Last week we asked why Phoenicians elect to stay in this dusty desert instead of heading out into the world. Check out this first entry from Phoenician and New Times reader Patrick Mertz:
I'm a native son born in Phoenix in 1956, to parents who themselves are native Arizonans born in Phoenix and raised in Flagstaff.
I grew up here when:
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1. There was no heat island effect. 2. Summer monsoons were preceded by a visible wall of dust. 3. Citrus orchards and horse ranches dotted the city landscape. 4. The KOY radio tower stood alone in the middle of a field at the northwest corner of 12th St. and Camelback Rd. 5. Metrocenter was a cotton field. 6. Squaw Peak (that's right, I said Squaw) was built. 7. Northern Avenue snaked through Dreamy Draw to what we called Paradise Valley. 8. Most of the smog we experienced came from the copper smelters in Superior and Globe. 9. We had our own amusement park called Legend City. 10. KDKB came on the air courtesy of Bill Compton et al. 11. Drive in movie theaters abounded. 12. There was a long stretch of nothing between here and Cave Creek and you had to drive not so fast that your car would bottom out in the wash crossings but also fast enough to get the roller coaster effect. 13. There were large, open spaces between Peoria, Glendale, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler and Mesa. 14.We could go dove hunting at 7th St. and Bell Rd. 15. Open irrigation ditches were plentiful and a magnet for kids 16. Encanto Park was a cool jewel in the middle of the city (and still is). 17. The Phoenix Suns started play in the Madhouse on McDowell, with entertainment provided by a Dixieland jazz band called the Desert City Six. (How times have changed!)
Phoenix was a cool place to grow up. Lots of friends left for cooler climes and supposedly "cooler" cities and towns. I always thought Phoenix was cool enough, with a rare and unique mix of Anglo, Hispanic and Native American culture that was, and still is representative of the great American Southwest. I think it still has that mix, in spite of the never-ending attempts by newcomers to make it into "something" or "somewhere" else. This is Phoenix, my hometown. Love it or leave it!
- Patrick Mertz
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