Monday, December 27, 2021

Tastes & Treasures I and II featured

 Featured in the gift shop at AZ Heritage Center at Papago Park, Tastes & Treasures Storytelling Cookbooks Volumes I and II are part of Arizona history. Also available at

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Historymaker Marshall Trimble tells Christmas Story from 1929


The border once moved for Santa 

Arizona Republic 12/23/2021 Story by Phil Boas

Nearly a century ago, something extraordinary happened on Christmas Day on the U.S.-Mexico border that should be fixed in our modern memory. 

But it’s not. 

Chances are good you’ve never heard about it. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that hardly any Arizonans know the story. 

Marshall Trimble does.
When we caught up with Arizona’s “Official State Historian” in early December he was getting ready to tell it to an Arizona chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. In fact, he was planning to make it the capstone of his presentation of Arizona Christmas stories, such is his fondness for it. 

In the long history of the U.S.-Mexico border, established by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, few stories are as rich with meaning as the day Americans and Mexicans agreed to informally do something to the border line. 

They “adjusted” it. 

Trimble, who always perks up at the words “Arizona history,” first began see- ing bits and pieces of the story years ago – he doesn’t quite remember when. But eventually he came across something significant – “a great find,” he called it. 

It was a long-forgotten article in the (Tucson) Arizona Daily Star published Dec. 24, 1929. 

The story was a brief – a mere six paragraphs long. Had the people of Arizona this year decided to make the same adjustment to the U.S.-Mexico border, it would be national and world news. 

But in 1929, when the border was far more removed from the media hubs of New York, Washington and Chicago and even further from the American imagination, five paragraphs was what you got. 

So, it was briefly reported on Christmas Eve, 1929, that the people of Nogales, Arizona, worked with Mexican authorities to adjust the U.S.-Mexico border – draw it upward a couple of blocks into their city – to encompass the community Christmas tree. 

“The United States will be a few acres smaller tomorrow for a period of three hours,” reported the newspaper article in anticipation. “After a great many conferences between American and Mexican officials it was decided to move the international border back far enough to include the tree.” 

Event planners in Nogales decided for Christmas Day, 1929, to bring in children from surrounding communities to join in celebration around their city Christmas tree. 

They would invite American kids from other small towns in Arizona’s Santa Cruz County, Trimble said, and Mexican children from across the border and their companion city Nogales, Sonora. 

People in both cities have long called the twin border towns “Ambos Nogales” or “Both Nogales” and share kinship and friendship across the border. 

In Nogales, Arizona, their plan was to give the children of those borderlands a Christmas – to be their Santa Claus. To indulge them generously with gifts and treats. 

“At the last moment it was discovered that about 3,000 children living on the Mexican side would be barred by immigration laws,” reported the Daily Star. So, a plan was hatched. 

“At 9 a.m., inspectors and guards will be moved back two city blocks,” the paper reported. “There (the border line) will stay until each child has received its present.” 

They made it happen on Christmas Day. 

“They gave each child three presents,” Trimble said. “A regular Christmas present, and some candy, and some clothing.” 

The plan, according to the newspaper article, was to send each Mexican child back across the border “hugging” their Christmas gifts. 

“This story belongs to Arizona,” said Trimble. “It belongs to Nogales.” 

Trimble said he has found no evidence that the 1929 event was continued in subsequent years or became any kind of tradition. He’s often pondered why, he said. “I don’t think there was a soul living (then) ... who had any idea what was going to happen over the next decade or two.” 

Only a few months earlier, the U.S. stock market had crashed, but the economic cataclysm it would trigger had not yet hit the larger country. A Great Depression was looming with a decade of job loss and severe poverty, only to be followed by a world war that would occupy the attention and energy of most everyone in America. 

Thus, an old story appears to have gone down the memory hole. 

We asked Nogales, Arizona, Mayor Arturo Garino about it. He grew up in Nogales, Arizona, but never heard of the 1929 event. “That is pretty interesting,” he said. “I would believe that yes, it happened, because we’ve done it in (the more recent) past. 

“I’ve been with administrations where we’ve taken blankets, food, toys to children in Nogales, Sonora, in trucks. Sometimes they have come across the border here.” 

The city of Nogales, Arizona, boasts a population of roughly 20,000 people. 

The city of Nogales, Sonora, has 10 times that many people, roughly 200,000-plus. 

In the old days, the border was demarcated by flimsy barbed wire easily traversed, but today there is a much more imposing border wall and concertina wire. 

The two communities are so connected by family and history that Garino said he sees no border. “We regard them as essentially a city without a border, without a fence. We consider them as we’re one whole city.” 

If you had just met them, it would be difficult to tell apart a citizen of Nogales, Arizona, and a citizen of Nogales, Sonora, he said. “A lot of people in Nogales, Sonora, speak English very well, and the majority of people in Nogales, Arizona, speak Spanish.” 

However, the Americans do have a quality their Mexican brothers and sisters do not, he said. “When we’re speak- ing with friends ... we’ll start a sentence in English and finish it in Spanish. It’s a thing that we have here that we’re very good at it, and I’ve had some friends of mine who say, ‘How do you do that, Art?’ Well, that’s the way we speak in Nogales.” 

The people of Nogales, Mexico, have a word to describe it, he said. “They call us ‘pocho.’ It means that you cut the language and make it your own way of say- ing it.” 

In Spanish, pocho is slang for a Mexican American who is not one or the other, but carries both cultures. 

“Nobody feels that it is something bad. It’s just something we’ve been do- ing since we were little,” Garino said. “My father was an Italian. My mother was a Mexican. ... Maybe that’s where we get this pocho way of speaking. 

“Sometimes when I’m doing inter- views in Nogales, Sonora, I even catch myself doing that.” 

Food is also a giveaway, said the may- or. “Our Mexican food here has that American feel to it. You can blindfold me, I can taste from the same meal and can tell you which is Nogales, Sonora, and which is Nogales, Arizona.” 

One is authentic Mexican, he said. The other is not. He far and away prefers authentic. 

The pandemic created enormous sadness in both cities when the border was shut down and the people of Nogales, Sonora, could not cross. 

“It not only hurt the economy,” Garino said. “It hurt families ... that separation of families. ... We talk about the wall, the concertina wire, but we’ve never been separated worse than (we were in) the pandemic. 

“It was very bad. I had a lot of people call my office to ask how they could see somebody and nobody could do any- thing about it. It was a standstill. 

“When we opened up (in November), ... I got calls to my office. They were so happy that they were going to come back, not to shop, they were coming back to visit family and friends. They were more excited about that.” 

The people of Nogales, Arizona, call it their floating population. When the border is open, the population of their city can multiply many times over. 

“Right now, between October and January, in the peak season, we can have 80,000 to 100,000 people,” Garino said. “You can imagine the flow of people. 

“I like to call it the ‘oil of our machine.’ It gets families together. It builds relationships, and it increases the economy. So it’s very unique along the border.” 

What happened in 1929 speaks to us this day, Trimble said. “It was such a nice, friendly gesture across the border. ... It tells me about the goodness in people, especially at Christmas time. It brings out the best in people.” 

But it doesn’t take Christmas for the peoples of Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, to care about one another. 

That’s just the way it is, said Nogales, Arizona, City Councilwoman Esther Melendez-Lopez, who is also vice may- or. 

Like the mayor, she, too, had never heard of the 1929 border “adjustment.” 

But it sounds very much like the Ambos Nogales of today, where organizations in both cities routinely deliver help across the border. Just a weekend ago, she said, two clubs in the city crossed the line to give gifts and clothing to children. 

“I’ve lived here 50 years. ... When I got married, I moved to Nogales, Arizona. It’s a small community. We’re only about 22,000 people. So you know everybody. You know your neighbors. You know who your neighbors are. 

“In case you need anything, you just call your neighbor. They help you. Here it’s so different because it’s family. If you can help, go ahead and help. And that’s why I love it. My kids want to move to Phoenix and I say, ‘Are you crazy!’” 

“I was born in Nogales, Sonora,” she said. “Most of my family is across the line. So it’s a family. We don’t care about the border. We’re family.” 

Phil Boas is editorial page editor of The Arizona Republic. He can be reached at 602-444-8292 or 

Friday, December 17, 2021

Annual December Christmas meeting

Our December Christmas meeting is always a festive occasion. Lots of smiles, delicious food with recipes from Tastes & Treasures, gifts to the AZ Heritage Center and a little business meeting.

Nancy Evans and Mary Parker visit near the dessert table where Espresso Brownies were served. The recipe is from page 163 Tastes & Treasures Volume I. A delicious, moist, chewy delight that is easy to make. If you have a copy of Volume I, hold onto this Collector's item. It is almost SOLD OUT!

President Claire Nullmeyer presented a gift of A/V help to Debbie McKinion for the AZ Heritage Center. Debbie was very grateful, naming all the many ways she can use these tools. Our mission is to support the AHS and this is one of many ways we do that.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Fun-Filled December Holiday Party at Phoenix Country Club and Phoenix Theatre

Kicking off the Holiday season with Happy Hour at Phoenix Country Club, then Phoenix Theatre's production of Million Dollar Quartet Christmas. The smiles and happy greetings show the organizers of this Historical League event that they did a wonderful job. Thanks to Anne Lupica, Bonnie Newhoff, Nancy Evans and Mary Parker for the excitement, energy and enthusiasm in this delightful evening. 

 New AHS Executive Director Dr. David Breeckner and wife Leslye joined us at Phoenix Country Club and Phoenix Theatre for a fun-filled evening of Million Dollar Quartet. 

Thirty-five years ago this December fundraiser was the Children's Holiday Party. It has evolved quite a bit and is just as delightful! We were creating memories with Historical League members at Million Dollar Quartet. Check out the lovely centerpieces!

Friday, December 3, 2021

Contract signed!

President Claire Nullmeyer writes, "This was a happy event when I met with AHS Interim Executive Director Bill Ponder and Historical League President Elect Christine Hackett in the League office. We signed the contract between AHS and Historical League as required by the 2013 Sunset Review audit at the AZ Heritage Center at Papago Park."