21. Ray Road

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    Milton Wardlow Ray was born in the year 1910 in a polygamist fundamentalist Mormon colony in Colonia Morelos, Sonora, Mexico, to James and Maria Ray. His father, along with his two wives and children, moved to Chandler in 1915, where they bought 80 acres and farmed. Their farm was located along Ray Road, between Cooper and Gilbert Roads. They raised hay and cattle. When Milton was ten, his father died, and the whole family had to help bring in money for the family. Eventually, the Ray family moved off the farm and rented various homes. Milton grew up in Chandler and in 1929 he graduated from Chandler High School.

    Ray7.jpgMilton remembered how he traveled to elementary school: "There were alot of horse-drawn buggy races and saddle pony races to and from school, and even at noon hour until they were forbidden. As usual, a few accidents of broken wheels, crippled horses, riders and drivers caused the curtailment. Hitching racks and water troughs were available at school. Each owner went out at noon or recess and watered their horses.... Many a student walked to school and back home. Later when a few cement roads were constructed about the area, those close to these roads skated to school. Also when once could afford a bicycle, later, it was ridden to school. All of us who skated to school and had a friend riding a horse along the same paved road, we'd hang on to the horse's tail, thus getting pulled and getting a free ride." Milton had a very large family, with a total of 10 brothers and sisters, and 12 half-brother and half-sisters.

    He met his future wife, Gwendolyn Fenn Martin, at a dance at the Mormon chapel in Chandler in 1935. Gwendolyn Fenn was born in the year 1915 to Alvah and Carmen Fenn, in Robinson, a Mormon settlement in Cochise, Arizona. Her family came to Mesa in 1924, although they kept strong ties to southern Arizona. Gwen eventually had 11 brothers and sisters. During the year 1932, she dropped out of high school to marry Troy Clifford Martin. In 1933, her first daughter was born, named Marian. In 1934, the family was involved in a car accident on the old Tempe-Mesa Highway (now Apache Boulevard) and Troy Clifford was killed.

    After their first date went well, Milton and Gwendolyn married during the year of 1935. They drove to Florence, Arizona, with friends who were eloping, and decided to get married as well, while they were there. Milton remembered, "Gwen and I began our lives together during the depression when a dime had to go a long way. I had just bought a new 1935 Chevrolet auto for $680.00 cash price.... I spent all I made on cars and gasoline looking for work or just bumming around.... This was our start-- husband and wife, two year old daughter, Marian, brand new car, and a house on Buffalo Street, across from the LDS Church in Chandler. We bought a two burner stove, a small table, chairs, and bed. Family loaned or gave us a few things." The couple had several kids, including Carol, Lynn, Martha, Mario, Jerel and Kathryn. Between 1936 and 1960, The family lived in other parts of Arizona, California and New Mexico for work and religious activities through the Mormon Church. They resettled in Chandler after 1960. Gwen was an artist, and in 1953, she nominated for the Arizona Mother of the Year award.

    By Daniel Kirschler & Jose Carlos Garcia

     

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