OUR FIRST CHIEF, Sam Fraizer 1946 – 1979
Sam had just been discharged from the Navy when he and ILene moved to Sonoita. At that time the area was almost all ranches. There were very few private dwellings. They leased land from the Honnases(1),went to The Fort, tore down a building, brought the lumber to Sonoita and built a gas station-garage and lunchroom (2) Their business was known as Sonoita Services. While Sam was repairing cars ad pumping gas, ILene was “feeding people”, including, at one time, about 20 highway workers who were putting highway 82 through to Whetstone. She served soup, sandwiches, and pies. They lived in two rooms at the back of the business. Also, about that time, Ed Le Gendre hauled over a office building from The Fort and built a combined gas station, little store and a post office. This business (3) was just across from the Fraizer’s business. (3)
Sam was the first to realize the need for help in the community for fire protection. He went to The Fort and bought a surplus 1941 Chevrolet fire truck and operated it mostly at his own expense. This arrangement continued for about 20 years until Sam and ILene decided to move. They built another gas station-garage and lunchroom on land bought from Lew Douglas. (4) Douglas was the owner of all the Beck land at that time. The Fraizer’s business was now on 83 SE of the junction. (5) From the Honnases they bought land just across 83 from their business for their “in town home.” They found a house they liked on Lower Elgin Road and had it hauled over to their home site. They also had a ranch off of highway 83 south.
Sam’s main concern was grass fires. He had many volunteers including Jokey Spencer, Mack Woods and the whole community. If Sam was called about a fire, the whole community would turn out . ILene says she sure learned how to use a wet gunny sack and a flapper, as did the whole community. As time passed, Sam needed more equipment. Through the State Forestry Department he obtained two 2 1/2 ton Army surplus vehicles and equipped them with 600 gallon tanks and small self powered pumps. Son, Ross, calls them “the old deuce and a halfs.” The trucks were the property of the State. This arrangement again worked for a while, until those 20 year old trucks started wearing out and there were no replacement parts to be found.
“Times they were a changin’ “ After 33 years of service to this community, Sam and ILene decided to sell out and take a well deserved retirement. (6) This must have been a wonderful time for the Fraizers. They had time to travel. When ILene talks about their traveling, she smiles and says, “Yes, we traveled a lot!”
SIDE NOTE: You should taste ILene’s pies – “Out Of This World”
1. The old Honnas Ranch is now residential. NW of intersection 83 and 83.
2. SW corner of 82 and 83. Where the Mini Mart is now.
3. Where the Steak-Out and store are now.
4. first Fire Chief Douglas was the father-in-law of Mary Pease Douglas, who still lives in Sonoita.
5. SE on 83 from junction. Now the sheriff’s office and Sonoita Public Library.
6. Sold to Ben and Sydney Franklin owned the Crown C Ranch – Sydney still does.
Sonoita, AZ 85637