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

Finding what's important to you personally in Phoenix history

I like to collect old photos of Phoenix, Arizona. At last count, I've lost count, and my collection continues to grow. And I love to share them, which I do, on the internet. It's a wonderful learning experience, and one of the most fascinating things to me is discovering what's important to each person.

Speaking for myself, I'm fascinated with the architecture. I never could do the math, so I could never have been an architect, but I've always enjoyed looking at buildings, and imagining them being designed and built. I also love looking at classic cars, so a lot of times the photos I find will fascinate me because of the old cars. Of course, it has to be something that I personally know a little bit about - I call that a "reference point". That's why old photos of someone's family are so boring, there's no connection to you, although it's fascinating to them.

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The comments that I see will often tell me what's important to each individual - their reference point. The vast majority of people on my Facebook group are fascinated by the price of gasoline. I could post a photo of rampaging elephants on the streets of Phoenix (not that I have one!) and someone would comment about the price of gas in a sign in the background.

I've seen people struggle with finding any personal connection at all. I've seen people write "I know someone named Omar!" when I post photos of Omar Turney (that's him up there). And there are people who may have heard about something, but couldn't quite place it. And of course there are the names of things, like street names, or the names of schools. That becomes a personal reference point for people many times. There is, of course, a Turney Street in Phoenix, and it's named after him. Once you have someone's reference point, they can become interested in the fact that he mapped out the ancient canals of the Hohokam people

Without a reference point, learning about something can be just about impossible. If you sat me down to learn about a bunch of people living in a city I'd never heard of, I'd be trying to ease out there as quickly as I could. So I look for a reference point. If I can find one, you have my attention, if not, I'm outta here.

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