Kingman kids enjoy Vantastic summer
"In the early 1930s, Cecil began building a Pittenpole camper airplane that he planned to fly," Marlene Evans, his daughter, said by telephone from her home in Yuma.
"But after losing an eye from an infection he got from a piece of steel, he had to give up the dream.
"The old wingspan and tail section from that plane hung in our garage for many years until we donated them to the Kingman antique airplane group at the airport."
Evans said her father lost the eye in 1932 and had a glass eye replacement made.
He spent nearly a year in Los Angeles, where doctors tried to save the eye and made sure the infection did not spread to his remaining eye.
Cecil Davis was the oldest of five children born into a farm family in Glen Elder, Kan.
He was followed by two brothers, Merlin and Orben, and two sisters, Verma and Shirley.
One of his earliest jobs was teaching at a country school from 1923-25.
He left for Arizona in the spring of 1925, settling in Peach Springs.
"Dad came out here to help Ancel Taylor, his cousin and the postmaster in Peach Springs," Evans said.
"They built the old Rock Trading Post in Peach Springs, which now is an Indian agency office."
In February 1926, Davis returned to Glen Elder just long enough to marry Lillie Hauptli.
They lived in Peach Springs until 1929, when they moved into Kingman.
Davis built a home on Grandview Avenue.
The couple experienced heartache when a son was stillborn in 1929.
But they did have two daughters, Marlene and Karen.
Karen Davis now resides in New York City.
After moving into Kingman, Cecil Davis worked in the hardware department at Central Commercial Co.
He grew homesick for his native Kansas after a time and moved back there in the fall of 1934 to work in a radio and electric business with his brother Merlin.
But the dust storms that swept the Great Plains convinced Davis that he belonged in Kingman, and he returned here in the spring of 1935, Evans said.
"He later operated Cecil's Shell Station on Andy Devine Avenue," Evans said.
"The station and an adjourning garage burned down during (World War II), but Dad continued running the station, pumping gas and using a trailer as an office."
Her father also was custodian of Hualapai Mountain Park during the war years when cabins and other available space was rented to soldiers stationed at the Kingman Gunnery Range, Evans said.
Demand for beds became so acute that Davis lived in a back room at the old Pine Lake Lodge after the custodian's house was rented to a soldier.
He also was one of five men who kept up the assessment work on the old Flag Mine in the Hualapais, Evans said.
Bill Lawe, Fred Willis, Bryce Covington and Guy Schoelten regularly joined Cecil to hunt and play cards.
"Dad just loved the west," Evans said.
"In his early days in Kingman he bought a section of land from the (Santa Fe) railroad.
"He had visions of it one day becoming a park and strip mall and several years ago the dream was complete with the dedication of Cecil B.
The Davis chicken ranch occupied space along Hualapai Mountain Road that is now the site of the Mission Bank, Evans said.
When World War II began, the price and availability of feed made it impossible to continue raising chickens, so Davis showed his imagination and creativity in another way.
He built two Quonset-style buildings on the property out of Shell oil cans that were later converted into lodgings for servicemen, Evans
In later years, Cecil worked as a machinist for Wilbur Arthur's Sales and Service.
"After World War II, planes were flown into the valley to be dismantled," Evans said.
"Dad and Wilbur would bid to salvage certain parts of them and it was about that time that Dad made a little scooter from machine gun turrets and parts, and he ran around town on it."
Merlin Davis moved to Kingman in 1936 and worked as a refrigeration service man for Central Commercial Co.
He and two friends started Mohave Butane Gas Service.
In February 1959, they sold the butane service, but Merlin retained the heating, air conditioning and sheet metal part of the business, moving it across the street to 525 E.
Andy Devine Avenue and named it Davis Heating & Cooling, Nolan Davis said.
In December 1959, Merlin died and his eldest son, Nolan, took charge of the company.
He ran it for 18 years before handing over control in 1975 to his brother, Wayne.
"Cecil was very interested in masonry," Nolan Davis said.
"He sponsored and coached me when I joined the Masonic Lodge.
"He and Wilbur Arthur both were past masters of the Kingman lodge."
Her father enjoyed woodworking and made furniture for the Masonic Lodge, Evans said.
He also made gavels for each officer in the Rainbow Girls youth organization.
In addition, Cecil Davis was a 32nd degree Mason and member of the Kingman Elks
Lillie Davis died in a car accident in Kingman in December 1957.
In 1960, Cecil married Georgia Hardy Ford.
He worked for Arthur's Sales and Service, servicing Kohler generators on area ranches until his retirement in the early 1960s.
He died at age 67 in 1970, shortly after returning to Kingman from a trip to Kansas, Evans said.
While the children of Cecil Davis no longer reside here, Kingman still has a strong Davis family presence.
Merlin Davis' two sons, already mentioned, live here.
Nolan Davis has been an insurance agent in the community for almost 28 years.
In addition, Merlin's two daughters, Sherrine Petry and Sherrill Bradley, live in Kingman.
A strong work ethic was one of the important things Evans learned from her father.
She was like Cecil's oldest son and learned about bookkeeping, taking things apart, hammering
and how to lay bricks.
"He made me make my own decisions," Evans said.
"He would not tell me what to do even when it may have been easier to do so."
That instilled a sense of independence in her.
Evans was asked whether there was anything she wished for as a child.
"I didn't want for anything because I didn't know there was anything to want for," she said.The Parks Department is cruising around in its activities van for the seventh year.