Oral History Of Dianne Mack Maynard
Interviewed by Rachel Mead February 23, 2008; written by Jon Lutz
Dianne Mack Maynard lived in Gilbert during a time when you could ride your horse to the local dairy bar and get a nice cold smoothie on those hot summer days. This was a place where everybody knew everyone, and if you weren't related by blood, you were by marriage. Dianne lived in a small house right off Gilbert and Lindsey Roads up until high school. The house still stands but Dianne says the surrounding area is now foreign to the way it was before. Before high-tech engineering hit Arizona, Gilbert was a small farm community that gave way to the typical small family-owned businesses like gas station garages, food shops, and a drug store. The closest grocery store was in the neighboring town, which was only considered a neighboring town because it was connected by acres and acres of farm lands. So like most other families of the time, they were mainly self-sufficient. Her mom had the "green thumb" and would grow a surplus of fresh veggies and greens every season. They also raised most of their own meat. She remembers growing up with almost every kind of animal you could imagine. Simply put Dianne says, "Life was much simpler back then."
Dianne was born November 17, 1954 to Elsie Lee Massy and Nolan Mack. Elsie was a native Arizonan and her parents, Dianne's grandparents, Ada and Roy were both from Oklahoma. Nolan was also from Oklahoma as were his parents. Nolan and Elsie met in high school and were married soon thereafter in1947. It was the perfect high school sweet-heart story only surpassed by Dianne's marriage.
Both of Dianne's parents were very home bound; they believed in a well-structured environment. Their motto was: "There's always something that needs to be done." Elsie, Dianne's mother, worked various jobs outside the house when she was child. To Dianne, her mother's most memorable job was at the local drug store, where they had a little bar you could sit at and have a cold drink. Dianne's favorite treat as a kid was an old-fashioned root beer float that her mom would make her when she was working. You could say it was the after school hangout place when Dianne was young. But no matter how many jobs Elsie had, she was always a mother first. That was something that stuck with Dianne her whole life, and she has now bestowed those values upon her children also.
Elsie's big break came when she became a realtor and opened her own business. She was the first female realtor who owned her own business. Nolan worked at his brother's farm for sometime as a foreman. He performed all the daily maintenance activities and made sure things ran smoothly. Shortly after, he was appointed Postmaster by the President of the United States. He was the last Postmaster appointed this way. Dianne remembers it being a very stressful and meticulous job. She blames her father's heart attack on his job. However, Nolan did make an effort to leave his work at work. He never let it interfere with his relationships with his family. Dianne has also kept that idea in her heart and has transferred it to her children.
When it came to attending school, Dianne could not be more at home. She liked school dearly and was even enrolled a year early. Later, due to her young age, the school tried to persuade her to stay back a year. Dianne easily jumped this hurdle and continued on with her education without being held back a year. The school she attended still stands on Gilbert Road, though now it is surrounded by adjacent buildings. When Dianne was growing up, Gilbert was a very different place. She remembers it being much calmer and quieter place where you could just sit back and let your mind wander without all the commotion nowadays.
Some of her favorite memories are the Fourth of July picnics in the field with fresh watermelon and hotdogs. The whole town would show up, and everyone would just relax and have a good time. It was a very comforting environment unlike now where some families just sit in the car and watch the fireworks instead of trying to deal with the crowds. It was very close knit community back then, something Dianne wishes was still part of the city. Some of the best times she remembers were when the whole town would show up to high school football games. Everything was very connected then, a lot like the small-town football movies you see today. She remembers the first stop light that went up on Gilbert Road. Another memory she has is when Sonny and Cher visited Gilbert, and they closed the whole road down. This was memorable because the only other times the town officials would do this was during Gilbert Days Celebration that was held every year.
During her senior year, Dianne worked half day for credit. She loved her job and knew she wanted to marry her high school sweet-heart Jack. She had actually known him because her family and his attended the same church when they were young. When she was in kindergarten she remembers being chased out of the church by him trying to steel kisses from her. So the family joke is he kept chasing, and she eventually let him catch her in high school. College at the time wasn't the priority. Now looking back she wishes she had attended college for the education and experience.
Dianne graduated from Gilbert High in 1972 and was married in 1973. After marrying, Jack and Dianne owned a few businesses that they worked together. Then Dianne worked for a surgeon at Desert Samaritan Hospital. She worked in the back office and even performed nurse-type duties, even though she did not have nursing degree. She was able to do this because the surgeon would educate her on the spot. She said, "I would learn whatever they would let me learn at the hospital." She waited till she was 28 to have kids. Dianne called it, "A long honeymoon." She had no idea how much she wanted to be a mother until she finally had kids, a boy and a girl. Dianne
thought that it was very important to be involved in her children's lives. She did everything imaginable: clubs, sports, music, and theater with her kids. She really believes showing your kids as many different creative outlets as you can and letting them choose what they want to do. Dianne's son and his father still go to the drag races together, and her daughter is attending college at ASU.
Dianne is a life-loving individual who wants nothing more than strong family ties. She has succeeded well and will pass her loving generosity onto her children. She has lived a life where she feels comfortable saying that she wouldn't change anything if she had the chance. You could say she is family role model.
Photos courtesy of the family.
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