I grew up in the little railroad town of Ash Fork. I say little because
it was so small by the time the train pulled into town it was already out of
town. Our sister city was a Taco Bell in Costa Rica.
Ash Fork High School was so small our annual school play my junior year
was “Snow White and the Dwarf.” Our driver’s education class and sex
education class was both taught in the same car.
The town was so friendly even the crooks on the wanted posters down at
the post office had smiles on their faces. Ash
Fork was so laid back we took valium for a stimulant.
Ash Fork was a “dry” town. All the water had to be hauled in daily by
rail from Chino Valley. That explains why there were more saloons than water
fountains. During the election of 1948 the county recorder down in Prescott
asked our magistrate and justice of the peace, Jack Slamon how many voters did
we have broken down by sex. With a straight face he replied, “None that I know
of; our main problem is alcohol.”
The windy season began in early January and usually lasted until late
December. When we moved to Ash Fork in 1947 the town was only 68 miles east of
Kingman and when we moved away in 1955 it was 112 miles. I figure sometime late
in the 21st century Ash Fork will be in New Mexico.
The first few years we lived in a little two-room trailer house with no
plumbing. My mom and dad slept on the fold-down couch in the living room and my
two brothers and I slept on the kitchen nook that broke down into a bed. I never
slept alone ‘til I got married.
We was poor before it became fashionable; before the rich got involved
with it. Uncle Jimmy used to say, “Son, get into poverty; that’s where the
money is.” We were so poor we stole trash from the neighbors so we’d have
something to put out on garbage collection day. The Blue Book value on our car
went up and down depending on how much gas we had in the tank. My mother used to
feed us beans for breakfast, a glass of water for lunch and we’d just swell up
My dad was out of work most of the time and my mom had to take a job as a
waitress in a road house café. One day I told her I was going to learn to play
the violin, become a concert pianist and we’d be rich. Then we’d move to
She replied, “Marshall, why don’t you learn to play the guitar, got
down to the bars, sing them cowboy songs, make a little money….and you’d get
to know your father a whole lot better too.”
One day my arithmetic teacher asked, “Marshall, if you had $14.27 in
one pocket and $9.81 in the other pocket, what would you have?”
I said, “Somebody else’s pants on.”
I didn’t do well in school. I spent the happiest three years of my life
in the third grade.
One day I came home and told my mother, “Mom, I got the biggest feet in
the fifth grade. Is that because I’m Irish?”
She said, “No, it’s because you’re sixteen years old.
One day I brought home a report card with four F’s and one D. My dad
looked at it and said, “Marshall, I think you’re spending too much time on
There were only ten kids in my senior class but I can truthfully list on
my resume that I graduated in the top ten.
We had the smallest high school in northern Arizona and our sports teams
were always getting beat by the big cities like Seligman and Peach Springs. We
were so bad our cheerleaders were trained as grief counselors.
One time, after we lost a basketball game to Williams 99 to 13, a
reporter from the Williams News asked
our coach what he thought of our teams execution and he replied “I’m all for
it.” He went on to say, “If this was football, Marshall would be our
My family moved to Maryvale my senior year
and it raised the IQ in both