When I first moved to Jerome, about five years ago, the stories of the townspeople, events over the past 20 years, just amazed me. It was like stuff out of a novel - even better than fiction as it was true. Later I became the director for the Jerome Historical Society and found even more stories in Jerome's past. I can only imagine the stories that were never printed. Knowing Jerome gossip and sometimes within that there are untruths, I can't guarantee that all of the stories I heard were completely true - but I'm sure there is a kernel of truth within it. So here are a few:
The Missing Penguin
There once was a store that faced Main Street, sat next to Paul and Jerrys Saloon. It was an antique store owned by a Laura Williams - an old-timer of Jerome. It was said that she only opened the store on occasion and to friends. But within the window stood a few odd curiosities, one being a stuffed penguin. One day, a gentleman observed the penguin closely. A month later he drafted a letter to The Town of Jerome stating that the penguin was one of Colonial Byrds - that he brought two back and that the Smithsonian owned one and the missing twin was here in Jerome. He asked that we obtain the penguin and return it to the museum. The mayor at the time put the letter off, he remembered seeing the penguin. Finally, at some point he got around to rounding it up. As he strolled by Laura's store and peered into the window, he noticed the penguin was gone. Somebody had apparently stolen it. He made a report to the police department and left it at that. Months later, a new mayor took office and received another letter from the man from the Smithsonian Institute. Where is my penguin he asked? The mayor inquired of the past mayor, what is this about a penguin? The story was repeated. The mayor took a walk down to the police station - any news about the recovery of the missing penguin? The police chief turned red and hung his head. He then led the mayor into the back room where recovered items that sat too long were bagged. He pulled the penguin's remains from the bag - the penguin completely destroyed, very little left but its feet. What happened, the mayor asked? Well, when we received it, we didn't know who it belonged to so me and the guys took it out for target practice.
When Father John died and it was discovered that he had been hoarding church money in the church to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, speculation grew whether he had more money stashed at his old cabin. The cabin was quite secluded, located where the Gold King Mine is now at. Large signs surrounded the cabin such as No Trespassing and Keep Out. One old hippie told me that one night he decided to go nosing around the abandoned cabin. As he was prowling around in the dark he heard footsteps. Fearful it was the police he hid, only to find it was another hippie friend seeking the same treasure. Nobody claimed to have found any money at Father John's but mysteriously his cabin was set on fire and the only evidence left was a trail of coins to a set of car tracks leaving the scene of the crime.
Katie Lee is a notorious singer, author and activitist in our town. She is now in her eighties. But this doesn't stop her from her daily routine, one of riding her bike all uphill into town to check the mail. One morning, with the grief of a friend who died, she decided to get crazy. For whatever reason, after checking her mail and tucking it into her backpack, she peeled off her clothes behind a bush, tucked them into her backpack and flew through town, downhill, naked to her house. She figured nobody saw her, but somebody did. An old gentleman who sat perched on a bench outside of the bar. He was a silent man but when he saw Katie a few days later, he asked, Katie, what were you doing riding through down with your backpack on backward? Katie laughed, knowing her backpack wasn't own backward, that those were her breasts and it was the gentleman's way of getting her goat.