My parents, Bill and Erna Bowers, moved my sister Karen and me to Silver Bell from Tucson in
approximately 1969-1970. My dad had been working at the mine since 1966. We lived in house
Our next-door neighbor was the Mendoza family. “Little Joe” was my age and we
played with toy cars in our front yards together for several years. Mr. Mendoza (a.k.a. Big Joe)
also had a daughter, Lela. One day Karen and I told Lela that a mud puddle in the driveway was
chocolate milk. We pretended to be drinking it from our cupped hands. Lela sipped a little; we
asked her if it was good, and she said it was. Hopefully, that was the worst thing Karen and I did
as kids in Silver Bell. Sorry Lela!
I remember Mr. and Mrs. Mendoza had a 1970 Dodge Super Bee. I was fascinated with the
bumble bee emblem on the rear quarter of the car. I know it was a 1970 because it had the oval
front bumpers that circled the headlights and front end. I am still a big MOPAR fan to this day.
My dad, known by many as “Bow Wow," helped Mr. Mendoza rebuild the motor of his 1962 Ford
pickup. Eventually my dad bought that truck from Mr. Mendoza and kept it until the late 1980s or so. My dad taught me how to drive with that truck. The truck was a floor shift. I don’t drive many floor shifts anymore but it’s like riding a bicycle—you never forget.
Sadly, in approximately 1982, Little Joe drowned in the ocean off the California coast. I can
remember a teacher at Marana High School talking to us about the incident. My mother was
devastated by the drowning of Little Joe. That was one of my first life lessons of our mortality.
Sometimes I find myself wondering what Little Joe would be doing today if he was still alive.
My friend, Tommy Rosette, lived with his parents up the road from our house near what we called the three speed bumps. I used to play with their pet desert tortoise in their backyard. Tommy had a younger brother, but I don’t remember his name.
Across the street and up the hill from the Rosettes was the Barnes family. I believe they had a
daughter named Theresa who had red hair. One summer they were play-acting and put up a bed sheet as a curtain in their carport to serve as a stage. I was only about 4 or 5 years old, and
Karen is 2 years older than me.
The swimming pool beside the park was great in the summer. I remember the heavy steel door.
The door was very heavy for kids to open. It had a stiff spring and slammed loudly when it closed. I wonder how many fingers got smashed in that door.
The recreation hall beside the pool had big concrete steps going to the entrance. I remember
standing in line on those steps waiting for Santa to arrive on the fire truck. I sat on Santa’s lap in
the recreation hall on the stage and telling him what I wanted for Christmas, and then he gave me a mesh Christmas stocking with an apple, orange, peanuts, and various candy.
The east side of the recreation hall was the perfect backdrop for showing reel-to-reel movies in
the summer. I got very scared when they showed a movie of a dinosaur bone that was dug up
by a scientist and it somehow brought the dinosaur back to life. My mother had to take me home and put me to bed. I begged her not to turn out the bedroom light.
My life in Silver Bell was the best. My parents passed away about 5 years ago. I know they along
with my sister agreed that Silver Bell was the most special of places to raise a family. Thank you,
Mom and Dad, for a safe, secure, and loving upbringing. Thank you, ASARCO, for the financial
security you brought to my family. Most of all, thank you Lord for the precious memories and life that I continue to enjoy.
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