This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Returning home to Phoenix, Arizona


I didn't grow up in Phoenix. I moved there when I was 19 simply because I wanted to get away from the snow and cold of Minneapolis. I had a car, I knew how to read a map, and the rest I knew I could figure out when I got there. When I did get there, I got myself organized, figured out how to pay the rent, attended Phoenix College, and then got my degree at ASU. And I don't recall thinking one way or another about Phoenix. It was just a place to be. I left for Los Angeles a few days after I graduated to go find work in the Big City, which I did for a several years.

But when I returned to Phoenix, just for a visit, just to see some old friends, I knew that I was returning home. I never got that feeling in Minneapolis, and I never got it in Southern California. In Phoenix it washed over me in waves. This was my home.

Yesterday I was driving around the area of Phoenix that I had returned to, and I could see it the way I saw it back then. California had been so crowded and dirty, even the nice areas where I lived and worked. In Phoenix I lived in an apartment on a golf course for less than the tiny, crowded, better-hope-that-no-one-is-in-your-parking-space apartment in Los Angeles. The air in Phoenix was so clean, people were so friendly, and there were wide-open spaces. There were no lines at gas pumps, and grocery stores. Parking was always available. The signs on the freeways weren't grimy with dirt and encircled with barbed wire. For some reason I was fascinated by the generous amount of room around gas pumps, and the landscaping. The luxury of space made me feel like I could breathe again.

I bought a house in Glendale (the one I still have) back when "the west side" was still considered questionable. But I had seen Arrowhead (I'm, uh, Arrowhead adjacent, near Glendale Community College). I played a LOT of golf.

If people ask me where I grew up, I will say Minneapolis. I still have the Dodgers hat, and I visit friends in LA, but Phoenix is my home.

Image above: The Greens Apartments in 1989, 8445 N. 23rd Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona. 23rd Avenue just south of Dunlap.