Oasis Park - A 50-year-old Oasis in the Desert
By Felice Prager
Residents of Oasis Park in Scottsdale, Arizona, have different
stories about how they discovered their particular mobile home
community and why they stayed. One current resident was on her way to
California with her husband 34 years ago. Doctors advised her husband
to move to a warmer, drier climate because he was suffering from
shrapnel wounds from World War II. The couple stopped at Oasis Park to
visit relatives, and fell in love with it. They were torn about
leaving. On the morning they were supposed to leave, there was a large
earthquake in California. That quickly helped them decide to call
Oasis Park their home.
National Geographic magazine photographed Oasis Park for an
article about palm trees. In 1959, Jack Bailey’s Queen for a Day flew
Mrs. Doris Herbison from Oregon to be Queen of Scottsdale’s annual
Parada del Sol; she and her husband were guests at Oasis Park. In
1969, Time magazine featured Oasis Park in a story about immobile
mobile home parks, a 1950’s trend that succeeded in some areas and not
Oasis Park is now 50 years old and has become eligible for
historic status. Though HUD once estimated that mobile home
communities only had a life span of 14 years, Oasis Park and a few
others like it have been the exceptions to that rule. Oasis Park is
still a thriving community.
Oasis Park was created in the mid-1950s by a developer who
carved almost 15 acres from a Scottsdale, Arizona cotton field into
lots, built a clubhouse, and christened the whole place The Oasis.
When it was originally built, it was flanked by more cotton fields and
it was across the street was a drive-in theater that has been replaced
by office buildings. Its history has been pieced together by current
residents (some who have been there almost 40 years) from scraps of
paper found in the mobile homes when they became residents.
In 1957, the first residents began to move in. At the time,
Oasis Park had shuffleboard courts, a putting green, a 54-foot heated
pool with a rock waterfall, a library inside the clubhouse, an on-site
hobby shop for men, and a pink laundry room with matching pink washers
and pink dryers for the women. The amenities alone help categorized
the mobile home community as upscale. Eventually 95 couples filled the
park, maneuvering massive 55-foot mobile homes into their designated
lots. Residents were required to add ramadas to the existing
structures, and some opted to add more than what was required.
In the early days, there were weekly potluck dinners usually
preceded by fancy cocktail parties. Men and women dressed up. The men
wore coats and ties, and the women wore elegant gowns or long Mexican
dresses. On other occasions, residents proudly showed slide shows
after returning from exotic vacations. There were parties to celebrate
everything from Halloween to anniversaries to birthdays, and
inevitably, memorial services for residents who died. In its heyday,
Oasis Park had an endless array of activities from buffets, pool and
poker parties, craft sessions, bingo nights, dances, exercise clubs,
and visiting speakers.
Over the years, the residents have included a diamond merchant,
bankers, ministers, politicians, doctors and nurses, hairdressers,
schoolteachers and college professors, electricians, pilots,
journalists, architects, an airline owner, and a judge. Most residents
were (and still are) winter visitors, maintaining homes elsewhere.
Among the many famous people to pass through Oasis Park over the years
were Colonel Earl Henry “Red” Blaik – head football coach at West
Point, Hale Irwin – pro golfer, and Paul Parent – right-hand man to
Oasis Park residents have never counted themselves among the
typical mobile home owners, and Oasis Park was never known as a
typical trailer park. Though originally a rental community, residents
now own their homes and are shareholders in the Oasis Park Company,
the corporation they formed in order to buy the land on which their
homes sit. Each resident now 1/95th of the total land and decisions
about the park must be approved by the majority.
The community was always meant for older couples whose children
were grown. I is restricted to members 55 years old and older. At one
time, Oasis Park would not let in widows; however, many of the homes
are now occupied by single women. Prospective buyers are interviewed
and must be approved by the Oasis Park membership. Though some people
might find the rules oppressive – no pets, no outside noise on Sundays
and holidays, no clotheslines, and no wind chimes – residents don’t
seem to mind. In an area where homes tend to take on a cookie-cutter
appearance, Oasis homes are at least twice the original size, and each
is very distinctive in style. The original mobile home is still part
of the structure – that’s a rule, but each home has a uniqueness of
its own – from Kokopelli sculptures to wishing wells, from cowboy
weathervanes to unusual lawn statues; some homes are brick, some are
river rock, some are shingle, some have brick arches, and some have
tile doorways. The yards are landscaped with immaculately groomed
citrus, yucca, prickly pear, ocotillo, bird of paradise, and lantana.
Oasis Park still maintains a full schedule of activities –
exercise classes, bible study, bridge, and poker. In the summer when
many residents return to their other homes, the schedule slows down.
Though residents have changed, potlucks are still held regularly and
are attended by most members of the community. Neighbors look after
each other. If someone needs a ride, a neighbor is available to
provide it. When someone is ill, neighbors provide wheel chairs and
meals. Oasis Park may be in a big city, but it has the feel of a small
town right out of another era.
6700 E. Thomas Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251