Odd Stories from CAC’s Past

Jonathan Osmer, CAC Librarian/Archivist

In many ways, Central Arizona College has remained the same for the last 50 years. The library, the gym, these buildings haven’t changed much since the very first day of school in September of 1969.  Some surprising things have changed greatly. Let’s take a deep dive into the past and explore some of the things that were a part of CAC, or very nearly were.


Miss CAC

In 1921 the first Miss America pageant took place in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The national pageant was born to great acclaim, and over the years every state added a competition to send their best, most beautiful women to the national stage. Arizona added its own pageant in 1938. Not to be outdone, the powers that be must have felt the CAC needed its very own representative lady.

The first ever Miss CAC was none other than Pat Casey of Coolidge. Crowned in May of 1970, Miss Casey was to receive a $200 scholarship and all of the honors due her. There was a snag. Miss Casey went and got married, which must have been grounds for disqualification. Miss Casey went on her way to Denver, and the runner up was contacted.

An urgent news release was sent to all of the surrounding news outlets with the proposed headline that “A crop duster’s aid turned cashier has been named new ‘Miss CAC’ at Central Arizona College”. One can only imagine the kerfuffle that this caused in the area. This crop duster, Linda Smith, was now $200 richer, and the de facto queen of CAC.

Miss Smith was quoted as saying that cashiering is, “a much nicer job than flagging.” Flagging, for those of you not in the know, is the person who stands at the end of a field and waves a large diaper for the crop duster as a guide. Asked what could make the intense boredom of cashiering so much better than the excitement of being a flagger, Miss Smith said, “A flagger must really run to avoid being hit by the plane.” Not to mention the constant chemical baths, eh Miss Smith?

Miss CAC was not the only odd occurrence of the first year of Central Arizona College; the architects had some interesting ideas as well.


Bell Tower/Bird Sanctuary

CAC lead architect Jimmy Nunn was a great lover of bells. Not a day went by without Mr. Nunn extolling the virtues of the great jangling of bells around the world. He felt that CAC must have its very own bell, and to house it, a tower. This tower was to be 2 and ½ cubits in height, 1 and ½ in breadth, and 1 and ½ cubits in length. Rumors were that it was to be gilded entirely with gold, and a crown or molding of gold was to be put around it.

Alas, the bell tower was not to be. Funds were tight those first years. CAC wasn’t able to build enough dorms, a fine arts building, nor all of the gym by the time of the school opening, so cuts had to be made. They say Jimmy Nunn cried the day he was told. Mr. Nunn was able to stiffen his upper lip and move on to other plans.

His second love was nature, and a bird sanctuary and pond behind the library would be a fine addition to the budding campus. For those of you who don’t know, birds and books just go together. It’s a known fact that birds love books, and in turn, the library has books about birds. It’s a natural connection.

As the bird sanctuary and pond of CAC was nearing completion, the head librarian, one Theron Atkinson, was brutally attacked by some thousands of birds. Unsubstantiated rumors abound that this was the impetus for the hit dramedy ‘The Birds’, or possibly the other hit dramedy, ‘The Burbs’. Needless to say, the project was scrapped (as was Mr. Atkinson) and poor Jimmy Nunn was crushed once again.


Married Student Housing

Much like when the forlorn Patty Casey was stripped of her title and honors for having the audacity to marry, CAC once entertained plans to segregate ALL married students from the general population for the good of the school.

In 1970 a feasibility study was conducted for the development of an “adult education center.” This center was to be built a half mile north of the current CAC campus to make sure that the infection wouldn’t spread. A commission led by Mr. Don P. Pence, CAC president found that all experts in the field agreed, no more than 50 people would ever succumb to the dreaded ‘marriage’ epidemic, as long as they were properly educated at the junior college level first. These new married student dorms would be adequate to the task of “relocation, and re-education” as Mr. Pence may or may not have proclaimed.

Digging into the archives has unearthed no evidence to corroborate the highly unsubstantiated rumors that there is a link between the location of the married student dorms and the current location of the shooting range.