Stories, memories of early years part of the charm as Tempe observes 150th anniversary

The iconic Hayden Flour Mill still stands along Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe.

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Tempe’s sesquicentennial celebration is the perfect time to take a look at the fascinating history of some of the city’s most memorable people and places.’s longtime friend and contributor Michelle Hirsch is part of a group planning the Connected Tempe Family History Project, to bring together local and family history, as well as to help residents and visitors find more connections to their families and Tempe’s past — even if those folks weren’t connected directly to the city’s early days.

Thus, organizer Mckell Keeney said, participants created the project to enrich the city’s history from 1871 to 1910, and to make sure descendants of old-time Tempeans would henceforth be able to easily discover more about those days and find photos of them online.

“We also made plans to interview people who grew up in Tempe as a way to capture their life stories,” Keeney said. “We would then post those videos on our Connected Tempe YouTube channel for everyone to enjoy, and work so they could be added to the Tempe History Museum’s oral history collection.

“Connected Tempe’s community volunteers have become passionate about preserving, enriching and sharing local family history. We honor the multicultural history of Tempe by recording and contributing memories to a family tree that is free forever and accessible to future generations.”

A booth at a free Tempe 150 Festival, scheduled Sunday, Nov. 7, will display results of the Connected Tempe Project, and signal the launch of a ConnectedTempe app to help users quickly discover possible connections to their own Tempe history.

Those interested in following the work of @ConnectedTempe on Facebook and Instagram can go to those platforms to add their voices, or share their memories of Tempe by visiting


IN THEIR OWN WORDS asked several Tempe luminaries to share their earliest and fondest memories about the city. 

The Arredondo family

Robin Arredondo-Savage and her parents, Joe and Karen Arredondo, are proud Tempeans who make it their mission and passion to enjoy family, work, and giving back to our community.

The Arredondo family (from left): Joe, Robin and Karen.

Robin Arredondo-Savage: “Growing up in Tempe, no doubt!  Loved playing with my family and friends in the neighborhood with no worries at all. Everyone played together all day and night…. until the street lights came on. Some of my funnest memories were playing kick the can, frontyard baseball, dibble-dabble in the pool, riding our bikes and totally enjoying our neighborhood park. So much freedom and adventure!”

Karen Arredondo: “Prior to my first official date (which was a school dance where I asked Joe), Joe asked me to an FFA sponsored hay ride.  It was something I had never experienced in my life and it was so fun and memorable. It left from Tempe High School pulled by a tractor and cruised the dirt roads and fields.”

Joe Arredondo: “Going to the college theater on Mill to watch the movie-of-the-week is a favorite early Tempe memory. Each week was a different episode of a continuing series. The westerns were my favorites. It was about a 3-mile walk and I would go with my brothers and local neighbors. It cost a dime to attend, and I sold Coke bottles back to Sunrise Market in Victory Acres to make the cash to pay for the movies.”



Paulette Bolyard

Paulette Bolyard is a longtime Tempe resident, who was a local community news reporter and columnist for many years.

Paulette Bolyard

“One of my earliest memories of moving to Tempe back in June of 1972 happened the first few days. We came from Indiana and my two children, both grade-school age, were used to crossing the Wabash River in the Lafayette, Indiana, area. The second day we were here, we drove them down to see Tempe’s river, the Salt River. They were quite surprised to not only see an empty river bed but that we didn’t need a bridge to cross and instead drove through the dry river bed. They wanted to know why their new home city had a place for a river but there was no water to make it a river. In a few days, all that changed. There was a large rain storm and we drove them to the city crossing along Mill Avenue to show them the Salt River, this time filled with rapidly flowing water. They were impressed that the city of Tempe had what they called an ‘instant River.’ They got to see Mother Nature in action.”



Ben Furlong

Ben Furlong arrived in Tempe with his parents 73 years ago, attended Tempe High and Arizona State University, and for many years was superintendent of the Kyrene School District.

Ben Furlong

“My parents and I detrained the South Pacific passenger train at the Tempe station on the evening of Saturday, Oct. 2, 1948. It was 8:15 p.m. and dark. No one was staffing the station and our contacts were yet to arrive. When our new friends did arrive, we rode through Tempe and it was quite dark and quiet. I later learned that there were about 5,000 good folks in Tempe at the time.

“Our friends took us on a picnic on Sunday to South Mountain Park and arranged for Bob Dominice, a neighbor and senior at the high school, to come over that evening so we could become acquainted. I was already feeling welcomed in my new home.

“On Monday morning, my dad and I went to Tempe Union High School at Ninth and Mill. After registering, we went to Laird and Dines—Fifth and Mill Avenue—to purchase my texts and then to Joe Selleh’s for gym clothes. When we returned, the school secretary escorted me around the school to show me where my various classes would be located.

“That evening, I told some new friends that Mrs. Josephine Randall had ‘carried’ me around to my classes. They, of course, found that amusing as Mrs. Randall was about 5 feet tall and I was already 6 feet. At any rate, I had my first experience of differences in colloquial expressions. In Georgia, we ‘carried’ people around rather than ‘taking’ them.

“My fondest memory of early Tempe is the warm reception I received and the way I was accepted. In those days, new students were not a regular occurrence. All of my teachers were welcoming and showed special interest in me. I recall my social studies teacher, Mr. Bill Boyle, saying to me soon after I had become a member of the class, ‘You are going to college, aren’t you?’ He then gave me some advice on establishing residence so I wouldn’t have to pay extra the following year to enroll at Arizona State College in Tempe to become a teacher.

“Most of all, I recall the acceptance I received from my fellow Buffaloes. I didn’t wear Levis and my accent was different, but I was welcomed—not formally or with ceremony, but a person can tell when he is part of the group. There were many close friendships among the ‘guys,’ but I never did experience any feelings of exclusion. For me, this was exceptional, and I will forever be grateful to the other 86 members of the Class of ’49.”



Doreen Garlid

Doreen Garlid made Tempe the place to raise her family, and is the first Native American to serve on the Tempe City Council.

Doreen Garlid

“When I think about my earliest memories of being in Tempe, every single one of my memories goes back to a community event with my husband and four kids. There were many activities around being at school and any school activity is a great memory.

“Some of my fondest memories are of being at Tempe Sports Complex and Tempe South Little League games — the smell of fresh-cut grass, parents sitting on the sidelines talking and cheering on their kids, the little kids running around in their uniforms, and being part of a large community of families that love living in Tempe and enjoying the baseball games with their kids.

“Another fond memory is in 2000 when I started planning our neighborhood barbecues with some great neighborhood volunteers, and we added to the annual neighborhood barbecues with a decorated bike parade. There’s nothing that screams small-town awesome like a decorated bike parade. And we got the police car to join the parade along with kids and adults with decorated bikes, and a tractor pulling a trailer with bales of hay and carting little kids who couldn’t ride bikes yet, followed by a fire truck that rang the bell to announce the festivities were about to start.

“And it was always fun going to the carnival at Kyrene Middle School, with all the families coming together, raising money for the teachers we love and adored, and we came together and had these wonderful carnivals.  Everything I think of in favorite memories always go back to community.”



Rosalie Lopez Hirano

Rosalie Lopez Hirano accompanied her dad to many ASU sports events in her youth, leading her to go to college and set down roots to raise her own family in Tempe.

Rosalie Lopez-Hirano

“My love affair with Tempe goes back to the ’70s.  A copper-mining kid from Miami, AZ, my dad loved ASU athletics.  He didn’t have a son, only daughters, and I learned early that sharing his interest in sports meant more time to spend with him.  I developed an obsession with ASU football. I listened to every game on my transistor radio every Saturday.  I will never forget the first game I went to, entering Sun Devil Stadium, the blinding bright lights, the emerald-green turf, Sparky and the sight of the team resplendent in their maroon and gold uniforms. I also had a crush on Danny White.  I took it as a sign that the player featured at the back of the program was #11 (White). I did eventually get his autograph  at an ASU baseball game and I somehow overcame my incredible shyness to approach him. He was very gracious.

“That was the first of many trips through the canyon to Tempe for ASU sporting events. Sometimes, the whole family would stay overnight—at the old Howard Johnson with the orange roof and clam baskets, or at the old Holiday Inn on the corner or Rural and Apache (we would get burgers from Whataburger, eat them poolside) or at the vintage motel just across the Mill Avenue bridge.

“One outing stands out in memory as a practically perfect day with my dad.  It was March, and he took me out of school to go to the regional NCAA basketball tournament to see ASU play.  I don’t remember if they won (I think they did), but we extended the day to attend an ASU baseball game, picking seats in the top row of the southeast corner of Packard Stadium, perfectly positioned to watch both the baseball game, and the track meet that was taking place at Joe Selleh.  I still remember falling asleep in the car on the way home, windows down, the intoxicating fragrance of orange blossoms from the orchards along McKellips Road filling the car, a smile on my face.

“If I had a dollar for every ASU athletic event I have attended, I would be a very wealthy woman.  I still bleed maroon and gold.  There are so many, many reasons why I love Tempe, why I chose to live here and raise my family here, but it all began with ASU athletics.  Go Devils!”



Dianne Johnson

Dianne Johnson is a longtime Tempe resident who proudly raised her family in the city. She enjoys volunteering to help others with family genealogies.

Dianne Johnson

“I moved to Tempe in 1989 with my husband and our three small children.  We left behind the snowy, frigid winter of Utah and arrived just in time to enjoy the fragrant scent of the citrus blossoms wafting through the air each evening as we basked in the pleasant temperatures of an Arizona spring.

“Some of my favorite early memories of my new hometown were the hours spent with the other young mothers from my local church group on the playground and chasing the kids, while they chased the ducks, at Kiwanis Park. My children and I also enjoyed walking to the JC Penney Outlet store in search of exciting bargains. That store was always an adventure!

“As summer got warmer and warmer, these trips frequently concluded with a refreshingly cool cup of shaved ice from Water and Ice and a couple of movies rented from the corner video store to watch in our air-conditioned house. We loved story time and checking books out at the library and joined other community classes that were offered there as well.

“My oldest daughter started Kindergarten at Arredondo Elementary school that fall, and I quickly came to appreciate Tempe’s neighborhood school concept and my association with a diverse and wonderful group of neighbors that welcomed us there with open arms.

“The JC Penney shopping center is now gone, Arredondo Elementary School looks nothing like it used to, and my little chicks have grown up and flown the coop. Much has changed, but frequently, as I enjoy the Kiwanis Park wildlife on an early morning stroll or join our grandchildren shrieking on the splash pad, I am reminded how blessed I am to call Tempe home.  It truly has been a wonderful place to raise my family and live my life, wrapped in the warm embrace of so many beloved Tempe friends.”



Mckell Keeney

Mckell Keeney is organizer of Connected Tempe Family History Project.

Mckell Keeney

“As a young mom in the 1990s, my world was South Tempe: Niños Elementary School, where my children enjoyed natural friendships with children from all cultures: KMS Choir Concerts and magical musicals directed by the amazing Ms. Hackmann; inspiring Corona del Sol choir concerts under the skilled direction of Greg Hebert; community activities leading scout meetings and nature hikes; serving on PTO & PTA boards.

“My church family, who brought in meals when we were sick and looked out for us; extended family gatherings in our home for birthday celebrations; monsoon storms and playing in rare rain showers; tree-lined main streets, such as Warner Road; horses on the equestrian trail in the ASU Research Park, back in the day; lazy afternoons swimming in the pool with my children; our longtime pharmacist at Bashas, Charles (I don’t handle change well, so having a trusted professional stay at one place so long is a comfort to me!); singing in community presentations of Handel’s Messiah; attending Tempe Festival of the Arts (rare times I venture north of Baseline Road); volunteering for Meals on Wheels, and bringing cheer to care center residents.

“My joy when stores came to our area (the happy days when we got Trader Joe’s, Changing Hands and IKEA!); ongoing memories being made of ‘new’ local restaurants, including 24 Carrots; my sorrow each time a business in Tempe closes or moves away (RIP: Sweet Tomatoes); lazy afternoons swimming in the pool with my grandchildren; community activities Connected Tempe Family History Project and Tempe Interfaith Fellowship.”



Debbie Painter Hedberg Lolling

Debbie Painter Hedberg Lolling is a proud longtime Tempe resident, raising her family and cherishing her experiences in the city.

Debbie Painter Hedberg Lolling

“Growing up in Tempe is something I am proud to claim. It seemed a time of freedom.

“There were mom-and-pop stores and just a few places to eat out. I knew most everyone I passed on the street or in a store. As a kid in the 1940s, no one had air conditioning or a pool so we did what we could to stay cool. Irrigation was the flooding of yards which we played in and we also had water-pistol fights.

“If we could talk an older sibling into taking us to the canals we enjoyed learning to surfboard.

“A vehicle would pull the rope which we hung onto as they maneuvered down the canal bank on the side, which did not have cottonwood trees — such fun even though the water often had dead chickens and other garbage in it. Swimming at Tempe Beach was always a wonderful way to cool off.

“Life was without the many dangers and restrictions today’s young people deal with. We could pack a lunch and hop on our bike and be gone all day. We might visit friends, grandparents or explore.

“No one worried about us and we were home for dinner. One destination for myself and a few friends was the Peterson House at Southern and Priest. The frontyard graves were enclosed by oleander bushes and we thought pretty scary.

“That was a good bike ride from the center of town for young legs.

“No one locked the door to their house and the keys were left in the car, even overnight. It was very rare for someone to have a theft or problem.

“We collected pop bottles for redemption and a little spending money. The College theater on Mill charged 14 cents to get in and a dime for popcorn, which left a penny for a jawbreaker. That took care of my quarter allowance.

“ASU and Tempe High School football games were special family events to attend.”



Harry Mitchell

Harry Mitchell grew up in Tempe, attended Tempe High School, ASU, and was a Tempe City Councilmember,  mayor, Arizona State senator and U.S. congressman.

Harry Mitchell

“My favorite memories of Tempe were between my second and eighth grades, probably between 7 and 14 years old. There were no fences between yards, no leash laws, no restrictions on animals in yards, many streets were sprinkled with water because they were not paved, lots of pecan trees and fruit trees to eat from.

“Yards were flood irrigated and sometimes there were small fish that came with the irrigation. We played in irrigation ditches. It was safe to ride your bike everywhere, paper routes. We climbed the butte, swam at Tempe Beach.

“I remember Tempe was very egalitarian. Nobody had a backyard pool, everyone had an evaporative cooler, no extremely large houses, there didn’t seem to be very rich people. People that lived in the city lived in a small area and there was open space between other towns.

“Everyone knew each other. Most kids went to one K-8 grade school (Tempe Grammar). It was cold in the winter, there was always ice you could ride your bike through, and it wasn’t so hot in the summer.

“There were vacant lots or undeveloped land to build foxholes and forts. In my high school years, there were similar feelings.  Lots of streets just outside the city limits to drive cars with or without a license. There was only one high school, Tempe Union High School, that everyone attended. It was a true melting pot.”



Michael Monti

Michael Monti grew up in, and then owned, his family’s much-loved, iconic Tempe restaurant, Monti’s La Casa Vieja.

Michael Monti

“I think if I have to pick something that might epitomize a favorite memory of my early years in Tempe, it would be the Veterans Day parades on Mill Avenue. I remember during my brief time as a Cub Scout actually walking in the parade. This was back before the development booms of the ’80s and afterward erased (almost) all of the separations between Tempe and the surrounding cities, and that parade sort of summed up Tempe‘s identity in one occasion and location. All the familiar faces of friends and neighbors and local business people were either in the parade or watching the parade.”




Mark Randall

Mark Randall grew up in the Goodwin house on 8th Street, which is now University Drive. He stayed in Tempe, finding it an ideal place to bring up his family.

Mark Randall

“I have many fond memories of growing up in Tempe. Our home was at 517 E. Eighth Street (now University Drive on the corner of McAllister). It was the old Goodwin home, the home was razed and the property is now part of the ASU campus.

“I was an industrious lad: made and sold potholders, two for a quarter, sold parakeets, and mowed lawns. Later I parked cars for the ASU football games on our driveway and a neighbor’s empty lot.

“My most fond memories revolve around my Tempe Daily News paper route. I had two great subs, Jeff Johnson and Alan Tait. My route started on Lemon Street, which was a dirt road, and went east to Dorsey Lane, then turned north to Market’s garage (still standing). Back on Eighth Street to the creamery office, then turned west and went up two lanes across the Tempe Canal. (We often swam in this canal until my dear mother heard a rumor that canal water caused polio.)

“I delivered to Freddy’s Tavern on Rural Road (seeing some of my friend’s fathers getting a drink before returning home). Then my route headed north down Rural Road into a Mexican barrio that surrounded the small Tempe Butte. (Rural Road did not cross the river bottom.) I returned again to Eighth Street., crossing the canal on a very narrow bridge and proceeded to deliver papers up McAllister to Apache and then down Van Ness Street back home.

“The best recollections I have are of the great people of Tempe; a generous professor, J. Lee Thompson, who would give me tips; a crippled lady, Ethyl Birchett Schoussen, who sometimes baked pumpkin pies and shared a piece; and a wonderful Hispanic widow lady, Ermalita Cota, from the barrio, who often was making tortillas on her outside flat wood stove and would share a bean burro. There were several people on my route who had the ice man deliver to their ice boxes because they didn’t have refrigerators. And some who had outhouses because of no inside plumbing, but somehow scraped together the $1.75 for the monthly subscription cost.

“I drove the route later and it amounts to over 4 1/2 miles. Again, I so enjoyed dealing with the wonderful people, however, there were some pretty mean dogs.”



Duane Roen

Duane Roen is an ASU professor and leads family-history writing workshops. He recently retired as the dean of ASU’s College of Applied Sciences and Arts.

Photo Archive/2017/08-August/Duane-Roen

“I had lived in eight cities—and visited scores of other cities—before moving to Tempe in July 1995 to begin teaching at Arizona State University. With those many points of comparison in mind, I was immediately impressed with Tempe, and some of those impressions have become favorite memories of  my early days in the city. It was and still is a joy living in a city that is so easy to navigate, with its wide, well-maintained streets on a grid and street signs that are big enough to read.  I appreciated the streets of Tempe from my first day living here with my family. Within a few months, I understood why the streets were so much better than streets I had negotiated anywhere else. Tempe is a well-managed city, with leaders who care about the place and the people who live and work here. Residents and business owners in Tempe also care.

“My most cherished memories, though, focus on the experiences that our children, Nick and Hanna, had as students in the public schools. Nick started here as a junior at Marcos de Niza High, and Hanna started as a second-grader at Kyrene del Norte Elementary before moving to Kyrene Middle School and then to Marcos. My wife, Maureen, and I are so grateful for the many teachers who did so much to support learning—who encouraged students to be curious about a wide range of subjects and who made those subjects interesting.  When we met with those teachers, it was more than obvious that they were passionate about teaching and learning. They cared about students as learners; they cared about students as people. They worked tirelessly to foster an environment in which students felt welcomed, included, supported, respected, and valued. Students knew that they belonged in those classrooms. That is still the case in Tempe schools today.

“Maureen and I feel fortunate to call Tempe home.”



Onnie Shekerjian

Onnie Shekerjian made Tempe her home to raise her family and serve as a City Council member, including a term as vice mayor, and continues to enjoy all Tempe has to offer with her grandchildren.

Onnie Shekerjian

“Because we had young children when we first moved to Tempe in 1987, my fondest memories are around the children’s activities, specifically around the various holidays.

“It usually started with a fun Halloween, with a pizza party every year that our neighbors, The Cateses, hosted. Anticipation grew as darkness descended and people began the annual trick or treating.

“We had hundreds of kids in the neighborhoods in our area. While my husband took the kids out door to door, I sat by our front door handing out popcorn-filled clear-plastic gloves with black jelly beans for fingernails to the trick or treaters, catching up with neighbors, and marveling at the wonderful costumes the children were sporting.  Adding to the atmosphere were spooky sound effects coming from our house, a punch bowl of hot cider with dry-ice fog emanating from it and scary decorations in our courtyard. There was such excitement in the air.

“Next came the annual Tempe Veterans  Day Parade. We never missed it.

“Then came Thanksgiving and the elementary school’s annual Turkey Trot.  Again, parents turned out in droves.  Everyone had fun running with their kids.

“Christmas came and with it neighborhood carolers, Christmas parties and open houses, classroom parties and church activities. One year, my husband portrayed one of the Three Wise Men at our church.  Our daughter called them the “Three Wise Guys.”

“I love the strong sense of community in South Tempe of 34 years ago almost as much as I love it now.  It may look somewhat different now than it did then but the South Tempe spirit is as strong as ever.”



Lou Silverman

Lou Silverman is known as the “tie-dye lawyer.” He enjoys interviewing Tempe leaders and was recently honored as one of the ASU 100.

Lou Silverman

“This is a tough one because I lived in Tempe for two stints, from 1972 to ’75, and 1981 through the present. I would break them into three categories.

First, work: My office was in downtown Tempe from 1985 through 2005. I was in the building later occupied by restaurant Mexico and now a Taco Bell. In the early days, traffic was two ways on Mill Avenue. Cars were allowed to park on Mill Avenue, and parking was never really an issue. As the years went by, the street was redesigned into one way each way, parking became a huge issue, and Mill Avenue became more and more congested. My favorite memory of that location was my ability to walk to the Mona Plummer swimming center on campus and swim laps at lunch. That was the benefit of that location.

My second category is sports: By far, my favorite moment in ASU sports history is the 1996 defeat of Nebraska, 19-0. It was a big upset, the crowd went crazy, and the goalposts were taken to Mill Avenue.

My third category is my own personal growth: In 2005, when I relocated my law practice and dedicated to specialize in estate planning and trust law, I also dedicated to become more involved in the city, networking, and volunteer opportunities. This opened the door for many wonderful opportunities, including serving on the boards of directors of numerous organizations, becoming involved in Tempe Leadership, and just generally feeling much more connected to the city that I had been before.  This connection has led to great friendships and a feeling of belonging and making a difference.”




Tempe’s celebration of its 150th anniversary includes several activities, many of them free and open to the public.

  • Tales from Double Butte is 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, at Double Butte Cemetery, 2505 W. Broadway Road. The cemetery was founded in 1888 and is the burial site for some of the city’s most-notable early residents, including Charles Trumbull Hayden and Carl T. Hayden. Free and open to the public.
  • Tempe 150, an exhibit at Tempe History Museum, 809 E. Southern Ave., opens at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3. Free and open to the public.
  • Tempe “Legends” Gala Reception, hosted by Tempe History Society, is 5:30-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, at Tempe History Museum. Tickets, $25 for nonmembers and $20 for members, are available at
  • Tempe Adobe Bus Tour, 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, at Arizona Heritage Center, 1300 N. College Avenue . Former Mayor Hugh Hallman leads a tour of several iconic Tempe sites. Tickets are $25 and available on
  • Tempe Sesquicentennial Celebration at Tempe Town Lake, 12-6 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 7. Free community festival with two stages of live music, vendors, artisans and fun for all ages.




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