2 – Show Low, AZ

Episode 2: Thinking about others instead of ourselves with Daryl seymore

Daryl Seymore describes a Great America “when we are not thinking about ourselves, but we are starting to think about others.”

He is a long time resident of Show Low. He grew up and stayed to raise his family there. He’s been Mayor for 8 years and on city council for 16 years. Currently elected as County Supervisor of Navaho County.

From his ranching and entrepreneurial family background and being an active part of the community, he feels that America is great because of the opportunities people have to make a good life for themselves and their families.

Show Low, AZ: The Great America of 1950-1970

Show Low, a relatively remote town in the Ponderosa pine forests of Northern Arizona, had its heyday in the mid-twentieth century, when the harvesting and processing of timber that gave the town and surrounding communities economic vitality, and more importantly, stability. Generations of locals were assured steady jobs with good wages in the timber mills, enabling workers to raise families and build a strong sense of community.

The mills recruited a diverse work force that included African-Americans, Mexicans and Apaches from the nearby Reservation. These workers were initially segregated into separate crews, housing and schools in satellite communities like McNary, separate, but mutually dependent on a common economy.

This relative prosperity could not last. A handful of pioneer families controlled local politics and saw little reason to look toward diversifying the economy. By the 1970s, the industry was slowing down, and the mills began to close and the jobs disappeared. Many families simply moved on to make a life elsewhere. It was a story familiar to many communities in rural Arizona.

With new highway construction, Show Low became a destination for tourists and retirees. Though the town’s population was short of 3000 at the height of the timber industry, it has since blossomed to over 11,000 people with a hospital, chain stores and even a community college branch campus. However, it is a very different community than it used to be, one that is less diverse, less connected, and more dependent on a precarious low-wage service economy.

Special thanks to Clair Thomas, Executive Director of the Show Low Historical Museum for her contributions.

-Tom Prezelski, Resident Historian

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