My name is Paul Joseph
Coleman. I was born July 30, 1910, a son of John Thomas and Annie
Laura Phelps Coleman, on a Wednesday in their home about 75 feet
east of Lesueur Street and 150 feet north of Main Street on land
presently known as Pioneer Park. My father sold his final ten acres
of this land between present day Lesueur Street east to present day
Hobson Street in 1928, just a few months after the Arizona Temple
was completed and dedicated across Main Street to the south. Mesa
Drive in those days was known as Hobson Street. I don’t know whether
the presently called Hobson Street had a name or not, but a few
names of families living on it
,—the only direction it traveled) were Entz on the south side of
Main Street; Hemperlys; then George “Well Rig” Peterson across the
street on the northeast corner; then next north were the Finleys;
then Nesmiths; then Sam L. Williams, the original Mesa second hand
store owner; then the Magnussons; then Griners, then the Hills, all
on the east side. The Frank Ellsworth family lived on the west side
about a quarter mile north of Main Street. Names of some of the
offspring of these families were Jerome, Marjorie, Sydney and John
Entz; Jessie, Minnie and George Peterson; Mahali, Valeda and Sam
Williams; Ivan and Delbert Magnusson; Merlin and Ellsworth Griner:
Edwin and Hill, Lora and Dora Ellsworth.
Those of us who were Mormons went to the First Ward, which included
the Colemans, Magnussons, Griners and Ellsworths, Pomeroys, Lesueurs,
Johnsons, Jones and Danas. When Lute and Ralph were first married,
they lived in a lumber house on the northeast corner of the ten
acres facing east on that street, the same house that Aunt Ann came
to later to live and then married father about 1920.
The house in which I was born burned when I was a baby. I have heard
that it was Halloween of 1910, Nannie was only about two and
one-half years old. The house was replaced by one built of adobe
that was square with a pretty good sized attic which had a pretty
good floor in it and windows that faced south, overlooking the front
yard and Main Street. The attic was not used for much except
storage. Some of the more interesting items stored there which would
be great to have now were some of Papa’s —we called our parents Papa
and Mama as was the general custom in those days—old stock
certificates representing investments in the old Goldfield and other
mining claims and Kelly fire retail outlets, and two or three of the
old hand crank wall phones that were used in those days.
Papa worked for the phone company installing poles and lines toward
Tucson (I have heard), and for the Mesa Flour Mill which was located
where Berge Ford’s used car lot now is facing Main Street between
Pomeroy and Mesa Drive. As noted above, he later added a porch
house. Main Street ran between what is now Country Club Drive, then
Crismon Street, to Mesa Drive, then Hobson. Heading east from there
past our place it was called Apache Trail, and from the west it was
called Tempe Road.
Papa was mainly a farmer and mother strictly a hardworking dedicated
homemaker. The home place was not the greatest for raising farm
products on. We had about half an acre of the old variety of
pomegranate, two or three mulberry trees at about the west central
part of the acreage near the corrals, and some peach trees on the
east side of the house. Other than the work horses and the ones the
kids, (especially Phil,) rode, they had a cow or two, lots of
guineas, Anaconda, Rhode Island red and Leghorn chickens, pigs and
wild quail. When they tried to raise any crop other than alfalfa,
such as cotton, the root rot in the ground would kill some of it,
including the fruit trees.
Papa cleared land down in Lehi along the Salt River between Gilbert
and Lehi Roads for free rent. The land was owned by Harry Chandler
of Chandler, W. R. Stewart, and Jim Johnson. They grew all kinds of
vegetables and brought them from there to the home in Mesa. We all
filled wash tubs full of water and washed the sweet potatoes which
sold anywhere from eight down to two cents per pound. We also washed
and bunched green onions, radishes, carrots, turnips, beets, etc.
Sometimes they had two peddling wagons pulled by horses or little
mules which Papa, Ralph and Elmer, or whoever loaded the vegetables
sold, along with groceries such as bread, cookies (including Fig
Newtons, I remember best) and candy. I enjoyed going along when I
could. Other crops they raised were green corn, watermelons and
cantaloupes. One time Papa raised a 52- pound watermelon and it was
displayed in John Connolly’s grocery store on the south side of Main
St. between Center and Macdonald. One year Papa raised and packed
cantaloupes down the Lehi hill on Alma School Road. man named
Cadwallader bought them, and my job was to load and deliver them in
our Model T Ford truck and then to a rail car at the Tremaine Ranch
on south Chandler Road. There was hardly a top on the cab of this
vehicle and no doors, so sometimes I got pretty well soaked by the
Our mother was a Phelps. She was a wonderful person. She raised
twelve children: Elmer, Luanne, Philip, Minnie, Naomi, Carl, Lottie,
Naimie, Paul, Oliver, Morris and Iris, not necessarily in that
order. She passed away about a month after Iris was born. All of us
were born in Mesa.
When we moved to Lehi about May 1920, I was in the 4th grade at
Franklin School. I had started in 1st and 2nd grades at Irving
School, Center Street at Second Street. I went to the 3rd grade
somewhere, then to Franklin at Main and Pomeroy. I graduated from
8th grade at Lehi. Lehi school had two classes in every room and
while one class studied, the other was in session. It never gave me
any trouble to study the present lesson while hearing a preview of
what was ahead next year.
When we first moved to Lehi, we lived in a one-room lumber frame
house about 16 feet by 20 feet. I guess the family there included
Nannie, Oliver, Iris, Me, Papa, Aunt Ann and her mother. Morris
stayed with Lute and Ralph, as he and Bernard were about the same
age. Later on we also had an Army tent about 14 by 14 for more space. Nannie did not go to school any more because of her nervous
condition. Oliver and I went to school with the Boyle kids, Ellis,
Herschel, Alice and Virginia, who had a horse-drawn light strip-down
wagon. Sometimes if we were tired, we would ride, but most of the
time we just ran along side.
We always laughed about a couple of customers, one with a twang in
his voice who wanted to buy a few onions to eat in his gravy, and
another who walked too close to the heels of the little ornery mules
and got out of reach just in time as Papa hollered at him. He then
invented the words as he said to his little son, “Son, your daddy
just had a close shave.”
Papa used to surprise Mama quite often bringing some guys, not
necessarily bums, home to eat with us. Some would also stay awhile.
The farthest back that I can remember was an alcoholic lawyer who
had been sent from back east by his folks who then sent him money to
live on. His name was Richard Vernon Newton Greaves. My older
sisters told me that he made us a barrel of sauerkraut. He was put
up in the harness and tack room near the corral. Another man named
“Old Man Dunn” stayed with us in Lehi until Papa ran him off.
Another came to stay and hunt and fish. His name was Bert Smith, and
he got along with us kids when we were living on the Stewart place.
After we had lived on Lehi Road for awhile, Elmer came to farm too,
and we moved on down the canal west about half a mile to the Stewart
place. When we moved from the Stewart Place to the Johnson place, I
wondered, and still do, if it wasn’t just to accommodate Columbus
Perry, Papa’s nephew-in-law. He was married to Papa’s niece, Mattie
Horsley. Their kids were Mabry, Erma, Radford, Phillip, Lloyd and
Leo. The Stewart Place had a little more room in it than any of the
others. At all three places we drank, bathed, swam and washed dishes
and clothes out side and in the canal water. We carried all the
water in buckets to the houses. When the water was muddy, we had to
let it stand to settle the mud out. We bathed in a wash tub when we
couldn’t do so in the canal, when it was too cold. In the
summertime, the drinking water was dipped from an Indian-made clay
olla wrapped outside with burlap. If we dipped out more water than
we drank, what was left in the dipper was poured on the burlap to
keep it wet and cool the water.
After we moved to Lehi, when I was about ten, we kids used to help
Papa with the farming. At first it was helping to irrigate, mainly
we held the tappoon [tarpaulin] on one end while Papa held the other
and we would put it across the irrigation ditch as a dam to send the
water out into the rows, usually cotton, corn, melons, vegetables
and sweet potatoes. The tappoon, a canvas about 4 feet by 12 feet,
was backed by a timber laid across from bank to bank horizontally,
then some stakes about four feet long vertically from the bottom of
the ditch to the horizontal timber. We always had two sets of
equipment so that we could have one ahead set before we pulled the
one from the area just irrigated.
Other things we did while we were still too light for heavy work but
heavy enough for light work, was milk the cow, set out sweet potato
plants, drop corn seed ahead of the machine Papa used to cover the
seed, chop Johnson grass and other weeds, thin cotton to about 8 to
10 inches, wash sweet potatoes and other vegetables and tie them in
bunches for the market, and lie down in the shade in the cotton or
other plant to rest when no one was looking.
As we got older, we cultivated cotton, corn, maize, etc. on a
cultivator, the likes of which I haven’t seen for years. It was
pulled by two horses, either Dick and Charley or Min and Maude, a
couple of sorrel mares. (Charley was born the same day that Nannie
was, so we always celebrated Nannie and Charley’ s birthday.)
I walked to Lehi school every day from the area of Gilbert Road and
the Salt River, about two miles, I guess. My best grades were in
arithmetic and spelling. My penmanship was poor and my grade for
English grammar was always a C. We also had classes in history and
geography. Along with studying and fun things, I was in one student
body play called, “The Conversion of Johnny Harrington.” I was
Johnny Harrington and my conversion was from not believing in Santa
Claus to believe when I got shoes and skates for Christmas. I
graduated from Lehi in May, 1924.
I was still living at North Gilbert Road when I started to high
school in September 1924. I would walk to Lehi School and catch the
bus to Mesa Union High School. We had students from three different
districts, Mesa kids from Franklin School, Alma School and Lehi
School. Because I knew that if I didn’t do well I would not be able
to get a good job, I applied myself in high school. My first choice
for a job was with the Johnson Pearce Company. I had worked for them
before, picking feathers off turkeys and picking figs and apricots.
Also, my brother Elmer and brother-in-law Ralph Matthews had worked
for them for many years. I wanted an office job, so the most
important subjects I took were bookkeeping, commercial law, and
Spanish. I also had algebra, shop, history, men’s chorus, etc. My
commercial teacher, J. C. Anderson recommended me, and my greatest
hopes were realized when I was hired May 30, 1929. I retired in
1975, but so far I am still there after more than 61 years
(10/1/90). The Pearces have always considered us family, not just
another employee, and have extended many benefits to us that would
not come from any other employer.
I first started keeping books and making income tax and other
reports for the Muñozes who own the El Charro Cafe in 1937.
Florentino Muñoz started the cafe on South Macdonald Street in Mesa
about 1926. He later moved into Mr. Pearce’s building in 1930.
In 1959 he built a new building at 105 North Country Club Drive. He
started a new corporation, the El Charro Restaurant, and when he
died he left his stock in the business to his son Alfred Muñoz, who
is still president and manager. Alfred gave me some stock and made
me secretary of the company. His sister, Ninfa, owns some stock and
is vice-president. The El Charro Cafe at 416 West Main is owned by
Alfred Muñoz and Rudolph Jaimes as partners.
In the old days I also have kept books for other businesses—Sam
Fried’s Shoe Store, Molly Fried’s Women’s Wear Store, Jaimes Men’s
Store, A-I Auto Clinic owned by William Vayne and Alfred Muñoz, the
Paul married Helen Elizabeth
Donaldson, who also was born in Mesa to George Washington and Lula
Faie Newell Donaldson. They were going to be married in Tombsone,
but when they got there, the justice was closed, so they went on to
Bisbee, Ariz. and got married on July 17, 1933.
August 29, 1934 Donna Kay was born, then three years later on Dec.
18, 1937, a son, Nicholas Kent, was born and they named him after
the attending physician, Melvin Lloyd Kent. Their third child, Anna
Ruth, was born Sept. 18, 1946.
Paul is a member of the LDS Church, having been blessed by M. Calvin
Phelps Oct. 2, 1910, then later baptized by Edgar Hunsaker July 31,
1919, and confirmed by Gove E. Phelps the following day.
Paul and Helen, at the time of this writing, have been married 62
years. Paul continues to go to work for the Pearce Development Co.
as it is now called.