By Nicole Matheson
As the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City draws close, RiverScene caught up with one of the city’s pioneers, Chuck Harley of Northern Arizona.
Harley lived in Lake Havasu starting at the age of 6 from years 1963-65 and 1968-74, and he has some priceless memories of the fledgling city.
What Was Havasu Like?
“We went to Havasu because my father was on the construction team that was building the city streets, roads and utilities. Dad was an equipment operator. Mom was a housewife. I have two sisters, both younger than me. We stayed until late 1965, then moved back to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California.
“Then in early 1968, we moved back to Havasu. Mom worked at the Nautical Inn for several years.” Harley said. His father had a lot of friends that were pilots, and was able to get some striking aerial pictures of Havasu in those years.
So, what was Lake Havasu like back then?
“The early days in Havasu were interesting, fun and an adventure. We had to go to Kingman or Needles to get groceries and drinking water, as there was not yet a grocery store in Havasu. The only store in town was out on Highway 95, The G & P Store. They sold gas, soda, beer, milk and fish bait. Just basic essentials.”
Recreation In Early Havasu
“For recreation we would go to the lake!” Harley said. “Fishing was great! Swimming was fun! We also would swim every day in the pool at the Arnold Apartments where we lived. There were only about 300 people in Havasu in 1964.”
But of course, some recreational activities for a young boy were not as charming. “I remember catching large scorpions and bringing them into the house. Mom really did not like my pets!”
A fun fact, Harley says that, “There was no bridge over the river south of Havasu to get to Parker! The road was dirt all the way there, but no bridge. To get to Parker, we had to go to Needles then south from there to Parker.”
There were frequent celebrity tennis tournaments in Havasu in those years, and Harley has a great memory as testament to this.
“During one of the celebrity tennis tournaments, there were lots of stars there that did not even play tennis, but they came to hang out and be seen. My father went to the Nautical Inn to pick up Mom when she got off work. He went into the bar to wait for her. At the bar was Dan Blocker (of ‘Bonanza’ fame) and several other stars sitting at the bar. One empty stool was next to Dan, so Dad sat down. Dad was having a good time joking and talking with Dan and the other stars when several ladies came over and asked for his autograph. Dan Blocker poked Dad and said, ‘go ahead Charley, sign it.’ So Dad signed his autograph and passed the autograph book on to Dan and the others. I wonder what the ladies thought when they tried to figure out what show ‘Charley Harley’ was a star in!”
Overall, Harley says that, “I have great memories of Havasu. It was a great place to grow up!”
Do you have any early memories of Lake Havasu that you would like to share? Be sure to leave a comment!