Film recounts Tucson's history

By Melanie Klein

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Imagine the links at Randolph Park as desert. Relive "Lucky Lindy's" historic visit to the old Pueblo in his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis. Learn about the capture of one of America's most-wanted criminals, John Dillinger, without one gunshot fired.

It's all part of Tucson Memories , a new KUAT-TV Channel 6 documentary premiering Saturday at 5:45 p.m.

Using rare archive film, home movies, personal photographs and interviews with native Tucsonans, Tucson Memories recounts the growth and history of Tucson.

Rodolfo Casillas, the program's producer, said, "One of the reasons why I wanted to do the project is because there are a lot of good programs about Tucson in the 19th century, but not a whole lot focusing on the 20th century."

Visions of a thriving city shed light on Tucson's early metropolis. Viewers may not recognize the sight of the first radio in Tucson, at Campbell Avenue and Grant Road, where the Catalina Theater now stands.

Before the Nugent Building started processing enrollment applications, UA football players were throwing passes on the grassy field that came before it.

University of Arizona ROTC members in the Horse Cavalry unit were recruited, at $5 a day, to play extras in the movie "Arizona" filmed at Old Tucson.

"It is intriguing to me," said Casillas, "to see how much Tucson has changed and grown. Its history is really incredible."

Tucson Memories also offers glimpses of local landmarks, fondly remembered, yet existing only on film. For example, The El Conquistador Hotel which was torn down and replaced with El Con Mall.

Those who were interviewed for the documentary have been Tucsonans all their lives, including Roy P. Drachman, who was born in Arizona when it was still a territory.

"Between 1910 and 1920, liqueur and prostitution had been outlawed in the state," said Drachman. "People moved to Tucson because it was a great place to live."

"Working on the project has enriched my appreciation of the town," Casillas said.

"With the piece, I wanted to capture the feeling of getting to know your neighbor. With so many modern ways of communicating nowadays sometimes the personableness gets lost."

KUAT will air the program twice Saturday, at 9:45 a.m. and 8: 45 p.m.

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