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

Minnesota cold, or why I moved to Arizona

I moved to Arizona when I was 19. I had been planning to get out of Minnesota since I was a kid. And the only reason was the cold.

In High School I would talk to friends about where I could go. I remember that I thought of moving to Australia, probably because I had seen a documentary showing the deserts. And then I saw the cars zooming through the desert in "Gumball Rally" and I figured that I could move out west.

Of course I had no idea what Arizona looked like. It could have had sand dunes, and cowboys and Indians and stagecoaches for all I knew. But that didn't matter - I just needed to get away from the cold.

For those of you who didn't grow up in Minneapolis, I will share a few things that even to to me sound like I'm making it up.

• Delivering newspapers on Sunday mornings in the dark in the winter. Even people who live in Minneapolis probably don't do much of that nowadays. The temperature could easily get to below 40, and I made a note of the windchill one day of minus seventy five degrees. It didn't matter what you wore, that cold burned through you. I even had one of those "eskimo" fur-fringed hoods that you squeeze up in your face, but I remember that I could barely breathe because the cold was so painful.

• Walking backwards to school. We had a long walk to my High School (a couple of miles) and we never took the bus, we walked. And on bitterly cold winter days, my friends and I would walk most of the distance backwards, just because the cold hurt so much in our faces. Yeah, no one believes that, but I can still feel the burning cold on my face, and I walked backwards against the cold wind.

• Heating car keys with a match. Nowadays people don't unlock car doors with a key, but I remember the locks being so frozen that you would hold a match under a key to try to get the lock unfrozen enough to get the key in. It usually took several matches. And I remember standing there on Bloomington Avenue, with that windchill of -75 degrees. That was my moment - I was eighteen and I said "I gotta get out of here!"

I had started doing my research in my late teens. In my first year of Junior College I got a part-time job with a company that had offices all over the country. I went to see my supervisor and asked if he could transfer me. He suggested Phoenix, picked up the phone, and said that I would be welcomed there. I had no idea what Phoenix was all about, but I knew it didn't snow there, and that's all that mattered to me. I headed west.

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