LB - Yavapai College mid semester

Home | Classifieds | Place an Ad | Public Notices | Subscriber Services | 928 Media Lab | Real Estate Search | Galleries | Obits | Yellow Pages | TV Listings | Contact Us
The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : features : features October 04, 2015

2/4/2013 10:15:00 PM
Column: Fiorello always called Prescott his hometown

Jerry Jackson
Courier columnist

New York City lost a former colorful mayor last week when Ed Koch died at age 88. But let's flash back two-thirds of a century earlier when another feisty one - Fiorello La Guardia - passed away in 1947. And, what is common knowledge to Prescott oldtimers may be news to newcomers to our city who may have raised their eyebrows now and then when crossing the La Guardia Bridge there on downtown's North Montezuma Street.

Fiorello, incidentally, translates to "little flower" in Italian, and gave credence to "The Little Flower" nickname he inherited. You see, he stood at 5 feet 2, which is also my wife Pat's height, but he had considerably more girth than her. And my memory of the exuberant little guy was refreshed in an unexpentant way last Friday during the recycling of newspapers and magazines with the Prescott Noon Lions after a handful of Reader's Digest mags from the 1980s came toddling down the conveyor line. Out of curiosity I resurrected seven of them, one of which - published in February 1983 - featured an article by Lawrence Elliott titled "La Guardia: Portrait of an American Original" which, on the lead-in page, carried this glowing testimonial: "Zany, impetuous, kind, generous, compassionate, insulting and profane. Flamboyant, visionary, incorruptible, bombastic. Take your choice. There are few words that do not describe Fiorello (The Little Flower) La Guardia, the finest mayor that New York - or any other American city - ever had."

Now, regarding that local angle: Fiorello's dad, Achille, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1885 and was assigned to the 11th Infantry Regiment as its chief musician, and he eventually became bandmaster at Fort Whipple. During that time, Fiorello attended public schools and high school here and, noted Elliott, "always considered Prescott, Ariz., where he spent six years, his hometown. Later, he wore a high-crowned Stetson to emphasize his wide-open-spaces background."

Elliott went on to say that "Prescott was where young Fiorello started working out the important matter of who he was, and understanding that some classes, religions and nationalities were 'better' than others. In his only specific reference to an early ethnic slur, La Guardia recalled an organ grinder who 'blew into town' with his hurdy-gurdy and dancing monkey. 'A dago with a monkey!' jeered the blue-eyed children. 'Hey, Fiorello, you're a dago - where's your monkey?'

"Despite his western upbringing, Fiorello had an insatiable appetite for New York City newspapers," Elliott wrote. "The New York Sunday World reached Prescott five or six days late, and Fiorello would rush to the local drugstore to grab it. He read the comic section on the spot." And "as he grew older he started to follow the news."

La Guardia would go on to serve three terms as New York City's mayor (from 1934 to 1945, which generally coincided with FDR's tenure as president), and his lifetime affection for the comics surfaced in July 1945 when - to soften the blow of a newspaper deliverymen's strike - he bridged the gap by reading the Sunday comics of the New York Daily News over the radio to the delight of the city's younger set, which you can call up by Binging "Mayor La Guardia's radio readings" on the Internet. The focus is on Orphan Annie and Dick Tracy and, I think in a way, that hearing Fiorello's take in his staccato style might have even been an improvement over eyeballing the action in the Sunday funnies. In that way, you see, the kids could've visualized Annie with pupils in her eyes and straightened out Dick's Roman nose in their mind's eye. Just a thought.

Contact the columnist at

    Most Viewed     Recently Commented
•   APS, D-backs commit money for Kayla's Hands Playground in Prescott (1217 views)

•   Editorial: Maintaining a comfy balance (1116 views)

•   Station 53: For firefighters, the family that trains together, stays together (with VIDEO) (1076 views)

•   Station 53: Firefighting evolves with the times (964 views)

•   It's FAIR time! Perfect weather to visit the Yavapai Fair today (893 views)

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Article comment by: Jerry Insley

As a Prescott native, when in the fourth grade we were marched from Lincoln School to the court house to hear Fiorello La Guardia speak. He kept the interest of the kids and made some men apprehensive by mentioning such places as the local "ladies of the evening." and location of their enterprizes. He really brought out some of the history we kids hadn't heard about. During World War I, LaGuardia was in the Air Corps and took charge of our interests in Italy. Truly a man to remember and a high spot for a little kid like me. Thanks to Jerry Jackson for the memories. Jerry insley - Ashland, Oregon

Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to Facebook character limits. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

HSE - We want to hear from you
HSE - dCourier App
HSE- Rants&Raves

Quick Links
 •  Submit site feedback or questions

 •  Submit your milestone notice

 •  Submit your letter to the editor

 •  Submit a news tip or story idea

 •  Place a classified ad online now

 •  Browse the Yellow Pages

Find It Features Blogs Milestones Extras Submit Other Publications Links
Classifieds | Subscriber Services | Real Estate Search | Galleries | Find Prescott Jobs | e-News | RSS | Site Map | Contact Us
LB - Yavapai College mid semester

© Copyright 2015 Western News&Info, Inc.® The Daily Courier is the information source for Prescott area communities in Northern Arizona. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Prescott Newspapers, Inc. Prescott Newspapers Online is a service of Prescott Newspapers Inc. By using the Site, ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the Site's terms of use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the Site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Prescott Newspapers Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info, Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2015 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved