Reminiscing: The Character on the Corner by Liz Stapleton

From A Peek at the Peak, June 1989

By Liz Stapleton Ogden

Don Pablo stands on his property on the northeast corner of Pinnacle Peak Road and Scottsdale Road. In the background, vacant desert and Lone Mountain.

Don Pablo stands on his property on the northeast corner of Pinnacle Peak Road and Scottsdale Road. In the background, vacant desert and Lone Mountain.

Years ago, when Pinnacle Peak Road an unmarked, dusty road leading east up to Pinnacle Peak Patio and Reata Pass and then down the long hill to the Verde River, a very colorful and rare character resided at what is now the intersection of Scottsdale and Pinnacle Peak Roads. The lone, faded sign at that corner read “Curry’s Corner,” after one of the old homesteaders who along with other residents of this remote area wanted a straight connection with the road to Phoenix.

Bearded, long-haired Don Pablo ran a ramshackle museum type store on that corner. He called himself an Indian trader and usually dressed in buckskin, moccasins, and a load of turquoise and silver jewelry that would set Mr. “T” to shame. His jumble of buildings were crammed with collections of guns, Indian pots, baskets, blankets, rugs, old saddles, boots, branding irons, turquoise, iron pots, music boxes, and other items. Out back were his two “friends” in residence, enormous pet timber-wolves.

Bathing was not Pablo’s “thing.” Coupled with his belief that eating raw onions would cause him to live forever, plus the wolves; a visit to his establishment was definitely a memorable occasion.

The quarter-section of land that Pablo owned (ed. northeast corner of Pinnacle Peak and N. Scottsdale Roads) had once belonged to K.T. Palmer (ed. Who later developed Carefree with Tom Darlington). Indian trader Pablo’s real name was Paul Voelker and his brother was the former Michigan Supreme Court Justice who wrote “Anatomy of a Murder.”

About the time that Pinnacle Peak Road was paved, Pablo went into decline and was bundled off to a nursing home. Either the home was short of onions or just wouldn’t tolerate his penchant for a large daily volume of them, because Pablo eventually died there.

The dusty collections were auctioned off, the land was sold, and the old, tumbledown buildings were bulldozed nearly 20 years ago, but for me, the corner will always belong to Don Pablo and his pet wolves. They sure helped make things more interesting around here!


Liz Stapleton Ogen, a resident of the Pinnacle Peak area, was the founding editor of the publication that you are reading. She typed and laid out the first edition, the February 1983 issue, of A Peek at the Peak (The Peak) at her kitchen table. Her first creation was a six-page newsletter that was distributed to a few hundred Pinnacle Peak residents by the Greater Pinnacle Peak Association. Liz served as editor for many years and established a standard for quality that contributed to the longevity of the magazine you are reading.

Related Articles

Reminiscing: One Character After Another by Liz Stapleton

Rare Photographs: The Days and Ways of Don Pablo

Scottsdale’s Don Pablo


Author: The Peak

Published on behalf of the Greater Pinnacle Peak Association by the editorial staff.

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  1. Don pablo was my grandpa my dad was Dave and his only son whoa inherited all the property when he passed then sold

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  2. Paul Voelker was my grandfather and I’ve been communicating with Johns daughter Gracie and my grandfathers brothers grandson Jake in Michigan. My phone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx, please call me. I’m doing research on my family. Thank you, Amela

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    • Hi Pam, We’d like to talk to you and learn more about the Michigan part of the family. The Peak has published several articles about your grandfather over the years. We called you and look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your comment.

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      • I just got your message. I’ll call you or you can call me tomorrow. Look forward to talking to you. Pamela Voelker

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        • I have a longer article about your grandfather that I will publish in the mid-November update of The Peak. Also, here are two books that you can get on Amazon. #1. “For Lands Sake” by Kenneth Turner (KT) Palmer and #2. “Pinnacle Peak,” published by Arcadia Publishing and written by Les Conklin. #1. is a terrific book about the area at that time. The author was one of the first homesteaders in the Pinnacle Peak area and later developed the town of Carefree. There are passages about your grandfather. Really recommend this book to get a sense of what the area was like when your grandfather was here. #2. I wrote this book. It has several photos of your grandfather and his business and information gathered from Palmer’s book and other sources. Provides more perspective. Les

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