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

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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