Driving into town on Wednesday at dusk, the small downtown area was already decorated for Christmas and the storefronts were festive as well, beckoning the residents of the town and the surrounding ranchlands to shop for Christmas. The lights were not on yet, but Richard said that Friday night they would all go on at once, followed by a celebration sponsored by the local merchants and we’d probably check it out since many of the younger set would be there. We continued on for about a mile to arrive at our destination. It was an older two-story home with a big porch and the lights blazing, welcoming us for Thanksgiving. The grandparents were cheerful and bright and I could tell that Richard was important to them. We had soup and a sandwich for supper, told that tomorrow would be a meal we wouldn’t forget and from the aroma already permeating the kitchen, advance work was well underway.
Waking up early on Thanksgiving Day, we had a light breakfast and were told that Thanksgiving dinner would be at two and I helped Richard do a few chores and run a few errands for final preparations. Walking down the street downtown, some of his old high school friends approached, including a pretty girl who I could tell was sweet on him. She said there was a party Friday night after the lighting of the town and she wanted him to take her and also said she would line up a blind date for me. Shortly thereafter he told me that she was his sort of girlfriend, but his shyness was such that he didn’t say too much about girls. I always wondered about blind dates but Richard said she would be cute and fun for all of Becky’s friends were friendly. When we headed home it was only an hour before the big feast and we were ready. Five of his family members were there and they also treated me like I was just one of them and the dinner was the next best thing to being home myself. There was turkey with stuffing and baked ham, sweet and mashed potatoes with gravy and whole cranberry sauce, lots of good vegetables and fresh homemade rolls, plus both pumpkin and mincemeat pies, holiday pudding and ice cream. By the time all was said and done, we were stuffed and then we gathered around and watched the big game between the Cowboys and Redskins, hoping it would be a good one to keep us awake as the tryptophan kicked in. The grandfather laughed and told me he had never seen a Redskins fan before. I just smiled as I watched the Redskins lose again to the Cowpokes. That was often the case in those days.
We spent a slow and lazy Friday morning, but we did the dishes for his grandmother after breakfast and then went to the working ranch where Richard had a job during periods when school was not in session. It was a neat place and many local young people without a horse would go there to ride since the owner would trade riding time for volunteer labor. Becky was there with her friend, Annie, who would be my date that night. The four of us went riding through the Ponderosa pine forest and the many panoramas of the mountains and Annie was cute, fun, lively and we hit it off very well. Then later, we picked the girls up for the downtown extravaganza and the party. Annie taught me Western dancing that evening and we had a ball. It was a good time and I’m glad we went. I saw her one more time on another trip to Prescott, another fund time, but that was it.
Saturday was an easy day as a few of his friends dropped by and his grandparents went to Phoenix for the day. The Wildcats were playing in Tucson against their archrival Sun Devils from Tempe and we were glad we didn’t go back early for the game. It was not a good time for Arizona football and the big game was another disappointment, yet we watched it on television, the game for the Territorial Trophy. Come Sunday, we were off after breakfast and my sincere thanks to his grandparents. I was almost sad to go after all of the down- home treatment and food and we got back to Tucson around five in the afternoon as dusk was nearing and the campus was still almost empty. We were glad when Monday came and had not waited until the last minute to travel. Lots of professors decided to give pop quizzes that day and even though it was jus a quiz, a zero is hard to overcome. Prescott has grown by leaps and bounds since then, but the scenery is still superlative and they’ve done a good job to keep many of their traditions, like the renowned Prescott Rodeo, still a great event. It was a fond memory of a not-so-lonely holiday way out in Arizona country.