My fiance’s family moved to the Sierra Vista, Ariz., area when he was twelve years old, and every time we go back he’s full of notes about what’s changed: the roads that have been paved, the wide open spaces that have been sliced into individual plots of land, the chain stores (almost nonexistent in the early 80’s) that have moved in.
We saw the snake right outside Brian’s parents’ property on our way to check out the junk scene in Palominas, one of the small towns (population 1200) in Cochise County. I’m not super spooked by snakes, but I did stay in the truck while Brian took its picture.
Brian’s mom had seen an item in the Sierra Vista Herald about a new thrift shop in Palominas, which was the impetus of the trip. But first we spied this building, which oxymoronically advertised a “yard sale inside.”
The goods weren’t spectacular or especially well priced, but I did find a few things, among them a slew of vintage buttons for $1.
I took few pictures inside because the power was out when we arrived, but I did try to get a shot of the shopkeeper’s parrot. I should have taken her up on the offer to move outside for the photo.
I wasn’t as nosy as I should have been, but I got the impression that Parrot Lady had just purchased or inherited the building and was trying to decide what to do with it. I overheard her tell another patron that someone had suggested a weekly farmer’s market.
The “thrift store” we were searching for is located at the corner of Healing Way and East Ghost Riders Lane, which (as far as I’m concerned) is as good a reason as any to stop by. It used to house the old Palominas Country Store; the new owners are keeping the name, as they sell milk, ice, candy bars, snacks, and soda along with secondhand items. The gas pumps remain but no longer dispense gas (there’s a newer gas station up the street with an attached mini-mart).
The store is across the street from the abandoned Miracle Valley Bible College, founded in 1958 by alcoholic Pentecostal faith healer A.A. Allen. The Palominas Country Store is likely the same gas station built in the 50’s by the for-profit arm of Allen’s organization. In 1978, Chicago native Frances Thomas, an ordained alumna of the Bible college, purchased land north of the school and established Christ Miracle Healing Center and Church, an all-black faith community.
The church’s history in Miracle Valley was marked by racial tension and conflict between church members and local law enforcement. In 1982, a fight broke out when sheriff’s deputies attempted to serve traffic warrants to several residents. Two church members died in the event known as the shootout at Miracle Valley. Church members vowed to leave the area, and two years later settled a case against the county for $500,000.
The shootout happened more than 25 years ago and the Bible college is riddled with broken windows, but Palominas is still an odd place. Brian says he always had the sense that its residents were people seeking isolation, who would rather stay close to home. Approximately 30 businesses are located there, so residents can avoid the 15-minute drive to Sierra Vista if they so desire.
We shopped in the dark here, too, so I only have a few crappy flash photos of the merchandise. Almost everything was $1 or less.
The aqua rotary phone was one exception ($4). Awfully tempting, but I passed.
We left with a vintage shot glass ($1), a Smokey the Bear mug by Glassbake (fifty cents), an unusual tin canister set for Melissa ($3), and a giant antique safety pin ($1).