Sure, it’s one thing to read about Apacheland being destroyed by a second fire on Valentines Day back in 2004 or hear a third hand story about a friend who was in some old Elvis western way back when. But it is truly something special when you get the chance to hear true stories told in the real settings they happened, especially when they are told by the folks who were there.
The museum I volunteer for, the Superstition Mountain Museum has a free lecture series now while the weather is fabulous. Being a relatively new volunteer I was not familiar with most of the featured speakers so I wanted to make sure to attend as many as I could. Free education!
The local paper and a local monthly magazine had been gracious enough to print my stories about the museums Stamp Mill and the Train. Not exactly sure of what Charlie Le Sueur’s lecture would be like, I headed over to the museum early so I could get a good spot and hopefully write about it.
As I round the corner, I see the parking lot is full and into the overflow! This is a Thursday at around 1:30. Lecture starts at 2.
Surprised by the few hundred people already there waiting with their fold out chairs, I find a spot on the ground up front.
For those of you who missed it (and there can’t be many of you, the place was packed!) Thursday January the 12th 2017 the Superstition Mountain Museum’s guest speaker Charlie Le Sueur walked us through the timeline of the movies, actors and stories from Apacheland Movie Ranch. Charlie comes with that wonderful quality that makes you feel like you’ve known him forever. His energy and humor had the crowd at “Does anyone remember Dick Powell?”
When the lecture turned to questions, I noticed a small group of men gathered off to the side. Men who were more than familiar with these stories. Men who have known Charlie forever. Men whose presence immediately added to the richness and authenticity of the surroundings. Men who Charlie was now generously turning his spotlight towards and including in the discussion.
As his lecture closed, Charlie was surrounded by fans but I knew if I hung around long enough I could say hello. You must be patient at events like this. Fans come armed with books to sign and stories to tell. So, I waited…
The line for Charlie seemed never ending, but off to my left was a man telling stories that sounded like he knew a thing or two. Only sort of half listening at this point, I hear him say “Elvis” and I leap over and jump smack into the conversation. See, the general store I volunteer in plays Elvis’ western Charro! over and over. (picture of my own t-shirt)
It was filmed in Apacheland and is the only one Elvis doesn’t sing in. I watch it 2.5 times every Saturday during my shift. Any real info on the King I can give to his army of fans I will take. So far, they have been happy to hear that our very own John the Blacksmith’s mom was an extra in the film. As a kid, he hung around the set and even tried to sit in Elvis chair!
Turns out I’m yakking it up with Hank Sheffer. I don’t know this yet.
Off to my side I see Charlie is finally free and probably exhausted but still being gracious none the less. I leave my conversation with Hank and his fans as abruptly as I entered and leap over to Charlie afraid I have lost my chance.
The blue sky, the fresh air, the stunning Superstition Mountain and hundreds of people enjoying the afternoon together listening to stories about our history. This was much more than a simple free lecture. This was another gift from our museum.
Lawrence O’Hara, Hank Sheffer, Charlie Le Sueur, Bob Carney, John Goerger and Larry Motes
For more information on the 2017 Lecture Series go to Superstitionmountainmuseum.org