|Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden|
DELIA GIST GARDNER
Delia was born on June 28, 1900, in Carlsbad, New Mexico, the daughter of Aubrey Howard and Sarah Sweeten Gist. She came to Skull Valley from Barksdale, Texas, with her family in 1915. She lived on and proved up a homestead of 640 acres.
On September 22, 1924, she married Gail Gardner, who was a long-time Prescott postmaster and renowned cowboy poet. He said, "I found a girl who was worth a whole herd of Broadway stars...so, before she could get away, I married her."
"I got breakfast," Gail recalled on tape, "for 40 years, as long as I could see...Just breakfast, you know. I'd get up and know what I wanted. Delia and I lived on the ranch for 11 years. I'd get up and get my own breakfast... her breakfast, too."
The Gardners moved into Gail's birthplace at 101 North Mt. Vernon, where they stayed the rest of their lives. Here, as Gail put it, at the "first try we got a little boy (Jimmy). Well, that was fine...and then we put in another order, and I got a little girl (Cynthia Steiger Schrieber)." In 1950, Gail wrote this tribute to Delia that was published in the reprinting of his book, "Orejana Bull":
"I still can ditch
Or cook a tasty meal.
I can argue till the cows come home
On any kind of deal.
I can irrigate the garden
Or do any other chores,
And stay out late at parties
Until they close the doors.
There is no silver in my hair,
I still look pretty nifty.
The boys still whistle when I pass.
Good gosh-I can't be fifty!"
Delia, no less than her husband, helped create and maintain the special ambiance that is Prescott. Always interested in civic projects, they went to all the rodeos where they knew every contestant. Delia would often be found "holding the rope" for the ropers. She belonged to the Daughters of the American Revolution and was a Board Member of the Sharlot Hall and Prescott Historical societies.
In an unpublished poem, Delia wrote her own "Hail and Fairwell" (sic) in 1945, reflecting from a cabin in Skull Valley:
"Think not on my brittle bones mingling with dust, for these
Are but a handful added
To those gone before.
Think, rather, that on this borrowed hilltop
"One lived joyously, and died content.
In this dark soil I found reminders, saying:
"You, too, will pass; savor for us
the wind and the sun.
"From the smoke-blackened earth I dug
A frail shell bracelet, shaped lovingly, skillfully,
For a brown-skinned wrist, now dust.
The broken piece of clay
Was a doll's foot and leg, artfully carved
Made for a brown-eyed child.
"Pottery shards, saying: "Yours for a little time only
Take delight in this," as we did.
"The tree will die; the vine wither and rattle in the wind.
For I broke a law of Nature.
I carried the water to the hilltop.
For those after me there will be
These things I have loved:
"Morning sun rays, slanting across the hilltop,
Lighting the great trees in the green meadow.
Wind, the great blue sky,
Peace of the encircling hills
And flaming glow of sunset."
Delia died April 18, 1990, in Prescott and was buried at Mountain View Cemetery.
Donors: Ann Tewksbury and Evelyn Merritt
|Additional documentation and photographs may be available in the Sharlot Hall Museum Archives and Library.|