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

Being a kid in Phoenix, Arizona

I didn't grow up in Phoenix. I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and by the time I got to Phoenix I was 19. And that meant that I already had a car, and was pretty much a "grown-up". And while I love Phoenix, and will always stay there, I've often wondered how in the world kids could grow up there. When I ask people who did, they just shrug their shoulders and say, "We were kids." And I guess that says it all. Kids do what they gotta do.

If you grew up back east, like I did, you know that summer is a wonderful time to be a kid. If you've never been in the "City of Lakes" (Minneapolis) in the summer, I strongly recommend that you go visit. In spite of the fact that it gets humid, and there are mosquitos, the summers in Minneapolis are glorious. As a kid I rode my bike along Minnehaha Parkway, and then around all of the lakes (you're always near a lake in my old neighborhood). I spent the summers playing tennis and riding my bike - I was indoors as little as possible. Ah, summertime. And then I ask people who grew up in Phoenix what they did during their summer vacation, they don't wish for that summer would never end, like I did. Of course, they played outside, even though it gets to over 100 degrees in Phoenix. Some people tell me that they played in the dark, which seems very strange to me, as by the time the sun went down in the summer, my brothers and I were finished playing outside, and it was time to come in.

Another thing that I've found strange in Phoenix is the lack of basements. When I was a kid, when I went into the house, mostly I would go to the basement. My childhood was separated from adults - who were upstairs, or inside. My friends and I were always outside, or in basements.

There were trees everywhere in my old neighborhood in Minneapolis, and I was always climbing them (monkey boy). I see precious few trees in Phoenix, and besides, who would be climbing a tree when it's 110 degrees?

I have to admit to being kinda jealous of the swimming pools in Phoenix. No one that I knew had a swimming pool in Minneapolis, and I was never a good enough swimmer to swim across the lakes, like a lot of my friends did. I probably would be a better swimmer now if I had grown up in Phoenix. And to be fair to my friends who grew up in Phoenix, they really can't imagine how I walked to school in the snow and cold, or delivered newspapers walking through snowbanks that were nearly as tall as I was. Kids do what they gotta do.

So I ask people who grew up in Phoenix how in the world they did it? And the answer is always the same - "We were kids, and it was wonderful."

Image at the top of this post: 2nd Graders at the Osborn School in 1953, Central Avenue and Osborn, Phoenix, Arizona. Where the Phoenix Financial Center is nowadays.

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