Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sunshine in the Old West.

December 30, Sandy drove us down to Scottsdale. Mom’s friend Suzanne lives there, and it’s close to the airport. First we stopped at Old Scottsdale. The neighborhood is a preserved frontier town.

We were following a tourist map to see historical sites –and tons of shops and galleries in between. Dad was kind of grumpy, because we were shuffling around and standing around. That makes his back and hip hurt. (He drives the mail route sitting on the passenger side of the car putting mail in boxes while running the steering wheel, gas and breaks with his left arm and leg stretched WAAAY out. More than two decades of that can’t be good for the body.)

The closer we got to lunch, the more the grumpiness increased. Mom kept asking, “Well, do you want to eat here?” Dad kept claiming he didn’t care, but eventually muttered, “We’re in the Southwest and we haven’t had any Mexican left, but whatever. I don’t care.” “Great,” I replied, “Mexican it is!” Mom asked a information-booth-guy where we should go, and he recommended Las Olivas. It’s a neighborhood favorite. It’s been around a long time, and is named after some ancient olive trees that still stand nearby.

After fish tacos, chimichangas, gorgeous savory fajitas and a pitcher of daiquiris, everyone’s dispositions were a lot sunnier. We were peeking into the blacksmith’s shop when the blacksmith invited us inside. Cavelliere’s Blacksmith Shop has been in the same family since 1909. Originally, it was made of tin. George Cavalliere (aka Doc) wanted to built it on Main Street, but Scottsdale officials made him build outside of town. Now, it’s laughable, as outside-of-town is just a few blocks from Main Street, and has become squarely in town.

The blacksmith (whose name may or may not be Schoenau) let us wander around, looking at his antiques, decorative metalwork and sculptures. He says his specialties are fancy spiral iron staircases, the kind no one else wants to take on.

He’s been working there for decades, and jokes that before that he officially worked there, he was slave labor. What he enjoys most is fixing up old Indian motorcycles. The place was heaven for my dad, who loves collecting things. Hanging from the ceiling in groups were legs from potbellied stoves, iron tractor seats, and antique spurs.

He told us about a man who had admired the blacksmith’s antique saw collection so much that he hauled some saws all the way from Iowa to donate to the collection: “He said, ‘I just wanted them here. I knew they just had to be here.”

As we spoke to him, a woman bustled in, eager to have him fix her menorah. She didn’t even ask how much it would cost—I suppose because so few people know how to fix metal. It one of those things I think I’d like to learn. Dad and I welded a giant metal star once and strung it with blue lights to hang up on our windmill for Christmas. (This was before the tornado. Sadly, we no longer have a windmill.) That was fun. I can’t imagine undertaking such an activity in the blazing heat of Arizona, though. The day we visited Scottsdale, it got up to 70 degrees, despite being the end of December!

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