Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona, just for fun. Advertising-free, supported by my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Behind the scenes of history adventuring - finding Alpha


Although I do most of my history adventuring in my imagination, with the help of the internet, sometimes I can do part of it IRL - In Real Life. And yesterday I went to pay my respects to Alpha Rudd née Williams.

Alpha Williams on her horse Blackie in 1906, 6th Avenue and Van Buren, Phoenix, Arizona

It all started over a year ago when one of my PhDs (Phoenix History Detectives) sent me a photo of a little girl in 1906, sitting on a horse by a livery stable in downtown Phoenix. He had gotten it from a neighbor of his who had identified all of the people in the photo. He scanned it in, sent it to me with the information that he had, and then returned the photo to the neighbor. The original post about Alpha Williams is here.

This really fired up my imagination, as I wanted to see Phoenix through her eyes, and I did. With the help of other PhDs, I found Alpha Williams graduating from the Normal School in Tempe (now ASU) and becoming a teacher at Creighton Elementary, as Alpha Rudd. She died in 1987, and with the help of "Find a Grave" I was able to determine exactly where she was, which was just a couple of miles south of me.

It was a particularly beautiful day in Glendale yesterday, right around 70 degrees when I headed out, and I slathered on my SPF 50 sunscreen, put on my shorts and a tank top, and rode my recumbent trike there. Yes, I wear a helmet, of course!

Houses under construction at 62nd Avenue and Freeway

I live just west of Glendale Community College, and the cemetery I visited yesterday is at 63rd Avenue and Northern, so it's not a long way. It's really not close enough to be a comfortable walk there for me, and it hardly seemed worth the price of an Uber (I don't own a car anymore). So I triked it. I have an awesome recumbent trike that I've had for a little over a year now, and for something like this it's wonderful. It really is a "lawn chair on wheels" and it's virtually effortless for me to pedal. Of course people think that it's an athletic thing to do, but it's really not. Unlike a regular two-wheel bike it can go very slowly and allow me to look around, but even that slow pace is twice as fast as I walk, so it didn't take very long for me to get to the cemetery. I also noodled through the neighborhood south of me to look at the new houses being built. And yes, that's what I call being on the trike - noodling. People have always asked me how fast I got somewhere. That is, unless they really know me, I've always noodled, looking at stuff.

I'm not related to Alpha Rudd. She wasn't rich or famous. But she saw Phoenix from before the time there were paved streets, or cars, up until the time my house was built. And as I noodled around I thought about her, what she saw, what her life was like. She was Mrs. Rudd, a 1st Grade teacher at Creighton, which means that she fulfilled the highest calling in life, which in my opinion is a teacher.

Marker for Noel T. and Alpha E. Rudd

When I found where she and her husband Noel were resting in peace, I was both happy and sad. I'm glad that I could see Phoenix through her eyes, and I celebrate life, but cemeteries are sad places. I stood there for a long time, listening to the silence, then I noodled back home.

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