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Transit Tripod

Object Name: Tripod
Date: unknown
Dimensions:
Length: 36 1/2 in. (92.7 cm) Diameter: 6 in.
Medium: wood, metal, leather
Catalog number: 2008.28.55
DescriptionThis surveyor's tripod is a three (3) wooden leg piece. Each leg has a center pole with a full length slat of wood on each side and an inch wide metal circular attachment above the center. There are two (2) metal clamps near the bottom and one clamp like fastener at the top holding it to the metal tripod top. The tips are metal. A broken leather strap is attached at the bottom.
ProvenanceMeity Finley, donated this collection, which belonged to her husband Luther Eugene Finley and his two brothers, Frank and Larry Finley. Their parents Luther Lawerence Finley and Minnie Clay Finley moved from Missouri to Mesa in 1922. Luther Lawerence worked at the Dobson Ranch, and once his sons were old enough they worked alongside him. The family eventually established their own ranch in East Mesa.
All three Finley boys started riding horses and competing in rodeos at a young age, and eventually became career rodeo stars, competing all over the country during the 1930s and 1940s. Luther's rodeo nickname was "Chipmunk". He won the world's championship in wild horse racing both in 1937 and 1939. Larry was world's champion bareback bronc rider in 1947. Larry was also an actor, appearing in many western movies and TV shows.
During World War II, Luther and Frank served in the Marine Corps while Larry was in the army. Luther was stationed in the Pacific and he was wounded during the fighting. After coming back to Arizona, Luther attended Arizona State Teachers College and earned a degree in engineering. After becoming a Bachelor of Science in 1948, Luther obtained a Master of Fine Arts in Education in 1949. He earned a doctorate from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois in 1954. He worked as an engineering professor at Arizona State College for nine years, from approximately 1950 to 1959. He also did survey work in Tempe during this time. In about 1960, Luther started teaching in El Centro California. He taught in the Imperial Community College District and obtained secondary school administration credentials from California State Board of Education in 1967. While in El Centro, Luther also worked for the U.S. Department of Defense as a nuclear expert. Luther stayed in El Centro until the death of his first wife in 1977.
After the death of his first wife Luther sold the house in El Centro and moved to a ranch in Missouri. In 1983, he married his second wife Meity, a Chinese woman living in Indonesia. The couple split their time between Missouri and Scottsdale before permanently moving back to Mesa in 1989. They bought a house in the Dobson Ranch neighborhood, where his father had worked years before. Luther passed away in 1992. Luther, along with his brother Larry who passed away in 1975, is buried in Phoenix; meanwhile Frank who passed away around 1972 is buried out of state.
The Finley family is related to the Mitchell family of Tempe. According to Meity, the Luther boys and Harry Mitchell are second cousins.


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