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June 11, 2015


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The Pix building still stands. For a long time, it was Karam's, a clothing store. Now, I believe, there's a boat business there.

Sunnyslope is no longer interesting except for the phosporescence of advanced decay . The "main street", Dunlap between Central and 7th St, is a major arterial moving cars from Cave Creek Road to the west. John C Lincoln Hospital has de-charmed the western half with its metastatic growth. On the east half, however, there's a decent gastropub called North Mountain Brewing. Gentrification? Who woulda thunk.

There are 'Slopers who push the mystique envelope. There's an organization pushing art walks, and another connected to the Sunnyslope Historical Museum. My unhappy family is the subject of some interest there. Marshall Shore, a hipster who has curated the bits and pieces of Phoenix funk into a one-man history band, even gave talks about my father. As always, the legend outstrips the reality.

If I have an insight about Sunnyslope, it has less to do with the colorful characters and weirdness than the realization that back in its heyday, everything was more interesting. This includes not only all of Phoenix, but all of America. There was something called "local color". You could wax nostalgic about it because there were actual main streets as opposed to Walmarts on the edge of town. There are no places in the heart where big box stores and national fast-food chains live. There are only the ghosts we banished like bad dreams at the dawn of America's Big Bright Tomorrow.

The hippies of yesteryear wanted to preserve the magic and handcraft some of their own. They were eventually defeated although you still see a few survivors in places like Bisbee. In Portland, they're much more numerous and they're a squawky bunch complaining about gentrification and rising rents. It's too late for them, and many of them know it. I care only insofar as some stray Luddite DNA is preserved in case global civilization crashes. Call it Mad Max meets Burning Man.

I used to live in Sunnyslope. I liked the "S" mountain, the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, which was my backyard, The Blondin's Gold Bug dive bar, a nearby Circle K I could walk to and buy Rainier Light. I lived on a residential street - 9031 N. Ninth, near Dunlap. My little apartment had an evap cooler. It was a good place. Then I made a huge mistake and moved to Glendale. But only for a little while. Then I got out of crazy Arizona and moved to what was then less crazy Texas.

What a neat structure. I’d love to see a night time photo with neon lit. I’d call this art-deco style, or at least a version of it. I don’t think there were vernacular designs for movie houses; there were several general styles (deco like The Pix, fancy downtown movie palaces, etc.) that were used nationally. Regardless of the style, the building at a glance, said “movie house”. It is fitting that this TBT follows the preceding thread.

Look at all the bikes! The photo must have been taken on a Saturday afternoon. A parent would be arrested today for letting his kid pedal down to the movie house. I was a kid in the 50’s and none of us were accompanied by an adult when going to the movies. There might not have been a single adult in the house during the Saturday afternoon kid-oriented double feature (with cartoons) matinee.

Our neighborhood had a similar movie house; but I don’t recall it being as good looking as The Pix. But it was air conditioned; one of the few buildings that was (so was the drug store). Some summer nights when it was really hot, dad would come home from work and load us all into the car and we’d go to the movies. Weekday night’s movies were aimed at adults and we kids just went straight to sleep; it felt so good not to be hot. Movies were really cheap at the time, so this was no big deal cost wise.

The summer between fourth grade and fifth grade my parents packed me up and sent me from Portland to my aunt and uncle's house in Sunnyslope for the summer. They lived three blocks from the high school and only had swamp cooling, but even for a kid from Oregon it only seemed oppressive in the afternoon, and so I napped and stayed up late. I remember walking in crashing thunderstorms every night alone. In those days it was safe, or at least everyone thought it was safe, to let an 11 year old girl wander the streets after dark alone there. We moved here, though to the east valley, five years later. Sunnyslope was a really nice little community in the 60s, as I remember, but by the late 90s when I was live-in managing a 22 unit apartment complex off the Dunlap/Cave Creek/7th Street exchange on Carol street, that was very much over. I suppose my view is colored by the fact that most of my tenants lived in my complex because it was crawling distance from two neighborhood bars, but the whole area was pretty blighted and it always amazed me how quickly a new paint job or planting or bike rack addition failed to spruce the place up any more. Entropy seemed to rule the area and I greatly admired the brave souls who engaged the sisyphean task of moving the arts or political action in the area. I was the only person in the complex that voted despite ballot measures (like drastic cuts to AHCCCS) that profoundly impacted the residents. My aunt and uncle were long gone by then and their neighborhood broke my heart when I drove through it. It was one thing to be covering costs on an investment property that was one step above section 8 housing and would yield a tidy down stream appreciation profit. It was quite another to see the ghost of Fourth of July present. Sigh.

@ Soleri re: ” back in its heyday, everything was more interesting.... banished like bad dreams at the dawn of America's Big Bright Tomorrow.”

Take heart. A lot of people feel the exact same way; even me. Not everybody, everywhere but enough people in a lot of places to change things. I not going to repeat myself about the B’ham area in this regard. In Atlanta, there has been a resurgence of many in-town neighborhoods. The suburban cities of Roswell and Marietta are working very hard (and successfully so) to renew their downtowns in a more traditional and walkable manner. The Winter Park suburb of Orlando has really turned around its downtown. I thought of moving there for a while. I went for in personal tour and found it to be way to up-scale for me. I can afford it; but I just don’t like it. My hometown of Cocoa, Florida has reanimated its downtown – but for the most part its all artsy things and has too much of a tourist orientation. It has not reached critical mass yet, but is looking promising.

Re “In Portland, they're much more numerous and they're a squawky bunch complaining about gentrification and rising rents. It's too late for them, and many of them know it.” It is unfortunate that in too many cities neighborhoods only come in two flavors: affluent/gentrified and semi slum (or in many cases, outright slum). Cities are not going to really succeed until working and middle class family oriented neighborhoods are again common. I don’t see this happening any time soon.

@Colleen re: “The summer between fourth grade and fifth grade my parents packed me up and sent me from Portland to my aunt and uncle's house in Sunnyslope for the summer.” Just curious, how did you get there? Did you ride alone in a bus?

I moved into the Slope in 1950 and the PIX was going strong until it showed the film "Blue Moon" which had a 2 second glance at a woman's single breast. Purtains closed the place down. At ten years of age I had my first fight in front of the PIX encouraged on by a group of older boys, all of whom including me got arrested for burglary a few weeks later. I did my year of letter writing to my PO and Bill Brown the cop that arrested me got me a summer job watching a construction site at 9400 N 3rd Street. His arrest of me started by him approaching me and hitting me in the chest of with the butt of his shotgun. For Sunnyslope bar closing, like the Gold Buggy Inn or Gold Bug he used the other end of his shot gun and would rack a shell in the chamber if folks were not moving fast enough.
Sunnyslope High school did not exist. You had to go to Glendale HS. But the Sunnyslope pool did and was just south of what is now JC Lincoln Hospital. There are a number of other things of interest and if need you can go to the Sunnyslope Historical site where a brick has been laid for me at 737 E Hatcher. Or goggle the web site.

I still drive through the Slope on occasion and have sought to buy my folks old house just north of Sunnyslope Grade School. But it never comes on the market. I go by Soleri's old house and note that I much preferred his dads design to what the fire fighter has done to it. There are a number of houses now on the mountain side built by fire fighters.
North Mountain Hospital built by Soleri's dad is gone as are his monkeys? I can't recall now what they were but in 68 my police training officer shot and killed one after it got loose. Fortunately that officer was later forced to leave the department. The Slope has added grass and trees to the slope and it appears less naked but to my eye I liked the spareness that provided a clear view of the shifting sands on a hot and wonderful day in July 1950.

I liked the Sparseness! not spareness

Here is an interesting site for Suunyslope 1950 to 60.

I used to sell the Tuberculars in the Wabash Trailer court across from the Gold Bug, Doughnuts particularly they liked doughnut holes.
North Mountain was a good place to catch and sell Chuckawallas and desert Tortoise. Now illegal. Also I caught and sold scorpions to ASC's research by Dr. Stahnke.

And its the Gold Bug. The Buggy Inn was another cheap drinking dive at Grand Avenue and the old Black Canyon Highway. And next door was a trailer court.

If cal did anything inappropriate while you were in Sunnyslope, I believe the statute of limitations does not apply. For a very small fee I can round up at least a half dozen witnesses who will testify that they saw cal do whatever it is you say he did.

The East end of Dunlap has been sanitized and made to look like the East Valley. The Pix building is there but is hard to recognize. It is an appliance store.
North Phoenix to the west side via Cave Creek and Dunlap/Olive is still one of my favorites when the traffic is light.
My neighborhood has many children on bicycle, foot, or skateboard without adult supervision.

Cal, I clicked on your link and again on the Sunnyslope-Cactus directory. The first picture you see, circa 1957, shows the Pix building but with the letters changed to AAA. I forget what it was - probably appliances.

When my father died in 2001, I thought his house was a tear-down. He had "renovated" it in a style that might be called Dogpatch Versailles. The Phoneix firefighter, Tom Brooks, performed a miracle. I never thought the house could be rescued. The firefighter really did an exemplary job. IMO, it's better than the original if only because he found a way to rationalize the room arrangements.

Ok Soleri but I really liked the fish pond that was both in and outside the house.

The photo Jon posted is looking at North mountain at 3rd Street and Mountain View.

Ahhhh,the juxtaposition that is Sunnyslope. I moved there in 1974 and no matter where else in this vast valley I've lived (and there have been many moves) I still have a strange affinity for it. The mix of junkies and executive types coexisting is not something I've seen any where else. My father was an actor/ TV personality when we moved here from Chicago and became the short lived "Cherokee Charley" doing those jeep commercials that some of you may remember. I can't seem to be objective about Slope and I'm thankful for that. Just too much personal history I guess. Thanks for the post and all the comments, it made me remember wistfully what I knew to be life at 18 years old

@wkg_in_bham I flew both ways, a big deal in those days. I remember seeing the Phoenix mosaic for the first time in what was then the only building at the airport. I feel the same way about Willow now that you feel about Winter Park. I will be very surprised if my Westwood High neighborhood is ever gentrified and that is just fine by me. On the other hand, nothing remains static and I would hate for it to slump much further. Three pay day loan places within five blocks is enough.

@Ruben Perez If anything inappropriate happened I have most certainly blocked it so there is no need for spurious eye witnesses, though I do appreciate the offer. Also, I met Cal a couple of nights ago and he seemed like a great guy. If I blocked anything about him specifically I am sure bells would have gone off or something.

@Coleen Tobin Right there with you. Wistful is quite nice for a short period of time, at least for me. I wouldn't want to live there, but there is not much danger of that.

@Jon Talton Best. Blog. Ever. Terrific initiating posts followed by the most knowledgable and thoughtful crew of commenters on the planet. Thank you.

my dad was principal of mountainview grade school back in the late 50s and early 60s...lots of white, mostly southern, migrant workers there at the time...sunnyslope is where we could go to "kill" cactus with bb guns and 22s...lots of open space and few, if any, adults that cared what we were doing...somehow we all survived without "parental supervision"

@Cal re “got me a summer job watching a construction site at 9400 N 3rd Street” The chronology implies that you would have been 11 at the time. Good job for a kid that age. I was still cruising construction sites and dumpster diving for soda bottles to return for deposits at that age. I was a paper-boy at age 12. Didn’t have a “real” job (burger-flipper/counter guy) until I was 15.

Mountain View grade school is west Slope and has always been a place where guns were prevelant, whether motor cycle gangs or more recently Vietnamese Gangs. On Frday I drove by the grade school and the old Market at 15th and Mountain View. The area has few Sahuaros now but many very low income inhabitants. Just a few blocks away, 1100 W Hatcher is where Bandito president Johnny Gamble sliced open his Lieutenant and body guard, Peter Henry Smith, six foot five and 235. Peter died a couple of weeks later at JC Lincoln of Peritonitis. But then in the 50's one could score smack from the Italians at either 1300 E Dunlap or 7st and Mountain View.

Wkg i was 10 going on 11 the same day as is in the lower right hand corner of the Declaration of Independence.
If u look at the upper right portion of the photo Jon posted I gave him you will note a large Rock wall. that is the construction site I referred to.

Melluzos had a redoubt on a lone hillside somewheere on the West side?



When I lived in the Slope, Frank was trying to mine the west side of the big hill on what is 7th Street and North of Mountain View Roads about a half mile. Just across the road from the east side of North Mountain. Or walking distance from my house on 3rd Street, pictured here. There were a lot of tailings. Its the west side of the hill just before you turn into the Driveway for Gosnells Point Tapatio. Now the Hilton Tapatio Cliffs resort. The Gosnells, now there is a story.

Note the coffee shop mentioned in the post above was likely Brookshires at 3 street and Dunlap, NW corner, next to Phoenix Police Station number one.

GREAT story Jon.I grew up in Sunnyslope, 50's on. Mt View Grade School, Sunnyslope High. Worked at the old Cecil Jones Sunset Station at 9th Ave and Hatcher in the 60's during high school. Joe Reynolds Car Lot across the street as well afterwards. Worked on ole smart like a fox Frank's vehicles for years. Worked off and on doing welding for soleri's Dad on El Cid. My great hunting friend was Toni from Toni's Deli at the 5 point, sure miss him. Had a great friend and mentor there that I lost in 93 Joe Bacso, Bacso Speed and Machine. Lost my younger brother to Slope in 2013. He always said he would die in Slope and he did. 15th Ave and Shangri-la. I go into Slope alost every time I go to Phoenix, it is like a magnet to me. I hated when Dash Mat owner immigrated all the Vietnamese here in the 70's. Fed paid him 10,000.00 each to move them here and then subsidized their wages for two years afterward. After he was done with Dash Mat and sold out he simply moved on and left the Vietnamese to take care of themselves and Sunnyslope! He bragged about how he screwed the Fed out of the funds to build his business every time I took a car to him for a dashmat back then. I quit him after Joe told me what he had done. I owned two auto business there. Rogers Chevron at 19th and Dunlap, mis 70's and Sunnyslope Service Center and Radiator Repair. I really enjoy your blog Jon... Thanks..I moved from Slope in 98..I still love Sunnyslope just not what it has become.


I am trying to remember what was on the corner of 7th Street and Cave Creek and Dunlap where they all intersect. It is an urgent care now but I am wracking my brain to remember what it was. It was not the Jack in the box because that was on Cave Creek and Dunlap. Any Ideas?

Sunnyslope is the lamest place ever!! I've never seen any other place that has so many degeneration, low life, drug addict, trash, condensed into 1 small area!! Its Trashville USA!! Almost every person I met was either a heroin or math addict or both, and they all prefer to shoot it up!! Just about every house I had the displeasure of going into was a pig sty barely any of the had electricity or running water in the dead summer and these people were all ok with no power. Not 1 single person I met in sunnyslope had a job. Every female I met was a local lady of the night and if she had any kids you can rest assure the Arizona child protective services took away there custody due to neglect or abandonment!! What type of mother abandons there kids?? Sunnyslope mothers apparently. None of the men I met had jobs or cars and 9 out of 10 lived with someone else they mooched off of. 35-45yr old men with nothing to show for there likes except maybe a 20 year long math and sex addiction!!! Here is a sunnyslope fun fact= Sunnyslope, Arizona (North Mountain) has the highest percentage of AIDS, HIV, and 4 other STUd's then any other zip code in the entire state of Arizona!!! What's more Sunnyslope, Arizona is ranked #5 in North American city's with the highest percent of HIV and AIDS cases

Just happened across this post. Wow! Grew up in Sunnyslope in the 1960's. Went to Most Holy Trinity grade school for 1st-8th grade. Lived on 8th St. behind the Burger Chef--remember its grand opening, El Camino Dr. between 10th and 12th Sts. where there were some oh so modern apartments built up on a steep hill, Alice Ave. and 10th St. across from the tuberculosis shacks, El Caminito off Central Ave. and Griswold near a large grapefruit grove, and W Vogel Ave. near the monkey house. Had my tonsils out at the spanking new John C. Lincoln Hospital. Sunnyslope pool was a summer godsend as we had no A/C.

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