Writer Molly Biker interviewed Diane Sward Rapaport about her book Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’s Richest Copper Mining City in a blog for Arizona Highways, November 11, 2014. http://www.arizonahighways.com/blog/qa-new-book-traces-town-jeromes-transformation
Excerpts: Tell me about the book. What is the book about? The book is about how Jerome was rescued after the mines abandoned it in 1953, what happened when people were left stranded. . . You look at [Jerome] now and it’s become this very pretty little restored town on the side of the mountain. How did this happen? Who were the movers and shakers?
What was your inspiration to create this book? The stories I heard. When I first came here and started participating in politics and business in Jerome, I began to hear the stories of how people created their businesses, of what happened when they moved in, of the antipathy towards the hippies, of the stories of—just outrageous stories of theft in the church and the snitch that betrayed the hippies [in the big bust of 1985.}
Why should people care about your book and Jerome’s more recent history? Jerome is an iconic town. When people come here, they have all the questions about what happened, and how did the town get so fixed up, and what do people do here, and my book answers all those questions.
Aside from that, I think that right now we’re in a period of great change. There are communities that are falling apart that need to understand that when communities fall apart, people need to come together from many areas of the society—not just businesspeople, not just money people, but artists and musicians and hippies and homeless—to help get the ideas going that will actually help rejuvenate a community.
Plus it’s a fun read. . .Some people have told me, “Hey, this book is a riot. It’s one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time.” Well, cool. It’s a history book. So if they enjoy reading it … I guess I’ve done something. History isn’t supposed to be boring.