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

A small town mentality in Phoenix, and Los Angeles


If you've never lived in a small town, it can be hard to explain. Yes, of course it's nice, and everything is right nearby, but there are drawbacks that make many people prefer to live in big cities. But I prefer small towns, like Phoenix, and Los Angeles.

When I say that, people will usually say, "huh?" and wonder if I hadn't looked at the population charts, or the traffic. But for me it has to do with a mentality, which means a particular way of behaving that doesn't allow people to be anonymous, or to hide.

Phoenix is my town, and Los Angeles is my town. That is, these are places that I care about, that I'm connected with. These people are my friends and neighbors. No one ever had to tell me not to "flip people off" on the freeway, or to not run off my mouth with obscenities, ducking back into the darkness, hoping that no one knew who I was. I've known a lot of people like that, and they just kinda make me sad. They're "big city people" in the worst sense. But living in a big, anonymous, city never interested me. And so I have as much of a small town mentality in Phoenix, and Los Angeles, as if I were in my grandma's old town, population about 500. I used to spend the summers there - it's called Bovey, Minnesota if you want to Google it.

In a small town everyone knows your business. They know your romantic connections, they know where you work, they know who your family is. When I was a very little kid visiting my grandma I would go to the library and simply say her name to check out books. I was no angel as a kid, am still not, but I knew that you didn't stand there throwing stones into people's windows - they were my grandma's neighbors. These people would walk past my grandma's house in the evening and wave to her on the porch. She knew their names, and they knew hers.

I can't say that I was really ever all that successful at turning Los Angeles into a small town for myself, but I tried. But I've been successful doing that in Phoenix. To me, Phoenix is the perfect size, not too big, not too small. If I can't find something at a store, I know that I can go to another store, and then another, and then another. But I can find just about everything I need right in my neighborhood. I've always made a point of shopping in my neighborhood. The people who work there are my neighbors, my friends, my community.

I like living in a small town. If you do, too, just wave to me.

Image at the top of this post: Phoenix when it was a small town, in the 1890s. To me, it looks the same today.

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