I’ve been asked numerous times,
“What brought you and Joleen to Lake Havasu City from Alaska?”
I’ll try to cram this lengthy story into a nutshell. My brother, Jim, was an air traffic controller stationed at Blythe, California in 1979. He invited us to visit him the following summer and we happily obliged. Our son, Gunnar, was two-years-old at this time.
After a day of taking in all there was to see, in and around the desert community of Blythe, Jim asked if we’d like to walk across the London Bridge. Joleen and I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about. He told us a story of chainsaw and outboard motor magnate, Robert McCulloch Sr., purchasing the famous bridge from the City of London, moving it thousands of miles to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where the disassembled and numbered blocks of granite were then reassembled. When my brother told this tale it sounded more like myth than fact.
The drive from Blythe took us about an hour. We were impressed with not only the antique bridge, but cleanliness of the city as well. It helped that the outboard boat championship was going on that weekend along with a car show. Joleen and I decided at that point that Lake Havasu City was where we’d someday have a winter home.
After our tour with Jim was over, Joleen, Gunnar, and I headed back to Havasu from Blythe and purchased a residential lot, with the help of Realtor Diane Carlson. Our first piece of property was ironically on Injo Drive. “Jo” is my wife’s nickname. Friends and family laughed at our decision saying it was no place they’d want to live, and they doubted the idea was a smart one.
Our investment property was quite easy to get into. An older couple purchased the land from Robert McCulloch Jr’s. – Holly Development Corporation in 1972. In 1980, they no longer had plans to build on it. We paid $9,000.00 with ten percent down, amortized over 30-years. The monthly payment was basically nothing. That following year, Joleen and I bought an adjoining lot for almost the same price.
Starting a partnership with Joleen’s brother, Calvin Freeman, we accumulated more inexpensive lots through the help of Realtor – Randy Randall. We weren’t high rollers like so many rich investors from California are. Calvin, Joleen, and I were working-stiffs, investing what spare money we could scrape together for down payments. No crystal ball nor financial expert was needed by us to see that Lake Havasu City property would someday spiral upwards in value.
Several more years went by before the old police station on London Bridge Road was vacated for a newer structure. We purchased it and quickly went to work with the assistance of, Ron Claspill, in removing all heavy steel jail bars and doors. In three-short-months we turned the old block building into a triple-unit commercial rental. Over time, our low-budget investment group called AZAKS LTD. accumulated 200 consecutive feet of commercial frontage on London Bridge Road alone. AZAKS stands for: Arizona – Alaska – Kansas.
When retirement rolled around it was time to unload all holdings. Realtor’s, Suzannah Ballard and Richard Pagliero, took care of that for us. The money garnered from such went into a house project for Joleen and me, while Calvin used his funds to buy a home and acreage in Kansas. There was nothing financially complicated about what we did. Most of all, Rich Dad Poor Dad author, Robert Kiyosaki, wasn’t needed to instruct us on how to go invest our money. “It was so simple that a caveman could do it!”
I’ve told my children, friends, and strangers, that they should consider doing the same. My parents were the ones advising us to go this direction, and had they not done so, Joleen and I wouldn’t be spending winters in warm Lake Havasu City. Most likely, I’d still be shoveling snow, bad hips and all, in Alaska.
If I had another 40-years, I’d do the same type no brainer investment in Yucca, Arizona. Ten-years ago, I predicted property there would double, and that a truck stop would be built, with both visions now coming true. I have a gut feeling that something even bigger will happen in that area before long. People I know will laugh at this idea as well, yet I won’t be around to see them wrong this time.