Transcript:

Pat McMahon (Narrator):
The 1970s for Arizona was a time of monumental change. We reached new heights, broke new ground, and faced horrors never imagined. The Valley of the Sun teemed with water, a Polynesian paradise sprang from the desert, and a group of what some saw as rag-tag hippies would change what we read and listened to forever. These are... “Arizona Memories from the '70s.” ACT I Pat McMahon: For a time, the '70s looked and sounded a lot like the '60s. Protests for equality and against the Vietnam War were common occurrences in Tucson and Phoenix. The dawn of a new decade offered at least the hope for more peaceful times. Phoenix turned 100 in 1970. From a dusty desert farm town grew a metropolis of nearly a million people. By the end of the '70s, another half million people called it home, making it the fastest growing in America, and yet at the beginning of the decade, even the big cities didn't feel so big.

Raul Castro:
Phoenix was a rural town and it was nothing exceptional. It was very much of a country community, really. Tucson was still a very small town, too. Farming was very predominant. We had a lot of Japanese farmers and cotton and lettuce and oranges.

Danny Zelisko:
Scottsdale stopped pretty much at Camelback. That was the boondocks. I mean, if you drove north of Camelback, it was like going to the forbidden zone.

Kay Butler:
My sisters lived in Phoenix. I lived-- to them-- way out in Tempe. There were some sheep ranchers out there, and there were times the traffic would be stopped while the people herding the sheep would just take their time, and the sheep aren't that fast.

Pat McMahon:
Change may have been in the air, but in Arizona's deserts, one thing remained relentlessly constant...the summer heat. A refuge appeared on the banks of the Salt River between Scottsdale and Tempe when, in 1970, Clairol, a company promoting its surfing look, teamed with a local engineer to build...Big Surf!

Hans Olson:
You know, I came from Southern California and the ocean, and being out here is the one thing we missed, was the beach. So one day somebody said, "Why don't we go to Big Surf?" And I thought, "What is that?" And we walk in there. And I said, "Okay, I'm at the beach."

George Weisz:
Big Surf was pretty cool. That was like the ocean in the desert. Some people had bikinis then. If the waves are right, it might wash some of them off. So that was always a big thing. You'd have to be careful where all the children were because the water was not always blue in those areas.

Kay Butler:
I took my kids to Big Surf, and then there were times when they were old enough that I could just dump them, you know. This is a thing that a lot of mothers in the '70s did. We dropped our kids off and left them. Probably not until they were, you know, 10 and 12, but still...

Pat McMahon:
As a kid, Dave Manning spent entire summers at Big Surf, and he wasn't alone.

David Manning:
You had all ages. I remember grandparents sitting on the beach and watching the action in the water, even though they never got in the water. Every weekend you had late night dance nights. Then during the days it was sun and sand and surf. It was pandemonium. Rafts running over heads. Everywhere rafts running over rafts. People washing up onto the beach. I think one of the funniest things in summer was how hot the sand got. People would race across it as quickly as possible. Pat McMahon: But Dave wasn't interested in swimming or rafting. He was there to surf.

David Manning:
You had all these diverse characters together from all over the valley who had this brotherhood and camaraderie and really truly developed a culture that revolved around our beach and our waves. The culture was genuine. The waves were artificial. Pat McMahon: Over time, new water parks featuring tubes, slides and falls opened across the valley. But for Arizonans in the '70s, Big Surf was the cool way to keep cool. Pat McMahon: On a crisp December evening in 1970, The Pioneer Hotel in downtown Tucson buzzed with shoppers, guests, and hundreds gathered for holiday parties. Then someone smelled smoke.

Radio Dispatcher:
Pioneer Hotel, Engine 1, 2, 3... Jake Crellin: An early morning fire has swept through the downtown Pioneer Hotel leaving at least 28 persons dead and injuring two dozens more, some critically. The fire, believed to be the worst tragedy in Tucson's modern history, broke out on the 4th floor shortly after midnight and spread rapidly down to the 3rd floor and up to the 9th floor through an open stairway catching many of the victims before they had a chance to flee.

Woman:
We heard the people screaming and the sheets hanging out of the windows and people—many begging someone to come and help them. We saw several people jump from the window.

Pat McMahon:
In the end, 29 people died and 27 were injured, including several firefighters. Among the dead, a mother and her five children, and the hotel's original owners, Harold and Peggy Steinfeld. The 16-year-old convicted of setting the blaze is still serving a life sentence, all the while insisting he's innocent. What was once the Pioneer Hotel is now an office building, and most Tucsonans who pass it do so without realizing that it was here that their city's most horrific tragedy unfolded. Tucson would demolish much of its old downtown in the '70s, replacing barrios with shopping and office complexes, the Tucson Museum of Art, and the Tucson Community Center.

Pat McMahon:
The Valley of the Sun also leveled the old to make way for the new. City halls, civic plazas offices, shopping malls and banks, including the still-tallest building in Arizona, would rise during this boom. Despite all the construction downtown, more and more people were moving to the newly developed suburbs on the edge and beyond the edge of town. Sun Lakes in Chandler, Dobson Ranch in Mesa, McCormick Ranch in Scottsdale, and The Lakes in Tempe were the first to feature man-made lakes.

Mary Jo West:
Oh, The Lakes! I always wanted to live in The Lakes. I remember The Lakes being built. And Ahwatukee-- I still have trouble saying it. I couldn't understand why anyone would want to live there. And I just remember it getting farther and farther and farther.

Kay Butler: I thought that the only people in Ahwatukee would be retired people, and in Fountain Hills, nobody would go there.

Ruth Sandoval: In the '60s we basically stayed in neighborhoods. Everybody knew each other. Everybody knew their neighbors. They did family things together. And once the '70s came, I think it just sort of spread out the families just a little bit more.

Pat McMahon: All this growth had some screaming for more freeways while others feared that Phoenix might become another Los Angeles. The Papago Freeway became the focus of the fight over growth in the '70s. Designed in the '60s, The Papago would be an extension of Interstate 10 cutting right through downtown. It was to be an elevated roadway standing 10 stories high and featuring two giant circular on and off ramps known as helicoils. By the early '70s, neighborhoods had already been purchased and demolished.

G.G. George: When I saw what the freeway was doing to the beautiful homes in its path, and my home was six blocks to the north, equally beautiful, built in the '20s, we organized and we would go down to City Hall by the busloads and testify before the Phoenix City Council.

Pat McMahon:
Jana Bommersbach covered the Papago Freeway controversy for The Arizona Republic. The newspaper originally championed the freeway. As details emerged, the “Republic” campaigned against it.

Jana Bommersbach:
And that changed the course of the freeway. When people realized what those helicoils were all about and what this 10 story thing-- and the dead land below it-- that would have been like a junk area below that. Who would have ever built down there? Nobody would have built a thing down there.

G.G. George:
What actually stopped the freeway in 1973 was a vote that the council allowed to happen, and the newspaper made it clear to everyone in the city of Phoenix what was going on, and the vote was 53% to stop the freeway against 47% in favor of the freeway. That brought it to a screeching halt.

Pat McMahon:
Eventually, a section of I-10 would be built through downtown. The subterranean design reduced the number of homes and businesses demolished, but not before countless homes were destroyed to make way for the elevated freeway that never was. By 1980, the Valley of the Sun had only 32 miles of freeways, including the Superstition, which residents were amazed took them all the way to Dobson Road. Growth was not a statewide phenomenon. As Interstate 40 was being completed across northern Arizona, major sections of Route 66 were bypassed. So, too, were the towns that depended on it to survive. Some towns withered and died. Others, like Winslow, survived on the railroad and, ironically, Route 66 nostalgia.

Pat McMahon:
In the high desert 35 miles east of Prescott there was a new town emerging in 1970... Arcosanti. The vision of architect Paolo Soleri, the community espoused a self-sufficient environmentally sensitive lifestyle. To some, these newcomers were visionaries. To many of central Arizona's long-time ranching families, their new neighbors' way of life wasn't so...new.

Elaine Farr:
We thought it was hysterical. We sustain ourselves on the land already. That was a lifestyle. And they acted like it was a whole new concept. "Well, we're going to live off the land!" Come out to my house. Let me show you how to live without electricity. And I—we perfected a three-minute shower.

Pat McMahon:
A new generation came of age in the '70s, the baby-boomers, the largest generation in American history, and in Arizona they made their presence felt.

John Ridgway:
Arizona in the early '70s was one of the coolest places to come to...the Mill Avenue scene in particular.

Danny Zelisko:
Mill Avenue was incredible. Anybody who lived in this area at that time will agree it was magic.

Hans Olson:
Everything was changing, and instead of it just being a cowboy town, it became one of the hippest places in the United States.

Pat McMahon:
They challenged the status quo, especially in their opposition to the war in Vietnam. Believing that their opinions and concerns were not being voiced by the established newspapers of the day, they created new publications such as The Razz Revue and New Times.

Jana Bommersbach:
New Times was a totally--like the kid on the block who said, "Are you kidding me?! You might say that this is the story, but the real story is...who's winning and who's losing? Whose power is being challenged? Who's misusing their power?” And we were doing some incredible journalism.

Pat McMahon:
Their clothes, their language--even their political views--screamed of a new way of looking at the world.

Bob Boze Bell:
We ran him for governor.

Russ Shaw:
Yeah.

Bob Boze Bell:
And in a state that desperately needed a dose of new ideas, you came up with some really catchy campaign promises.

Russ Shaw:
Well, free food, free gas, the elimination of all taxes, free cushy political jobs for all people that voted for me--it was just really a big joke. Bob Boze Bell: And there's the '70s right there!

Pat McMahon:
Music was the true voice of this generation. At the dawn of the '70s, Arizona was still more country than city, and so was its music.

Pat McMahon:
Country soon gave way to country rock...rock, bluegrass and blues.

Hans Olson with Cosmo Topper (singing):
I got my mojo working, But it just don't work on you I got my mojo working...

Jana Bommersbach:
It was also a scene of jazz. The jazz scene in Arizona in the '70s was hot. People were coming from the east coast to come to Phoenix to listen to jazz.

Pat McMahon:
The '70s saw the emergence of the rock festival...large concerts featuring multiple bands and venues such as Feyline Field, Veterans Memorial Coliseum and Big Surf. Even Arcosanti staged benefit concerts. That ended in 1978 when a brush fire consumed the cars of over 100 concert-goers.

Hans Olson:
And mine was one of them and I lost everything I owned, my clothes-- I was just down to zero that day. It was a bad day for me. But, I rose above it.

Pat McMahon:
Arizona's musicians helped define '70s music nationwide. Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Stevie Nicks, Linda Ronstadt, Alice Cooper, and The Tubes all had Arizona roots.

Alice Cooper:
One of the reasons Frank Zappa was so taken back by us, he says, "If you guys were from San Francisco or New York or New Orleans, it would be really understandable that you're this kind of artistic outrageous sort of act. But you're from Phoenix," You know. And we went, "Yeah," you know. He said, "Aren't The Tubes from Phoenix?" And we went, "Yeah, they're our friends."

Fee Waybill:
Most of the people thought we were from San Francisco, but in Arizona we were always an Arizona band and we were always Arizona boys and we always have been. We all grew up here. And we became twisted because of Arizona. Radio Announcer: With offices in a lovely ex-Safeway building in downtown Mesa, Arizona, this is KDKB, Mesa, Arizona.

Pat McMahon:
If music was the voice of this generation, KDKB and its predecessor KCAC were its megaphones.

Radio Announcer:
KDKB-FM, Mesa-Phoenix...Flagship station, Dwight Karma broadcasting.

Pat McMahon:
AM Top 40 dominated popular radio of the day. That was until Bill Compton and his friends from Texas began broadcasting on KCAC, a humble daytime-only station. While KCAC was changing the radio landscape, it was failing financially. Dwight Tindle and Eric Hauenstein, two easterners looking to start their own radio station, purchased an easy-listening station in Mesa and hired Bill Compton and the rest of the staffers of KCAC. The Arizona radio and music scene changed...forever.

Jerry Riopelle:
KDKB with Bill Compton as music director was the most free-form radio I ever heard in my life, and literally disc jockeys could play what they wanted to play.

Marty Manning:
It was funny because people would say, "Oh, your station doesn't have any format." Every station has a format. Our format was we didn't have a format, but--

Russ Shaw:
It was every single disc jockey was like an artist. They weren't really just playing songs. They were sort of composing in a way. I don't mean to make it sound too heavy, but they were literally picking out these collages.

John Dixon:
They would go classical music. They'd do world music. They'd do jazz. They'd do rock-'n-roll. They'd do funk.

Hans Olson:
Then you would hear Beethoven, a classical song, in the afternoon on a rock station, and so a guy like me would go, "I love this station!" Radio Announcer: Welcome to Forum for a Thursday night...

Pat McMahon:
KDKB had 15-minute news breaks and a nightly hour-long public affairs program for which it won a prestigious Peabody Award. It wasn't just radio...it was family.

Danny Zelisko:
Every car in this town, Tempe, had a KDKB bumper sticker.

Bob Boze Bell:
You would rise 10 points in hipness factor and people would flash you the peace sign just because you had that on your car.

Joe Refnes, Jr.:
I still have one.

Clark Rorbach:
It's probably on the same car.

Pat McMahon:
The early days of KCAC and KDKB had a magical musical spirit. Ask those who were there where it came from and one name comes to mind...Bill Compton.

Danny Zelisko:
Compton had a way of bringing an all the spirits, all the forces of music.

John Dixon:
He was the spokesman for a whole generation here in Phoenix and he would represent the hippies in Phoenix-- and you were really happy because he was very well spoken.

Bob Boze Bell:
He was the most charismatic person I think I've ever met in my life.

Marty Manning:
But he also was a real professional. He understood what made radio work.

Voice of Bill Compton:
“And we have Stephanie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac here in the studio with us to talk to us a little bit.

Voice of Stevie Nicks:
Hello, Bill. Thank you. Fleetwood Mac is a very, very special bunch of people. I'm not talking about me. I'm talking about the other four.

Danny Zelisko:
He proved that with constant air play of great music you could take off-the-wall musicians and bands and entities like that and actually turn them into a force that could sell tickets.

Pat McMahon:
One of those musicians Compton took a liking to was Jerry Riopelle. Riopelle became a favorite son of the Arizona music scene beginning with his first concert in 1974. His annual New Year's Eve concerts were legendary. He played where most of the KDKB discoveries played, The Celebrity Theatre.

Jerry Riopelle singing:
Well I might be in hock tomorrow Halfway to my neck

Jerry Riopelle:
It very quickly became insane. I mean, it just did. You think everybody knows every word there are so many people singing, and halfway through the set there's all these people that are dancing, you know, and, I thought, "look, we're a dance act."

Jerry Riopelle singing:
And I don't get paid just For wishing

Jerry Riopelle:
It got so personal. It just-- we were like old friends and we're just cranking it, you know, and it would just be a stand-up deal for two hours.

Radio:
Let's sing "Merry Christmas" all together. We wish you a Merry Christmas We wish you a Merry Christmas

Pat McMahon:
In December 1975, many of the KDKB family gathered for a live holiday broadcast. Few could fathom that within months Bill Compton would be fired, and in June 1977, on the verge of his next musical adventure, he died in an automobile accident. Bill Compton and others from KCAC and KDKB ignited a musical chain reaction. The Celebrity Theatre remained the hippest venue in Arizona for years to come. Jerry Riopelle continued to sell out concerts for over 30 years. And classic rock artists Compton introduced to Arizonans in the '70s are still played today on the station he helped create, KDKB.

Hans Olson:
Bill had just planted this great seed, and by the time he passed away, it was a full-blown tree of culture.

Pat McMahon:
We didn't have the Cardinals to cheer for back in the '70s, but that didn't mean we didn't have... sports!

Pat McMahon:
Before the Diamondbacks, Arizonans rooted for the minor league Phoenix Giants and major league spring training was already in full swing in the Valley, Casa Grande, Tucson and Yuma. Long before the Coyotes laced up their skates the Phoenix Roadrunners were shooting and checking their way into Arizona hockey history, winning the Western Hockey League Championships in 1973 and '74.

Richard Sartor:
The term “blood on the ice” meant something back then. I mean when you got in fist fights, they were real fist fights and you didn't have to worry about the guy spitting out his mouthpiece or having a helmet or face guard or anything because they didn't exist.

Pat McMahon:
The Phoenix Suns joined the NBA at the end of the '60s. They made NBA history in 1976.

Al McCoy:
When the team surprised everybody and made its way to the NBA finals against the famed Boston Celtics. Brent Musberger: This has been one incredible evening in the history of championship play in the NBA.

Pat McMahon:
Game 5 is NBA legend. With one second left in double overtime and the Suns trailing by two, Gar Heard caught an inbound pass and fired a 20-foot arching jump shot, sending the game into triple overtime. Arizonans were glued to their televisions or radios.

Richard Sartor:
I was in my patrol car, and between calls I was cursing everybody calling because every time I got out of the car, I just knew it was going to end, I was going to miss the end of the game, and I would come back and there's Al McCoy yelling and hollering and going hoarse about..."The Suns, the Cinderella team, oh, my God, double overtime, triple overtime!" I'm like, "Oh, God, and I'm missing it." I remember that pretty vividly.

Producer (Off-camera):
Did you miss it?

Richard Sartor:
Yes. Got a call to a domestic and missed it.

Pat McMahon:
Unfortunately, Boston would go on to win the game and the finals. But the '76 Suns put Phoenix on the professional sports map.

Al McCoy:
The first triple overtime game ever in the history of the NBA finals and a game that still is called by fans as the greatest basketball game ever played.

Pat McMahon:
The nation started to take note of Arizona's college teams. Both the University of Arizona and Arizona State University were national champions in baseball, and Grand Canyon College won a national basketball championship twice during the decade. But by far, Arizona's most successful college sports program of the '70s was Sun Devil football under Coach Frank Kush.

Pat McMahon:
Between 1969 and 1977, ASU topped the Western Athletic Conference seven times. 129 players from Kush-coached teams made it to the pros. Unbeaten in 1970, ASU faced North Carolina in a wintry Peach Bowl, the Sun Devils first post-season action since the 1950 Salad Bowl. Frank Kush: We came out at halftime and we were losing, and I kind of got on them at halftime and everything else, and we really started playing great defense, and Joe "Spag" threw to J.D. Hill. A couple times we scored. And we beat them pretty handily. They did not score another touchdown. So we beat them something like 45-36.

Pat McMahon:
In 1971, ASU's success coupled with frustration over their being overlooked each bowl season sparked local business leaders to create Arizona's own bowl game, the Fiesta Bowl. As conference champions, ASU played in five of the first seven Fiesta Bowls, winning all but one.

Frank Kush:
The big one was 1975, the Nebraska game. Dennis Sproul, our quarterback, got hurt. We sent Fred Mortenson in, and Fred did a commendable job. My son Dan kicked three field goals. He finally kicked the winning field goal, and that had to be one of the greatest football teams we've ever had.

Pat McMahon:
Although the Fiesta Bowl generated excitement and the Phoenix Suns statewide pride, for Arizonans of the '70s, there was still just one must-see sporting event.

Danny Spitler:
That would be the ASU/U of A game.

Bob Boze Bell:
U of A/ASU.

Al McCoy:
ASU and U of A.

Joe Refnes, Jr.:
ASU and U of A.

Christine Marin:
That was the biggest game of the year.

Richard Sartor:
That was the statewide rivalry. I mean, people that didn't even go to either one of those schools would choose sides.

Christine Marin:
People traveled no matter the distance, from Flagstaff, from the mining towns, no matter where you were, you made that trip.

George Weisz:
And it was packed. The stadiums were packed.

Kay Butler:
The end zone was full of kids. No adults down there. Kids running around like crazy, occasionally finding their parents and asking for money.

Clark Rorbach:
We used to go to the games and sit on the "A" Mountain, and we could watch the game from up there, which was pretty crazy, because there was some pretty good parties going on up on that mountain. One guy we looked at...we saw him one minute and we didn't see him.

Joe Refnes, Jr.:
Oh, yeah.

Clark Rorbach:
We think he went over. There was always somebody falling off that mountain during the games in the '70s. Luckily, it wasn't us.

Frank Kush:
And the rivalry between the two institutions, it wasn't only athletically, it was academically, socially and everything else.

Raul Castro:
Oh, gosh, it was just a sin to even mention ASU.

Christine Marin:
You wouldn't even dare talk about being from Tucson.

Bob Boze Bell:
Frank Kush handed us our heads every Thanksgiving, and it became just a terrible, terrible thing. But we lived for that.

Frank Kush:
I had our guys so fearful of me they were scared of contending with me in contrast to playing the U of A and losing to them, because there's no doggone way that I thought we were going to lose to those rascals. But I enjoyed it because we were winning. Now, if we had been losing, it might have been a different story.

Pat McMahon:
The U of A/ASU rivalry wasn't the only time-honored tradition in the '70s. There was The Wallace & Ladmo Show.

Pat McMahon:
Wallace, Ladmo and Gerald started entertaining Arizonans in the '50s and continued throughout the '70s and '80s. One viewer who grew up watching in the '60s became an international rock music icon in the '70s.

Gerald:
And he owes it all to me!

Alice Cooper:
A lot of our dark sense of humor, which was a big part of Alice Cooper, we had a very black unique sense of humor in what we were doing, was from Wallace & Ladmo. And people go, "No," and I go, "Yeah." Wallace and Ladmo with Pat McMahon had this dark, subversive sense of humor, and we bought into that. We loved the fact that it was a kiddie show and yet there was another level to it. We were college kids watching Wallace & Ladmo going, "Hey, that was funny!" And there was so much of that that ended up in our repertoire. So I have always given Wallace & Ladmo that tip of the hat because I think that they did affect our sense of humor.

Television Reporter:
On Monday picketers appeared before the state capitol...

Pat McMahon:
Television changed dramatically in the '70s. Phoenicians only had six channels to choose from, and local TV was where most went for their news. Although there were minority and women reporters, all the prime time anchors were white men. Then along came Mary Jo West.

Mary Jo West:
A memorial to the 1,100 men killed when the "USS Arizona" was sunk at Pearl Harbor...

Hans Olson:
Oh, I loved Mary Jo West. Of course, now there's so many women anchors, but she was a pioneer.

Kay Butler:
I thought she was very good, very professional, very beautiful, and I thought She was a fluke, and it wouldn't happen for anyone else.

Al McCoy:
There was a lot of pressure, and she had to be extremely professional. She had to be very, very good because she was going to be viewed very closely by the television audience.

Carol Lynde:
She was the first, and she was good, and I was like, "Yeah, do it!"

Mary Jo West:
When I came to Channel 10, it was called KOOL-TV, and my boss and co-anchor was a man named Bill Close, and he had certain rules about what women could and could not do, and we could not, for goodness sakes, wear slacks. We could not wear pants. And you couldn't go out of town to do a story because obviously, you know, you might get romantic with the camera person. At that time it was just men.

Mary Jo West on video:
Governor Wesley Bolin is here in our studios, and, Governor, You've had a very busy day. What is that…

Mary Jo West:
I remember The Phoenix Gazette at the time, the headline said, "Anchorette Debuts" and I wanted to be more than an anchorette. I wanted to do stories with substance and to show that women don't detract from the news but can add perhaps even something special that men could not.

Pat McMahon:
Women were making strides off camera as well. Carol Lynde was hired as a part-time film editor in 1976, but she wanted to shoot.

Carol Lynde:
And then one day one of the photographers fell off the roof of his house and broke his arm in three places and I had a job. Pat McMahon: Lynde went on to win 10 Emmys and shooting all sorts of surprising situations over the next 30-plus years. But one moment stands out. In May of 1979, Lynde became the first female TV photographer to enter the Phoenix Suns locker room, following her reporter, who knew a shortcut. Carol Lynde: And he takes us through the showers, and so it's like, "Oh, my... Oh, my... Oh, my." And so he went around and did his interviews with Walter Davis and Gar Heard and folks who were there at the time. They kind of laughed that I was in there, but they weren't bothered by it. There was nobody saying, you know, "Get her out of here" or anything like that, but you did kind of have to-- you didn't know where to put your eyes.

Pat McMahon:
Advances for women were not exclusive to television, and certainly not Arizona. Women across the nation demanded equal rights. Some pushed for an amendment to the constitution to ensure them.

Jana Bommersbach:
Women at that point had had enough. I mean, the '60s we thought was a fight for equality. But what we discovered was a lot of our brothers really wanted us still to type the papers, not write them, and cook the meals. And so women started saying "No!"

Pat McMahon:
During the ‘70s, more women than ever before entered the workforce and were elected into government. Margaret Hance became Phoenix's first female mayor, and Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female majority leader of the Arizona State Senate.

Mary Jo West:
The '70s was the time when women were able to get out and do their thing, and it came at a price. Lots of criticism. Lots of heartbreak. But it was time for women to make that next move.

Mary Jo West on television:
I'm Mary Jo West... Good night.

Pat McMahon:
Women were not the only Arizonans fighting for equality in the '70s. Blacks, American Indians and Hispanics all called for fairer pay, opportunities in the workplace, and equal treatment in the schools.

Christine Marin:
Chicanos Por la Causa, for example, or the Barrio Youth Project, are just two examples of civil rights organizations founded in Phoenix in the early 1970s.

Crowd chanting:
"Si Se Puede"

Pat McMahon:
The nation's eyes would be fixed on the state many times during the '70s when Arizonan Cesar Chavez would fast and lead strikes, boycotts and marches, calling for better pay and working conditions for farm workers. Christine Marin, then a student at ASU, remembers seeing Chavez at the Santa Rita Center in Phoenix.

Christine Marin:
And I looked around and I saw common, ordinary working people with families and children. I saw farm workers there, politicians there, students there from ASU. I saw professional people there. Cesar Chavez being in this hall brought all of us together for a common cause of social justice and fairness, and that love that permeated that room that I could feel brought me back.

Pat McMahon:
Arizonans elected the state's first Hispanic governor in 1974. With the slogan, "A Choice for Change," Raul Castro won when the final votes came in from the Navajo Reservation.

Raul Castro:
I always had faith in the American public. I always get the feeling that if you convinced the American public that you're honest, have honest convictions, and sincere about what you're doing, that they will follow you and will support you.

Pat McMahon:
Just three months before Raul Castro was elected governor, Richard Nixon, facing likely impeachment as a result of the Watergate break-in and cover-up resigned as President of the United States. Arizonans played a paramount role when Senator Barry Goldwater and Congressman John Rhodes counseled Nixon to step down the night before his announcement. America endured another shameful event 10 months later when in April 1975 the last Americans unceremoniously left Vietnam. Although this marked the official end of the war, American soldiers had journeyed back home through airports like Sky Harbor for years. For many of them, it was a difficult transition.

John Dixon:
Well, you faced a—number one, an unknowing populace. I mean, people didn't know what you had been through. And there was no parade. Second World War, man, you got the ticker tape parade and you got to kiss chicks. There was a feeling of an accomplishment, that you had done something that the community appreciated it and they're going to show you that they appreciated it. Vietnam, you just kind of dribbled off the plane and suddenly you were back in society with really no thank you, with really no one, and everyone just hated the war so much that they didn't want to talk about it.

Pat McMahon:
In 1976 the country had at least one thing to feel good about...the United States Bicentennial. The Bicentennial was celebrated on Sunday, July 4th, 1976, the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. For America's eastern states, the party began well before that and went on for months. There were elaborate fireworks, parades and even commemorative Bicentennial coins and stamps. While there seemed to be an event every week in Boston, Philadelphia and other major cities east of the Salt River, most Arizonans had a different reaction.

Producer (off-camera):
Do you remember the Bicentennial? Al McCoy: You know, I really don't.

George Weisz:
Oh, Bicentennial. Wow...

Raúl Castro:
I don't recall vividly any great occurrence in '76 in the Bicentennial in Arizona.

Carol Lynde:
I know we had one.

George Weisz:
Um...Where was I during the Bicentennial?

Jana Bommersbach:
I don't remember the Bicentennial. When was that?

Al McCoy:
The Bicentennial year was what year? You have to tell me.

Producer (off-camera):
'76.

Al McCoy:
'76.

Clark Rorbach:
1976.

Joe Refsnes Jr:
'76.

Jana Bommersbach:
'76.

Al McCoy:
The only thing I remember about 1976 was the triple overtime loss in Boston Garden.

George Weisz:
…because I was really into all that stuff.

Jana Bommersbach:
The Bicentennial came and went. I don't remember a single major thing in Phoenix, Arizona happening during that time. I don't think we celebrated it.

Carol Lynde:
I don't remember covering it. I don't remember an event about it.

Clark Rorbach, Joe Refsnes Jr:
I don't think anybody cared back then. I mean, because we were in college, so it was just--it was a day. We probably went out and had beers, but...

George Weisz:
I just got my master's. I had just-- oh, I don't know.

Kay Butler:
The Bicentennial train came through Tempe, and so my husband and I took our children down there and they got to see the train and all the music and all the festivities. So-- but most of the Bicentennial stuff I don't--I don't really remember. I was just a baby.

Pat McMahon:
Many Arizonans shared one unique collective memory of the '70s. No, it wasn't 8-track tapes, Farrah Fawcett's hair, nor even the CB radio craze. It was...the floods! Dams store water in reservoirs for use during drier months. Sudden, excessive rainfall can fill the reservoirs and water must be released...sometimes lots of water. And in Arizona in the '70s, there was a lot of sudden, excessive rainfall. In the first half of the decade, three powerful storms hit Arizona killing over 30 people and destroying or damaging nearly a thousand homes. Then in 1978, the weather turned really nasty.

Hans Olson:
All of a sudden that Salt River would become a raging, giant river.

Jay Mark:
Churning, lots of debris coming down the river.

Kay Butler:
Just unbelievable amount of water, and flowing so fast.

Jay Mark: You would get junk cars going down, lots of debris, trees coursing down that river, hitting off the bridges.

Richard Sartor:
The water actually crept right up to the edge of town. We had people evacuated. We had people in the gymnasium, living with other people.

Ray Murdock:
They literally were going door to door and warning people that they might want to move because there was uncertainty about how long Roosevelt Dam--if it was going to be able to hold up.

Mary Jo West:
And had that happened, we would have had a natural disaster as horrible, I feel, in some ways almost as bad as Katrina.

Danny Zelisko:
It was incredible. I mean, that stuff is powerful. People would try to cross it...Dead.

Pat McMahon:
Between October 1977 and February 1980, there were seven floods. Phoenix was declared a disaster area three times and 18 people lost their lives.

Mary Jo West:
It was terrifying, and that was the time that the helicopter reporting really came into the forefront in television news. Jerry Foster flying over and showing the flash flooding, and the cars and the cactus going down the river.

Carol Lynde:
I remember being in Channel 3's helicopter when the water was starting to come down Salt River towards the Tempe bridge, and we're kind of following in front of it in the air, but seeing kids and people running out in front of the water like, "Hey, this is great," and you're just terrified they're going to get swept away.

Pat McMahon:
Experts call them 100-year floods, a term that refers to the magnitude of a flood rather than its time frame, a detail lost on those witnessing the cataclysm.

Hans Olson:
They called it the hundred-year flood. The first time I thought, "Well, good, then it won't happen for a hundred years." And they said, "Well this is a different hundred-year flood," and...

Jana Bommersbach:
How many 100-year floods did we have in the '70s? It seemed to me we had one everyother Tuesday. I first got here and I had to cover one of them. They kept saying, "This is a hundred-year flood." And I said, "What does that mean?" They said, "This is the severity of a flood that will only happen once in a hundred years."

Hans Olson:
Then a couple years later we'd have another hundred-year flood.

Jana Bommersbach:
It just kept getting to be like flood, flood, flood, flood, flood.

Mary Jo West archive footage:
Good evening. Arizona Governor Wesley Bolin is dead.

Pat McMahon:
In the midst of the '78 floods, Governor Wesley Bolin died of a heart attack. He'd only recently been appointed to replace Raúl Castro, who was named the U.S. Ambassador to Argentina. The job of leading the state in this time of crisis fell to then Attorney General Bruce Babbitt. Bridges throughout Arizona had been destroyed. In downtown Phoenix, only the Central Avenue bridge stood fast. East Valley residents nervously eyed their newly constructed bridges connecting Scottsdale to Mesa and Tempe.

Hans Olson:
And these brand-new bridges that cost millions and millions of dollars on rural and McClintock would just wash out.

George Weisz:
And one remained, and that was the Mill Avenue bridge, which was the oldest bridge and the best-built bridge.

Hans Olson:
And then we'd all have to get on that bridge. It would take three hours to get from Tempe to Scottsdale, and it was just horrible. There was no way to get from Phoenix-Scottsdale to Tempe-Mesa but that Mill Avenue bridge.

Jana Bommersbach:
It played havoc with this community for a long--you know, the bridges were out. South Phoenix was totally isolated. You couldn't even get from south Phoenix to north Phoenix. You know, you couldn't get around. I mean, one year we had the "Hattie B," which was the train.

Mary Jo West:
The railroad bridge survived. People could take the rails into Phoenix on the "Hattie B," and the "Hattie B" was named after Hattie Babbitt because she said, "I'm going to ride it to show that this can work."

Jay Mark:
The "Hattie B" was a cobbled together train.

Carol Lynde:
And it ran from the Phoenix depot into Tempe to get people back and forth across the river.

Jay Mark:
And it was packed every morning and every night. Sadly, though, as soon as the water receded and bridges were repaired, the "Hattie B" kind of went away.

Carol Lynde:
And so here we are now building light rail when we had the "Hattie B" years ago and it worked just great.

Pat McMahon:
By the 1990s, Salt River Project and the federal government completed more than $400 million in improvements on the Salt and Verde River dams, measures designed to keep flooding like that of the '70s and early '80s a distant memory.

Richard Sartor:
Well, I can laugh at them now. I sure didn't laugh at them then.

Carol Lynde:
I remember never being so wet in my life...never being so cold in my life.

Mary Jo West:
It was a very, very scary time.

Pat McMahon:
You'd think that with all the floods, Arizonans would have had their fill of the Salt River, but once the summer heat returned, an annual migration began to tube the Salt.

Alice Cooper:
Well, tubing was a rite of passage. I mean everybody did that.

Mary Jo West:
Oh, tubing the Salt River was fabulous! You had to do that, you know, as a newcomer.

George Weisz:
That's before they had buses to take you up and vans.

Marty Manning:
And there were only a couple ways to get there. You would take Shea all the way up, go up that way, or you could go up the Bush Highway from Mesa, and you had to take your own tubes.

Clark Rorbach and Joe Refsnes Jr:
And there was one gas station, which was right where Shea is now. There was a Standard station. It was the only-- that's the last place you were going to get a tube, okay?

Danny Spitler:
And you had to have two vehicles, though, because you had to have a vehicle parked up on the Salt where you were going to get in and down at the Verde where you were going to get out. I would be driving the pickup, so I would have the five girls in the cab with me and the guys would have to be stacked on top of the inner tubes or hanging off the side.

Marty Manning:
It looked like "Grapes of Wrath" or something and cars going up to the river with tubes tied all over the place.

Danny Spitler:
Then we would just put the tubes in and have great day.

Bob Boze Bell:
All of a sudden you're in heaven and you've gone away from the shore and you're on a journey. It's "Huck Finn." It's the whole "Tom Sawyer" deal. And there you are out there, and there's pretty girls with halter tops on, and some without halter tops on, and, I don't know, to me, that's just somehow about as American as you can get.

Marty Manning:
Everybody would take beer along but they would usually just kind of tie it to the tube and let it hang in the water or something like that.

Bob Boze Bell:
And there was always accidents there and you had to have people diving down to retrieve the beer.

Danny Spitler:
Save the beer. Save the beer at all costs.

Clark Rorbach:
We started off with probably a case of beer each, and by the time we got off, there was no evidence of beer. It was just--there's a lot of beer at the bottom of that river.

Ruth Sandoval:
Tubing for me was a family experience and we just enjoyed the time together. We enjoyed the barbecuing. We enjoyed time with the kids. There was times to throw each other in. There was times to just chase each other. There was no drinking with our family and so we would just have a good time.

Kay Butler:
Tubing on the Salt was dangerous for me. There were no sunblocks at the time.

George Weisz:
In fact, you would put baby oil on yourself to go ahead and try to get burned and get a tan.

Marty Manning:
God, I got horribly sunburned doing that.

Elaine Farr:
Oh, the sunburns were brutal. Danny Spitler: Oh, blistered!

Alice Cooper:
That was sort of God telling you this is what hell is going to be like, you know, the next day after tubing.

Pat McMahon:
Although the'70s was a time of promise and progress, a series of horrific acts would suggest that below the surface of Arizona's laid-back lifestyle existed a dark world of violence, organized crime and government corruption. Two men slated to testify against organized crime figures were killed in broad daylight. Actor Bob Crane of TV's "Hogan's Heroes" was beaten to death in Scottsdale. And in the summer of '78, Arizonans were paralyzed with fear when state prison escapees known as the Tison gang went on a murder spree. This wave of violence eroded Arizona's sense of security, but no crime shocked the state and cast a shadow on the decade of the '70s like the murder of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles.

George Weisz:
It was June 2nd, 1976 and it was a hot day like Phoenix always is, about 100 degrees, and about high noon. And Don was going to meet a source who had information and they were going to have the meeting at the old Clarendon Hotel. And he met this person before and now was going to get more information on various criminal activities. And Don pulled up in the parking lot, parked his car, went inside, waited for a while in the lobby, and got a call from this individual he was supposed to meet named John Adamson, who called him and said, "You know, something's come up and we're going to change our plans and I'll call you later this afternoon." And he went out to his car out in the parking lot. And he started that ignition. And he pulled out just a few feet...A dynamite bomb controlled by a remote control blasted off into his car and threw him halfway out of his vehicle.

Pat McMahon:
The bomb blew a two-foot-wide hole in the steel floorboard of Bolles' car and sent shrapnel over 100 feet away. Would-be rescuers tried to help Bolles by fashioning tourniquets out of their belts and hotel towels. Bolles whispered, "Emprise, they finally got me, the mafia," And the name “John Adamson.” As he had done many times in the past, Bolles was writing to expose land fraud, organized crime and government corruption.

George Weisz:
Don was incredible. Just like in life, being tenacious, never giving up, he actually lived for 11 more days. It was a bomb blast that ripped through our minds and tore through our hearts. Here was a person killed just for doing his job.

Pat McMahon:
Three men would eventually be tried for the Bolles murder. Their various cases would drag out into the 1990s. John Adamson confessed and was found guilty of planting the bomb. He served 20 years. James Robison, who Adamson said triggered the blast, would have his sentence overturned and go free. And Max Dunlap, who Adamson alleges hired him, continues to serve a sentence of 25 years to life, claiming he was set up by powerful people who wanted Bolles dead. George Weisz: There's been a number of controversies regarding various things. There's people who have said there's various theories, but I think what people forget is this has been looked at by a lot of people over a long period of time. There was no rush to judgment; no rush to prosecution. We wanted to do it right. And there was no reason not to get the right people. So we tried to uncover every rock we could, and wherever it went, it went. Pat McMahon: Despite all the investigations, trials and convictions, the murder of Don Bolles continues to haunt Arizonans.

Elaine Farr:
Oh, that makes me cry.

Hans Olson:
It was the saddest thing I had heard happening in Phoenix, and it broke my heart for Phoenix. Kay Butler: I just thought that, you know, Las Vegas thugs had come and taken over my city.

David Manning:
Well, we felt like we'd entered someplace on the map with that one, and it wasn't a good place to be.

Alice Cooper:
Well, we couldn't believe it happened in our little city, first of all. Who would murder anybody in Phoenix?

Kay Butler:
How could it happen here? You know, it was my little cow town.

Carol Lynde:
That's, you know, Vegas or that's back east. We don't have that here.

Alice Cooper:
Those were the sure signs that something was going on, you know, that a city is growing up, when you start having major murder stories.

Bob Boze Bell:
It made you feel vulnerable, and you realized that this isn't just a little place of cactus and margaritas; and all of a sudden it was a dark and dangerous place.

Carol Lynde:
And the realization of that really shattered a lot of naiveté, I believe.

David Manning:
And I don't know that we've been the same since then.

Tom Parrish:
You know, everybody wondered who in the world would do such a thing? And I'm not sure we know today. We think we do, but sometimes I'm not sure whether they got it right or not.

Mary Jo West:
I still feel in my heart of hearts that the people who made that happen, that horrific, horrible event happen, didn't come to justice.

Jana Bommersbach: The man who set the bomb has died. He served his time in jail, John Harvey Adamson, and he has now died. That's how long ago this all happened and we still don't know who ordered that hit and why exactly did they order that hit and why were they trying to punish Don Bolles? And I still think that is a question that needs to be answered.

Pat McMahon: In the latter half of the decade, it was a new generation coming of age, and with them came a new sound. They didn't have a war to fight, and they weren't interested in "Takin' it to the man." They wanted to dress up and get down. They wanted to...Boogie! [ '70s disco music ]

Carol Lynde:
I loved it. I loved the beat. I loved the clubs. I loved the dancin'. And I loved the shoes, those great big platform shoes. Kay Butler: And the disco clothes and the big afros. I can remember having an outfit that was scandalous.

Jana Bommersbach:
I was a pretty good disco dancer at one time. I had a disco dress. It had pointed hems like this that when you twirled, the whole thing would twirl around.

Jay Mark:
Polyester was something that was the "in" fabric to wear. Wide lapels, big, thick, fat ties that were impossible to tie.

George Weisz:
Oh, yes, we all looked so good. I was going to wear my leisure suit today but I...you know… Joe Refsnes Jr: No. I wouldn't be caught dead in a leisure suit.

Clark Rorbach:
Couldn't afford them. Thank god!

Al McCoy:
I don't even know how to spell disco, and I don't want to know how to spell disco.

Alice Cooper:
Disco was the dreaded enemy of rock-'n-roll, you know? And the only album you were allowed to like was "Saturday Night Fever" because that was the "Sergeant Pepper" of disco. Everything else, Donna Summer, anything like that was like--you know, I mean, I had visual--I was maybe one of the great generals in the battle against disco, because we couldn't get played.

Hans Olson:
And I think punk music was the reaction to that. Suddenly we saw these really angry kids saying, "No, no, no, live music is where it's at." And they were having to scream it. There was a whole generation of people rebelling against that horrible white suited disco ball crap.

Alice Cooper:
There was a good punk scene in Phoenix, you know, but that was later on. Producer (off-camera): How about Arizona in the '70s? What was Arizona in the '70s?

The Tubes:
Hot!

Clark Rorbach:
I remember being back in Minneapolis and they literally thought that we were still having some skirmishes with the Indians.

Joe Refsnes Jr:
In the '70s?

Clark Rorbach:
In the '70s.

Producer (off-camera):
The '70s in Arizona was...

Pat McMahon:
The '70s in Arizona was the temperature of April.

Russ Shaw:
It was a different time, though. There's nothing really directly comparable to it today.

Bob Boze Bell:
Well, we eat better.

Russ Shaw:
I think we eat a lot better.

Bob Boze Bell:
And I haven't had my car repossessed.

Russ Shaw:
No, nor do I. I own several and we just have them.

Bob Boze Bell:
We're going to lunch if you'd ever shut up.

Russ Shaw:
Okay, sorry.