Past & Present ~ a meeting place

Thanks to everyone who has sent me photos, I can now share them online.  Visit Midland's Past and Present through photos and stories contributed by those who lived there.

Midland reunion 2003 A nice article from the Palo Verde Valley Times Online!


 See more pictures New Photos Added!







Donny Lazzarotto then and now

- Past -




Our school and Principal Mr. B.B. Shelton. The view of the school is from the northwest. Do you remember that really tall slide? Do you remember how hot it could get in the sun? Yeeow!




Writing on the wall before the school was torn down. If you look very closely you can see Donnie Lazzarotto's signature.



Photos courtesy of Angie

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The Commissary in the 1950's.

"This is how the commissary, which had a fully supplied grocery store and cafe, looked like back in the 1950's. There was also a couple of gas pumps and a garage around the corner. That's the board plant behind the store, pumping out good old U.S. Gypsum sheetrock, used in homes throughout the country." - Gerry Burkhard

Photo courtesy of Gerry Burkhard

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McArthur's Army in town for desert maneuvers in the late 1960's.

"I wish I could remember the exact dates McArthur's Army came riding into town. It was in the late sixties when the Armed Forces spent weeks doing desert maneuvers. It was a site to behold. This tank is crossing right in front of our house. That's my Mom on the steps and our dog (Toby) heading for home. The corner fence by Toby was the Personnel Office where Dad worked. Notice all the trees. All of our water was brought by train from Blythe."- Gerry Burkhard

Photo courtesy of Gerry Burkhard

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Another picture of the Army Tanks

"When the Army Troops left, there were all kinds of treasures to be found. From food rations to ammo (all blanks), they say there were even crated up Jeeps that were dropped with chutes from planes that were never found. That's Big Maria Mountain in the background." - Gerry Burkhard

Photo courtesy of Gerry Burkhard

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"We (I don't remember which friend was with me) found this old well.  We could hear a rock hit water when we dropped it in.  We tied some rusty cables we found together and tied a really rusty tin can to them and we brought up water!!!!"

Betty Karr

Picture date 1952



Little girl's grave.




Photos courtesy of Betty Karr

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Grandpa and a group of Midland Gypsum Mine Workers

Photo courtesy of the Ochoa family

- Present -

This is the welcome sign as you enter Midland.

Scrapbooks and journals have been placed at former resident's home sites. Visitors are welcome to read and add comments. Please respect our former homes and do not remove the scrapbooks.

Photos sent to me by Angie

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Midland Reunion

Below is a copy of the Midland Reunion story as it appeared in The Palo Verde Valley Times Online, November 12, 2003 by permission of the Editor. Thank you!
First reunion held in old Midland
By Don Marion
Times Correspondent
Midland, Calif., for those who are not from Blythe or the immediate area, is just a dot on a very detailed map.

But for those who were born there or lived there or worked in the mill and gypsum mines for more than half a century, it was hearth and home.

Times Photo/DON MARION

These women are the earliest returning classmates to the reunion. Sisters Dorine and Janice Thompson were first-graders back in 1937. Although one now lives as distant as Bend, Ore., they came for the Midland Reunion, the Homecoming game, and then on to visit their mom in Sun City, Ariz. Posed also is Becky Conway, who attended school in Midland.

The history of Midland has yet to be written although it exists in countless letters, family albums, school photos and birth documents.

That said, Midland is alive and well in the memory and hearts of most everyone that ever lived out there, north of Midland, in the outback.

Times Photo/DON MARION

Former classmates that walked the half-mile from the gathering on the old tennis court to the site of the old school grounds, posed with smiles after recalling their youth playing sports together. A solitary smoke stack and concrete pad is all that remains of the school they knew from 1948 to 1966 here in Midland.

Carole Overturf, classmate to those in 1953, decided it was time to send out the message, asking everyone who could to come home to Midland and bring your best memories.

Thanks to Carole and endless hours on the Internet tracking down names and sending out e-mail, many flew to Phoenix, rented cars, and then drove over the still well maintained 22-mile stretch of highway connecting Blythe to their former hometown.

In 1967, the company that owned the town, U.S. Gypsum, decided maintaining the community was much more expensive than mining the same ore in a deposit near San Diego.

There they did not have to furnish tens of millions of gallons of water annually to those who could not survive without it, or maintain the school, the tennis court, the housing — well, basically, the entire town.

So in 1967, the town was shut down. Everything that could be sold to a construction company for demolition disappeared. Homes that were not moved to Blythe or Parker were used by fire departments for training purposes.

Midland, to all appearances, disappeared from sight. Now snowbirds pass by the large “Do Not Enter” sign, the one with bullet holes.

They park on concrete pads and gather tiny pieces of bric-a-brac and place them in a quaint outdoor museum.

Discarded toys, rusty pieces of equipment, mineral samples. Memories. All are mute testimony that someone lived in a home on that very spot.

A nearby hill surmounted with a cross is also the place where the ashes of parents were lovingly scattered not too long ago.

Hallowed ground for more than one family as many an Easter service was also held on Cross Hill.

A lonely smokestack from the old school rises into the silent skies like the bony finger of an old preacher pointing to the heavens for guidance.

They came back this year on Nov. 8, the day after Blythe’s annual Homecoming football game.

They arrived and stood in line to sign in and slowly, slowly the smiles came out, then the big grins, then hugging.

It was enough to bring many to tears just to see the sight of former classmates, old comrades that grew up exploring these many mountains so many decades ago.

“Sure we saw big turtles,” said Blythe resident Larry J. Williams, now the owner of a local construction company. “We also saw Gila Monsters,” said his friend Clarence Thomas. “You name it, scorpions, snakes, we saw all of those things here, but we sure had fun.”

Someone laughed and swore a Red Racer snake actually chased a boy down a road one day and only through the intervention of a friend, was not bit.

You don’t question memories; you just nod and smile along with those who were there and know it to be true.

Prayer was said before the potluck lunch was served out on the former tennis court.

Prayer seemed to suddenly tie everyone into an extended Midland family like nothing else could do.

After that, as lunch was being doled out onto paper plates, information was exchanged about who was still living, where they might be now?

Questions flew like: “Who got married; who had children; who got divorced; who might come next time?”

Next time indeed. It has been decided that a true Midland reunion must be held every two years now.

Records will be kept, the word will go out and if smiles, kisses and exchanged phone numbers and e-mail addresses are any indication, they will return.

There is an old quote from the book, “The Little Prince.” “What is essential, is invisible to the eye.”

Although the town has returned to dust, what is essential remains in the hearts of those who will always call old dusty Midland home.

>> Thanks again to the Editor for allowing me to add this article to my website <<

I am so sorry I missed everyone who came to the reunion! I really hope to be able to attend the next one!! ~ Candy (Balfour) Demiri

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Links of Interest


My Wish List:
  • More town photos
  • More stories
  • Pics of the reunion
  • A great color picture of the Big Maria Mountain range glowing in the setting sun. <sigh>
  • To see the Milky Way again <sigh again>

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