Despite her shyness, Sedona gamely hosted visitors:
While I love few things more than the late-afternoon respite from chores that involve a great deal of moving about, and can sit peacefully to stone cherries or string beans or mend in the hour before dinner preparations are in full swing, sometimes it turns into a bit of heavy lifting of its own: wives can be bored and want to be entertained.
They ask anything from if I’ve ever met an Indian (I have) to whether I’ve ever been attacked by one (I have not). If their poor eastern faces then go a bit crestfallen, I cheer them up by telling them about killing rattlesnakes with a rake. That never loses its savor: the women perk up and chatter like magpies, wanting to know if it’s hard (not terribly), how long the snake continues to move (depends), and if I’m scared (always).”
Sedona raised her three children in comparative wilderness, until the tragic death of five-year-old Pearl plunged her into a depression. They returned to Gorin to reconcile with family, and then homesteaded in southeastern Colorado before finally returning to the place they loved.
By the time they returned, Sedona had become a mecca for artists and movie people. Sedona still didn’t like meeting strangers.
Often these enthusiastic visitors looked a little disappointed when they meet me. They hoped for a sandstone sprite, and instead, they get this very reserved normal person quite probably scented faintly of potatoes or jam or something equally mundane.”
The entire town turned out when the couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.
I can’t believe I’ve been alive for fifty years, let alone married that long. But I also don’t recall a time we weren’t together.
Carl had a softer, rounder face as a young man. Now what stands out is that very determined jaw. I guess I’m glad there will be pictures taken later, even though I am uncomfortable being in them. We are not the somewhat formless young people we were when we married, or when we came here the first time. We’ve been carved into different statues…statues that stand close to one another.
It’s wonderful to contemplate. A half-century of Carl and I being the most important people in the world to each other. ‘Golden’ is a good word for that.”
©Lisa Schnebly Heidinger, for Legends of America, October 2017.
More about the book:
Sedona Arabella Miller Schnebly followed her husband west when their small Missouri town condemned his Presbyterian religion. Arriving in Arizona Territory in 1901, they planted orchards and hosted early tourists in what is now named Sedona. This vivid journal of her life introduces you to a pioneer family: from their genteel upbringings through adventures with rattlesnakes, trappers and colorful guests. With 30 photographs from family collections, this volume of Sedona Schnebly’s experiences and ruminations draws you into a fiercely private woman’s life that is by turns amusing and heartbreaking, and always fascinating.
About the author:
Great-granddaughter of Sedona Schnebly, Lisa Schnebly Heidinger has written nine other books about various aspects of Arizona before this tour de force journal: a culmination of decades conducting interviews and exploring archives. Voted OneBookAZ author for her Arizona Centennial book, she shares Sedona and T.C. Schnebly’s deep love of Arizona and of travel. A former television and newspaper reporter, then editorial columnist, she loves drinking at historic hotels, doing anything outside, and coffee; she vowed she’s never had an undrinkable cup, although the one made in the morning and purchased at 4 p.m. from Grey Hills Trading Post came closest.
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