Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is advertising-free, and is supported by my subscribers on Patreon. 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. If you're a subscriber, thank you! You make this happen!
Why I live in Phoenix, Arizona
I just love living in Phoenix, Arizona. I've only lived in two other places in my life, Minneapolis (where I grew up) and Southern California (where I spent my twenties), so it's not like I traveled around and have a lot to go on. But I made the decision, and it's my dearest wish that I will be able to stay in Phoenix for the rest of my life, which looks like it's gonna be a long one.
Like most people who moved to Phoenix from Minnesota, I just wanted to get away from the cold and snow. It was during my first year of Junior College after High School that I started working part time for a company that hired college kids to do physical inventory. That is, busloads of people would be dropped off at a store and stay there all night, counting stuff. We wore big old-fashioned calculators (even for those days!) and wrote down the totals on a piece of paper on a clipboard. Pretty brainless work really, and perfect for someone like me who didn't mind being up all night on my feet doring dull, repetitious work. It paid minimum wage, which to me was a lot more than I remembered from my paper route, which I stopped doing when I started Junior High School, at about 14.
At age 19 I was seriously pondering leaving the snow and cold. I had a car, and I had figured out how to read maps. I mentioned this to my team leader one day, and he said that they needed people in Phoenix. I had no idea what Phoenix was like, other than it didn't snow there, so I told him I'd like to go. As I sat in his office, he made a phone call, then turned to me and said, "OK, they're expecting you." So I drove there.
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I like Phoenix, but after I got my degree in Graphic Design at ASU, I wanted to move to the "big city". To me, there are only two big cities in the U.S. - New York (which was out of the question), and Los Angeles. So I moved to LA. After a few years of miscellaneous jobs I got an awesome job in the San Fernando Valley. Then, suddenly the department was eliminated, and I was out of a job.
My visit back to Phoenix was just to see old friends. You know, good for the soul. I slept on the floor of my friend Miguel's, whose wife didn't really seem to mind. I was there for just a few days when I signed a lease at an apartment in Phoenix, and arranged to borrow a truck from another friend to go get my stuff in California.
I found Phoenix to be just right. Not too big, not too small. I had spent a few years in Santa Barbara, which was too small. I had spent a few years in Los Angeles, which was too big. Minneapolis would be about the right size, but then there was that darn snow! So I stayed in Phoenix. I was lucky enough to get a great job just about right away, and I was able to buy the house that I'm now, and hopefully always will be.
I often ask people why they're where they are. Many times people just grumble and say that they'd love to move away. I saw this a lot of this in LA, where people would complain about watching the homeless people go by and staring out at the auburn sky. Then they'd say, "all my friends are here."
I like Phoenix. I'll want to stay here.
Image at the top of this post: 21 years old at the Saguaro Apartments in 1979, 4205 N. 9th Street, Phoenix, Arizona. Not luxury living at its finest, but no snow, and all the freedom I wanted.
Posted by Brad Hall