A Review By Les Conklin
The Library Book, Check It Out is not only a terrific title for a book; it’s also terrific advice. The Library Book, Check It Out, a history of the Desert Foothills Library is an enjoyable read and an excellent source of information about the library and Cave Creek’s early days. I’ve added the book to my trustworthy collection of Arizona history favorites.
The book, with 95 pages, more than 150 historic photographs, and a beautiful color photograph of Elephant Butte on the cover, was compiled with great care by Friends of the Desert Foothills Library. Edited by Stephanie Anderson, who was also responsible for layout and design, the book uses three “voices” to tell the library’s story. First, there are direct quotes from sources at the time – newspapers, civic groups, and volunteers. Second, personal insights from the library’s historian and Desert Foothills activist Corky Cockburn. Third, comments by Stephanie Anderson. Anderson’s approach has resulted in a concise, intimate, and easy-to-read book. Incidentally, one of my favorite sources quoted in the book is the Cave Creek Vacuum Cleaner, a bi-monthly newsletter published by the Cave Creek Mother’s Club. Its publishers said that part of its mission was to “pick up all the dirt.”
Organized by decades, beginning in the 1930s, The Library Book, Check It Out introduces us to the people that created the library and helped it survive and prosper. Where could you find a book in the early days when there were only a few hundred people living in Cave Creek? Well, the location has been lost to time, but evidence suggests the “library” was housed in one of the local businesses, a saloon perhaps? Two dedicated and talented women, Dorothy E. Smith and Carolyn Cox, changed all that in February 1954 when an agreement was signed with Maricopa County to open a Cave Creek branch library. Initially, books were distributed from a shelf in the Cow Bell Restaurant. Locals also learned that the most convenient way to get a book was to flag down Dorothy Smith, who usually had a supply in the trunk of her car!
Today, the Desert Foothills Library, located on Schoolhouse Road in Cave Creek Road, is being renovated and expanded. Modern facilities and spectacular views of the Tonto National Forest from the library’s new patio make a visit to the library even more enjoyable. But as we learn from The Library Book, Check It Out, the library wasn’t always at that location. In addition to the Cow Bell Restaurant and Smith’s car, the library was housed in the parish hall of the Good Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church, the east end of the old wooden Cave Creek School, a new school building at the same location, and finally to its current location on Saguaro Hill. During the journey, volunteers kept it all going with book sales, breakfasts, educational programs for children and adults, and fund raising efforts. Their story of determination and hard work is a story that the Cave Creek community can take pride in.
In addition to Stephanie Anderson and Corky Cockburn, others that played a role in the creation of this book about good people, good feelings, and good work are Bobbie Horsman (Assistant), Heinz Kagerer (Cover Design/Technical Advisor), Kris Proskus (Librarian/Director), and proofreaders: Margit Kagerer, Barbara Metzger, and Jean Savage. I purchased the book at the library for $10. Clearly, the people that created this book not only like books, they know how to create a special one.
When you visit the library to purchase your copy of The Library Book, Check It Out, leave some time to take a short walk up Saguaro Ridge behind and just to the east of the library building (access path is from lower parking lot). The formal name of Saguaro Ridge is The Caroline Bartol Preserve on Saguaro Hill. This small preserve, owned by the Desert Foothills Land Trust, is a saguaro-studded gem that overlooks downtown Cave Creek. The six-acre preserve features a short interpretive nature trail that leads to the Goldwater Memorial Garden that provides a panoramic view of the area.
Published in the May/June edition of A Peak at the Peak www.gppaaz.org
Sonoran News: Editorial Cartoon by Bil Canfield