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August 09, 2010


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Funny how your outdated childhood home in Willo is probably a $300,000 house, while your uncle's fancy house in Maryvale is now worth about $20,000.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"I became a nuke nerd of the first order (ask me about blast shelters, throw weight and counterforce targeting even now)."

It's not much of a video, but the song is good and a great pop-culture reference to growing up in the Thermonuclear Age:


The New Frontier (lyrics)

Yes we're gonna have a wingding,
A summer smoker underground.
It's just a dugout that my dad built
In case the reds decide to push the button down.
We've got provisions and lots of beer,
The key word is survival on the new frontier.

Introduce me to that big blonde,
She's got a touch of Tuesday Weld.
She's wearing Ambush and a French twist
She's got us wild and she can tell.
She loves to limbo, that much is clear
She's got the right dynamics for the new frontier.

Well I can't wait 'til I move to the city,
'Til I finally make up my mind
To learn design and study overseas.

Have you got a steady boyfriend?
Cause honey I've been watching you...
I hear you're mad about Brubeck
I like your eyes, I like him too.
He's an artist, a pioneer,
We've got to have some music on the new frontier.

Well I can't wait 'til I move to the city,
'Til I finally make up my mind
To learn design and study overseas.

Let's pretend that it's the real thing
And stay together all night long
And when I really get to know you
We'll open up the doors and climb into the dawn.
Confess your passion, your secret fear,
Prepare to meet the challenge of the new frontier...

Thanks Jon - -
So many memories of throwing the Republic onto front steps at 5AM on the east side of Central. Go Mustangs (NPHS) and memories of many of the kids of the owners of the buildings you mentioned.
The groves, the fields and the privilege of having a childhood in such a wonderful place.
Taught me a lot - - miss it still.

I used to eat lunch at Bob's Big Boy, 2 or 3 times a week. If there are any retired waitresses from Bob's on this blog, I would like to personally apologize for my boss who would gather our money and handle the check. He would leave a dime tip, start to walk away, return to the table, pick up the dime and leave a nickel. Man, was he cheap. He was raised in the Texas panhandle, so 'nough said.

Thanks Jon for a great reminesce. My memories began a long time before yours.We lived at 7th St. and Portland. We used to ride our bikes to Phoenix Country Club for a picnic and it was an all day affair. That was after the war when I was able to get a chain for my two year old bike. We had neighborhood ball teams. Rode the streetcar downtown and went to the movies. Fights among neighborhoods were done with fists and clods and words. No guns, knives, or bats. Yes was safer and simpler in those days.

we need to thank "Uncle" Carl Hayden and Barry for bringing us the Central Arizona Project. Phoenix would be a diffrerent place today without the CAP.

Those "good old days" really were good.

Many thanks for the memories, Mr. Talton. During high school I bagged groceries at the A.J. Bayless at 59th Avenue and Camelback, and grew up just to the south in Maryvale. I recall sitting in the backyard at night, watching the planes make their final turn into Sky Harbor and breathing in the scent of citrus blossoms.

I tell my son about that now--about how the city once smelled of blossoms, even in Maryvale--and he just looks at me as if I'd turned green. C'est la vie.

Most of us here are "liberals". Instead of apologizing for that admission, maybe we could balance it out with some communitarian talk. Phoenix 50 years ago was a functional community in a way few American cities are nowadays (least of all Phoenix). There were neighborhoods where people stayed put, even successive generations of them. There were social buffers and organizations that integrated business with community purposes. Retail wasn't segregated by zoning laws - we had real corner markets as late as the mid 1960s. There was, above all, a unified culture and sense of shared identity. If politics seems acutely nasty today, it's probably a way of experiencing the tribalism we took for granted back then.

Real conservatism would seek to preserve this intricate and varied system that made community so richly rewarding. Instead, conservatism has elevated the market to status of an idol. Everything must bow before it. We'll blade the desert, plant stuccoed boxes where the Japanese flower gardens once bloomed, and demolish historical buildings if there's a way to make a quick score.

Ultimately, you have to love your city the way it is, not as it once was. If the place seems unloved, it's not because it's unlovable. It's because in our greed and thoughtlessness we devalued it by removing every consideration except the monetary one. Phoenix today looks like the aftermath of an orgy of vandalism. I'm not sure how you nurse the patient back to health, or if it's even possible.

We did this. None of us here is innocent. We did this in virtually every city and town across America. The soul-sickness of our nation is the direct byproduct of a value system that is devoid of the most basic human need. We Arizonans prefer cars to people, parking lots to citrus groves, and computer screens to chats with neighbors. We trashed our country and got rich. And now that we're poor, we don't even have the consolation of each other.

I don't know how or if you are associated with Arcosanti up near Cordes Junction, but I must say that when I first visited Arcosanti in the early 70's I came away with a feeling that said: "Wow, this is it. This is the way that we live on this planet and minimize our footprint." I thought I was seeing the future. Sadly, we went in the other direction. Arcosanti presented us with an incredible opportunity. Instead, all that caught on were the windchimes. Maybe Arcosanti is a few hundred years before its time. We'll see.

azrebel, my name is a homage to the great man, more for his architecture and art than as a visionary or social thinker. One thing about Arcosanti: it will be a fabulous ruin.

I grew up in a small, wooded village of 2,000 souls set amidst the corn and soybeans of fecund central Illinois. To us, as children, the nearby city of 40,000 was a megapolis. Around the time of the Civil War, that proto-megapolis was the home of one of the nation’s most powerful politicians. After the war, this national leader had his choice between making his hometown the seat of an agricultural college, or the site of a large Veterans’ Administration hospital. He chose the hospital.

A century later, that former seat of power was a desiccated husk slowly disappearing under the dirt of irrelevance blown by the harsh prairie winds. An hour’s drive away, the smaller city that had received the agricultural college had become a vital, growing community surrounding one of the nation’s greatest universities.

That university town was connected to the wider and higher cultures of the world, while the old husk remained adrift and tumbling: A tale of two cities.

A few years after graduating, I moved from that university town to Phoenix. Even two decades ago, Phoenix still had much of the charm described by The Hot Pen. It also seemed to have the vibrancy of my prior abode.

One would imagine that the dynamic of Phoenix would today - only a single generation onward - echo the more fortunate of the two paths from my old tale. Yet, it seems that in only the micro-moment of a cut-short gasp, Phoenix has succumbed in inverse scalar proportion to the epically tragic decisions of its fossilized power brokers.

In my view, the problem with Arcosanti is that -- just as for any of the planned communities that bloat The Sprawl -- it was, by design, a fossil the day it was built, or even imagined. If design omits the essential spiritual elements of irresistible change, it is little different from a mausoleum.

A Planned community/mausoleum saves you time and gas on your Final trip. So it's got that going for it, right?

Thanks Jon! Every time I read one of your wonderful tales of "Phoenix, then and now" I have heart pangs for our once beautiful city. Granted, we can't stop progress but for the most part, our march of "legal immigrants" has not been a positive influence.

(It would be interesting to calculate the percentage of our population that's lived in the Valley for 20 years or less.)

"Mausoleumopolis". New term coined? (trademark pending)

Phoenix and Az. is reaping the whirlwind of Eugene Pulliam and the Republican Party.They were the only game in town when I moved here in 1966 and now the public they indoctrinated has grown up and turned against them.I know the Dems do not have all the answers but,for God's sake-45 years of one party control of the state legislature is surely the definition of insanity.

I thought that the definition of insanity was the young Louisiana couple with six children calling for an immediate return to deep water drilling while crude was still pouring into the Gulf of Mexico in the worst ecological disaster in U.S. history. Those six kids will consume a lot of petroleum products throughout their lives; even if they eat less seafood.

I'm not sure which block of Cypress Jon grew up on (the 100 or 300 W) but a world-famous neighbor of his deserves mentioning. Milton Erickson, a psychiatrist who developed hypnotherapy lived on the north side of Cypress near Central Ave. His house was a small bungalow that was torn down about 20 years ago. He had moved in the 1960s to a house on 12th St a couple block south of Northern.


Oh, stop gazing at your navels already.

"I was enchanted by the Phoenix Rising mural in the then-new east terminal." I have a photo of the floor mural of the Phoenix taken at Terminal 2 at home in Seattle, WA. It reminds me there's a place to go with an inviting poolside when the weather gets too gloomy in the Northwest.

You bring back so many memories for me. My husband and Milt Graham were very good friends and, like you, memories of "old Phoenix" are memories of a time-gone-by. I married and moved to Phoenix in 1968, spent most of my time at the Phoenix Country Club, enjoyed sitting in a golf cart with Irene Luke, wondering who Charter Government was going to christen to run AZ, and even spent evenings at the drive-in at 7th St and Missouri.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

I attended Kenilworth through the fifth grade, in 1982. My last year was actually the relocated campus at the old Emerson while Kenilworth was gutted and renovated that year. Speaking of which, the new Emerson school built some 28 years ago looks like crap, while the solid structure it replaced continues to look grand as private office space, but I digress.

I lived in that solitary row of apartments between Central and 3rd Ave, the four or five units, all that was left of a huge (and from what I've been told) nice apartment complex. I could see my house from the school windows, there was nothing but dirt lots between the school and my home. I could walk home from the 2nd grade on, and I could walk around my neighborhoods and it was safe. Yes, even in the 70s and 80s.

Walking distance to schools, library, museums, performing arts. Swimming and hanging out with friends at the YMCA. People traded these things to be near shopping malls.

The businesses… not so much. A lot of empty storefronts between McDowell and Roosevelt. A few businesses surviving here and there. Gordon's Market on 3rd and Roosevelt lasted into the middle part of the 80s, I think. Liquor stores seemed to hang on. Go figure.

The diversity was still there, we had students from all sorts of cultural and religious and economic backgrounds. I remember a number of Sikh families moved into the housing just north of Roosevelt, they were very different (to kids a turban is different)

This was the era of the votes to save the school from being demolished for the freeway, and my mother was very involved with that campaign.

You could still smell the orange blossoms in the air at dusk.

The school is still there, thank science. And where we once lived is now the Deck Park, named after a drunken mayor. I went back for a visit not too long ago, my first since the park was built (I don't make it home very often, and of course, everyone now lives in the outer exurbs, so no reason to go downtown). It was… interesting. Maybe it was the time I was there, at a certain time in the morning, but I felt something I'd never felt before in that place: Fear.

I live in San Francisco now, in what is colloquially called an "affordable" neighborhood (meaning: good luck trying to get a taxi to pick you up), and I am used to being aware of my surroundings. I think I'm pretty good at reading people. But the vibe at the park was just spooky. Maybe it was because I was partially hoping to see ghosts through some rose-colored lenses, and expecting something impossible. But I did learn that I couldn't go home again.

I'm glad I grew up where and when I did. Even though it was being dismantled, at least I got to experience Phoenix in a way that few people my age ever did, a deeper connection.

Thanks for letting me ramble.

Over the years I have made it my very own, and I call this one a "keeper" after trying many different meatloaf recipes. My sister gave it the award-winning name, and I decided I liked that.

We were neighbors you and I Jon, though only a year or so, I moved out to the County line with my parents when I was 2. The County Line was at 36th Street and Camelback at the time. You were 1.

I've wondered at times if our paths crossed and likely they did back then. We were on the same street, I at 309. I wonder now as you write of then, it was a different place in a far different when. What would have happened if we'd been friends, and what of today would be told again.

This article more than any reveals the questions I have had for David and for Jon. More, it touches my soul for a Phoenix long forgotten. Thank you for breathing life back into my youth.

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