, i was just elected to go on this coming year. We both sat on the strategic planning committee the current president put in play in 2019. The project is all about where the museum will be in 5 years. If we did nothing, it would be fine, as far as a small building goes. The reality of how far we can go beyond that is all centered on how strong our relationships can be built. Being totally honest, what we want to do will take significant resources (money) and we don't and never will have it. The good news is there are enormous amounts of cash out there.

    That's the external side, the internal side is where this thread is focused. We've doubled our membership this year (100 to 200). We've become better at social media with still lots of room to grow. The museum itself is looking better than ever before. The added "gathering space" will allow us to do things we have never done. All of the above stuff is good. Honestly, they are not enough. We have to reach the masses, not just the 200 members. We know that and that's where the strategic plan comes in. The beauty is our history is why we exist, we also know technology will be the key to our expansion.

    I know most of you get excited by Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. I get excited by the idea of moving the needle on creating a better Sun City. We will go back to our roots; our history. We will use the proven techniques from our past experiences; education and communication, but we will also expand our use of technology in ways most will not expect. History does matter, it's still relevant, interesting and revealing. The tragedy is those who have the best chance to showcase it, the RCSC, has no interest and in fact almost runs from it.

    Our goals are simple; reach out to owners and potential buyers and help them understand why Sun City is different, unique and a better choice. Using our history to define and delineate those differences we hope to get them to long for the values and the value of this most amazing community. Easy? No. Possible? Absolutely.
  8. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    It's a start, but before i go there, allow me a rant. I have grown weary of the Impeachment hearings. Of the politicians on both sides of the aisle over-pontificating, pruning and preening for the cameras. Of the insanity and chaos coming out of the White house. Of the abject failure to embrace the rule of law or the obligations under the constitution. Of the constant barrage of hatred and the impact it has on driving us further and further apart as a nation. We are truly a house divided and i see no plausible road back to normalcy any time soon.

    With that out of the way; here's where my hope for a better tomorrow is: Ben held his first educational session Thursday entitled Utopia? Not Quite. Brilliant. Way fun and filled with information to help prod, poke and enlighten the small group of attendees. This is a tough time of year to try and gather people. We knew that, but ya gotta start somewhere. We visited the beginning, sorted through the middle years, touched on the edges of today and then stuck a fork in people asking them look into the future. Fascinating.

    Why does that matter? To be overly-simplistic, i suspect my opening rant is shared by many. National politics is just wearing on people. Even state politics becomes a jungle as some of the decision making is questionable. And while it sounds good to tell people to get involved and go vote...do you really feel like what you say or think matters? We have become inconsequential in the grand scheme of the political process. Big money buys and controls the game, both right and left. Hate to sound like a skeptic, but regarding politics, i have become one.

    Turning inward, looking at Sun City and the differences we can make within these white walls is far easier to grasp. Clearly, not with the RCSC who have become more like the political process than the community driven self-governance we were founded under, but within the organizations working towards a better Sun City. Getting involved in the organizations, clubs and churches is where it will start. That is how Sun City was built and why it succeeded. Returning to our roots won't be easy, but we can make it fun, interesting and educational. Last Thursday proved it to me.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2019
  9. pegmih

    pegmih Well-Known Member

    Consider this.
    Trump gets impeached. Pence gets impeached.
    Guess who becomes President - Nancy Pelosi.
    Something NOT to look forward to.
  10. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    My first reaction was to ignore this and then my second was to consider the silliness. Then logic took hold and i recognized some folks get their information from FOX News, Alex Jones, Breitbart and the Drudge Report. So, in the way of a public service announcement (PSA) i will help anyone struggling to grasp what peg said with this simple clarification: The articles of impeachment are directed only at Donald J Trump, not Pence. More importantly, the Senate (controlled by the republicans) will never vote to remove trump from office. Much like Bill Clinton, there will be a stain on his presidency because of the actions by the democrats in the house, but that will be the sum total of the impact. Pelosi won't become the president no matter how many times Sean Hannity tells you that is the goal.

    Hope that helps...now back to our regular programing on History Matters.
  11. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    I’m really looking forward to this Saturday’s program at the museum. It will be the first in the Coffee Brake (spelling correct) we are doing for members. The program is entitled “Sun City AZ...The Community That Changed The Nation,” and it is full, though we could probably squeeze in another couple members if they ask nice.

    I wrote the script the other day and Ben is putting it in a Power Point presentation. Both Ben and i tend to wander as we engage the audience throughout the program. We are scheduled for an hour but i suspect we ill last well beyond that.
  12. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    The class was a blast, from the past, literally. We had a full house and watching people enjoy the history of the community was simply a treat. We've lost our connection with the past, with our history and how and why this community that was supposed to be an abysmal failure wasn't. Like i said yesterday, the past is simply a window to the future. If we fail to understand it, ignore it or pretend it is unimportant, we lose.

    The other thing we heard in the feedback from attendees, they enjoy the humor, the use of technology and the passion that was injected in the presentation. Some think history is boring, but only if you elect to make it boring. Ben and i both tend to be a little off the charts when it comes to engaging and we took it to the next level of interaction and emotional attachment.

    The one consistent from our archives, from both those building and those buying has been an ever-present love of the community. In those early years, they never took anything for granted. Everything was fought over and for. We were an ownership community, not one run by proxy and a handful. Someday,we may just get back to it...one can only hope.
  13. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    I'll give you the upshot of the program, it will help you get your head around where we are going. For starters, we had some fun with calendar year 1960. Those opening days and the first year was so special. The challenge is most of us view Sun City through the lens we know; of today's camera view. Let me be blunt, it was very different. Dirt roads, not paved highways. A really tiny footprint, not 27,000 plus rooftops. The shopping center where Beal's is was a fraction of the current size and where the Fry's grocery store is now is where the Hiway House (later to become the Kings Inn), motor hotel and bar/restaurant was. No street lights which meant 10 hours of daylight for the three day grand-opening to shuffle 100,000 people through. Do the math on that equation.

    Bigger picture 1960, there were three channels on your TV set (if you had one), NBC, ABC and CBS. Gunsmoke was the number one watched series and the most popular song on the radio when Sun City opened was Marty Robbin's El Paso. Average life expectancy was 69.84 (combined men and women). The good news is by 2019 the average for both was 78.93. As i noted, the averages for women were far greater than for men, but by combining them it wasn't so depressing for the men in the room. We asked most of the above as questions and people were pretty good with their answers. Then we stumped them with these two figures: 7,452 and 151,600. Anybody got this?

    Of course not, way too morbid. 7,452 people die per day in the USA, while 151,600 die per day around the world. We used these stats because it was perhaps the biggest stereotype challenge DEVCO faced in selling Sun City. You've all heard it; "God's waiting room," and the crap about people coming here to die. Being the first simply meant the obstacles to overcome were theirs (DEVCO) and theirs alone to address. At which point we featured the amazing ads/marketing the company did. We showed them some of spectacular posters they developed that dealt with the most obvious of questions potential buyers had. We noted how well written sales brochures were as they enticed buyers to visually and mentally fall in love with the tiny community. We spoke of the movie "The Beginning." A virtual "infomercial" produced in 1962 that has been seen 30 million plus times since its release.

    People understood, they came to Sun City to live a full robust life, not whither away. They game to get "back in the game" not sit on the sidelines and watch it pass them by. They bought here and took ownership, determined to make their new active way of life work. While the "experts" said it would fall flat, neither DEVCO nor the pioneers buying in Sun City ever doubted their ability to make it work. They knew they could and would change the nation and how seniors would view retirement. Pretty heady stuff, but the conclusion was even better.

    Our best guess is, more than 200,000 people have bought and lived in Sun City since it opened. The vast majority have loved the community and all it offered them. It changed their life and what they had to look forward to as they lived out the remainder of the years. Let's be honest, "changing the nation" is pretty grandiose sounding (even if it's true). On a far more personal level, those of who have been fortunate to have found Sun City have enjoyed a way of life way different from what we ever expected. I never in my wildest imagination saw what Sun City would/could provide me/us.

    I suspect most of you reading this feel much the same. Sun City was a blessing. We found what so many did that came before us. All of which can be reduced down to the idea we have an obligation to maintain (at the very least) just how good it is. I guess you have to ask yourself, are you doing that?

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