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Chaparral chronicles heartfelt

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Posted: Thursday, July 29, 2004 10:16 am

July 29, 2004

At 78, Paul Cornell’s recent writing endeavors have finally come to fruition.

On Wednesday, Cornell presented an autographed color copy of his book, "A Day in the Life of Chaparral Park," to his beloved Scottsdale.

Judy Weiss, parks and recreation director, accepted the gift on the city’s behalf.

That copy of the book, which will go to Scottsdale Civic Center Library’s Southwest Room, includes a note from Cornell:

"To Scottsdale, my adopted home of 28 years."

In fact, Cornell and his fondness for Chaparral Park go way back — he used to take his grandchildren there to feed ducks and geese.

He spent 15 months working on the project, talking to more than 1,000 people from all over the world. About 200 people made the final cut.

"I made Chaparral Park my place of inspiration and observation," said Cornell, who included history and original poetry in the book.

Four to five days a week, Cornell would head to the park at 5 a.m., bringing his lunch.

Hundreds of people would visit each day to jog, fish, relax, draw, paint, walk a dog, toss a football, gossip with friends, eat lunch, ride a bike, read a book or watch the sunrise.

These people, known by first name only, became Cornell’s muses. Each vignette contains a picture and brief account of their conversations.

"The one hard question was when I’d ask a lady what her age was," he said with a laugh.

Scottsdale resident Janet Weaver attended Wednesday’s presentation to get a copy of the book, which includes her daughter-in-law, Tosha Weaver, and her grandson, Augie, 2.

"She was thrilled that he interviewed her and was writing a book," Weaver said.

Publishing this book fulfilled a lifetime dream for Cornell, who has always wanted to be a writer and poet.

Following a bumpy search for employment a few years ago, Cornell decided it was time to start.

"No one would even have me for straight commission, so I said to hell with it, I’m going to be a poet," he said.

Now that he’s published, he feels a great sense of accomplishment — and rightfully so.

This man genuinely cares about his city and the park.

He beams with pride at having something to show for his hard work, which peeks into the lives of everyday people through innocent curiosity.

"It’s a great relief," he said. "I enjoyed all 15 months of it, but to actually have it in your hand and finished was really a sense of ‘I did it.’

"I said I was going to do it, and I did it."

To learn more about the book, call (480) 994-8878.

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