Arizona Town Has Just About Nothing Going On

NOTHING, Ariz. - Dang the luck, said Richard "Buddy" Kenworthy, it's always something - here in Nothing.

Five years ago, a fire burned to the ground Buddy's bar, store, garage and taco stand on a lonely stretch of U.S. 93. He rebuilt the store and garage among the big boulders and rattlesnakes, only to watch motorists zip past because the Arizona Department of Transportation put a passing lane out front.

Now, Kenworthy has a real crisis on his hands. Seems his second wife's daughter has moved to town, population 5, and wants to open a nude-art gallery in which most of the paintings are of herself.

"I don't believe in that kind of stuff," said Betty Kenworthy, smacking yet another fly that had the misfortune of lighting on a hand-scrawled sign on a store wall: "Nothing from nothing leaves nothing."

"I think we're going to have the sheriff out here on our case on this one," she said.

Buddy Kenworthy just rolled his eyes and scratched his stomach through a hole in his soiled T-shirt.

"If they can find us, woman," he said. "They didn't get here for hours when we had the fire."

And that's the real story behind Nothing. Because there's not much of anything, state highway officials have turned down ideas of putting a "Nothing" sign on the highway.

It barely qualifies as a wide place in the road along the desolate 128 miles between Wickenburg and Kingman.

That is why it got its name in 1977, when Buddy Kenworthy bought

five acres in the outback. Back then, Kenworthy owned a liquor store in Coolidge, Ariz., and a friend there said he should call the new land Nothing, "since there ain't nothing out there."

The state's official map also ignores it, although the American Automobile Association places Nothing on its map.

Even nature is doing a number on Nothing. High winds keep blowing away pieces of a big billboard Kenworthy put up in an attempt to snag the gamblers racing past for Las Vegas and Laughlin, Nev.

It's enough to drive a guy to drink. But don't say that to Kenworthy. He's been on the wagon ever since the Taint Much Ado Bar in Nothing went up in flames in 1988. "We had a population of nine back then," Kenworthy said. "But six of them couldn't take it anymore and left after the bar burned.

"I figured it was just as well it happened, because I had a DUI and people were having to cart me all over the place."

That left Buddy Kenworthy; John Fugate, a longtime tow-truck driver and prospector; and Betty, who had been running the taco stand.

After a motorist follows 18-wheelers and recreational vehicles for miles, at 20 mph or less through the nearby Burro Creek Canyon area, it just so happens that the first passing area begins about 100 yards before the turnoff to Nothing.

That burns Twila Blackstock, Betty's daughter, as well. She's trying to find a niche for her nude paintings in the tin shed next to the iguana and parakeet cage. She lights the shed with the mounted front end of a copper-hauling truck.

"I think art can be big here," Twila Blackstock said. "That's why I'm staying around. This is a great place for an artist to work."

James Case, Betty's son and Nothing's fifth resident, said he hangs around because he can crank his electric guitar, fueled by a diesel generator, to full bore without worrying that he will offend anything but the 10 to 15 rattlesnakes Buddy says he nearly steps on every year in the area of the store.

"I don't know where he picked up that hard-rock stuff," Betty said. "I wish he played like Merle Haggard.

"You know, he (Haggard) sat in his tour bus in our parking lot for 45 minutes one time and never would get out. I guess Merle just couldn't make up his mind about Nothing."