What Do You Do After the Company Leaves?

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MERCHANT JOHN MITCHELL settles into his easy chair, getting ready to take his afternoon nap. After more than seventy years in Superior, he's playing out the string. Sometimes, he dwells on the old days.

"Was a hell of a place at one time," he says. "Was."
Superior was booming in 1916 when Mitchell Tibshraeny moved to town. Tibshraeny changed his last name to Mitchell and opened a clothing store. His son John graduated from Superior High in 1927, attended the University of Arizona for a year, then worked as an underground miner in Superior for a decade. A decorated hero in World War II, John Mitchell returned home and, in 1948, opened his own shop, the one he now refuses to board up.

He resists moving to the Valley. "I won't do it," Mitchell says. "My wife sometimes tells me she wouldn't mind trying someplace new one of these days."

Virginia Mitchell, a popular town councilmember, continues to iron some shirts. "No comment," she says.

John Mitchell stares out his sliding-glass doors toward nearby Superior High School. "I tell these kids, these Mexican kids," he says, "to get their education and then get out of here. I know, maybe I shouldn't talk like that. But hell, I've been here since 1916, so I should know what's up. You have to face reality.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin