Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona, just for fun. Advertising-free, supported by my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

In defense of affordable neighborhoods in Phoenix, and California


As someone who has a fascination with the history of Phoenix, and Los Angeles, I often hear comments about neighborhoods as being "nice" or "used to be nice" or are becoming "nice". And while I rarely hear someone come right out and describe what they mean by "nice", but I know what they mean - no poor people live there. In other words, these areas aren't affordable to anyone but the rich.

If I do make the mistake of implying that people are being snobbish, they always assure me that they aren't rich - it's the other people higher up on the hill that are rich. And then of course if you talk to those people, they just keep pointing, and so on, and so on. I've met many more people who confess to being poor than confess to being rich. But I can tell if people have been really poor. And since I've been poor, and have lived in affordable neighborhoods, I have a perspective that many people don't have. Everyone needs a place to live, even people who aren't rich.

Time-travel with me. When I first moved to Phoenix, at 19, I needed an affordable place to live. I was scrounging by on a minimum-wage job that was only part-time. I've shown people the neighborhood, and also the one I lived in when I was going to ASU, and they shudder. My friends are all older and wealthier now, and most of them have always had enough wealth to go to restaurants, bars, concerts, etc. I have rarely met anyone who has lived like a "church mouse", mostly living on rice and beans, and making every dollar stretch until it screamed. I lived in affordable neighborhoods in California and was only able to move out to the suburbs of Phoenix in my mid-thirties, buying the house I'm still in, and hopefully will be until I don't need a place to live anymore. I've been lucky.

Many people aren't as lucky as I've been. I made a good choice of parents, and they sent me to college, and I was able to earn the kind of income that gets you into a "nice" neighborhood. You know the kind: with garages that protect shiny cars, an association that leaves little notes on your door if you haven't taken care of your weeds, rules against working on your car in the driveway.

No, of course I'm not rich, the rich people are north of me, and they can point to the real rich people, etc., etc. And yes, I'm glad that I can afford to live in a "nice" neighborhood. But when I couldn't afford it, this wouldn't have been nice at all, just too expensive. Everything can't be Beverly Hills.

Image at the top of this post: The Saguaro Apartments in 1981, 4205 N. 9th Street, Phoenix, Arizona. Affordable to me when I first moved to Phoenix.

If you liked this article, and would like to see more, please consider becoming a patron of History Adventuring on Patreon. If you're already a patron, thank you! You make this happen!

Click here to become a Patron!

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.

Proudly bringing a suntan back from old-time Phoenix


If you grew up in Phoenix, the ad at the top of this post probably just seems comical to you - "Bask and Bronze". Since I grew up in Minneapolis, I can really understand this. In fact, my parents used to vacation in Scottsdale, and come back looking "bronzed and fit". My dad was always one of those men who were never shy about taking off his shirt, and he would get a "movie star" tan. As I recall, mom would burn and peel, but she still tried to tan.

I never had a suntan in Minneapolis in the winter. Some of the kids in my high school would come back with "ski tans" on their faces, and the wealthier ones would come back with a genuine tan that told everyone that they had been somewhere nice, like Arizona.

Attitudes about getting a suntan have changed dramatically in my lifetime. Nowadays you're more likely to hear someone talk about melanoma than saying you look "bronzed and fit". But it's like a lot of things that people did back then, they didn't know. The first time I heard about the connection of suntanning to skin cancer was in the 1980s.

Something people used to do was to "work on their tan". While on vacation away from dull, drab, dreary weather, they would lie out in the sun, often using oil to increase the burning effect, and even using little reflectors under their chin, and get tanned. Going back home without a suntan was simply not done! People would ask, "I thought you were in Phoenix? Where's your suntan?", and without the tan people suspected that you had actually just spent the last few weeks in Duluth, or somewhere.

Speaking for myself, I never had much of a tan until my mid-thirties, when I bought my house in Glendale, Arizona, and found myself getting burned often while working in the yard. I learned to use sunscreen.

I haven't lived in Minnesota since I was 19, and I sometimes wonder how people nowadays show off that they've been to Arizona in the winter? I would imagine that they still show off suntans, but just not get quite as burnt.

Image at the top of this post: 1941 ad for the Phoenix, Arizona Valley of the Sun Club.

If you liked this article, and would like to see more, please consider becoming a patron of History Adventuring on Patreon. If you're already a patron, thank you! You make this happen!

Click here to become a Patron!

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.