I'm not sure when I first met Reg. Given his elephantine memory he may recall details of our first encounter but I don't. I suspect it had something to do with Kaz and my involvement with the purchase of the triangle of land around the Oracle Post Office from his family. Anyway, I'm here to say the guy is amazing. For one thing he's buried more local folks than all preachers combined. (Or so I believe without hard numbers to back me up.) He has been wrangling burials for more decades than most of us have been alive. He recalls family histories like nobody else in town. And he comforts the grieving with singular respect and compassion. Plus he's funnier than hell.
It’s not a “city” or a “town”. To qualify as either, boundaries must be set and a local government incorporated. So what the heck is it?
Oracle is a place identified on a map of indeterminate location. The Oracle Fire District has boundaries. The Oracle School District has boundaries. We have an Oracle Post Office, a shared justice court and a shared zip code. What does this add up to?
Oracle isn’t defined by any lines. It’s something else entirely different. The bottom line is Oracle is a figment of residents’ (and some visitors’) imaginations. Made up out of whole cloth from stories residents have told themselves beginning more than a century ago. Oracle is a civic life form sustained by local hopes, dreams, and real world accomplishments. It is quite literally a story town living on energy derived from stories told and retold.
Kaz and I live in the oldest platted and zoned subdivision in Oracle. Some of the homes are older than ours which was built in the late 1940's but the neighborhood anchored by the Oracle Park has held up pretty well. As many of us stroll around our neighborhood, when something happens - or threatens to happen - to a property that we all know well we worry about its fate.
“Will the new buyer put six homes on it?” “Grade and blade after chainsawing the fabulous old trees?” “Build SaddleBrooke style homes that will stick out like sore thumbs?” We didn’t know but anticipated the worst. So much so much so that some of us schemed up an idea for a group purchase … which we all knew was just a fantasy.
So we waited with bated breath.
The moment of truth came when the "For Sale" sign came down signaling the deal had closed.
Let me back up for a moment. The property in question has wonderful natural features but had fallen into dangerous disrepair. Shacks with holes in the roofs, windows busted out, pack rats running rampant, 50 gallon drums full of god knows what. A colossal challenge to any new owner. Conditions suggested an aggressive assault by heavy equipment, including front end loaders, back hoes and trucks to clear the place at great cost was likely. OMG!
On one of our walks we noticed small changes beginning to happen. Weed whacking for pathways and to reduce fire risk; rusty metal gathered and neatly placed on one pile; block and reusable materials placed on another. No heavy equipment, just a pick up truck and a couple about our age apparently doing all the meticulous work! So who the hell are these miracle workers we wondered? What do they think of the “subdivide whisperers” who populate some of the real estate agencies around town?
One morning they were working away as we passed by so we wandered over to say hello. Kaz took the lead with introductions. “Hi, we’re your new neighbors from a couple of properties over. Good to meet you.”
"Good to meet you too!”
The conversation unfolded from there. Much to our amazement the couple described struggling to overcome obstacles put in their way by the seller to the purchase of land they had fallen in love with. Yes, especially the trees. They refused to give up until they succeeded. Their intention? To build a modest home down the road - themselves. And BTW they’re not ready for retirement at 75.
Welcome to the neighborhood!
Kaz and I moved to Oracle in 1979. The house we bought dated to the late 1940s. With little advance knowledge of the place, we set out to build a new life together, intending to settle in and raise a family.