01. AJ Chandler Park

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    We are standing in one quadrant of what remains of the park that was the centerpiece of Dr. Chandler’s “City Beautiful” when it was built in 1912.  In the early years, this park was covered in Bermuda grass and eucalyptus trees, and it was larger than it is today, spanning from San Marcos Place on the west to Arizona Place to the East. 


    86.74.8.jpgThe north-south boundaries were and still are Boston Street to the south and Buffalo Street to the north.  Early resident Pete Fletcher (b. 1904) recalled how Dr. Chandler hired him sometime in the 1920s to mow this park.  Pete wasn’t fond of the job because he had to accomplish this task using only a “little hand mower.”  It took him 2 days to finish each time. 

    The park has always been a gathering place for the town.  One resident who grew up in the 20s and 30s recalled, “They used to have rallies there, during election time…We kids just loved it because they would give us free lemonade, watermelons.  We didn’t know what elections were; we were just there to eat watermelon and ice cream, whatever they were giving away.  We were real poor, but we never went hungry.  But everyone was in the same boat.”  The park has always been a popular place for kids to play. 

    06.25.9.jpgIn 1937, it even snowed, and the local children rushed to the park to make snowmen. 





    Originally, the wide road we see today was not there.  05.85.11.jpgUp until just before World War II, Arizona Avenue abruptly curved on either end when it reached the park, which confused many motorists and caused more than a few untimely collisions with trees.  In 1940 the town council approved a plan to expand Arizona Avenue as a state highway.  As a result, the beautiful park was cut down the middle to improve safety and accommodate the increase in traffic.  People were upset about it and old Dr. Chandler, especially, did not like the change but ultimately thought the introduction of a state highway was best for the town.




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