Whenever I write, I think about the great Japanese film Rashomon. Four people recreate different scenarios of the murder of a samurai: the samurai’s wife, a priest, a brigand, and the murdered samurai (talking through a medium). It left me wondering whose truth to believe. The film makes clear that every piece of nonfiction, created from perspectives uniquely your own, will likely contain lies, myths, rumors, tall tales and misleading byways. A magazine like 3QR understands the slippery shadows of ‘truth,’ freeing me up to create a world where part of the truth lies in wrenching the heart of the reader.
INTRODUCTION: HOME SWEET JEROME
JEROME Arizona, a quirky village on the side of a steep mountain, draws more than a million visitors a year to shop, gawk at the 180-mile panoramic view, party in the bars and hear stories about the bordellos and gunslingers of the mining era, as well as the tales of ghosts who haunt the town after the mines closed down in 1953. Photographs that were taken in the 1950s show Jerome as shorn and derelict, a spooky Wild West movie set waiting for a script. A once-teeming city shrank to a small village surrounded by mountains that were denuded of vegetation. An eerie quiet settled in. No more mine blasting. No trains and whistles. No bird song.
Some two hundred and twenty-one people, ninety-four of them children found themselves marooned in a dying town..
And into that haunting silence came the question, “What now?”
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Home Sweet Jerome: Rescuing a Town from its Ghost is the story of how resourcefulness and tenacity overcame poverty and decay to rescue Jerome and rebuild it into the jewel that it has become.
My choices for how to present this history may differ from others who lived here during this period. They may disagree with my own perspective of the improbable events that are described. Many joke that Jerome is a town of 400 people and 1,000 opinions. We are often accused of spinning a colorful kaleidoscope of tales, myths and ghost stories. Nearly all of us, however, will agree that we share an almost supernatural attachment to Jerome. For us, it will always be home sweet Jerome.