THE KISSING GOAT, THE ROOSTER & THE SIREN
The Resort Before It Was “The Resort”
Dale Dauten, Syndicated Columnist
If you remember the name Superstition Country RV Resort, then you’ve probably been around the park a good long while. That was the original name, before it got shortened to The Country Resort and eventually to just The Resort. And if you remember that long name, then you may recall the kissing goat, the rooster roulette or the siren burial. More on those in a minute.
I had the chance to sit down with some of the folks who’ve been at The Resort the longest, including some who moved in as it was just opening up.
Front Row, Left to right
- Bud Picker
- Rita Picker
- Kit Robertson
- Dorothy Barlow
- Thelma Uriarte
- Jeane McWilliams
Back Row, Left to right
- Dee Richardson
- Eleanor Bzdell
- Gwen Hodgson
- Jean Elliget
- Len Barlow
- JoAnn Betten
- Harry Hilde
The park originally opened in 1983. (The current ownership/management team wasn’t in place till 2008/09.) The Superstition Country RV Resort was definitely “country” when it opened. For one thing, Gwen Hodgson recalls that US60 ended at Power and the pavement ended at Ellsworth. Probably because that’s where the pavement ended, there arose an unofficial dump not far away. Len Barlow and his brothers – at that point four brothers lived in the park, in four different RVs – made use of what ended up in that dump. They even gave it a name, “Desert Supply,” and looked for items they could use. He said, “I remember the time one of the residents needed a spare gas tank for his pickup and we went out to Desert Supply, found one, and helped him install it.”
Len passed along this photo, and although it’s from the nineties, you can see The Resort on the edge of the city, with plenty of open desert around it. He says of the photo, “Note that there was no landscaping around the entrance to the park or along Southern Avenue. We played softball on a barren dirt field, and golfed at “The Desert Golf Course” with its “sand greens” (sand mixed with crankcase oil for putting surfaces) located on the ground where Lowes is now.”
In addition to being out in the desert, that early park had plenty of empty space left inside, as it was slow to catch on. Jean Elliget and JoAnn Betten recall it being so sparsely populated that, “We could have hit golf balls inside the park and not bothered anyone.” In fact, they both grew frustrated that the park’s amenities weren’t getting completed and told the original owner that they had decided to move. He said, “What would it take to keep you?” They thought a minute before replying, “A clean shower.” Although the shower facilities were still being constructed, he came up with a solution: he had a park model onsite and she could use that for showering. They agreed and it worked – they never left.
Still, the original owners struggled to find tenants willing to move so far out. Rita Picker recalled her first visit and telling her husband “I don’t want to live in the country. I want to live in town.” It took a while but eventually the town came to her.
Kit Robertson says that she and her husband Jack stopped in because the park had a Washington’s Birthday event and were offering free cherry pie. Dee Richardson wasn’t so easily persuaded. She remembers a first visit, in 1984, when friends urged her and her late husband Dick to move in. She told them, “There is nothing to do here but sit and watch the birds.” Only later, in 1986, did they decide in move in.
Eventually there was a sufficient number of tenants to start putting together an in-the-park social life. It began with a weekly hamburger cookout, and Gwen and her husband, along with two other couples, started a church – a handful of people starting Sunday services in the Party Room, with a choir of five. (They now draw attendance of 200-400 and the choir is 30-50.)
With few organized park activities, the group got creative. And that brings us to the goat, rooster and siren.
THE KISSING GOAT
This happened at a party on K Street, as recounted by JoAnn Betten. A resident named Norm Mapes was asked to take a seat and then blindfolded. Norm was told that each of the women present would kiss him and then he would guess whose lips belonged to whom. The joke on Norm came when a goat was brought in for one of the kisses, and that’s the moment when the blindfold was whisked off his face.
An offbeat game of chance featured a rooster in a wire cage. Harry Hilde remembers how one of the partiers created a number grid placed under that cage. Bets were taken and, instead of waiting for roulette ball to land on a number, the crowd waited for the rooster to make a deposit on a number: Rooster Roulette. (JoAnn also recalls that the rooster wasn’t to be returned till the next day. They placed a cover over the cage to keep him from crowing, but some mischief makers kept pulling the cover off to let the rooster greet the morning.)
Speaking of annoying noises, one of the early residents, Lyle Adair, had a siren mounted outside his place, one of those that you cranked to create the big whine. Naturally, not everyone found that sound endearing. Eventually, there were enough complaints that Lyle agreed to dispose of his beloved siren. But it didn’t go quietly. Residents organized a “funeral,” with a parade that ended at a “grave.” Lyle, dressed in all black, lowered the siren into the hole and, not so solemnly, other joined him in covering it over. No one is sure, but that siren is probably still somewhere under The Resort.
THE FUTURE ARIVES
Despite those memories, and many more, the long-tenured residents are grateful for the improvements over recent years. When I asked them about the changes for which they were most grateful, the answers came fast, including…
“The softball field – we used to play on rocks.”
“The new tennis courts.”
The dog park.”
“Everything is improved. Everything.”
One last comment. As my meeting with the longest-tenured residents broke up, I chatted with Dorothy Barlow. She said, “One thing never changed. We started out with everyone being friendly. It was a place where you talked to everyone you passed and petted every dog. And that is still true. That’s the spirit of The Resort.”
CONNECTING AT THE RESORT
We at The Resorter got a note from Meredith Cross that we’re pleased to pass along, because we love to hear stories of the connections that happen at the park.
Just as a fun tidbit— Last Saturday Mr. Theis stopped over to invite us for drinks on Sunday and we told him we would be gone by then but soon the conversation went to where are you from, etcetera… and Red Wing, MN was the common denominator.
I found out he was my high school teacher ☺ Now he taught speech and theater, of which I did not fully participate, stage fright being the main issue, but I did do prop painting/set up one year.
I am not a full-time resident because I still work but I will be there in March and I am bringing my yearbook to share with him!
We asked Meredith about any other connections she’s made and here’s her reply:
The other connections we have in the park are the Gilbertsons and Kasels. They are why we visited the park in the first place. The first year we stayed in a motel, the next year we rented in the park and bought #84 on our second to last day here and last year we sold #84 and moved to #400. The Kasels are our neighbors back here in WI and the Gilbertsons are close by. Through them we have met Merle and Mary Ruppert among others.
Another connection, Ron and Pam Hoechst’s son works for the anesthesia company that comes to the hospital group I work for in WI. That was discovered through conversation last year after a bean bag tournament.
I come throughout the year, including June, because I can work remotely (we are part of the 10% under 55). I met Ruth Holt the June before she moved from the park. I really enjoyed her company and we became fast friends in our short time and met at the pool almost daily and we continued conversations on Messenger after she moved away. I was so saddened by her passing. She made a big impact on my life in a short time; it is a connection I will always cherish.
I look forward to the day when I can spend more time there and get involved in all the activities the park has to offer.
SOUTHWEST SURFERS DANCE- CLICK TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS
SOCKHOP DANCE – CLICK TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS
RESORT KITCHEN BAND – CLICK TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS
HIPPIE GOLD BAND – CLICK TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS
BAREFOOT BECKY – CLICK TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS
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