After having traveled the world, and living in various places, I have come to live in the small and secluded town of Morenci, Arizona. I have lived in Europe, America, the Middle East, and even to the far reaches of eastern Asia and found nothing like this town. It is a large copper mining community that offers so much to its people and especially to the youth. Morenci may be small and only been around for a little more than a hundred years, but it is packed full of history that has even reached all the way to the Supreme Court. The small town of Morenci is my current, but not my original hometown; it has a unique lifestyle, and plenty of historic events.
As I said, neither Morenci nor Arizona is what I would call my true home. The fact is I can’t say that about any place because I have been to 9 different places, and the longest time I have stayed in one place was for five years. My parents have had many jobs either in or with the military, which would explain having moved so much. I was born in a small town in Germany, and then moved to El Paso, TX, Titusville, FL, and three cities in Saudi Arabia: Dhahran, Jeddah, and Riyadh. I then came to Globe, AZ where I stayed for the summer, then to Superior, AZ for a year, and finally to the present, in Morenci where I have been for two years. Morenci is nothing like any other of the places I have lived.
The town itself, according to the government, is actually a mining camp. Therefore, we have no mayor or police force of our own. The nearby town of Clifton has its police and sheriff stations patrol Morenci’s neighborhoods. The most distinctive attribute of Morenci is of coarse the copper mine run by the Phelps Dodge Co. The company has its own rules for the citizens of Morenci. First off, in order to live in Morenci you must either work in the mine or have some affiliation with it, or the Morenci elementary and high schools because all of the houses belong to Phelps Dodge. Most of the people of Clifton also work for the mine as do people from other towns in Greenlee County, but are only subject to the company’s laws when at work. In order to get a job you must go through a series of stages until you are given some more freedom. After being accepted to the mine, you have a ninety-day trial called probation, which means that any “slip-up” at work or with the law within the ninety days and you are fired and not allowed to come back. Most of the kids that have grown up in Morenci usually go to work at the mine at least for a short time, which the mine needs in order to keep going on. Phelps Dodge offers pretty good paying jobs, which young people are looking for to pay for college. The most preferred job is to be a haul truck driver, because it’s simple and it starts paying at fourteen dollars and fifty cents an hour. Phelps Dodge also helps with some school functions and community events. The housing arrangements are split up into different neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has a certain style of house. The more important an employee is to the mine and by how much you are willing to pay for housing rent indicates where the company will place you, either in a duplex, the economy size home, or a large home. It is much like the big cities in that way, but Morenci still has a certain uniqueness to it.
Another great aspect to this small town in rural Arizona is its vast history. One of its biggest and oldest incidents was an orphan train from New York that went horribly wrong. All of the orphans where white Catholic Irish children that where already set to be adopted by Mexican members of the church. Then when the Anglo people found out they decided that the children should be placed with them and be raised by good wealthier white families. It started such a legal mess that it finally found its way to the Supreme Court, where it was decided that the children should go to the Anglo families. Other historical events were the strikes the mine had and a tale of nine soldiers were caught in the draft of the Vietnam War and only three came back. The memorial in their honor and soldiers from other wars are held in one of the Clifton’s parks. Another continuing affair is the piling up of dirt mounds from the copper mine. Many old neighborhoods and schools have been buried. Some of my teachers can recall what the town used to look like and how it has changed because of the dirt mounds. Our high school has some pictures hung around of Morenci all the way back to the 50’s. This funny little town always has something new and interesting to learn about.
Although Morenci may not be my hometown, I will consider it as one, always remember its exceptional way of life, and enjoy the many remarkable stories it has to offer. My parents want to stay here until their retirement, which means that I’ll have to come back here for holidays, which will make me feel as if I have my childhood home to come back to. I am going into the Army and will once again experience a different way of life, but I still think Morenci has one of the most unusual lifestyles. The many things I have come to learn about this little Arizonan mountain town will be something I can share telling other people and enjoy the memories I have made here. Morenci definitely has made an impact on my life so much that I feel it is something I can always fall back on.