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

Looking at For Sale ads in 1890 Phoenix, Arizona


I love time-traveling in old Phoenix, and one of my favorite things to do is to page through the newspaper on the Library of Congress. Today I was in 1890, the first year of the Arizona Republican newspaper (the same one that's still around today, although they dropped the "N" in 1933). I'm not looking for anything in particular, or anything important, I'm just looking. And my eye was caught by some For Sale ads, which I thought would be fun to share with you.

I'll tell you what I see, and what my best guesses are, and I'd love to hear what you think. Like I say, this is the kind of ordinary trivia that makes all of this seem so human, and precious, to me. Ordinary life is the most wonderful life there is!

Let's see, it's 1890, so Phoenix is twenty years old already. A thriving community! I see that there are six restaurant tables for sale. Nothing I could use. Hartwell's was at 27 S. 2nd Street.

The burros, ponies, pack saddles, and mining outfit would come in handy, because there was a lot of gold around Phoenix in those days! Easy pickin's! But I don't know where the Dublin Corral is, so I guess I'm out of luck? Story of my life.

The farming lands sound good. Ten miles from the city (which ended at Van Buren at the time) was quite a distance! The Arizona Canal crosses Central just south of Dunlap, so the fruit lands would be what is known as the Central Corridor now. Nice area! That would have been a good investment!

I'm not much of an investor, but buying a livery and feed stable, with stock, seems like a good idea. The Tempe Hotel was in Tempe, but that's all I can be sure of.

Grinding pan

As for the grinding pans, I'm gonna go Google it, and see what it means. Hang on. OK, I found this, looks like they were for gold panning. I wonder what the engine was for? Anyway, it looks like they're in first-class condition, and will be sold cheap.

I just love this kind of stuff, real "slice of life" - I hope you enjoyed it, too! Thank you for visiting Phoenix in 1890 with me!

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Enjoying the peace and quiet of the canals of Phoenix, Arizona


In the last couple of years I've been trying to get out IRL (In Real Life) to do some history adventuring. My ankle kept me from walking much for many years, and now I know just when it's feeling up to it, and I can walk a bit. It's wonderful, and one of my favorite places is the peace and quiet of the canals of Phoenix.

I don't drive anymore, so I'm always enthusiastic if someone wants to do some adventuring. I know a lot of wonderful places in and around Phoenix, and they aren't museums. And I have come to realize that it can be kind of confusing to most people. Because there really is no destination.

Walk with me. We need to get out of the car, away from the main streets. We really aren't going anywhere in particular. If we get hungry, we can go to a restaurant. I will try to be polite to you, but I will encourage you to step away from returning all of those phone calls you needed to make, and texting people to catch up. By all means take your phone with you, but please use it to take photos. Look at the canal, and the trees.

Yes, the canals are there. Just because so few people even notice doesn't mean that they've suddenly disappeared. The one just north of me, the Arizona Canal, has been there since 1885. And yes, there are trees there, and farms next to it. I know where they are, come along with me.

No, we can't take a horse and buggy there, the canals have been closed to traffic for almost 100 years, and that's a good thing. There you can hear the quiet. You can see the ducks in the water, hear the rustle of the trees. Sit down in the shade with me. No, there are no benches, you need to sit down under a tree. No, we're not trespassing, the canals have always been open to people, and hopefully always will be. The SRP (Salt Rover Project) people roll by, and we can just wave to them. Yes, those people over there are fishing. And yes, it's legal, they just need a fishing license.

The canals of Phoenix bring the water to the city, and have since the 1860s. The water comes from the Salt and Verde Rivers, where water has flowed for thousands of years, made up mostly of snowmelt up north. The canals channel that water, which is used for everything from watering plants to the water you had in your Starbucks this morning. Yes, there are filtration plants - the closest one to me is over by Metrocenter, people drive past it every day and never see it. And they never see the canals, either. And that's a very good thing for people like you and me, the canals are magical places of peace and quiet, and always have been.

Thank you for visiting the canals of Phoenix with me!

Image at the top of this post: A canal near Phoenix in 1909.

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The Christmas that May Glenn killed her husband in Phoenix, Arizona 1918


Although when I'm history adventuring, I usually time-travel just in my imagination, this actually happened. The story that you are about to read is true, and no names have been changed. I found the article in the December 1918 Phoenix newspaper, and I'll try to explain what happened.

First of all, yes, she shot and killed him, and yes, she was exonerated as it was declared justifiable self-defense. The charge was manslaughter.

Mary was 29 and Robert was 52. She was young and pretty, and he wasn't. He was a violent alcoholic. And according to her testimony, he beat her on several occasions. And yet she said that she never intended to kill him that night (or morning, it was 2 am) while he was playing cards at their Christmas party, which was at 514 N. 9th Street (9th Street and Taylor). She said that she intended just to scare him, and apparently she wasn't a very good shot with a gun. That Christmas night when he got drunk and hit her, she shot him. And it would be the last time he would ever do that.

Phoenix had never been a place of "frontier justice" and while it apparently seemed obvious to everyone right away that after a long history of abusing his wife, that this man was just asking to be shot, the official process of making charges, and having a trial, was done.

January 3, 1919, Phoenix, Arizona.

At the trial, she explained. To quote from the January 3rd, 1919 newspaper, she said, "He beat me unmercifully. Every time he got drunk it would mean trouble. He would beat me with anything he could lay his hands on and call me vile names. But I did not mean to kill him. I loved him better than my life, and I meant only to fire to frighten him."






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Visiting Phoenix, Arizona in 1926


Let's go time-traveling to Phoenix, Arizona in 1926! It's the roaring twenties, the country is booming, and I've heard great things about Phoenix. Let's go take a look. Sure! I'm sure we can find some place that plays jazz!

Let's start by visiting a citrus grove over at the base of "Camel's Back" Mountain. I love the smell of oranges! Although they may be grapefruit, or lemons, I really don't know. Get a photo of me, I'll sit here with my new hat on. Be sure to get my profile, that's my good side! Here, I'll even roll up my sleeves, it makes me look as if I were working!

Central and Monroe in 1926, Phoenix, Arizona. You're looking south.

OK, here we are downtown. We're Central at Monroe, looking south. Look at that brand-new building back there, built last year by George Luhrs and his son, George Junior. Looks like a busy city! I don't hear any jazz, but I can hear the choir singing there at the church. That's Central Methodist there on the right, next to the Occidental. The tall building there? That's the Heard. We'd better get out of the street, we're getting honked at. AA-OOOGA!

The Glendale High School Cardinals baseball team in 1926.

Say, I've got an idea - let's go watch a baseball game! I understand the Cardinals at the Glendale High School are worth seeing, and I think there's a game today. We just need to go up Grand, the school is just west of town, on Main Street.

1926 ad for the Main Line between San Diego and Phoenix, Arizona.

What? Sure! Why not? Let's take the train to San Diego. The Main Line has just been completed. Let's go buy a ticket! Can you lend me a nickel?

Thank you for visiting Phoenix in 1926 with me!

Exploring Catlin Court in historic Glendale, Arizona


Downtown Glendale is an amazing place, with houses that go back over 100 years. I have mixed feelings about the area, as I know that the city of Glendale would like to see the businesses there to be more successful, and more filled with crowds of people, which really doesn't happen in spite of the promotions that are regularly done. So it is, by comparison of the old quaint areas of places like, for example, Pasadena, kinda sad. There are antique shops, and interesting places to walk, but the neighborhood still seems kinda rough, and there are still plenty of empty buildings, and empty lots.

But I love it. I don't want my history adventuring to be just like going to Disneyland, with everything so crowded that all you remember later is standing in line, and everything so perfect that it's unrealistic. Downtown Glendale isn't crowded, and there are enough rough edges that you won't feel like you're in artificial place.

If you're pondering going there, I recommend starting at Catlin Court. You can work your way towards the main street later on, but stop at Catlin Court. I always enter that neighborhood from 59th Avenue on Myrtle. And it's a magical transition, because as soon as you get off of the main street, you're whisked back 100 years. Park your car, and get out and walk. Yes, walk.


Since I've lived my whole adult life in Southern California and Phoenix, I'm used to driving everywhere. Nobody walks in LA, or Phoenix! Well, almost nobody. And since these towns have been "car scale" for so long, it's difficult to find places that are "human scale". And in those places you put your feet on the ground, walking under the trees.

Catlin Court house, historic downtown Glendale, Arizona

I took photos of some of the houses, but only as a typical example of what you'll see there. The houses in Catlin Court are businesses, mostly selling antiques and bric-a-brac, none of which really interests me. There's a place I like that sells ice cream, which I like, and what I like the best is to just sit there, and find myself very far away in time and space from the modern world.

Now don't get me wrong, I love the modern world, and I admit that my first thought when I look at a neighborhood like this is "No air conditioning back then?!" But I love to visit places like this, and I'm glad that they're there, hidden away for me whenever I need them.

Thank you for walking with me!

Historic downtown Glendale, Arizona

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Phoenix, Arizona, the finest winter climate in the world in 1895, and still true today


As I was stumbling through my collection of old-time Phoenix images today, an ad for the Ford Hotel, which was at 2nd Avenue and Washington in 1895 caught my eye. They proclaimed "The finest winter climate in the world".

Now I know that there really wasn't any "truth in advertising" then, so I've seen some outrageous statements made in old ads. But this one is true. Assuming the climate in Phoenix in the winter was as nice as it's been for me for the past three decades here, I can vouch for the truth of the statement.

Now don't get me wrong, summers in Phoenix are just awful. Really awful. And I know, I've seen just as many summers as winters. And if you were to ask me where I'd like to be in the summer, I think that I can safely say, "Just about anywhere else". For the past few summers I've been housesitting for a friend of mine in Los Angeles, and I just count the days that I'm able to get away for a couple of weeks in the summer. But when winter comes, it's different.

I've lived in Southern California, which is supposed to have the nicest climate in the world, but the winters there can't compare to Phoenix. In Phoenix the sky is much bluer, there are no cold winds blowing in from the ocean, no marine layer. Yeah, those things are great in the summer, but not so nice in the winter on the coast. In the winter you want to be in Phoenix.

So yes, the Ford Hotel gets my "seal of approval" on their statement of Phoenix having the finest winter climate in the world. Whether they had the best cafe, I'd have to go there and taste the food.

I just love Phoenix in the winter! Glad you're here with me!

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Visiting Phoenix, Arizona in 1958


I'm in the mood for some time-traveling, and today I'd like to go visit Phoenix in 1958. Come along with me!
The Emerald Pool Lodge in 1958, 1502 N. 46th Street, Phoenix, Arizona.

We need a place to stay, and luckily we can stay at the Emerald Pool Lodge. Of course there's a pool! What? You don't swim? Oh, it will muss up your hair? OK, you can watch me. Looks like there's a nice view of Camelback Mountain, too! Sunscreen? No, of course not, this is 1958!

Arizona State President Grady Gammage in 1958, Tempe, Arizona.

I have an idea! Let's go over to the college in Tempe, I understand that it just became a University this year. Yes, ASC is now ASU. I wonder if I'll ever get used to that? There's President Gammage, I'm waving to him, but he's not looking at me, he's looking at that new banner. Wow, Arizona State University! It's about time. And I understand they're building a new stadium to replace Goodwin, let's go watch the construction! Sure, I've got my Arizona State banner, do you? Go Sun Devils! Yeah, I miss Pete the Bulldog, but times change.

Sun Devil Stadium under construction in 1958, Tempe, Arizona.

J.C. Penney's in 1958, 2nd Street and Washington, Phoenix, Arizona.

You know, I think I'd like to do some shopping. Let's go to downtown Phoenix and see what we can find at JC Penney's. I understand it's a very modern building, and we can park in the garage right underneath it. Sure, I'll buy you anything you want! Can you lend me a dime? Let's go!

Thank you for visiting Phoenix in 1958 with me!

Image at the top of this post: Fashionable ladies in Scottsdale, Arizona in 1958. From Western Family Magazine.

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Spending the winter in old-time Phoenix


The winter in Phoenix is absolutely glorious, I know. When I'm out and about, I smile at my neighbors and they smile back, and I know what we're both thinking: "This is what we've been waiting for!" Because let's face it, as much as I love living here in the winter, summers are awful. So it's all about looking forward to the winters, which are beyond amazing - Phoenix is the best place to be in the winter, the sky is so blue, and... oops, now I sound like the Chamber of Commerce! Of course there are drawbacks, and it's always been true, even in old-time Phoenix. Because people followed the summer there, from places where the winters aren't so nice.

Let's time-travel back to Phoenix in the winter in the 1930s. To our 21st-Century eyes, it would look absolutely wonderful, wide-open spaces, uncrowded. But not to the people who lived there at the time! Because then, as now, there were winter visitors. And back then it absolutely overwhelmed Phoenix every winter.

I don't know if they called them "snowbirds" in old-time Phoenix, but I'm pretty sure that they had names for them, and not nice names. These people from out of town would jam up the roads, make the businesses crowded, and just generally get in the way of the locals.

Of course if you had a business in Phoenix these people were, and still are, the best possible things to happen to you. The winter visitors bring in a lot of money, and have been doing that for a long time!

But contrary to nostalgic belief, parking in downtown Phoenix was awful in the 1930s, even for just the locals. When it included a huge amount of cars that would suddenly jam the streets in the winter, it was beyond awful. Like I say, good for the businesses, but not so good for people who lived there who were just trying to go to the store, or to work.

Of course things got better as the valley grew and shopping centers were built that included huge parking lots, like Park Central (I always thought that the word "park" was clever in that name!). But in old-time Phoenix there really wasn't anything the locals could do but wait until April, when the winters visitors would fly back home to where their summers would soon be beginning, and be pleasant. And when the Phoenix summer returns, the locals get their city back, and for many people, it's a small price to pay!

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Visiting Phoenix, Arizona in 1948


Today I'm going to visit Phoenix in 1948. No, I wasn't there, but I have some images in my collection from that year so I thought that it would be fun to go there. Come on!

Let's start at Central Avenue and Washington, and go to the Walgreens. We'll be doing some walking, so I want to get something to put on my corns, and I'm sure they'll have something! I'll buy you a Coke, how's that! No, it's 1948, your debit card won't work there.

And look at that! I wish I had that convertible there in the intersection! I just walk everywhere. It's such a nice day, I wonder why they don't have the top down? Look at that sky! No, I wouldn't worry about rain, those clouds there behind the tower on the Heard Building just look nice, not threatening. And it's such a beautiful and clear day, I can see all of the way to the Westward Ho!

Miss Sunnyslope 1948, Gloria Brady

Since it's 1948, I thought it would be fun to visit Miss Sunnyslope. Yes, I know her, it's Gloria Brady. Pretty girl, about our age! After this, who knows what her career will be like! Maybe someday she'll become famous! Or maybe not.

The Pix Theater in 1948, 331 E. Dunlap, Phoenix, Arizona.

And since we're in Sunnyslope, let's head on over to the Pix Theater, and watch a movie. Who is Ida Lupino? I have no idea. Can you lend me a nickel? Or maybe we can just sneak in?

Arizona Governor Sidney Osborn in 1948, Phoenix, Arizona.

I know, let's go visit the Governor! Sure, I know Sidney Osborn! His grandfather owned that big farm on Osborn Road where all of the jackrabbits were when we were kids. I'm sure he'll take time out from his busy day to say hi to us - we're history adventurers, you know!

The Bethel Methodist Church in 1948, 7th Street and Osborn, Phoenix, Arizona.

And since we're over by the old Osborn place, I want to make one last stop, at the Bethel Methodist Church. I think that I hear a choir singing, and I like the sound.

Thank you for adventuring with me!

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Giving her a vacuum cleaner for a Christmas gift in 1920 Phoenix, Arizona


Since it's Christmastime, I've been paging through the old Phoenix newspapers at the Library of Congress site, trying to understand more about how people celebrated Christmas in old-time Phoenix. I'm interested in everything, what they ate, what they did, and of course the gifts they gave. So when I found this 1920 ad for the "Incomparable Gift" - a vacuum cleaner to make it a Royal Christmas for her, I stopped in my tracks, and I thought "really?"

Now, I'm old marketing guy, and I know that just because something is advertised as a great Christmas gift doesn't mean it is. Personally, I've made a lot of ads in my day, and I suppose that if the "Acme Coal Company" wanted me to draw a cartoon of happy children receiving lumps of coal for Christmas, I would. But maybe not. I draw the ethical line somewhere!

Anyway, of course I laughed at the thought of some idiot husband giving his wife a vacuum cleaner for Christmas! And now I'm pondering if it might not have been such a bad idea, after all. It was Phoenix, and it was 1920. But I really don't know, so I'm going to time-travel and see what it would have looked like in that time and place.

The first thing that you have to realize is that women "of wealth", like the ones who lived on Millionaire's Row, where the Rosson House is, didn't do housekeeping. They had people who helped them. From the old books I've read, this was even fairly common in households that weren't terribly rich, what we would call Middle-Class nowadays. The new technology replaced "the help".

The technology had been quickly changing, including the fairly recent addition of electricity to Phoenix. The old-timers would have remembered back a couple of decades, when just having electricity marked you as very wealthy, and of course things go from being luxury items to things taken for granted. I've never known a time when everyone didn't have air conditioning in their houses in Phoenix, for example.

And with the new technology in old-time Phoenix, women had been able to do a lot more things than their mothers, or grandmothers ever could. There were electric washing machines (I saw them advertised as Christmas gifts in the 1920 paper, too!) and electric fans, and all kinds of state-of-the-art devices. It was a different time from now, but I'm inclined to think that people liked having that stuff, and if "the girls" came around for tea, these were things that could show off wealth, like having a TV set in the 1950s.

But my 21st Century mind still isn't convinced that a 1920s husband should have given his 1920s wife a vacuum cleaner for Christmas. I've never been married, but I know enough about women to think that a better gift would have been some Donofrio's Chocolate! Those Camel Back chocolates look good - and I'd help with them!


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Going to Bob's Big Boy in the 1960s, Phoenix, Arizona


I never went to Bob's Big Boy in Phoenix in the 1960s, mostly because I wasn't there, and besides I would have just been a little kid. From what I understand, it was the place to be for young adults, and one of the stops along Central Avenue, where the cars would cruise back and forth, seeing and being seen.

Bob's was at Central Avenue and Thomas, where the Navajo Code Talker Memorial statue is nowadays. And that's really all I know, but that's not gonna stop me from going to Bob's in my imagination! Jump into my '57 Chevy (of course!) and let's go!

I must say that you look lovely tonight. Your hair blowing in the wind makes me think that I'm in some kind of James Dean movie. Are you chewing gum? Can I have some? Thank you! Uh, I meant if you had another stick, but that was nice. Is your lipstick bubble-gum flavored? No? Seemed that way to me!

Who are you waving at? Oh, I see, a carload of your girlfriends. I hope they saw how shiny my car is! Yes, and my hair, too. I visited a friend at a garage and borrowed a gallon of oil, right! You don't mind if I sing along to the radio? She's real fine, my four-oh-nine!

Here we are at Bob's. Are you hungry? I'm having a big burger, and a malt! Just a Pepsi for you? Why? Oh, I see - well, I'm keeping an eye on your figure, too! Of course you can have some of my french fried potatoes!

Watch this - I'll scare that carhop by revving up the engine! Ha! That was funny! Yes, it's supposed to have all that black smoke! I think?

That was delicious, can I borrow a dollar? Thank you! Yes, of course I'll pay you back. What did you call that? Mad money? Hey, where are you going?

Image at the top of this post: Bob's Big Boy in the 1960s, northeast corner of Central Avenue and Thomas. From the Duke University Libraries Digital Collections.

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Giving fruit cake for Christmas in old-time Phoenix


Recently as I was paging through the Phoenix newspaper on the Library of Congress site, my eye was caught by a 1919 ad for the Phoenix Bakery advertising fruit cake, which they called the "Christmas Gift Deluxe". I also noted that they had been in business since 1881. And it got me thinking about fruit cake in general.

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure I've never tasted fruit cake. It's possible that I did when I was a kid, as I do remember seeing them at my grandma's. She also had wax fruit in a bowl, and I may have tasted those, too. If so, I can't imagine that they tasted very different. And I really am wondering now if fruit cake, which is such a running joke nowadays, since as the ad says it "will keep indefinitely" if maybe when they were made in 1919, or 1881, they tasted good back then. Or at least to the people in old-time Phoenix? And so I'm imagining myself in those days.

I really have no idea how unusual it would have been for an ordinary person like me to eat something like a fruit cake in old-time Phoenix. Maybe it was a big deal, maybe people ate them all of the time, I don't know. Based on the ad, it sounds like since it was the "Christmas Gift Deluxe" it wasn't something people ate every day. If your family ate fruit cake every day in old-time Phoenix, please let me know!

By the way, I calculated the fruit cake that "kept indefinitely" if it were made then it would be over 100 years old. It might have kept, but I wouldn't want to taste it! You can have my slice, I'll just have another cup of coffee.

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23 years of the Art Institute of Phoenix


Last night I went to the get-together at the Art Institute of Phoenix, at 23rd Avenue and Dunlap. It was hosted by one of the teachers who called the event "The End: 23 years on 23rd Avenue". And I gotta admit that it shook me a bit that the mid-nineties were quite so long ago! And since it's now part of the history of Phoenix, it's naturally gotten me thinking about college education in Phoenix.

Although I'm a "high-tech" kind of guy, I preferred doing classes in person. I tried teaching online once, and I hated it. That may seem kind of strange for someone like me to say, because I teach computer graphics, but my style of teaching was more personal, and more professional. I'll see if I can explain.

At the risk of sounding like a commercial, the Art Institute of Phoenix prepared students to work in their chosen creative field. And from day one, back when I started teaching in 1996, I liked that. This wasn't just a school that gave out degrees, it showed people how they could take their talents and make a career out of it. It's what I had done, and I believed in it, and still do. I'm a graphic designer, which used to be called a commercial artist. I was never a fine artist, and I sure as heck had no interest in being a "starving artist". When I got my degree in graphic design from ASU, it wasn't going to be just something to hang on the wall, I wanted to work in the industry, and I did. And I was fortunate to have teachers there who did more than talk about color theory, they talked about working for clients. I learned more than just graphic design there, I learned professionalism. When I graduated, I had a portfolio to show, I knew how to make a resume, how to behave as a professional. And it did get me jobs.

Education is difficult to measure. And I know that different things are important to different people. I had gone to a University, but I essentially took classes there as if it were a trade school. My trade was going to be graphic design, and I learned the tools.

Last night, in addition to the "The End" get-together, there was the portfolio display of the graduates of the last class. And I had forgotten how wonderful it was to see, the young people nicely dressed with their work on display. That's how it is in the fields that AIPX taught, it was all about the work, whether you could do it, and whether you could show it. As always, these grads were doing that. And as always I'd say that their future was bright, with the right tools, and a continuing attitude of professionalism, and a little bit of luck. And luck favors the prepared, you know!

I'm proud of the Art Institute of Phoenix, and especially the grads!

Image at the top of this post: The Art Institute of Phoenix, 2233 W. Dunlap, Phoenix, Arizona. As of this writing, the sign is still up, but by the time you read this, the school will be history.

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Working for Valley Bank and Bank One in the 90s, and why I resigned


I've been lucky. In 1990 I landed a corporate job with one of the biggest banks in Arizona, called Valley National Bank, or Valley Bank for short. I had just moved back from Los Angeles, and I was hoping that I would be able to continue having a career in graphic design, but really all that mattered to me is that I wasn't going back to LA. I wanted to stay in Phoenix. I got the job!

Unfortunately, in 1990 I had joined a sinking ship. Valley Bank had been in terrible financial trouble, and I had no idea. The people who knew, who worked there, told me about it, and my favorite quote was "If Valley Bank goes bankrupt, everyone would have to leave Arizona, and the last person turns out the light." That should give you some idea how heavily Arizona had been invested in this bank, and had been for ninety years when I started. Yes, ninety years.

But I got lucky again when Bank One bought Valley Bank and poured in a ton of bucks (as you can see, I'm no financial expert). I loved working for Bank One, especially in the tower downtown (now called Chase Tower). It was the best of times.

Unfortunately, it became the worst of times when the Marketing Department (where I worked) started to be dissolved. It was a slow and painful process, but the Arizona Marketing Department had become redundant, as the Marketing came out of Columbus, Ohio (Bank One's headquarters). It started to get very unpleasant by the mid-nineties, and I saw a lot of people just waiting for the axe to fall. Needless to say, it wasn't any fun there anymore.

I learned why this happened. Bank One had been buying up banks all over the country waiting for true national banking to become legal, which it did in 1996. Before that, it was illegal for banks to span over state lines, going back to the Depression, when banks failed, and the thought was to just keep the failure limited to a particular state. Bank One had taken a huge gamble, and they were on the threshold of winning. This isn't "evil" or anything, this is just business. People make investments and hope that things work out. I understand.

In the summer of 1996 I wrote a letter of resignation, and handed it to my manager. I wrote "with deepest regret" and I meant it. I didn't leave angry, it was just time for me to go. I felt that I was still too young to just sit around there waiting to be laid off so I could collect unemployment insurance. That wasn't the kind of man that I wanted to grow up to be, and besides, I had no one relying on me, no wife, no kids. So I resigned, not in anger, but with dignity.

Late that summer I drove past a building that looked interesting, on 23rd Avenue and Dunlap. I stopped in just to ask what it was all about. It was called the Art Institute of Phoenix, and I started teaching graphic design that September. It was exactly the challenge I needed, and it relied heavily on my expertise in the business (which I had, although nothing else!) and I just had to get more organized, and get over the fear of public speaking. It was a great place to be.

The '90s were good to me in Phoenix, Arizona!

Image at the top of this post: Getting my picture taken for the One Card, Bank One, Central Avenue and Monroe, Phoenix, Arizona. In what is now Chase Tower.

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Becoming an adult in the 1970s in Phoenix, Arizona


Although I technically became an adult in Minneapolis, by doing stuff like graduating from high school, driving a car, being able to vote, etc., I really didn't grow up until after I moved to Phoenix, at age 19, and it took quite a while. Sometimes I think that I'm still working on it!

There's no other way to describe my childhood in Minnesota than to say "sheltered". My family wasn't rich, but I never wanted for anything. My parents paid for everything, and the money that I earned on my paper route I kept, and spent on Matchbox cars, and stuff like that, and I was able to save the rest. I had enough money to buy a car when I was eighteen, an MG Midget for $500, and after just about rebuilding everything on it, I drove it to Arizona.

Now, over forty years later, I'm trying to remember how it felt. It was exciting, and it was scary. I really had no idea what Phoenix looked like - it could have had sand dunes, and there could have been stage coaches rolling down dusty streets, I didn't care. I just wanted out of the snow and cold of Minnesota.

I did have a job when I got to Phoenix. I had been working for a place in Minnesota that did physical inventory, and paid minimum wage, and they had an office in Phoenix. One very cold day in Minneapolis I asked my boss if he would transfer me there, and he picked up the phone and did it right then and there. All I had to do was get there. I did.

Unfortunately, the hours were spotty, and not long after I got to Phoenix I got in trouble. Yes, I could have gone back home to Minneapolis, but I was tired of being a child. It was time for me to grow up, even though I had no idea how to do it.

I had a good Midwestern ethic of being frugal, and I could stretch a dollar. I could buy food and prepare it myself, I had no budget for entertainment, and my goal was to just make ends meet, that's all. It made me feel great, and I remember how good food tasted that I had paid for myself. That was my first step to growing up, independence.

When I started taking classes at Phoenix College, I discovered the things that apparently my high school education lacked. I discovered authors I'd never heard about, read books that I was told were required in high school for some people, but I had never seen.

It ended up taking me six years to get my four-year degree at ASU. I floundered for a while at Phoenix College, took a year off just to get my bearings, and by the time I was 25 I had grown up a lot. I got a slow start in life, but Phoenix gave me what I needed.

Image at the top of this post: In my apartment in Phoenix in 1978, 4201 N. 9th Street, Phoenix, Arizona. I grew up there.

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How people lived in the desert back in the day in Phoenix, Arizona


As someone who's interested in the history of Phoenix, I spend a lot of time wondering how people lived in the desert in old-time Phoenix. And that really spans a lot of time, from recent history to ancient. I sometimes wonder how people dared to climb Camelback Mountain before the invention of cell phones (actually I'm old enough to have done that)? And I very often ask friend who grew up in Phoenix how in the world they did that? I grew up in Minneapolis, where you could actually go out and play all day in the summer. The list goes on and on.

Of course the answer is always the same: they did what they could. Those who couldn't take the desert either died, or moved on elsewhere. The people who stayed learned how to live with it. And from the research I've been doing, the desert has been a very harsh place going back to the last Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago. Hot and dry!

What really boggles my mind are the native people, going back to the Hohokams. They didn't have air conditioning, or cell phones, and they didn't even have metal. They dug canals with stone tools! All I can say is these people must have been tough - I can't imagine. Just walking out to my car in the summer in a parking lot is brutal for me, and I'm wearing sunscreen!

In the more modern era, technology was available for comfort, but then as now, it cost money and not everyone could afford it. The people in Hyatt's Camp, in the pic up there at Cave Creek and Thunderbird Road in the 1920s weren't as comfortable as the wealthier people over at the Biltmore, who were sipping champagne, chilled on ice. But these people did it, they survived, and many thrived, with their descendants now living in air conditioned houses with refrigerators full of bottled water. Hyatt's Camp could have had well water, and I really don't want to think about what it would have looked like, or tasted like.

Of course, you can skip all of this unpleasantness by doing no research at all, and just imagining that life was easier "back in the day", that the temperature was as balmy as Hawaii, there were blue lakes and rivers that looked like Minnesota, and that deer and antelope played in fields of tall grass. And in a way, I kinda like that thought. It's a fantasy, but it's pleasant. The reality was harsh, but people did it.

Image at the top of this post: Hyatt's Desert Camp in the 1920s, near Thunderbird Road and Cave Creek Road, Cactus, Arizona. North of Sunnyslope.

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Dying of old age in old-time Phoenix


As someone who is planning to die of old age someday, I've been pondering what that would have meant in old-time Phoenix. Nowadays, of course, everyone wants to know what people died of, even if they're very, very old. I have no idea what the obligations of doctors are now, but presumably they can't write that someone died of old age anymore.

It's true that people are living longer than they did in old-time Phoenix, but they're still dying of the one thing that can't be stopped, old age.

I don't know how Dayton A. Reed, whose marker from the Pioneers' Cemetery, at 11th Avenue and Jefferson, states that he was 53, died, but it could have been of old age. Nowadays 53 doesn't seem all that old, especially to someone like me, who's older than that, but I'm inclined to think that if someone passed away at that age in old-time Phoenix, it would have been accepted simply as God's will.

By the way, as a kid, and even a young adult, I pretty much considered everyone from 50 to 100 to be about the same age - old. When Sun City first opened as a retirement community, you had to be at least 50, which sounds kinda young to me. Now it's 55, and even that sounds young. My grandmother, by the way, who was born in 1901, lived to be 99 years old. And to her it must have been amazing.

Statistics on how long people lived in old-time Phoenix really don't help me. Yes, a lot of people died at a young age, medicine wasn't as advanced, and besides it was Phoenix, not San Francisco or New York (where there would have been better medical care in the 1890s). And so if you lived past 50 in old-time Phoenix you really were an elder - and lucky! Of course many people lived much longer then, which must have been even more astonishing. Our popular image of witches comes from the very old women, who would still care for their homes, and sweep their porches, long after they had lost all of their teeth (ever wonder why drawings of witches show them that way, holding brooms, with chins jutted out?). Just as now, old men were rarer, as it's just natural for women to live longer, and besides men tended to be the ones who did the more dangerous jobs that would get them killed, like being a cowboy, and men tended not to care for their health as well as women. Still true today!

Since I will be donating my body to the Medical School in downtown Phoenix, I will be following their rules, which simply means that I have to die of old age. I will deliver the oldest, fittest body to them that I can when I'm through with it, which I'm hoping will be a very long time in the future. And when I die of old age, if they can't write that on the report, I would like them to write that "this man died from living too much."


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Cats in old-time Phoenix


Because I like dogs so much, most people assume that I don't like cats, and that's simply not true. I have known many remarkable cats in my life, and I've spend a lot of quality time with my feline friends. My relationship with cats is different than with dogs, but cats are different from dogs, and I respect that. With dogs I tend to immediately start flopping ears, but with cats that would just be undignified. I also don't go and pick up cats, something tells me that they resent being treated as if they were a stuffed animal as much as dogs do. And since I'm thinking about cats today, I'm pondering what their life was like in old-time Phoenix.

I found the ad at the top of this post on the Library of Congress site in a Phoenix newspaper from 1918. Of course it's a registered Angora, and that's why it was worth paying for the photo, and the ad. But Fairy Feathers wouldn't have been the only representative of the feline world in Phoenix, I'm sure!

Something that I see when I imagine old-time Phoenix is animals - lots of them. In movies of "the old west" you see horses, and maybe an occasional dog, but I know that there would have been a LOT more animals around. Dogs and cats and chickens and pigs would have been wandering all over the place. People wouldn't have given them a second thought. My neighborhood in Tempe, back in the early 1980s, had dogs and cats that wandered around. I don't recall chickens, or pigs!

When I look at old photos I study them carefully and look for animals. I'm gonna keep looking for cats, but I have a feeling that they didn't hold still long enough for most old-time photos. Even with my cell phone I find it hard to be quick enough to take a photo of a cat, and if I did, mostly all I would get would be the tail running away.

So I wish I could show you more photos of cats in old-time Phoenix, because I know that they were there. And just like today, some are pampered, and some are just out there wandering. It's a cat's life.

Thank you for thinking about cats today in old-time Phoenix!

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Why you should have bought land in the San Fernando Valley in 1910


The story of the growth of greater Los Angeles, especially the San Fernando Valley, has been blurred by the fiction surrounding it. Of course, everyone knows that it was just a bunch of evil rich guys who conspired to get even richer. It makes a wonderful story, especially if it includes mysterious happenings, and detectives. And the reality of it isn't really all that interesting, but I like it, and maybe you will, too. I'll try to keep it interesting.

In 1910, when that ad was published in the LA Herald, no one in their right mind would have been interested in buying land in the San Fernando Valley. It was bone dry, dusty and windy. The places that you wanted to be were over by what is now downtown Los Angeles, even Hollywood, or Santa Monica. Even Calabasas. And the reason for that is that these places at least had half a chance of having a decent water supply. Not so much in the valley. But there were people with big plans, and it went way beyond just bringing water to the San Fernando Valley.

As hard as it is for us to imagine the San Fernando Valley empty and being nothing but a big dust bowl, people back then would have had difficulty imagining why anyone would want to invest in land there. Their first thought would have been farms, and then of course farmers would ask "What about water?" Just wishing for rain wasn't enough there. Investors needed to see a reliable supply of water, which wasn't there in 1910.

Los Angeles has always been a place where the rich get richer. Powerful people pull strings, and things happen. And whether you think of these people as "visionaries" or "con men" is really up to you. Speaking for myself, I wouldn't have risked a penny, but people did, and became incredibly rich because of it.

And it's all about what happened in 1913. That's when the Owens Valley Aqueduct was completed. It brought water, through pipes, all of the way from the Owns Valley, over 200 miles away. It was quite an engineering feat, designed by William Mulholland, and when the water was released in 1913, after his speech "There it is, take it", suddenly the valley was a very good investment.

And at that point a lot of people wished that they had invested in 1910, when land there was dirt cheap.

The entire ad at the Library of Congress site is here https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042462/1910-05-29/ed-1/seq-11.pdf

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Getting old in old-time Phoenix


As someone who is now living much longer than I ever expected, and probably will live a lot longer, I've been thinking about longevity in general, and what growing old would have been like in old-time Phoenix. Time-travel with me.

People definitely lived to a ripe old age, even back in Charles Hayden's time (that's him up there, he was the father of Senator Carl Hayden). The difference, of course, having to do with what we call "quality of life". Of course, they didn't know that cataract surgery would become pretty much routine for people who had lived over sixty years, and of course dentistry is much improved. Nowadays even if people have lost their teeth in their senior years, they can be replaced surgically. And now I'm pondering how much people just accepted as "old age" in old-time Phoenix.

Then, as now, people were careful to look their best in photos. Presumably a bit of old-time "Photoshop" was done by photographers to touch up wrinkles, etc. And since I rarely see spectacles even on very old people in old-time Phoenix photos, I imagine that if they did wear them, at least a bit, they took them off for photos. And it wouldn't have just been for vanity, it may have been very difficult to photograph someone wearing glasses.

Needless to say, they didn't have sunblock in old-time Phoenix, so skin probably wrinkled even more severely than it does now. And attitudes towards tobacco and alcohol have changed a lot since then. Nowadays most people are more moderate in their drinking, and a lot less people smoke, chew tobacco, or take snuff. I know that I shouldn't think about this kind of stuff, but all of that tobacco use along with no nylon toothbrushes, must have given not only bad breath, but very brown teeth in old-time Phoenix.

Of course, your chances of living to be old well much slimmer in old-time Phoenix. Nowadays we have not only modern medicine, but seat belts and air bags. And while I'm sure most of the doctors were progressive, and believed in germs, they may have been quite a few that thought this whole "germ thing" was just a bunch of nonsense. Antiseptic for wounds caught on as far back as the Civil War, but that doesn't mean that hygienic conditions were everywhere in old-time Phoenix.

And speaking of the new life-saving technology, there would have been a lot of people with missing limbs, sometimes from the war, sometimes from just accidents. Nowadays usually the limb can be saved with the life, but back then just saving the life was considered miraculous.

I do wish you to live long and prosper. And if you're living in the 21st Century, you can expect to. Lifespans are not only longer, but quality of life is improved.

Thank you for looking at getting old in old-time Phoenix!

Image at the top of this post: Charles Trumball Hayden, Tempe, Arizona.

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Dying of tuberclosis in old-time Arizona


I was talking with some friends today who were remembering how great the movie "Tombstone" was, and especially the performance of Val Kilmer, as Doc Holiday, who was dying of TB (tuberculosis). If you haven't seen it, I personally highly recommend it.

And although it was just a movie, the portrayal of someone dying of TB was fairly accurate. Tuberculosis is a particularly terrible and slow way to die, because it slowly makes it impossible for you to breath. It was, and still is, a very contagious disease, spread by people who might be in the same room with you, coughing (which went all all of the time), or touching you, or sharing a glass, or a bottle of whiskey with you. So make no mistake, catching TB at that time was a death sentence, and a lot of people traveled to where the air was dry, like Arizona, in hopes of being able to breathe, and live.

In the movie "Tombstone" Val Kilmer really does give an accurate portrayal of how a man like him would have dealt with it. He would have been coughing, and sweating, all of the time. He would have been weak, and moved slowly. He would have known that he was not long for this world, and as a brave man, would have just continued on, saying snarky things like, "I'll be your Huckleberry" just to taunt the more healthy people around him. That he was good with a gun is true, but it's hard for me to imagine, it would be like having a nasty cold or flu that blurred your vision and dulled your senses. That was tuberculosis.

And just in case you're wondering, yes, Tuberculosis is still with us. It's much rarer than it was in old-time Arizona, but it hasn't been eliminated. And while the treatments are more modern, it's still important to isolate people with TB to keep them from spreading the disease. So Val Kilmer's character could kill you two ways: quickly, with a gun, or he could cough on you.

More about TB from the Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tuberculosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351250

Image at the top of this post: Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in the movie "Tombstone".

More about the movie "Tombstone" at the Internet Movie Database  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108358/

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The Great Hat Mystery of 1910, Phoenix, Arizona


I just love to browse through the pages of the Phoenix newspaper on the Library of Congress site. And as usual, I'm not looking for anything in particular, I'm just looking. My interest is for the ordinary things of life of old-time Phoenix, and I'm especially tickled by a little article that I found about some hats that were found by the Chief of Police.

No, I have no idea really what this was all about, and if the mystery was ever solved. Possibly someday I'll stumble on another article that explains what happened, or maybe you will, but in the meantime I feel my imagination, running away with me. Let's time-travel back to 1910, we're at the police station. I'll be assigned to the case. My name is Friday. I'm a detective.

"Friday!", I heard someone shout to me, "The Chief wants to see you. Something about hats."

I knocked and walked into Chief Moore's office. He didn't look up.

"Chief?", I said, "You sent for me?"

He moved his cigar from one side of his mouth to the other and said, "Take a look at this. What do you make of it?"

"Hats?" I said.

"Of course they're hats! I know they're hats! But see here, this hat is still in the paper in which it had come from a store. And this one! See the initials? J.H.S., sounds mighty suspicious to me. I'm putting you on the case."

I took the hats, and put on my own, and walked out onto Washington. I looked at the people walking by, and wondered where to start. A lady that saw that I was carrying the two hats ran up to me and started talking very quickly. She was very excited.

I took out my notebook and said, "Just the facts, ma'am".

Phoenix, Arizona in 1910.


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What people of old-time Phoenix would think of modern-day Phoenix


As a time-traveler, I'm always thinking about people in old-time Phoenix. I think about what they did on an ordinary day, the foods they ate, their dogs, their horses, everything. I do try not to be judgmental, but I gotta admit every once in a while to wondering how they could take certain things for granted, like no air conditioning, and the dirt streets. And today I'd like to turn that around, and see what they might think of Phoenix in the 21st Century. I'll transport Ezra, one of my imaginary characters from old-time Phoenix, to downtown Phoenix today.

"Well, dang! I gotta stop drinking that rot-gut! Where am I? Let's see, the street sign says Central and Washington, and that sounds about right. It's where I decided to sit for a spell and collect my thoughts. I must have dozed off. Hope that Garfias didn't see me, he's already given me plenty of warnings.

Holy toledo! What was that monster that just went by? Do you suppose it could be one of them-thar horseless carriages? I've never seen one that big, and shiny! I need a drink.

Why is everyone staring at me? And what in tarnation are they wearing? Looky at that young woman over yonder, it's scandalous - I can see all of the way from her ankle to her knee! What would her mother say? Well, at least people are riding bicycles, I'll see if I can get one. What's this? 'pears to be locked! Well, I wouldn't ride a bright green bicycle, anyway!

This sure doesn't look like Phoenix, but it feels like Phoenix. With that sun pouring down its either Phoenix, or Hades. There! That looks like it might be a saloon, I'll go on in. Now what in the world? It's cool in here! How did that happen? Must be twenty degrees cooler inside this building than out there. Now I really need a drink! Barkeep! Whiskey! And leave the bottle. How much? What? No, all I have is a nickel. That should buy me a couple of drinks, right? No? What? Yeah, I'm leaving, no need to get your tail feathers in a spin!

I believe I'll just sit here for a spell. What's that officer? Homeless? No, I live behind the stables. Yes, I'll go there now. Maybe I'll see Clem, and he can explain all this craziness to me. Excuse me officer, can you tell me where the Golden Eagle is from here? Yes, I've been drinking. You wouldn't happen to have a bottle on you, would you?"

Image at the top of this post: Looking north at Central Avenue and Washington, Phoenix, Arizona.

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