Icon: also spelled ikon : an image; representation. B. a simile or symbol. 2. A representation or picture of a sacred Christian personage.
Perhaps Tucson’s best known icons are the palm trees, the saguaro cactus, and the mountains. Have you taught your children to see them yet?
Statues and houses that have been around a long while can become icons – representations of Tucson. Parents can share unique things in the neighborhood or along frequently taken drives.
Teaching your children to see icons as you drive around town increases awareness of their surroundings: important in safety (discussed in a former article) and in awareness of shapes in reading.
It offers a fun way to learn vocabulary, beginning with Icon, above. Add the suffix (ending) –clast or -clasm, and you have a breaker of traditions, iconoclast, and the action of breaking, iconoclasm.
Outside the Casa Molina Restaurant on Speedway, established in the 1940s, is a matador and bull. A fun way to learn this vocabulary is an old song, sung to a drum beat. Each beat is a syllable. And two new words are introduced. “The pic – a – dor, the mat – a – dor , he swept the floor with the tor – i- a- dor. And the bull walked a – round. Ole’!”
Roses and More, florist shops around town since 1895, can be recognized by brightly painted walls. But there will not be a single rose among the images. Paint roses, and the wall becomes an advertising sign, upon which the City of Tucson charges taxes according to size.
Have you noticed the dinosaur in front of McDonald’s on Tanque Verde and Grant? Around since about the 50s, it used to be much taller than the tree growing beside it.
Valley of the Moon is not easily seen driving by, but it is worth a trip to see it. First begun during the ‘20s, it opened in the ‘40s, and has grown ever since. It is a stone fairyland open on the first Saturday of each month. Different plays and attractions are presented, or, on some Saturdays, you can just wander around among the fairy lights and see the gnomes and fairies.
The Lodge on the Desert, located on Fifth Avenue, which opened in 1936 with only 7 rooms, has been hidden behind a hedge of oleanders and a wall for many years. In 2009, they opened it up and now have a cowboy on a bronc – definitely a tradition of the West. It still has excellent ambiance, food and lodging.
In any town or neighborhood, you can build your own icons and enrich your life. Children taught to notice their world also notice strangers. Being aware adds knowledge and safety.
Tucson’s Matador statue in front of Casa Molina shows multicultural history. Good for discussing vocabulary, traditions, and values.
Lodge in the Desert
Lodge on the Desert offers also offers a restaurant. The statue in front of a cowboy on a bucking bronc is a tribute to Tucson’s ranch history and to modern rodeo.
McDonald’s Tyrannosaurus Rex
Looks like the Rex might eat the traffic light! Learn some Latin to the drumbeat song, “Tyrannosaurus Rex was a very mean king!” Discuss living and nonliving: the tree was half his size when he was built.
Roses and More Florists
Roses and More once had a garland of roses painted along the upper wall of the store. City of Tucson wanted to charge for a huge advertising sign. Now the buildings have ornate paintings all over the walls – but no roses. Its a cool place to visit and learn flowers.
Valley of the Moon
Valley of the Moon offers plays that travel through the intriguing fantasy-land. Children can contact them to audition for the plays. Note the “goblin” on the wall above the lady in silver.