A Golden Past - The History of APRA
The five decades of the history of APRA are given below.
A Golden Past - APRA in the 1950's
In 1950, the United States was still adjusting to its role as a world power. The Second World War was recently won and the Cold War seriously begun. In the preceding year, the Soviet Union had exploded its first atomic bomb and, in China. the Communists succeed in driving the Nationalists from the mainland to Formosa. The Cold War was on the verge of becoming hot. The Korean War would break out on June 25, 1950.
Harry Truman was in the White House and the presidency had been held by only two men, both Democrats, since 1933. Prosperity was rampant, but the Great Depression was still a haunting memory.
Arizona, last of the 48 states so far admitted to the Union, was booming. Despite a 50% population growth in the preceding decade, our state still contained fewer residents than the District of Columbia. Phoenix was home to 106,800 and Tucson to 45,500.
Dan Garvey was governor of Arizona. Our United States Senators were Carl Hayden and Ernest McFarland, and our two congressional districts were represented by John Murdock and Harold Patten. All were Democrats. In fact, Arizona politics were dominated by the Democratic Party, though Dwight David Eisenhower's coattails would soon begin to reverse that tradition.
A state teaming with new and prosperous residents had a growing need for activities to occupy something previous generations had enjoyed less frequently-spare time. In 1950, the Pacific Southwest District Recreation Conference of the National Recreation Association met in Phoenix. Arizona's delegates gathered that March to form the Arizona Recreation Association (ARA). Loveless N. Gardner, Tucson's Director of Recreation, was elected to serve as the associations' first president. Through the help of influential Arizona citizens, including Barry Goldwater, membership reached 75 that first year. Annual dues were $1 for professionals and 50 cents for students.
The goals that led to the formation of ARA are remarkably similar to those of today's Arizona Parks and Recreation Association (ARA became APRA in 1962). They included seeking recognition of recreation as a profession, lobbying public officials for more recreation programs and positions, and to accomplish those, increasing membership.
In the 1950s, the nuclear arms race would see the United States, and then the Soviets, develop and explode Hydrogen Bombs. Communist witch hunts culminated in the Army- McCarthy Senate Hearings. The civil rights movement would become increasingly active and Rosa Parks would refuse to give up a bus seat. The USSR would launch Sputnik, Earth's first artificial satellite. At the end of the decade, Alaska and Hawaii would become the 49th and 5Oth states and Fidel Castro would emerge, victorious, from the Cuban Revolution.
Land acquisition and developing partnerships with the National Recreation Association and the American Recreation Society were ARA ambitions. In 1953 an Executive Committee was established. It included current officers, along with the past president and a board of directors. One of its first official acts was to oppose opening additional access roads into the Superstition Mountains. The organization's first regular publication, an ARA Bulletin, began in March of 1953 and evolved into a magazine in 1958. Professional certification standards were established in 1956-a bachelor's degree in recreation and 12 months experience or a non- recreation degree with 24 months experience. ARA supported formation of the Arizona State Parks Board, passed by the 23rd Legislature and signed into law in 1957.
In the 1950s, automobiles stopped looking alike. They began sporting chrome and tail fins that existed only because they were fun and made basic transportation interesting. There was room for a profession that provided the same benefits for the lives of Arizona's citizens-making them more fun and interesting. Recreation, and the ARA, were coming into their own.
On the brink of 1960, President Eisenhower was completing his final term and America was on the verge of a New Frontier. ARA had achieved a successful first decade.
The Presidents who served APRA during the 1950's were:
- 1951 Loveless Gardner - Tucson
- 1952 L. Cedric Austin - Phoenix
- 1953 Ronald Thomson - ASU, Tempe
- 1954 Maurice Bateman - Mesa
- 1955 Henry Swan - Phoenix
- 1956 Charles Reitz - Yuma
- 1957 Gilbert Ray - Pima County
- 1958 Dennis McCarthy - Maricopa County
- 1959 Kenneth Smithee - Maricopa County
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A Golden Past - APRA in the 1960's
At the dawn of the 1965, the Cold War still threatened. Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev fumed after being denied a visit to Disneyland during his 1959 tour of the United States. Korea had become an official stalemate. Concerned that other Asian dominoes might tumble, the United States sent military advisors to a tiny corner of that continent. The first men whose names would appear on the Vietnam Memorial died there in July 1959. Dwight D. Eisenhower was nearing the end of his last term. Ike's health might be questionable, but not that of the nation's economy.
Arizona's phenomenal population growth, 50% in the 1945, had increased to an astonishing 72% in the 1955. The result, a population of more than 1.3 million in the 1960 census, would earn the state a third congressional seat in 1962.
In 1960, Arizona's Governor (soon to become U.S. Senator) was Republican Paul Fannin. Carl Hayden, Democrat and dean of the United States Senate was serving his sixth term. Barry Goldwater, who would be the Republican Presidential candidate in 1968, was Arizona's junior senator. Republican John Rhodes held the Congressional seat for Maricopa County. Democrat Stewart Udall (soon to be appointed Secretary of the Interior) represented the rest of the state.
Birth of APRA
The Arizona Recreation Association (ARA) had only a few hundred members at the start of the decade. Under the leadership of A.C. Williams, efforts were made to expand the organization to include Arizona's smaller communities. Flagstaff and Prescott came on board. An evaluation conference in February 1962 proposed an organizational name change from ARA to Arizona Parks and Recreation (APRA). The recommendation was adopted in April.
APRA had ambitious goals-reorganization, attracting new members, acquiring the financial and human resources to expand programming, developing curriculum, affecting public policy in the political arena and developing professional standards along with a formal code of conduct. In 1964, APRA offered two college scholarships for the first time, each for $100. The Arizona Parks and Recreation Magazine debuted in 1968. That same year, Northern Arizona University established its Forest Recreation Management curriculum. Proof that Arizona Parks & Recreation Association (APRA) was meeting its objectives came when Scottsdale was selected as one of seven finalists, and Phoenix Parks and Recreation won the National Gold Medal Award in 1969.
The 1960's were a tumultuous decade. An American U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960. A year later, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth. In 1962 the world teetered on the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Martin Luther King stood before the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 and told the world he had a dream, then the American dream turned nightmarish when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas that November. President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty, but the war in Vietnam bled the nation of its youth, resources and innocence. The conflict intruded into the nation's living rooms on the nightly news and displayed the cost of foreign policy in a way previously undreamed. And yet, in spite of every disaster, the 1965 were capped by an unprecedented American triumph. In July 1969, Neil Armstrong set foot upon the moon.
Richard Nixon was inaugurated 37th President on the eve of 1970. APRA had weathered the 1965 and thrived. The final volume of APRA's 1969 magazine addressed the difficulties of serving Arizona's booming population. "Urbanization gobbles up much needed recreation land, leaving the endless sprawl known as suburbia in its wake. If land is not set aside now. ..future generations ...may never know the joy of participating at their leisure," a report to the Phoenix Planning Commission declared. Bank of America economists agreed. "Growing affluence, more leisure time and greater mobility are expected to spur demand for outdoor recreation facilities in 1980 to double what it was in 1960." APRA's challenge for the 1975 was clear.
The Presidents who served APRA during the 1960's were:
- 1960 A.C. Williams - Prescott
- 1961 Clarence Allen - Scottsdale
- 1962 Ray Cook - Phoenix
- 1963 Joseph Salvato - Tempe
- 1964 Smith Falconer, Jr.- Maricopa County
- 1965 Keith Burns - Phoenix
- 1966 Eddie Brown - Maricopa County
- 1967 Gene Reid - Tucson
- 1968 Leonard Roberts - ASU, Tempe
- 1969 Lee Stanley - Glendale
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A Golden Past-APRA in the 1970's
The turbulence of the 1960's was only a prelude to what was about to follow. The Vietnam War expanded into Cambodia in 1970. Less than a week later, four students were killed by Ohio National Guardsmen during protests at Kent State University. The war would soon be over. Peace Pacts were signed in Paris in 1973 and the last American troops withdrew.
The insanity of the global stage was mirrored in the United States. The Watergate burglary of 1972 eventually led to the impeachment and resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974. His Vice President, Spiro T. Agnew, had been forced to resign because of allegations of bribery and tax evasion. Gerald Ford became the first man to serve as President of the United States who was not elected to the office. Jimmy Carter defeated him in the 1976 election.
Continued population growth earned Arizona a 4th Congressional District in 1973 and Republicans John B. Conland and Eldon Rudd served as its first two representatives. Favorite son Congressman Mo Udall challenged Jimmy Carter for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976 and proved himself Too Funny To Be President.
There were 221 active members in 1970 when APRA President Emerson Hall expressed his hope that each member would ask what he or she could do for the organization, then insisted the executive committee members use their talents to make APRA " ...one of the outstanding organizations in the United States." The difficulties that lay ahead seemed overwhelming. The new APRA Credo declared, "Man is on the threshold of his own extinction." In spite of this gloomy forecast, Jack Williams (Arizona Governor from 1967 until 1975) signed Senate Bill 292 into law in 1970. It clarified law enforcement issues typified by an article entitled "Wine and Weed in Our Parks," defining the authority to establish and enforce rules for public use and park areas. In 1971, Project OUTREACH, an effort to inform citizens of career opportunities in the field of recreation, was funded by the state. In 1972, APRA successfully backed Arizona Proposition 106. It allowed communities to require developers to include parks, recreation facilities, and control urban sprawl. That same year the organization elected its first woman President, Patricia Jackson, and enrolled 516 members, a record. The 1972 budget included $13 for dues. By 1973, the amount reached $16. A total of 450 were reported to have attended the annual conference in 1975, producing an impressive mid-recession income of $10,699.20. ASU began offering a Masters Degree in Recreation and Scottsdale Parks and Recreation won the National Gold Medal for Excellence in Parks and Recreation Management in 1975. By the end of the decade, President Gale Bundrick was able to brag that APRA was operating without a budget deficit and, was involved at the national level in supporting a Land and Water Conservation Fund. Membership roles were computerized in 1979.
As 1975 ended, Bruce Babbitt was Arizona's up-and-coming young Governor. Dennis De Concini had succeeded Paul Fannin and was junior Senator to Barry Goldwater .
The Presidents who served APRA during the 1970's were:
- 1970 Emerson E. Hall. Jr.- Tucson
- 1971 Thomas R. Wardell - Maricopa County
- 1972 Patricia L. Jackson - Lakeview Lodge
- 1973 Kenneth Ingols - Flagstaff
- 1974 John White - Glendale
- 1975 Gene Laos - Pima
- 1976 Roland Sharer - Phoenix
- 1977 C. Wayne Korinek - Phoenix
- 1978 Jim Ronstadt - Tucson
- 1979 Gale Bundrick - Tucson
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A Golden Past - APRA in the 1980's
The hostage crisis in Iran dominated America in 1980. Even when the Shah died, Ayatollah Khomeini's government refused to release US diplomatic personnel. In April, eight American servicemen lost their lives in an abortive rescue attempt. The Carter presidency seemed paralyzed. In November, an impatient electorate swept Ronald Reagan and a host of Republicans into office. The 52 hostages were finally released when Reagan assumed office in 1981.
John Lennon was murdered in 1980. In 1981, Pope John Paul and Ronald Reagan were seriously wounded, and Anwar Sadat killed, by assassins' bullets. The AIDS virus was identified that year. The Falklands War was fought in 1982, the world's first artificial heart was implanted, and the United States suffered the highest unemployment rate since 1940. In 1983, a South Korean 747 was shot down by a Soviet fighter plane. A suicide bomber killed 241 Marines and Sailors in Beirut in October two days before US forces invaded Grenada. On a cold, bright morning in January of 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded America's belief in its infallible technology and gave another generation a moment to remember where they were when they heard the news. A nuclear accident at Chernobyl provided more technological doubts and terrified much of the world. In 1987, President Reagan proposed the first trillion-dollar budget. The Dow climbed past 2000 for the first time, only to tumble 508 points in the worst day in Wall Street history. The Palestinian uprising literally rocked Israel in 1987 and 1988. Terrorism was on the rise, up from 700 documented cases in 1985 to more than 1000 in 1988. One of the most terrible occurred over Lockerbie, Scotland on December 1, 1988.
Martin Luther King Day became a legal holiday in 1986. Governor Bruce Babbitt made it an Arizona holiday as well, before retiring to launch an unsuccessful bid for the presidency. A split in Arizona's Republican Party resulted in the election of archconservative Evan Mecham that fall. His first official act was to rescind the holiday. Within a year his populist appeal had worn thin. Enough signatures were collected to force a recall election. It never happened. In April 1988 he was impeached by the Senate and removed from office. It was the first time an American governor had been impeached in 59 years, and the first time a woman held the office in Arizona. Rose Mofford was sworn in that same day. Martin Luther King Day, however, wouldn't be reestablished in Arizona in the 1980s.
Arizona earned a 5th Congressional District in 1983. Jim McNulty served one term before being ousted by Jim Kolbe. Barry Goldwater retired from the Senate in 1985 and former Congressman John McCain succeeded him. Two Arizonans sat on the nation's highest court. Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman justice in 1981. William Rehnquist, on the court since 1971, was appointed Chief Justice in 1986.
APRA membership soared from roughly 400 to more than 900 in the 1985. The association's banner year was 1983. The first executive secretary (later executive director), Roger Hacker, was hired. APRA offices were established at 3124 S. Roosevelt in Phoenix. An APRA professional certification plan was approved by NPRA. To top it off, at the end of the year more than $35,000 was in the organization's treasury.
"The addition of an association office and a full time executive director put an extreme financial burden on the association," Dave McDowell explained in the Winter, 1987 magazine. Thanks to a lot of hard work and commitment, however, the association expected to "finish 1986 in the black for the first time in several years." The financial risk proved very worth while as the association, with the assistance of the executive director, was able now to move forward on many important issues.
In 1987, APRA received a $10,000 grant from the Mountain Bell Foundation to begin the Rural Recreation Project. Recreation was made available to small towns previously unable to support such programs, and technical assistance was provided to help them stay. Mounting expenses kept APRA busy exploring fund raising projects. In 1987, an APRA Festival was held at the Tempe Diablo Stadium. Entertainers occupied four stages and there were carnival rides, games, and food booths galore. The Le Grande Bike Tour began in 1988. Nearly 500 riders took part in the first race.
By the end of the 1985 the United States was enjoying the longest economic boom in history. Unemployment hit a fourteen-year low in 1989. There were still tragedies to be endured. A breath of democracy was snuffed in China's Tiananmen Square. The Exxon Valdez spilled eleven million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound. US troops invaded Panama just before Christmas, and yet there was cause for celebration. The Cold War was over. The Berlin Wall had fallen. However fallible, mankind no longer seemed on the verge of self-extermination.
Arizona's population increased by 34.8 percent in the 1980's to more than 3.6 million. Phoenix vaulted to the ninth largest city in the US with just under one million citizens. Tucson, with a shade over 400,000, ranked 33rd. Prosperity was here. People had time and money for leisure and APRA and its members were prepared to oblige.
The Presidents who served APRA during the 1980's were:
- 1980 Lynne Robertson - Yuma
- 1981 Bill Richwine - Maricopa County
- 1982 L.B. Scacewater - Phoenix
- 1983 Howard Gillmore - Maricopa County
- 1984 Anne Binkley - University of Arizona
- 1985 Michael A. Ramnes - Arizona State Parks
- 1986 Wayne Shuyler - Arizona State Parks
- 1987 Dave McDowell - Chandler
- 1988 Teri Palmberg - Mesa
- 1989 Dan Robertson - Scottsdale
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A Golden Past - APRA in the 1990's
As the last decade of the twentieth century began, the Reagan legacy seemed destined to continue under the presidency of George Bush. Though the president's popularity soared as Operation Desert Shield liberated Kuwait and defeated Iraq in 1991, a year later Bill Clinton turned Bush into a one-term wonder. The public wasn't repudiating Republican philosophy. In 1994 that party gained control of congress, then declared a "Contract with America." In spite of the investigations of an independent counsel, President Clinton was re- elected to a second term. Just over a year later the Lewinsky affair broke. In 1998 the House approved articles of impeachment. In 1999, the Senate acquitted the President.
The Soviet Empire crumbled during the 1990s, breaking into fifteen independent states. Yugoslavia also came apart and tumbled into anarchy. The slaughter ended only after a NATO assault on Serbia and an indefinite deployment of peacekeeping forces. Germany reunited, China reclaimed Hong Kong, and South Africa made the difficult transition from apartheid to democracy.
The state of race relations in America was revealed by two California legal cases. Los Angeles erupted in riots after police, videotaped beating Rodney King, were acquitted. Divergent views of the American Justice System were again demonstrated during the OJ Simpson trials and contradictory verdicts.
Terrorist bombers struck the New York World Trade Center, Oklahoma City, US Military installations in Saudi Arabia, the Atlanta Olympics, and the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The Branch Davidian siege resulted in more than 70 deaths. TWA Flight 800 plummeted into the Atlantic. Members of Heaven's Gate religious cult committed mass suicide. In 1998, the murder rate in the US dropped to the lowest level in more than twenty years, though school shootings became more common. Thirteen students and teachers were murdered in the tragedy at Columbine High in 1999.
America's game struck out in 1994. Major league baseball went on strike in August and didn't return until April. Four years later, Mark McGuire broke Roger Maris' single season home run record, a year after Tiger Woods won the Masters Golf Tournament at the age of 21.
Some of our icons died - the heroic Joe DiMaggio, the saintly Mother Teresa, the beautiful Princess Diana, and handsome young JFK Jr.
The economy, and the stock market, continued to soar. The DOW passed 5,000 in 1995, then 11,000 in 1999 before slumping a little. By the end of the decade US inflation was at a twelve-year low. The first federal budget surpluses since 1969 occurred in 1998 and 1999.
Arizona's Charles Keating and the Lincoln Savings failure had an impact of national proportions. Arizona voters approved a Martin Luther King Holiday. Governor Fife Symington resigned following a fraud conviction that was later overturned. In 1999, Jane Dee Hull became the first woman to be elected governor of Arizona. Our state earned a 6th Congressional District, with more expected, as population continued to sky-rocket to an estimated 5 million, more than a 30% increase during the 1990's.
In the midst of America's most prosperous years, APRA suffered a devastating financial blow. The NRPA congress came to Phoenix in 1990. APRA, as host institution, was unable to hold its usual state conference (a primary source of income). Plans to raise money at the national event failed to meet expectations. The organization had to use all its reserves and cut some member services. Part of 1990's financial impact is shown by membership figures. APRA increased to 1,000 by 1999, but gained only about 100 members over the decade. On the positive side, District V and the Ethnic Minority Section came into being during this decade. The profession went from being driven by tourism to youth at risk. APRA played a role in the ASU West program starting and was involved in accreditation of Arizona State University (ASU) West, ASU main and Northern Arizona University park and recreation programs.
In spite of financial hardships, APRA collected 30,000 signatures to put the Heritage Fund on the ballot in 1990, then raised $5,000 to support the bill. The fund, providing $20 million a year for park and recreation projects, passed with 63% of the vote. APRA has remained actively engaged on the legislative front ever since, for example, as a member of the Heritage Fund Alliance, a group formed to protect the fund against raids for other projects.
Arizona lost two important professionals during this decade. Emerson Hall and Edith Ball contributed much to our profession and have been missed.
Roger Hacker, APRA's first Executive Director, retired in 1997. On his recommendation, the organization sought a replacement with a background in association management. Ira Rubins, the successful candidate, has proved to be a master fundraiser, and just the person APRA needed to continue recovering from financial problems.
APRA moved to new offices and reorganized in 1997, mimicking NRPA's format. Members are now divided into professional branches instead of geographically. The objectives remain the same with an added emphasis on education and legislation. An example is that APRA now offers a National Playground Safety School with NRPA. The national organization supplies the speakers and gets a percentage of the registration, but APRA raises funds and offers educational opportunities to members. APRA also redesigned its annual awards program to follow NRPA guidelines and improve the chances of state candidates for national recognition.
The decade's economic growth was matched by its technological innovations. Alternative means of communication flourished and APRA took advantage of them. APRA got an 800 number, opened an impressive web site, acquired e-mail access, and began hosting an interactive discussion group online.
The magazine strove to be self-supporting by using several different publishing formats. The membership valued the magazine highly and voted to keep it even if it had to be subsidized.
The annual conference was reorganized early in the decade. The 1993 event netted a record $60,000, an amount equaled or bettered every year since. Evening sessions have been offered for the first time, attracting those who would not other-wise attend.
Senator John McCain, a past APRA Conference speaker, launched a dramatic presidential campaign at the end of the decade, once again propelling an Arizona Favorite Son to national prominence. In spite of rattled nuclear sabers by India and Pakistan, the cloning of a sheep named Dolly, and predictions of millennial catastrophe, Y2K arrived with no more problems than any other year. APRA greeted 2000 with renewed vigor and financial stability. To paraphrase Executive Director Ira Rubins, APRA's future is not what it used to be, but it can be what the association's members decide to make it.
The Presidents who served APRA during the 1990's were:
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- 1990 Vern Biaett - Phoenix
- 1991 Bob White - Mesa
- 1992 Bob Martin - Tucson
- 1993 Dale Larsen - Phoenix
- 1994 Peg Weber - Tucson
- 1995 Maury Ahlman - Gilbert
- 1996 Jan Zale Leisure World - Mesa
- 1997 Vera Perkins - Phoenix
- 1998 Pam Foti - Northern Arizona University
- 1999 Judy Weiss - Scottsdale
A Golden Past - APRA in the 2000's
- 2000 Jeff Ziegler - Green Valley
- 2001 Joe Holmwood - Mesa
- 2002 J.P. de la Montaigne - Peoria
- 2003 Karen Larkin - Tucson
- 2004 Rene Vera - Phoenix
- 2005 Shirley Medler - Glendale
- 2006 Ainsley Reeder - Oro Valley
- 2007 Joel Weeks - Show Low
- 2008 Jeff Spellman - Phoenix
- 2009 Lori Bye - Glendale
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A Golden Past - APRA in the 2010's
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- 2010 Shawn Wagner - Tempe
- 2011 Tim Nolan - Arizona Recreation Design, Inc.
- 2012 Bryan Hughes - Fountain Hills
This history of APRA was written by J.M. "Mike" Hayes with the assistance of the HAPRA History Paper, Parks and Recreation Management 498: Senior Seminar, Northern Arizona University, Pam Foti - Instructor, Fall 1998. Contributing Authors: Josh Adams, Sarah Auerbach, Bryce Barnett, Becky Boyan, Jaime Buchbinde, Sunshine Cacchione, Kim Chambon, Cassie Cogar, Tonya Crawford, Crissi Eigel, Bill Erickson, Erin Foley, Ben Friedberg, Dan Gandara, Jen Godwin, Misty Grant, Geno Hacker, Lisa Hecke, Ariel Hiller, Tiffany Karoly, Geroge Klepac, Kanah Korzec, Robin LaChance, Lisa Licini, Christian Loughlin, Eric Lunde, Marcus Malatesta, Brad McArtor, Michelle Mistier, Jamie Moran, Andrew Mount, Sara Petrus, Danit Polunsky, Debbie Sarracino, Chad Skowronski, Jacob Stoddard, Paula Swenski, Jerry Tuma, Ryan Van Otten, Shanea Ward, John West Carolyn Wilburn, Jenny Wolters, Aaron Woods, Teron Yazzie, Mike Zitta.
- The World Almanac, 1956, New York World-Telegram and The Sun, 1956, New York.
- The World Almanac, 1960, New York World-Telegram and The Sun, 1960, New York.
- Arizona Pageant, Madeline Ferrin Pare with the collaboration of Bert M. Fireman, Arizona Historical Foundation, 1965, Phoenix.
- Roll of Honor-Presidents of A.P.R.A. Arizona Parks and Recreation, Fall 1969, Vol. II, No.3, Phoenix.
- APRA Is Twenty-Two, Arizona Parks and Recreation, Fall 1972, Vol. V, No.3, Phoenix.
- Historical Atlas of Arizona, Second Edition, Henry P. Walker and Don Bufkin, University of Oklahoma Press, 1986, Norman.