Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Scorpion Gulch? It's 'Grandpa'

"PHXG", December 13, 1966

By Bud Lanker, Gazette Staff Writer

Photo Caption: William Lunsford, the original Mr. Scorpion Gulch, caters to scores of neighborhood children who know him affectionately as "Grandpa."

Meet the original Mr. Scorpion Gulch.

William Lunsford, 75, of 10227 S. Central, who holds a copyright on the name, “Scorpion Gulch,” and also has the name registered with the secretary of state, would rather be called plain “grandpa.”

That’s because children are Bill Lunsford’s life and the large number living in the neighborhood call him “grandpa.”

GRANDPA BILL doesn’t like to see two kids sharing the same bottle of pop.

“It isn’t sanitary,” he says.

So he remedies the situation by furnishing the second bottle of pop out of his own pocket.

Bill owns and operates the small store, curio shop and cactus gardens on South Central near the entrance to South Mountain Park.

IN 1936, LUNSFORD purchased the 100 feet of frontage. Her personally hauled the rock and built the store with living quarters attached where he and his wife lived and operated the business.

His wife died several years ago and Bill now lives alone.

He doesn’t make much money, what with giving away bottles of pop, and he is one of the few remaining merchants who sells penny candy. He probably gives way more than he sells. He just can’t resist giving away candy and pop to his “grandchildren” who lack the necessary money.

BILL ISN’T too well, so some of the children, at their own expense, rigged up an alarm from Bill’s place to a home so he can summon aid in case he needs it.

Over a normal weekend, some 200 children will visit “Grandpa” and partake of his candy and pop. They usually come in bunches, their parents phoning Bill that a group of them are on their way and to “watch for them.”

Bill herds the little ones safely across Central to his store. When they start come across the mountain, Bill phones the parents they are on their way home and to “watch for them.”

LUNDSFORD HAS a large stock of curios and Indian made items in his shop but because of his infirmities he is just selling out what he has on hand and not replenishing his stock.

In the adjacent cactus garden Bill has more than 1,800 species of cacti, imported from many countries.

Other business concerns in the vicinity use the name, “Scorpion Gulch,” and that’s all right with Lunsford.

TO THE MANY children who visit him daily he’d rather be known as “Grandpa.” He believes a bottle of pop from “Grandpa” tastes better than one from Scorpion Gulch.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for a good feature and photo, Richard!! Too bad that tower in the background is no more. Do you have any info on the crumbling concrete milepost across the road from Scorpion Gulch?

South Mountain Richard said...

I hadn't noticed the crumbling concrete milepost you mentioned, I'll have to check that out next time I visit the area. If I find out anything I'll post what I find. Thanks for reading.

Anonymous said...

hello all... does anyone know who owns scorpion gulch right now? please have someone email me at if you know who owns it, and it would be *awesome* if you had contact information to the owner, as well :)

Ricardo said...

I took some photos of Scorpion Gulch last December (09), and posted them in my Flickr site:

I also blogged the photos in my Wordpress Blog, and I took the liberty of including in my text a link to this page:

In it there's also a link to a Flickr photo of the Phoenix Gazette 1966 article.

Thanks for the background information about Scorpion Gulch, which I learned about only after returning to San Diego.

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Jack W Lunsford said...

On Flickr it says Scorpion Gulch was built by Jack Lunsford. I'm THE Jack Lunsford, but I didn't build it. It was built along with another building by my grandfather, William Lunsford, and my father, Kenneth W "Bill" Lunsford. All of the stone was gathered by hand & hauled up from the wash behind the property toward the mountains.

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Joann B said...

I don't know if you were still alive it is 2017 May 4rd. Thank you for putting your comments and I like accurate history.

Amber Lunsford Botamer said...

Yes! I'm glad accurate information is available too. I'm also a Lunsford & Jack is my father.

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