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What old-time Phoenix sounded like


This morning I'm listening to the sounds coming through window of my house in Glendale (a suburb of Phoenix). It's a quiet morning, and I can hear the sound of my neighbor's cars starting up, going by, some birds chirping, and off in the distance I just heard a train whistle. I live not far from the Sahuaro Ranch and often I hear the peacocks. And it's got me to wondering about what old-time Phoenix sounded like.

When you look at old photos, of course they're silent, so it takes some imagination. And the first thing I think of is horses. I know nothing about horses beyond what I've seen in movies, and they don't seem to be particularly loud animals. The sounds they make seem gentle. Of course there would be dogs, and chances are they'd be barking. I can't image old-time Phoenix without plenty of dogs. In fact, when I watch old movies, I often wonder where the dogs are? I suppose dogs aren't easy to control on a movie set, but you gotta know that they were around in "the Old West".

I also car hear chickens in my imagination. A lot of people in Phoenix would have had chickens wandering around, and if you've ever been around chickens you know that they're very noisy. The fresh eggs are nice, but you have to be a morning person to deal with the noise. And of course there would have roosters, who make that sound at sunrise. I've heard them, and where they get "cock-a-doodle-doo" I really have no idea. But I know that they're loud, and they love to get up on the roof of buildings, so their calls can really carry.

Way out here in the country, at the Sahuaro Ranch, there would have been the roar of diesel engines. Farms start early, and there would have been the need for some kind of power, like to run tractors. Of course when horses began to be replaced with internal combustion machines, there would have been that sound. And if you've ever heard the roar of a small engine, like a lawn mower, or a leaf blower, you know that they're loud! When people look at photos of old farms they imagine peace and quiet. If you've been on a farm you know that's not true. Farms are places of activity, and noise. I can hear the foreman shouting, and maybe doing that sharp whistle through his teeth that I never learned how to do.

Of course there would have been a lot of coyotes near the Sahuaro Ranch. They make that lonely sound at night, and presumably the local dogs would join in the singing back then the same way that they do now.

I can hear a mourning dove, and of course they would have been there in old-time Phoenix. And of course mockingbirds. I never heard a mockingbird until I moved to Phoenix from Minneapolis, and they're LOUD!

I'll be pondering sounds of old-time Phoenix all day today I know. If you can think of some more, good or bad, let me know. Just give a whistle!

Image at the top of this post: the Barnyard area at the Sahuaro Ranch, Glendale, Arizona. Modern photo, it's quiet now.

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