Go to Elizabeth Arden’s Maine Chance
No, we’re not talking about the Elizabeth Arden salon at Biltmore Fashion Park or the new one in downtown Tempe. This was a full-blown spa, the western companion to Arden’s original spa in Maine, and it was a tattered mess in all the right ways before it was torn down in the early 1990s. It was also a famous fat farm, and the likes of Barbara Bush would arrive in dark glasses at Sky Harbor, to be whisked up the side of Camelback Mountain and subjected to vegetables, saunas, and those old-school machines that shake your fat. On the last day, guests were rewarded with a “Top Hat,” a chocolate-covered cream puff. Sign us up.
Have a Martini at Treulich’s
Think Durant’s, only skeevy. The distinctive home of this long-gone steakhouse molders at the Black Canyon Freeway and Camelback, but we have our memories: super-strong martinis, sharp-tongued waitresses, and a dark room full of plank-size steaks.
Watch an Old Timer Tell You What’s Up
The local airwaves once belonged not to pretty newscasters and talk show hosts but to old guys (and the occasional gal) who’d been around the block. On Channel 10, codgers like bola-tied Bill Close and Kent Dana gave us our news, with Joe Dougherty on weather. At Channel 12, we got caught up via stalwart Ray Thompson and meteorologist Dewey Hopper (you bet we do!). During the day, Channel 5 brought us Open House with Marge Condon (and later Rita Davenport), Phoenix’s own granny-like Martha Stewart.
Bucket List: 20 That Got Away
Go Visit the Wildlife at Christown
Shopping at this cool old mall was more fun in the ’60s, when there were live birds in op-art cages squawking at you there — not to mention an Italian organ grinder with a pet monkey who took tips right out of your hand.
See a Movie
at the Cine Capri
Sad about Camelview? Cry us a river of imitation butter flavoring. We remember the real movie theaters of Phoenix, including the grande dame, the Cine Capri, which made going to the movies a truly classy affair.
Ride the Rollercoaster at Legend City
Long before Castles-n- Coasters, this was the place to go eat cotton candy, then get spun in a circle on some giant metal contraption. Vomiting was optional.
Buy Sweet Peas at
the Japanese Flower
Gardens in South
There was no better smell, back in the day, than fresh flowers in a cold walk-in refrigerator on a warm spring day. The flowers were cheap, and you had your choice of the many shacks that lined Baseline Road adjacent to big fields of snapdragons and sweet peas. Now you can pick a cookie-cutter condo instead.
Swim in the Heart-Shaped Pool at the Royal Palms
Long before anyone used the term boutique to describe a hotel, Royal Palms was crumbling and majestic, featuring cheesy lounge acts in the smoky bar, great views of the city, and a heart-shaped swimming pool. Sadly, the beautiful rehab in the late 1990s wasn’t able to save the pool we loved so much.
Buy Some Jute (and Some Hoops!)
Today, forced to make a pot sling shaped like an owl, you’d have to go get supplies at Michael’s. But for several decades, one bought such things at Jutenhoops, which evolved from a macramé supply store to a great place to buy all manner of kitschy gift items.
Visit Ruby and Hazel at the Phoenix Zoo
Ruby the elephant was world-famous for her finger, er, trunk paintings. All Hazel the gorilla did was scratch her boobs. But we loved them both, and still look for them when we’re at the zoo. RIP.
Eat from a Trough at Farrell’s
The heck with Chuck E. Cheese’s. In the ’70s and early ’80s, this is where kids celebrated their birthdays: The staff sang an endless “birthday song” to you, and you ate something called the Pig’s Trough, a giant pile of ice cream served barnyard style.
Visit the Royal London Wax Museum
Yes, there used to be a wax museum on Van Buren Street (where else?) and it was dark and creepy and awesome. We wonder where those statues ended up. Anyone know?
Shopping was a real adventure in the old days. There was LaBelle’s, a catalog showroom where shoppers selected items off the floor and they were delivered to you in a paper box on a conveyor belt. Gemco was a department store with a library-size book department and an enormous wall of tropical fish. And the S&H Green Stamps Store was where you cashed in books of trading stamps you’d been collecting for years, in return for fishing rods or small appliances.
Win a Ladmo Bag
If you grew up in Phoenix and are of a certain age — and never won the big brown bag of prizes (like Hostess baked goods and potato chips) given away on the children’s variety program The Wallace and Ladmo Show — there will always be a hole in your heart the size of a Twinkie.
Visit the Old Central Library
It smelled like books and was kind of a mess, but boy! What a great place to while away an afternoon, poring over books (remember them?) and spying on people from the balconied second floor. We love Burton Barr, but we miss “the old library” that got swallowed up by the Phoenix Art Museum in the early ’90s.
Shop at The Wigwam
It was giant, it was packed with western wear and ’70s clothing and shoes, it was on Scottsdale Road in the heart of Old Town. After it closed, someone raided the unsold goods and built a tall, tall Christmas tree made of nothing but disco-era shoes. It was awesome, and so was The Wigwam.
Teens were bored in the ’70s, but most of them seemed to have accress to automobiles. They’d cruise up and down Central Avenue, between Bethany Home Road and Thomas, looking for assignations and hooch. Eventually, this pastime was outlawed, and then the Internet was invented.
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Hang Out at the Safari Coffee Shop
It was what every “retro” coffee shop wants to be — lots of brown Formica, chunky applesauce in cold metal cups, and “B” celebrity sightings like Jerry Van Dyke. On the other side of the lobby was a cheesy gift shop, and if you really wanted to make an afternoon of it, there was a barber shop presided over by a man named Jigs.
Buy a Record
The building’s still there, but Circles Records closed up shop after people started buying music virtually. Lots of locals of a certain age recall driving downtown from the burbs to score the new Bob Dylan or Iron Maiden disc. No more.
Eat Guggy’s Surprise Cake
All these years later, we still don’t know what they put in that cake. But it was good — and we miss it.