RiverScene Journal | The Evening the London Bridge Involves Life at Lake Havasu Metropolis

by Becky Maxdon

If time journey was potential, it may be attention-grabbing to return to the months main as much as the completion of the reconstruction of London Bridge within the metropolis of Havasu.

It may be attention-grabbing to go inside planning circles to dedicate this marvel, the most important antiquity in the US, to this imaginative and prescient of Robert McCulloch.

It may be attention-grabbing to take the celebration again to October 10, 1971.

Take an image of the tent on London Bridge for the London Bridge Dedication. Photograph courtesy Sandy Brees and Chandler Pictures.

Celebration planners knew the occasion needed to match McCulloch’s flamboyant enthusiasm. It needed to match the elegant, historic artifacts that may put town of Havasu on the map.

The dedication ceremony included a parade, sizzling air ballooning, skydivers, throughout the pond and Hollywood dignitaries, and all of the paraphernalia of one thing particular and memorable. By some measures, it was estimated that 100,000 folks took half.

However Peace Day Resistance was a grand banquet served in stunning, red-striped tents on London Bridge. Dinner included lobster and roast beef – the identical meal served to King William IV when the bridge was first unveiled in 1831.

Les Brown and his Band of Renown entertained with comic Jonathan Winters.

The New York Occasions quoted a British newsman as saying, “It is a tremendous gimmick. It is all fairly loopy – this could solely occur in America. Solely an American would suppose to take a position a lot in such insanity.” “

Because it seems, 50 years is a comparatively quick time within the total scheme of issues. Right here in Havasu are the pioneers who keep in mind all the things about that celebration and people who have been part of it.

The dedication ceremony of the London Bridge in Lake Havasu Metropolis. Photograph Courtesy Sandy Brees

Riverscene Journal just lately caught up with some longtime Havasuwis and requested about their reminiscences of that night.

Margie Sterling and her husband Jim relocated from Missouri to Arizona in 1964. They principally moved to Mesa. Jim, an electrician, discovered work within the metropolis of Lake Havasu in 1964.

“Jim traveled from Mesa to Lake Havasu through the week and got here dwelling on the weekends,” Margie stated. He stated the commuting lasted for 2 or three months.

“I actually did not know what to suppose as a result of he would come dwelling and say how good it was to see the inexperienced grass. I did not know what to anticipate,” Margie stated.

Jim was a pilot so just a few weeks earlier than Sterling was to go to Lake Havasu Metropolis, he took off from Mesa.

“I did not know there have been mountains,” stated Margie. “I used to be actually impressed,” she stated.

As time handed, Jim started engaged on the bridge with CV Wooden and Robert McCulloch.

“Sooner or later they stated, ‘The granite is all right here and set, so now Jim, you need to wire the bridge.'”

Jim had two years for an engineering diploma, Margie stated, so he began ending it.

“That should have completed an excellent job, as a result of the lights are nonetheless on.”

To say that the night gala of the dedication ceremony of London Bridge in Havasu Metropolis is something however elegant could be an understatement. The doorway to the tents positioned on London Bridge introduced company into an expensive surroundings appropriate for a queen or a king. Photograph Courtroom of Lake Havasu Museum of Historical past

Then got here the celebration. Margie and Jim have been there.

“It was actually fabulous. It was very formal. I wore a protracted black gown,” she stated.

Margie stated the desk settings have been distinctive. “There have been so many silverware, we had to determine when to make use of which one,” she stated.

Margie stated the tables within the massive tent have been wall-to-wall and there wasn’t sufficient room to bop.

“It looks like it lasted till midnight or so. Everybody had lots of enjoyable and drank lots of champagne. It was adorned so lavishly with the chandeliers hanging on the tables. All the things was fancy and simply fabulous,” she stated.

On the opposite facet of the tent have been the individuals who supplied companies to the attendees.

Lu Ann Striel was a part of that group.

Lou Ann and Val Striel moved from Springfield, Ore. to town of Havasu in 1969.

“Once we left it was raining 69 levels extra and once we bought right here it was 116 levels,” she stated.

The couple arrived in a 15-foot journey trailer with two youngsters and a canine.

“And we did not have air-con,” she stated.

The Striel household now resides within the Havasu Trailer Park positioned on the island.

“It had a pool, so we simply stayed in it,” she stated.

Once they left for Havasu, Val had promised a job, Lu An stated. However once they arrived, the crew went on strike. Val labored in California for about three months earlier than beginning his job at Havasu.

The couple quickly discovered a house within the space the place Lake Havasu Excessive Faculty is now.

“Val was incomes $2.50 an hour when he began. It will definitely went as much as about $7 ultimately. I bought a $2.50 an hour job at a cupboard store,” she stated.

Throughout the dedication ceremony on 10 October 1971, London Bridge was totally ready and able to occasion. Photograph courtesy Lake Havasu Museum of Historical past

Lou Ann stated that Val was one of many final folks on the bridge earlier than the dedication.

When it got here time for the banquet, Lu An stated that the worth of tickets was not in his finances. “I believe the tickets have been $25 and $50. We simply could not afford it,” she stated.

However then they heard that the organizers have been paying folks $25 to serve the banquet and dinner.

“I made a decision there was a option to be there, so I signed up. We bought there round 4 a.m. to arrange.

“There wasn’t a lot right here, so all of the meals was introduced by Semi. I do know dinner was fancy, however we bought beef stew. Nonetheless, it was good,” Lu An stated.

Lu An stated his part was on the appropriate and you would see the water on the facet of the bridge.

“Somebody, I will not say who, got here late to the banquet and remembered his hors d’oeuvres. We thought they weren’t coming, so we put him within the trash. We went to get it and served them,” she stated.

She stated there may not even be some volunteer legislation enforcement within the space, so that they frolicked exterior the tent to see what was occurring.

On the finish of the night, Lu An stated, there have been purple roses in fairly containers close to the stage space and individuals who labored on this system have been instructed they might take them dwelling. “They have been stunning. I can not keep in mind how lengthy they lasted, however that was good,” she stated.

Lu An labored for the Irrigation and Drainage District – a division vital for the institution of a metropolis.

“I used to be occupied with it the opposite day and Jim Schulte and I are the one two nonetheless alive from the drainage district,” Lu An stated.

He’s presently serving on the Planning Committee for the upcoming Commemoration.

Sandy Brees – in true pioneer – moved together with her mom and father to Havasu from Kansas Metropolis in 1966.

“I used to be 20 or 21 – one thing like that. Lee Shoblom made the purpose on KFWJ radio that they have been searching for folks to work within the tents for the dedication on October 10, 1971,” she stated.

Sandy Brees has a photograph of the London Bridge Dedication taken by Chandler Pictures. Jillian Danielson/Riverscene

Sandy answered the decision and was employed to work on the large occasion.

“You needed to go to a number of coaching classes on Saturday. It was coaching to be a maitre d’ at a big-time dinner. It was $100 per plate which was an enormous quantity in these days. So, that was the one option to see the dedication of individuals like me,” she stated.

Sandy stated the employees on the occasion wore uniforms that have been “very English”. Ladies have been wearing black skirts with white apron, or white skirts with black apron and quick white hats. The boys wore very “butlerish” apparel with darkish pants and white shirts with white towels on the sleeves.

She beforehand labored in a cocktail tent. “On this tent, the center half went as much as the highest of the tent and was nearly as vast. It was stuffed with hors d’oeuvres. It was my job to fill and clear the dips. ,

Sandy stated then it was time to maneuver all of the attendees to the dinner tent. “It went actually slowly as a result of many have been already down about three drinks,” she stated.

However after everyone seems to be within the dinner tent, Breece is given the duty of carrying a big tray with plated meals. “I’ll by no means know why I selected to do that,” she stated. She practiced and was fearful about it main as much as the incident, she stated.

Among the many celebrities she remembers have been comic/actor Jonathan Winters, Dan Blocker, and Lorne Greene, the star of “Bonanza”.

“It was all very nicely organized. Effectively completed. The one downside was that the fireworks went off late. They have been supposed to depart round 9, however they went off round midnight,” she stated.

October 10, 1971 Fireworks set the sky on fireplace through the dedication ceremony of London Bridge in Lake Havasu Metropolis. Photograph courtesy Lake Havasu Museum of Historical past

“It was the most effective issues that ever occurred in my life. It was a tremendous expertise, and I really bought a test — they paid us,” she stated.

One other iconic couple — Butch and Missy Wooden — did not attend the banquet, however Missy just lately instructed an attention-grabbing story that occurred round that point.

Missy labored at Valley Financial institution in Lake Havasu Metropolis. She was in control of taking all of the checks.

“Sooner or later I opened a bag of checks and there was a extremely massive test – about 12 inches vast. This test was written by Robert McCulloch to purchase London Bridge,” she stated.

Valley Financial institution retained the unique test made on its doorstep for years and later donated it to the Lake Havasu Museum of Historical past.

So, a time machine would turn out to be useful proper now. Or having a fly on the wall of a red-striped tent would have been a uncommon deal with.

Please try the Riverscene London Bridge Days Calendar for all the things occurring in October.

Photograph Courtesy Sandy Brees

London Bridge Dedication Photograph Courtesy Sandy Bryce

The elegant tent served as the positioning of a sublime banquet highlighting the dedication ceremony of London Bridge within the metropolis of Lake Havasu on October 10, 1971. Photograph courtesy Lake Havasu Museum of Historical past

On October 10, 1961, the dedication ceremony of London Bridge at Lake Havasu was attended by many space residents, in addition to a London contingent and town’s founders. Photograph Curtas Lake Havasu Museum of Historical past

The unique sizzling air balloon for the London Bridge Days celebrations within the 70s is now owned by native pilot Dean Baker. Jillian Danielson/Riverscene

Supply hyperlink