Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is advertising-free, and is supported by my subscribers on Patreon. History adventuring posts are shared there daily. The basic tier is a dollar a month, and the PhD tier, which includes "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, videos, and super high-definition photos, is five dollars a month, and is discounted for seniors, veterans, and students. If you're a subscriber, thank you! You make this happen!

Classes for Black students at Phoenix Union High School in 1921, before Carver


Time-travel with me to 1921 in Phoenix, Arizona. If you're familiar with the history of race relations in the United States before desegregation, you know that the law of the land was "separate but equal" (which was never true) and that meant that black and white students were separated, and in theory, treated equally. And if you've visited the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, at 4th Street and Grant in Phoenix, you know that it was the first high school built for black students, in 1926. It was closed in 1954 when Phoenix desegregated its schools, but it still has always left me with the question of where the black kids went to high school before 1926?

Or rather, colored. In 1921 that term was as acceptable as is "persons of color" is today. And yes, as a white guy this whole subject makes me a little uncomfortable, but it's part of the story of Phoenix, and is as important as anything else that has ever happened there.

Nowadays most people don't think of high school as being particularly advanced. Most of the people that I know went to high school, and in fact a large percentage went to college. I even know people who have advanced degrees. So a "high school degree" doesn't sound like much in the 21st Century. But it meant a lot in 1921, and it meant a whole lot to persons of color.

I found the article at the top of this post today and have been pondering what it can teach me. The population of Phoenix in 1920 was over 20,000 people, so it was already getting to be a sizable city. The high school which had been recently built was enormous, with multiple buildings, more like a small college campus than a high school. The population was booming! And there were 26 colored students. It's also interesting to note that their teachers were black, too. I'm going to see if I can find out more about Mrs. C.B Caldwell, who taught American history, algebra, geometry, Latin, civics, and penmanship. There was also Mrs. M.M. Rogers who taught English, general science, ancient history, and business English. The article doesn't say who taught chemistry and sewing, but the mention of sewing in 1921 clearly indicates to me that some of the students were female.

Understanding the history of Phoenix often means looking at things that are very unpleasant. And my feeling is that I'd rather know that not know. The history of black people in Phoenix isn't something to be erased, nor should it be bowdlerized. It's like everything else that's precious, it should be preserved, and honored.

1920 Commencement, Phoenix Union Colored High School, its fourth year. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020558/1920-05-29/ed-1/seq-16.pdf


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George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center
Cultural center & museum showcasing African-American arts & heritage, with regular programming.
Address415 E Grant St, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Hours
SundayClosed
MondayClosed
TuesdayClosed
WednesdayClosed
ThursdayClosed
Friday11AM–5PM
Saturday11AM–5PM

A day trip out of Phoenix to Cherry, Arizona


I love living in Phoenix, but sometimes you just gotta get away. And at the risk of sounding like a commercial for Arizona, that's why it's so great to live there. Because all you gotta do is get out of town, and the scenery changes very quickly.

Yesterday I rode along with a co-adventurer who is typical of the people that I like to ride along with, someone who just needed to get out of town for a few hours. We went to Cherry, Arizona.

If you've been to Cherry, you know what I mean. If you haven't, then it's kind of hard to explain, because there's really nothing there. And that's exactly the point. Places like Cherry have always been my antidote for the feeling of stress and strain that I feel living in a big city.

Now don't get me wrong, I like living in the big city. I like my little neighborhood in Glendale (a suburb of Phoenix), but every once in a while I want to see something besides 100+ temperatures, and cactus, and traffic lights. And since the Phoenix metro area is conveniently located at the bottom of many hills, all you gotta do is climb up those hills and you can go from 1,000 feet of elevation to 5,000 feet before you know it. And everything changes so quickly it's as if you're watching a time-lapse. The desert becomes high desert, then the hills start to turn green, and you see pine trees. If you keep climbing, it can get too darned cold for an old desert rat like me, so I'll rarely go all of the way to Flagstaff.

Although I've never really had any excuse for it, I've always gotten the "hee-bee-jee-bees" in places like Los Angeles, and Phoenix. I love those places, but I've always felt better getting away for a little while, finding quiet places. And then when I find these quiet places, like Cherry, Arizona, I think that I wouldn't like to live there, I become concerned about whether I would have good internet access, I look at my phone and there's no coverage. So I roll back down the hill and am reminded of why I really do prefer to live in the big city.

The Cherry, Arizona Cemetery

Cherry, Arizona is just a scattering of a few houses, including a bed-and-breakfast, along a dirt road. The most interesting place we saw was the cemetery. In the whole time we were there, wandering around a bit in the cemetery, I saw no one, and when we got back in the truck I saw another car and jokingly complained about "the darned traffic". We waved to each other, because that's what you do in places like that. The big city is filled with people who always have eyes front, never acknowledging anyone, except maybe to curse at them under their breath in traffic. I understand, the big city does that to people.

I just love going to these places. I just want to stand there, and soak up the peace and quiet. And if anyone asks me why I'm there, I've always just said that I needed to get out of town.

Image at the top of this post: the road to Cherry, Arizona.

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Behind the scenes of history adventuring IRL - In Real Life


Although history adventuring in my imagination is wonderful, because I can travel to anytime, be anyone, and go anywhere, every once in a while I'm privileged to accompany one of my PhDs (Phoenix History Detectives) to go history adventuring IRL - which is an internet abbreviation for "In Real Life". But the real world has limitations for me that I try not to worry too much about, and although it's not a secret, I do try to keep my limitations "behind the scenes". I wobble.

I bought these nice walking poles a couple of years ago while I was out history adventuring in Prescott. As someone with a vestibular disability (I wobble) just the small undulations of the sidewalks there can be difficult for me, but these are the places that I love to go. I got these, and practiced with them, and although they're intended for "power hiking", they help me to just mosey along, which is what I really love to do.

I dislike carrying a cane, and a cane really doesn't work for me, as I would need to switch it back and forth from one side to the other. When I first tried the walking poles, they worked for me. If you haven't used them, you might be surprised at how much weight is held by the straps. That is, you don't need to hold on tightly to the handles, you just lean into the straps, that have to be adjusted just for you. It's surprisingly comfortable, and sturdy. I have good upper-body strength, and this takes a lot of strain away from my weak ankles.

OK, I don't want this to sound like an infomercial here! Let's see, in the photo you can see the pad where I leave my cell phone, with a wiener dog pattern, made by a good friend, and a patch that another friend gave me after I visited Shawmut, Arizona. And I always find little things to remind me of my trips, I'm a little kid that way. Sometimes it's just a rock that I put in the garden, and each time I look at that rock it reminds me of an adventure. They're small rocks, but they mean everything to me.

I won't be packing a lunch for tomorrow, so part of the adventure will be finding food and water out there somewhere in Arizona. My co-adventurer knows that I will need to get food and water during the day, so I'm not worried. I've been with people who won't stop, and I just won't adventure with them. Adventurers stop, look, and listen!

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How to behave like a wealthy person in Los Angeles, California


Every year for the past ten years I've gone and house-sat for a friend of mine who lives in a nice neighborhood in the hills near Los Angeles. And as a humble person from Glendale, Arizona (a suburb of Phoenix) of course I wanted to be able to "blend in" with the rich and famous people around there. Of course I got it all wrong.

If you've spent time around rich and famous people, you know how it all works, but it just seems so backwards to me. I just got it into my head that these wealthy people walked around looking like the guy from Monopoly, with a tuxedo and a top hat. But that's so very wrong. People who have the big bucks don't have to dress to impress anyone. When you see them at the coffee shop they look a mess. It's as if you start to suspect that that person over there is rich and famous because their clothes are dirty and wrinkled, their hair isn't combed, and they look as if they haven't shaved for several days. Of course if they were planning on being filmed, they would be all dolled up, possibly with a hairdresser and stylist right nearby. When they're not, they're just casual. Real casual. Some of these rich and famous people just walk past you all of the time in Los Angeles, and you'd never recognize them. And you probably want to get away from them, as they often smell bad.

And since I've never had "money to burn" I tried to imagine what a dollar would feel like to someone who would be making a LOT of them, as if it were a penny. In my imagination rich people would be lighting their cigars with hundred dollar bills, and throwing great big handfuls of money out to the people passing by. Not true. And I think that's where the reputation of rich people being so cheap comes from, because they're just like you and me, wanting value for money, glad to get a discount, happy to accept things for free. How open-handed, or close-handed someone is just depends on their nature, how gracious they are. I've known a lot of people, and how they spend money is all about their heart, not their bank balance.

As I write this now, in Glendale, I'm reluctant to go to the store before I shave, and get cleaned up. No one here is going to mistake me for a celebrity if I look a mess, it would just make me self-conscious. And whether I give an extra dollar to a charity, or not, will depend on how I feel, not stacks of gold bars that I might have sitting in a vault somewhere.

Image at the top of this post: the Pacific Ocean off of Malibu, California.

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Living where things get stolen in Phoenix and Los Angeles


I've always lived where things have gotten stolen, and it looks like I always will. When I first moved to Phoenix, I lived in a "sketchy" neighborhood that hardly even seemed to be safe to walk around in, especially at night. It certainly wasn't a safe place to leave your car doors unlocked, or to just leave a bike leaning against a fence! And when I moved to another "sketchy" neighborhood in Tempe, I made a point to bring my bicycle into my apartment. I also didn't go out wandering around at night.

When I moved into some "sketchy" neighborhoods in the Los Angeles area, I was also cautious. I have to admit that it jangled my nerves to always hear car alarms, or the wail of police sirens day and night. And I wanted out of those neighborhoods! But it turns out that there's really no getting away from worrying about your stuff getting stolen, as long as you have stuff.

When I moved into my safe little suburban neighborhood, where I still am, in Glendale, Arizona, I kept locking everything up. I put my car in the garage, locked, and closed the garage door. I installed security doors. It did seem kinda paranoid of me (I was still imagining that I felt earthquakes!) and then my neighbor's Lexus got stolen from his driveway. And over the years I've known a lot of wealthy people who live in pretty much the same nervous state that I was in way "back in the day" in California.

The solution, of course, is to own no stuff. I've never really met anyone like that, even the transient people I've known have had to worry about their shoes being stolen while they slept on the beach. And so I've been trying to remember when I owned no stuff - it was when I was about four. I remember that because when I was 5, my "Vrooom" motor was stolen off of my bike. My parents had bought me the bike, but the Vroom motor (it just made noise, and mounted on the handlebars) I had won in a coloring contest from the Post Cereal Company. And it hurt my feelings when I walked back over from T-Ball practice at the park, and it was gone. Luckily, my training wheels weren't stolen, so I could get home.

Now as I go into my golden years, I'd like to believe that, aside from a few hearts, and kisses, I haven't stolen anything. I grew up reading comic books, and I wanted to be the good guy. The man I wanted to grow up to be would the Lone Ranger, or Zorro. Now when I look in the mirror at my grey hair I see Don Quixote. But never a bad guy. Never, ever.

But it turns out that there are no bad guys, only little animals that feel that they need to take things in order to survive. And there's no getting away from having stuff stolen, because even on your big ranch in Montana, there will probably be raccoons!

Image at the top of this post: In my "sketchy" neighborhood in 1982, Tempe, Arizona.

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