Schaughency Park

The Real True Legend of Schaughency Park


Once upon a time, rocks in the parking lot in front of the post office resembled a range of miniature Rockies. A loose coalition of citizens, or a coalition of loose citizens, decided to not only dig up said rocks, but create with them a village green where we could pillory our neighbors, dance around the May pole, and perform the due and proper rites of the seasons.

Early on the chill, bright morning of January 8, 1987, the denizens of Cave Creek Canyon assembled with wheelbarrows, pickaxes, shovels, pry bars and other blunt instruments.

The shape and size of the park were debated in true Portal fashion. One purpose was to keep vehicles from ramming into the large rock near where the barrel cactus now stands. The park also had to leave plenty of parking. While some dug and pried rocks from the almost-as-hard ground, others wheelbarrowed them to be arranged in the present oval, while still others dug holes for the two anchor trees. The pine was the gift of Mary and Bill Willy; their Christmas tree that year. Another evergreen was donated and planted by the Forest Service. Full of content and civic virtue, the weary wandered home.

Bert Schaughency, who at that time ably filled the post of Lovable Curmudgeon — long vacant, though Alden Hayes aspires to it on occasion — assailed one of the perpetrators thusly: “You didn’t hold a meeting! You didn’t give people a chance to say if they wanted a park. Cars are going to run into it. It’s an eyesore!”

At last said perpetrator said, “We’ll name it for you, Bert.” Later, when Bert was terminally ill, he enjoined his dear friends, Bob and O’Leary Squier, to bring the little tree from his Tucson patio and plant it in the park.

The Forest Service tree didn’t survive the transplant. Sally and Walter Spofford replaced it with an Arizona Cypress. It stands tall in Spoff’s memory, as the pine reminds us of Bill Willy. Hank Messick, in one of the last arduous things he was able to do, brought down and planted the barrel cactus. The small tree across the way by the concrete slab is also his gift. The pyracantha grows in memory of Mrs. Hollowell who loved to watch birds feed on the berries.

We don’t have a pillory and haven’t danced around the May pole, but we do carol at the park the day before Christmas. And we remember.


Jeanne Williams


Howard Topoff 2011