I am an Arizona native, and I have met a lot of interesting, engaging, eclectic, knowledgeable and fun people in this state. But, I have never had the pleasure of meeting someone so connected with the people, places, events and history of Arizona, as Marshall Shore. His passion is Arizona’s history. Just watch his face light up as he gushes forth information gathered from people all across this state and relays stories about some of the events that he has had a chance to explore. He simply loves Arizona and to spend even a few minutes with him is infinitely more exciting than any Arizona history class you could possibly take. His “hip historian” nickname suits him well.
“I was born in a small town in Indiana, outside of West Lafayette,” said Shore. Indiana’s loss is Arizona’s gain. Shore has amassed a reputation in the last 15 years , which serves to catapult Arizona’s reputation as a fantastic place to visit and live. The hip historian’s ability to connect with people who have interesting stories and photos to share about Arizona is remarkable and he works diligently to get to the meat of a story.
“I relocated here from New York City and moved to south Phoenix. Everyone kept telling me there is no history here,” Shore stated. “Then I go to work and I started hearing all of this oral tradition about the community.” It sparked his interest, and he soon began to dig for information. “I would ask somebody, ‘What’s your history?’ and I would start getting these amazing stories. I felt like this was something larger.” Shore set out to follow his growing passion of Arizona History.
Recently, Shore participated in the Cottonwood Culture Challenge with the Arizona Commission on the Arts. The “Amazing Race”-style scavenger hunt centered around Cottonwood’s Old Town Center for the Arts. The event included a bus full of history buffs and arts and culture aficionados as they wined, dined and visited areas throughout Cottonwood. Shore does these sorts of events all around the state, meeting new friends and finding inspiration for stories everywhere he travels.
Another interesting venture that Shore founded, developed and led, is a guided bus tour centered around the places associated with infamous Arizona “trunk murderess,” Winnie Ruth Judd. “It’s one of those cases where there is still stuff bubbling up. Every once in a while, my phone will ring and someone will say, ‘Hey, did you know this…?’” Shore hosts the tour two or three times a year, and he loves that the group includes people who know nothing about the case and then those who grew up in Arizona and know quite a lot. In both instances, Shore loves that old friends and classmates reconnect through these fun Arizona history-based jaunts.
His jovial demeanor, zany aqua-rimmed glasses and his unique clothing and hairstyle put Shore in a league of his own. People are drawn to him, just as I was when I first met him years ago, at the unveiling of the iconic “Diving Lady,” a vintage neon sign at the Starlite Motel in Mesa.
Shore is also a steward of “connecting the dots” of Arizona’s history by piecing together stories, photos and people throughout the state. A master of detail, there is probably not another occupation that is more suited for the former librarian (although fittingly, Shore also works at the historical Clarendon Hotel in downtown Phoenix). “Stories that weren’t necessarily headline-worthy are still amazing stories and in some ways, now, better than the headlines were back in the day,” Shore noted.
Various groups around the state have called on Shore’s knowledge of Arizona’s history. “I’ve done things with The First Families of Arizona. I gave a keynote presentation for a group that was here for a conference, and now I’m working on a light rail project out in Mesa. The artist that is working on this project is collecting stories of folks that grew up in Mesa, and that has been really fascinating,” Shore said.
“For me, it’s about the story,” finished Shore.
Learn more about the coolest history cat in Arizona at www.marshallshore.com.
Native Arizonan Lynette Carrington is an award-winning freelance writer and currently contributes to more than 30 publications in-state and nationwide. She loves Arizona and the many diverse travel and cultural opportunities this state presents to locals and visitors. Lynette is a part of the Arizona Office of Tourism's Guest Blogger Program.