I was born and raised in St. Johns, Arizona. It seems like anytime I tell people where I’m from, they always seem to know someone from St. Johns, Arizona. It doesn’t matter where you are. In fact, it’s not just me. I’ll bet most of us from that wonderful little town have had that happen many times. My dad, Ted Raban, had an experience once. You may have heard this story, but like my dad says, if I’ve already told it to you, don’t stop me. He was traveling across the back roads of Ireland with my mom many years ago. They were visiting castles and country sides. They were on a small bus taking them to the Bed and Breakfast where they would be staying that night, when my dad casually started a conversation with another gentleman sitting on the bus. After getting acquainted, the gentleman asked my dad where he was from. Dad told him he was from a small town in Arizona called St. Johns. “Oh,” said the man. “I once knew a man from St. Johns, Arizona. His name was Ted Raban. Do you know him?”
St. Johns will always be home to me. Even though I’m grown, married with my own family and living away, St. Johns is still home. To me, that meant knowing every single student in my High School graduating class, or every person in my High School for that matter. It meant our teachers taught Math, Science and English during the week, and Sunday School or Primary on Sunday. That meant when my sister was given a reckless driving ticket for driving on the sidewalk between the cement pillars and the old Wilbur’s store, the judge gave her a pat on the back and said, “I wouldn’t call that reckless driving, I would call that impressive driving!!” That meant growing up with things such as Screamer’s Valley, the Little Resi, sandwash parties with bonfires, whitewashing the SJ, Duke’s pond, Lyman Lake, and Freshman initiation. It meant leaving your keys in your car and going to bed with your doors unlocked. It meant the cannon going off early in the morning on the 4th of July, the pancake breakfast and races in the park. It meant the 24th of July celebration, with the parade, rodeos and dances at the old downtown pavilion. It meant our friend’s parents were known as “uncle and aunt” instead of “Mr. and Mrs.” and that they were almost as invested in how we were raised as our own parents were!
But more recently, it has come to mean so much more. A few years ago, my husband Matt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was given only a few months to live. Even from afar, this “town of friendly neighbors” gathered around me and my family to offer their support of faith, love and prayers. We received many financial contributions by mail. To help out with a benefit barbeque in our behalf, fellow St. Johns friends and family donated beef to barbeque, and multiple items to be auctioned off, including guns, golf clubs, a steer and a registered quarter horse. And just as important as the material support, is the moral support we continue to receive. Phone calls (one all the way from Tampico Mexico), letters and mostly, the prayers. Not just from our faith, but from other denominations as well. We’ve been told that the High Priest Group in the St. Johns Little Colorado Ward prays together for Matt every Sunday. I am continually told by people from home, “We’re praying for you.” I believe that those prayers going up to Heaven from St. Johns, Arizona carry a lot of weight with our Heavenly Father, because after more than 5 years, Matt is still with us. Faith, Love, Support and Prayers from home have helped to keep my husband alive and my little family intact. That’s what St. Johns, Arizona means to me.
By Jodi King