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Sunday, October 30, 2016


If you have lived in the Scottsdale area very long, you are probably familiar with how many items carry the name “McDowell.” You can observe the McDowell Mountains, gamble at Fort McDowell, visit McDowell Mountain Park or buy a car on McDowell Road. One would think this guy McDowell must have been quite a guy. In his own way, he was.

General Irvin McDowell (1818-1885) 
(National Archives)
In his early career beginning in the late 1830’s, Irvin McDowell held his own with guys like Ulysses Grant and Robert E. Lee. He graduated from West Point in 1838 at age 20 where he received his commission as a second lieutenant.  By 1856, he had fought in the Mexican War and had been promoted to the rank of major.

After his promotion to brigadier general during the Civil War in 1861, he fell into the trap of the Peter Principle as he was routed by Southern troops in the first and second battles of Bull Run in Virginia. After those embarrassments, he was considered an ineffective field general and was assigned to the lesser duty of being commander of the Department of the Pacific. Supposedly, during this duty he became familiar with the West and Arizona.  However, some historians claim that he never set foot in Arizona.

Regardless, in 1872 McDowell was promoted to major general in spite of his war record. He had served his country faithfully such as during his service in the West which included building a railroad bridge for the Southern Pacific over the Colorado River at Yuma in 1877. That bridge was important to western expansion.

In 1882, McDowell retired from the Army at age 64 having served for 44 years. He became a park commissioner for San Francisco and remained in that position until he died on May 4, 1885.

There will never be a movement to list General McDowell with guys like Eisenhower, Patton, Grant, and MacArthur as one of our greatest generals but his 44 years of military service are an accomplishment that should be noted. It would be a fitting gesture if some year on November's Veteran's Day, if you live in Arizona and are watching the sun shine on the McDowell Mountains, to give a nod, and maybe even a salute, and say, “Happy Birthday, Irvin and thanks for your 44 years of service to your country.”

Sunday, October 02, 2016


It is now the first week in October, 2016 in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area.  In most parts of the country October means thoughts of chilly nights and preparation for the onset of winter which is just around the corner.  

Ah, winter; I remember it well during my days in Cincinnati and Missouri.  Once it arrived with its ice, snow, and cold it was as though it would never leave.  In Arizona we love the winters with the sunny 70 degree days especially when we play golf on a January day while the northerners are shoveling snow.

Like practically everything in life, however, there is a bit of a payback for the northerners as we Arizonans have to endure 100 plus degree days practically every day from June into September and sometimes beyond.  Neither situation is perfect but since I have lived in Arizona since 1987, I obviously prefer the situation here.  There is something about ice cold car seats and heaters that don’t really work well in the extreme cold that makes me glad I have to search for a parking space with shade in the summer in Arizona.

So, while those living in the northern climes are piling on the firewood and warming up the car for fifteen minutes in the morning hoping the heater works, here are a few advantages for Arizonans as they prepare for winter as listed by Scott Craven of AZCENTRAL.COM.

1.  You can now launder the smelly shirt you have kept in the back seat of your car all summer for sweat emergencies.
2.  You can now fire up the stove and enjoy food that doesn’t have to fit in a toaster oven.
3.  You can walk the dog without having to set the alarm clock at 3:00 a.m.
4.  Prepare smug Facebook weather posts for comparisons with your East Coast friends.
5.  You can now enjoy the post-dryer warmth of bed sheets straight out of the dryer.
6.  You can now open the blinds and allow sunlight to shine on areas not illuminated since May!
7.  Two words:  Patio dining. 
8.  Prepare your cold weather gear as temperatures could plummet into the 60’s before you know it!
9.  Answer the usual “What do you want to do this weekend?” question without starting, “We’ll head north….
10.  Breathe deep the rich scent of manure as your neighbors prep their lawns for winter seeding.

Would you prefer to be the guy below or play golf in Arizona like pro champion Kirk Triplett?  DUH!