Journal of the Plague Year 2020: Snob Hollow, and the Owl’s Club

owl's club, tucson, AZ, presidio
The Owl’s Club, an object of curiosity for three visitors from Minnesota, and the backdrop of an upcoming novella, “Inglorion in the Elysian Fields.”

This morning as I was strolling in the Presidio neighborhood, I ran into a group of three retirees from Minnesota, a man and two women.

The man asked, “Do you know this area?”

“Pretty well,” I said cautiously.

“Do you know the house a block or so down? A beautiful white mansion on the right-hand side?”

“That’s either the Steinfeld House or the Owl’s Club. Is it an ornate building with an owl on the front?”

“Yes! It did have an owl,” he said with satisfaction. “It’s called the Owl’s Club?”

I was so excited I started vibrating in place and gesticulating. “It’s my favorite building! You know, if you walk down another three blocks, there’s an exhibit that shows the names of all the mansions and when they were built. The area was called Snob Hallow, and construction started just after the Camp Grant Massacre, when the railroad came through.”

They seemed genuinely pleased. “What about all the little houses in the barrios down here?”

“There’s a place called the Elysian Grove, just past the Convention center. The signs there explain when everything was built, and how the watershed changed at the turn of the century.”

elysian grove, tucson Arizona
The Elysian Grove area of Barrio Viejo dates back to the 1880s, when the Santa Cruz River ran year-round, and was lined with cottonwood trees.

“The Elysian Grove?” he said. “That’s an old name.”

“Yes! It’s named for the Greek afterlife.” We kept drifting closer to each other, until one of the women pointed out that we should keep our distance.

We scuttled apart. Perhaps by way of apology, she complimented me on my perfume. Note to self: Maybe cut back to two spritzes.

I’m proud that I managed not to gibber about how I’m researching a novella that takes place in a little corner of Barrio Viejo called The Elysian Fields. I’ll just remind you, Dear Reader, that as I publish the final chapters of The Last Days of Tereus Shelawn, I’m eagerly scribbling a volume set in the Presidio and Dunbar-Spring neighborhoods, in the year 2030.


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