Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

Staying at the Annex Hotel in 1919, Phoenix, Arizona


Let's time-travel back to 1919 in Phoenix, Arizona and stay at the Annex Hotel, which was at 515 N. Central Avenue.

It's summertime, and I see by the ad that they have the coolest sleeping rooms in the city. It's open all summer, and there are special rates. Let's go.

They used to call this the Adams Annex, because it was built right after the original Adams Hotel burned down in 1910. Of course the new Adams Hotel was built in 1911, but in my opinion it's too fancy, and they charge too much. The Annex is fine with me.

Of course there are drawbacks, the main one being that this hotel is so darned far away from downtown. It's on Taylor, so it's quite a walk to downtown. Well, I suppose that's part of the reason that the rates are lower.

Wow, it's hot here in Phoenix! Must be about a hundred degrees. And I thought I heard some thunder, it might be fixing for a storm. People always say that it's not humid in Phoenix, but today it is. I expect they're going to get a regular monsoon! What are you laughing at? Well, a thunderstorm at the very least. Maybe tonight, or tomorrow night. No one seems to know around here. The clouds gather, then they break, then they come back. Maybe the storm will hit next week. When that sun comes out, it's blinding, so I wish that I had some of those smoked glasses that I've seen people use in California. I could use a wider brim on my hat.

Our room faces west so I'd recommend that we stay out of it until the sun goes down. Looks like they serve some tasty grub, so let's go eat. Then maybe we can walk downtown, and look around.

That was a good walk, and now I'm ready for some sleep. Let's see, the manager explained to me how this works, you just get the cot wet and hang up some wet sheets and he says you'll sleep in cool comfort.

It's three a.m. and I haven't slept a wink. This is miserable. Are you still awake? If these are the coolest sleeping rooms in the city I'd hate to see the hottest! It sure would be nice if those clouds would rain!

The Annex Hotel remained in Phoenix, as the Apache Hotel, through the 1960s.

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The Amazing Book Lady of 1977, Phoenix, Arizona


I don't have a photo of the Amazing Book Lady of 1977 in Phoenix, Arizona. But I can still see her in my mind. She was elderly at the time, so if she's still alive and well today, I wish her well.

The Amazing Book Lady lived in the apartment next to mine in the Saguaro Apartments, which were (and are, although the name has changed) at 4205 N. 9th Street. That is, 9th Street just north of Indian School Road, near Lopers. They were "furnished studios", which means that they were very inexpensive, and easy to move into. I was 19 and it was fine for me - just one room really, with a half-wall partition and a single bed. The furniture, of course, was revolting, and looked as if it may have been on Noah's Ark, but hey, I was 19, and living on my own, so I didn't mind. The price was right.

The Amazing Book Lady was a retired teacher. Looking back now it seems kinda sad that she was in that ratty little apartment complex at that time in her life, but I never gave it a second thought at the time. And she had apparently been there for a long time, because I can remember that her apartment was crowded to bursting point, with books.

There were bookshelves on every wall, and there must have been hundreds of books there. She invited me in there, and I remember that some of the other young people who lived nearby wondered what I was doing, as if it were some "Harold and Maude" thing? But the Amazing Book Lady just reminded me of all of the wonderful people I've known all of my life who have recommended books.

She lent me a lot of books when I lived there. I had learned at an early age to at least try to start a book by reading the first few pages, and if I didn't like it, to set it aside, no hard feelings. And the book that she introduced me to, which is still my favorite book of all time, was Jerome K. Jerome's 1889 "Three Men in a Boat". I've bought many copies of that book in my lifetime, and always brought it with me whenever I traveled. I still have a couple of copies sitting around here in my house, and I also have two versions of it as an audiobook, one read by Hugh Laurie, the other by Martin Jarvis, both excellent voice actors.

In a long life I've learned that I have an unusual fascination for books, and a ravenous appetite. I'm always looking for suggestions, and I very often hear people say, "Books? Nah, I don't read much... back in school they made me read books..." And then I know that I need to change the subject.

I'm about halfway through "Three Men in a Boat", which I'm sure I've read, and listened to, more times than I can count. And it's all because of the Amazing Book Lady. I can hear her crackling voice, I can see her smile, as she lent me that book for the first time and described it as an "ice cream cone". It is.

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History Adventuring posts are shared there daily including "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, videos, and super high-definition photos of historic Phoenix, Arizona. Discounts for seniors, students, teachers, and veterans.