Ms. Karen, Ms. Rosemary & I traveled an hour east of Tucson one pleasant November Sunday to Gammons Gulch, a Western movie town built by Jay & Joanne Gammons. Jay went to grade school in Tombstone where his father became Chief of Police in the 1950's.
During this period, Jay's father served as a security officer on movie sets, and worked as John Wayne's personal body guard when the Duke was filming in Southern Arizona.
As a boy, Jay accompanied his dad and occasionally got a role as an extra in the movies. Jay appeared in films such as Rio Bravo, McLintock, & El Dorado. In his teens, Jay and his father teamed as body guards for stars such as Ava Gardner.
While the Western town that Jay & Joanne built is full of interesting antiques and Western movie paraphernalia, the real attraction out here is Jay's stories about the many movie stars he has worked with, including Michael Landon, John Houston, Paul Newman and so many more.
When our tour was over, Joanne called ahead to the Forever Home Donkey Rescue & Sanctuary a few hundred yards down the road from Gammons Gulch. Here we met John & Tish Hiestand who have created a safe haven for abused and neglected donkeys.
Here we met Black Jack, Jake, Justin & his mother Lynne, Pepsi, and several other donkeys, some of which are minis.
Altogether, they have 21 donkeys on property and 5 loaned out to appropriate foster homes. Because they were mistreated in the past, many of these gentle creatures now have health issues. We were particularly taken by the many ways in which the care & feeding of donkeys differ from that of horses.
Forever Home is a private refuge, funded mainly by John's retirement income. But John & Tish accept contributions and volunteer help.
Do we at Southern Arizona Guide wholeheartedly recommend tours of Gammons Gulch and Forever Home? We do indeed. But you really need to call ahead for reservations. Both are located about 12 miles north of Benson.