By Jayne Hanson
It is among the Havasu Pioneers Reunion members where Lake Havasu City’s possibly only and first urban legend originates – the arrival of Havasu’s first fly that was brought to town by the circus. Even without a date, the circumstance is just one story that coaxes the nostalgia that draws them to gather.
“It’s the history and love of the town,” said Toni Trembley-Ade, Havasu Pioneers Reunion president, “It’s about honoring those first-generation pioneers. They’re very proud because the Havasu pioneers now are on their fifth-generation.”
In all, about 250 Havasu pioneers turned up for a luncheon at London Bridge Convention Center on Saturday in Lake Havasu City. To be considered a true Havasu pioneer, an individual would’ve moved to town between 1963 and 1973. The reunion is every two years and has grown from yesteryear’s casual get-together to an organized, large-scale reunion today.
Trembley-Ade, a second-generation Havasu Pioneer, was 13 years old when she arrived alongside her parents in 1971. She recalls eighth-grade graduations being held in Wheeler Park until the London Bridge was completed and dedicated in 1971. Then it was there the community celebrated such milestones, including Trembley-Ade’s class graduation from Lake Havasu City High School in 1976.
“The population is a big change,” Trembley-Ade said of Havasu. “The Nautical was the public beach back then, it was the best in town. Ask anyone in the 1970s, they had grass and an air-conditioned beach.”
The novelty simply was misters in the trees but The Nautical used it as an advertisement hook, she said.
“Rotary Park wasn’t a developed area, it was all tullies,” Trembley-Ade said. “We would drive our cars right down to the beach and would tailgate there at the beach.”
Havasu Pioneer Carol Boyce (Iram) was 14 years old when she moved to Havasu from Oregon. Her step-father was Captain Paul Kirk, the first Harbor Master in the late 1960s.
“It was at Site Six, there was a tour boat that he would take the people around who flew in on the McCulloch flights,” Boyce said. “I used to babysit for them, too.”
Boyce recalled travelling by bus to Kingman to attend high school. On school days, it was a 6 a.m. departure that put them in Kingman about 7:30 a.m. just before school started at 8 o’clock. Afterwards, the Havasu students waited for their bus to deliver the Kingman students home before swinging back by to load up for the Havasu run. They generally would arrive home in Havasu by 6 p.m.
“That bus was my social life,” Boyce said. “It was a fun place to grow up. It was fun being a teenager here with school and boating and swimming and babysitting.”
Boyce travelled from Massachusetts to attend the reunion.
Margy Sterling, a first-generation Havasu Pioneer arrived in Havasu in 1964 when her husband was contracted out of Phoenix to build 10 new homes here. At the time, she was in her late 20s with two young sons. Two years later, she had to travel to Kingman for the birth of her daughter in 1966 because it was before Havasu had a hospital.
“We spent a lot of time on the Lake in a cabin cruiser,” Sterling said. “We would look back from the California-side of the Lake and we would see one or two or three houselights is all.”
Sterling recalled boating to the California-side where a restaurant served a good burger and housed a pool table. The cabin cruising friends were soon joined by a double-decker paddle-wheel boat that was often the center of social get-togethers among her clan.
“There was nothing else to do here, we lived on the Lake doing barbecues and such,” Sterling said. Sterling’s late-husband Jim Sterling was a Mohave County Supervisor in the mid 1970s and helped to bring Havasu’s first stoplight to town on McCulloch near London Bridge, she said. Jim “Jimmy” Sterling also was responsible for electrically wiring London Bridge – and he did so without schematics. Jim Sterling, 92, passed away in August 2019. Margy continues to live in Havasu.