Strange Fruit

Senator Barry Goldwater's kin try to seal embarrassing letters about them from public view. Way to respect the great man's wishes!

This brazen buzzard can hardly believe its feathered earflaps! With the ink barely dry on "Goldwater Uncut" (Stephen Lemons, October 19), New Times' cover story on the real Arizona icon, Barry Goldwater's brood stormed the Arizona Historical Foundation, repository of the late U.S. senator's personal and political papers, demanding its Board of Directors seal correspondence on file between Barry Sr. and his family.

See, "Goldwater Uncut" detailed all the cool stuff about the legendary AZ pol that didn't make it into the maudlin HBO documentary Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater, produced by the senator's granddaughter C.C. Goldwater. Rather than C.C.'s G-rated tales of how Goldy once gave her a miniature donkey, or her mom Joanne Goldwater's plaint that Goldy was emotionally distant, "Goldwater Uncut" explored the senator's affection for the ladies, Old Crow bourbon and sports cars. The piece delved into the senator's belief in UFOs, his ribald sense of humor, his friendships with local mobsters and his constant annoyance at the pettiness and money-grubbing of his kids.

This last subject's illuminated by numerous missives between Goldy and his spoiled offspring, wherein he generously doles out loot to his four adult kids, only to have 'em come back again and again for more. Some of this correspondence was quoted in the New Times article, and (surprise, surprise) it was just this correspondence that the Goldwater clan demanded closed at the AZ Historical Foundation's October 24 board meeting in Tempe.

C.C., who sits on the board, was joined by uncles Barry Goldwater Jr. and Michael Goldwater. As a response to their personal embarrassment, they urged the docs be off-limits to researchers, though the entire collection had been, up until that time, completely open.

"The board voted to close access to the few, maybe two, boxes of Goldwater personal materials per the request of family members," AHF director Jack August sheepishly peeped to this perturbed puffin. "Our policies will be reviewed, and will be revisited at our January 9, 2007, board meeting. Meantime, no one can look at them, not even me."

August, a celebrated author and professor of Arizona history, explained that the senator's papers were deeded gifts from Barry Sr. to the Foundation, which the senator started in 1959. Goldy himself left no restrictions on the papers, according to August.

So, just to drive the point home, Barry Sr.'s two sons and his granddaughter want the papers that a freakin' United States senator bequeathed to the foundation hidden from the public because said papers make them look bad. Way to circumvent the great man's wishes!

The situation's awkward for the Foundation, as the AHF recently announced it would be raising funds for a move from ASU's Hayden Library, where the collection's now housed, to downtown Phoenix, as soon as a suitable building's erected. The Goldwaters have been much in the media of late. Barry's bro Bob Goldwater passed away the other day at the age of 96. And C.C.'s recent HBO tear-jerker has heightened the public's curiosity about all things Goldwater.

This jaded jaybird would argue that it was C.C.'s focus on herself, her mom Joanne, and her uncles in the HBO flick that opened up this can of colossal centipedes. In Goldwater on Goldwater, C.C. had her mom read from a letter sent to Joanne by Goldy discussing Joanne's abortion. C.C. also alluded to Barry Jr.'s well-publicized drug problem, showing him declining to discuss it on camera.

Though C.C. examined the Foundation's archives for the film, she claims she and the rest of the family had no idea that such correspondence was in them until they read the New Times story.

"Thanks for bringing it to our attention," she quipped to this querulous quail when queried about the censorship ploy. "Should I write a letter to the editor and say, 'I wanna thank Steve for bringing it to our family's attention'?"

Squawk, that won't be necessary, C.C., since this was hardly a surprise to at least one family member. Former California congressman Barry Jr. was asked for "Goldwater Uncut" about certain letters he sent to and received from his pop while Barry Jr. was at the Meadows in Wickenburg kicking coke. Just like he didn't want to discuss the matter for C.C.'s doc, he also didn't want to talk about it with New Times, though he said he wasn't offended by the question: "That's part of public domain."

Who knows whether the Goldwaters will succeed at thwarting the senator's wishes? But don't worry, New Times acquired copies of all the juicier letters before the archives were sealed (at least temporarily).

We read how Goldy handed out $70K in one three-month period to his kids. Perused his complaints about his offspring's insatiable appetite for cash. Studied one of Joanne's letters egging her dad to break up his mom's trust and distribute the funds. Viewed Goldy's letters to Cynthia Ross (C.C.'s name before she assumed the influential Goldwater mantle; her mother's Goldy's eldest daughter), tut-tutting her about her ambitions for a TV career. Looked over the gut-wrenching Q&A Barry Jr. participated in for one of his sons' school assignments, in which Barry Jr. describes his jones for nose candy.

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