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Alpha Williams, a little girl in old-time Phoenix - 1906


Let's time-travel back to Phoenix in 1906 and see it through the eyes of Alpha Williams, who was six at the time. That's her in the photo up there, sitting on her horse, Blackie.

Alpha Williams (on the right) on Blackie

Alpha wasn't rich or famous, and she's exactly the kind of person who interests me the most in Phoenix history. I myself am not rich or famous, I'm just an ordinary person living in Phoenix, so when I want to imagine what old-time Phoenix was like, I like to try to see things through other people's eyes. Let's do that, let's look at Phoenix through her eyes.

And let's start with her nose. Yes, let's start with what it smells like to her. She's next to the OK Livery Stable (the "parking garage" of its day, for horses, like a corral), so there were a LOT of horses. And that means the smell of, well, you know. As a modern person from the city, I would probably be horrified by the stench. She would say, "What smell?" Because like all people who live around something like that, you get used to it. If she time-traveled to my suburban neighborhood today she would probably be nauseated by the smell of burning gasoline, which is everywhere, and I don't notice.

John and Eulala Williams at the OK Livery in 1906

Let's take a closer look at her parents, John and Eulala. John is wearing a vest, because that's how men carried stuff in their pockets in those days. He looks like he's holding up a horse whip in his right hand, which is something that we often forget about nowadays, and the reigns are in his left hand. My best guess is that he's wearing his fancy "go to meeting hat" for the photo. His wife is wearing a typical "Victorian" style dress, high collar, and with her hair pulled up. The Victorian era technically ended with the death of Queen Victoria, in 1901, but as an era it's usually considered up until World War I.

Alpha Williams at Tempe Normal School (ASU) in 1921. She's towards the bottom of the article.

Alpha Williams graduated from the Tempe Normal School (which is now called ASU) in 1921. It was a teacher's college at the time, and she went on to become a teacher at Creighton School. She is listed as Alpha Rudd (Noel Rudd was her husband).

Alpha Rudd teaching 1st Grade at Creighton School 1926-27. By the way, Noel and Alpha's house is still there, the modern address is 318 N. 18th Drive (near 19th Avenue and Van Buren).

Alpha Rudd died in 1987 and is buried in the Glendale Cemetery, at 63rd Avenue south of Northern, in Glendale, just south of where I'm writing this right now.

Noel T. and Alpha E. Rudd marker.


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