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November 12, 2015


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I think I've already written about my father, Dr Kenneth Hall, in this blog. Let it suffice to say he was a character - maddening, charismatic, more than a little megalomaniacal, paranoid, and possessed with one of the worst bedside manners of any physician who ever practiced in Arizona. I believe he was the first doctor in Arizona to have his medical license revoked. If Sunnyslope had a noirish element, he and possibly the Santopietros were leading candidates for the label unsavory (Cal, if you're out there, please double check this feeling of mine, if at all possible).

My very early childhood memories included lots of lurid colors from dirt roads, severe poverty, and malnutrition, to vultures, snakes, scorpions, and coyotes. Sunnyslope - sometimes shortened to Slop by wags to the south - was disastrously poor in some areas with a reputation for being populated by white trash. But it had a genuine main street with even some charm here and there. It wasn't much but nearly everyone I knew from back then misses it. As time went on, it got nicer, too. By the early '60s, it was mostly middle class although deep pockets of poverty and crime remained west of 7th Avenue.

The name itself became a kind of psychological burden, so a few local businessmen in the mid '60s proposed changing the name to something else, say North Phoenix. This touched a nerve among oldtimers in particular, and the idea was quashed. By the 1970s, there was just enough prosperity in and around 'Slope that Gosnell began constructing Pointe Tapatio. My father's striking clinic, North Mountain Hospital, was lost to a spate of malpractice suits (side note: he relinquished the deed to one Jack Cohen, a lieutenant in Meyer Lansky's crime family. Cohen himself was rubbed out soon afterwards). The site of the hospital became a luxury home development. My father's other claim to fame was El Cid Bowling Lanes (now Castle Sports Chalet) on north 19th Ave & Cholla. I used to call it our family's Vietnam since construction started in 1963 and didn't finally see completion until 1980.

By the 1990s, Sunnyslope upward arc bifurcated into two different streams. The foothills continued to attract luxury developments but the flats began worsening. Hundreds of cheap apartments were constructed, and the retail fabric of the town collapsed into the kind of crud you see almost everywhere in Phoenix's expansive linear slums. The charm that Sunnyslope had was lost as a result of that and John C Lincoln Hospital's cancer-like growth. Today, the renewed interest seems like an effort to explain how one area can contain so much income inequality.

I went to a high-school reunion/Homecoming game at Sunnyslope High about three years ago. I saw high school beauty queens managing their age reasonably well in time's relentless crush. I saw current high school students looking much more like Obama's America, with emphasis on inclusion and self-esteem. My cohort was not amused and wondered who the winners really were. And I saw this story of America in its uplifting and glorious arc only to crash land in a present that no one loves. Sunnyslope is not finished and neither is America. But you wish for better days against the evidence before your eyes. It doesn't look that good.

Soleri, that wasn't my side of town (I'm from the side that made Sunnyslope look rich), even though I had a habit of hanging around every high school in the valley except my own) : who were/are the Santopietros? Were they the people who were caught selling all that heroin out of their pizza place years ago?

Pat, I do associate the word "heroin" with the Santopietros, but I'm really fuzzy now if they owned that particular pizza joint. When I was a kid, they owned a corner grocery at Mountain View & Cave Creek Road. Everyone was afraid of them. That's why I wish Cal were here. His memory is much better on that score.

OK folks I get the message. Nice timely piece Jon.
Slope Kings and Queens.
The slope was a nice quiet place until the sixties and the hostile take over by Phoenix. Old folks at the Wabash trailer court just trying to to take a few last gulps of dry air while eating the doughnut holes I sold them while reading the Arizona Republican newspaper. Prior to the sixties there were a few bad apples in the area but not so most folks noticed. One could hang out at the wooden barracks Desert Mission free library and later the Sunnyslope swimming pool at 1st street and Olive (now Dunlap). Rumor had it one could score some Morphine in the slope but so could you at 18 street and Broadway (Pats town). The grocery store at 7st and Mountain View was a 5 block walk from my second house in the Slope at 9822 N 3rd Street. I had no issues with the owners as long as i had money and didnt try and slip a few extra candies into my back pocket. Regarding poor Pat, at least he had Sarges Cowtown and Riverside Ballroom along with the worlds largest city park. Also there were some good Jazz places in Pats town, Slope was just where old sick folks and the very poor came to live and die. Most the history from the sixties on has been posted here previously. Like when my police partner shot and killed one of Soleri 's fathers monkeys. The Banditos came to town in 69 and threatened to kill me but left after Bandito president Johnny Gamble killed his lieutenant Peter Henry Smith in front of a bar at about 1100 W Hatcher. Johnny had a badge sewn to his vest, on his left chest area that he explained to me as being similar to my badge. Half a Tampax with a tooth mark. Later the Vietnamese moved into the area of 15th and Hatcher and Mountain view and were subjected to gang violence by their own young gangsters. A number of old slope places linger own but if its a history you're looking for go the Sunnyslope Historical Society located at 737 E Hatcher. I have laid a brick there for all of you.

I went on many memorable ambulance calls in the Slope in the 1970s. Sometimes I worked out of the station on Alice. Shootings and stabbings at biker bars. Once when two cops running silent Code 3 (no sirens) in a parallel pursuit slammed into each other in an intersection, then the momentum carried at least one cruiser into a house; one officer was killed. Before the city rammed Seventh Street through the mountains and built the Tapatio resort, Sunnyslope kept its own vibe.

Well the Slope and the Valley of the Sun was once upon a time a good place to be
but now,

For further info click on Deconstructing The Manifest on the Roughish Links. Thanks Petro.

I used to live in Sunnyslope. Rent was $175 a month for a duplex. Evap cooler. Kitchen, living room I bath, I br. Yeah, it was sketchy. But I loved going into the Phoenix Mountains. I could walk to a Circle K with a backpack, buy Rainier beer and walk home. I could walk to Blondin's Gold Bug and stagger home. I could buy fun stuff from a friend a couple of blocks away. It wasn't noisy and it for sure didn't feel like the rest of Phoenix in the mid-1970s, which still had farm land and some politicians who weren't totally crazy. But they were on the rise. I got OUT of there. Though I do miss trips to Flagstaff in winter, Prescott in the fall, Mogollon Rim in springtime. Ah, well.

Great read. I lived in the 'Slope from the early 70s until leaving in '86 for the Army. I saw the brilliance of the slums in the form of punk rock, future business types running their game in grams and ounces, Hells Angels, and many a hallucinogenic party. A beautiful cess pool with a super keen personality, always there to lend a hand. Or a vice.

Moved back to Phoenix in '98, buying a small house in Sunnyslope. Finding home again was not in the stars, the city grew older without me, I was still the same, yet changed.

It definitely has a distinct vibe. Seems to me a lot more businesses are coming in. And I LOVE Karl's bakery, especially on Saturday morning when all the regulars gather. Best (non-greasy) apple fritter in town. And the seasonal cronuts--swoon. Not to mention the chocolate-dipped almond horns...

My aunt Louise Humphrey had a trailer court at 5th St./Purdue. I used to visit there in the summer time in the early 50's from Phoenix. There was a park just east of 7th St. that was really rough. We had a good friend that sold realestate (Miller) and she lived in the rock house around 16th Street just north of Northern. The old brick house is still there today. Seems like there was a Ben Franklin or a Woolworth at about 3rd St and Dunlap, and the Purple Cow At Purdue and 7th Street. My father was in a rest home in the 50"s also curing from T.B. which Sunnyslope was know for..

yes an a Brookshires Restrant on corner of 3d.Where hospital parking lot is now.Across the street on Dunlap was a family owned hardware place,They carried eVEry thing there even it being smaller then Home depot.Cant speell it well."Debars" hardware.He was run out of business becuause of a big developer wanted to build a shopping center there.so the own Mr Debare retired,because they didnt give him enought moneys to open another place.Sad isnt it.even then sheating people out of there land.There were lots of small businesses there to that had to go.care repares an parts stores etc.

We moved into Sunnyslope in 1959, I was 8 years old. Lived at Alice and 12th St. I have very fond memories of "old" Sunnyslope. Yes, we are a breed-apart and I will always identify myself as from "Slope". Most people from The Pit left us alone which was fine with me.

I am looking for anyone that may know of any photograph and info on the Sunnyslope market that used to be on West Ironwood Dr. It was before Barton's opened on 15th Ave and quite a lonf time before the Country Market opened. The market was torn down and the family dwelling in the rear was sold as private residence and I grew up there, but never knew anything about the market. My email is [email protected]

Moved to Sunnyslope in the very early 1960's-had lived in Paradise Valley (ha! anything but) off Bell Rd. (1649 W. Phelps Rd.) from 1959 until we moved to 8th St behind the newly built Burger Chef off 7th St. A family named Wingo bought our home in the early 60's. Attended Most Holy Trinity School from 1st through 8th grade (graduated in 1968.) Remember Mrs. Hart as one of our teachers--her husband was I believe an Arizona State Rep. or had something to do with AZ government or lack thereof. Wondering if anyone knows anything about the beautiful white house that loomed large above 7th St., Griswold and 8th St just above the canal. Lived there for 2 years with a family that had rented the place for several years. Remember when the Hilltop apts. off Butler were built--we would go into them and play elaborate fantasy games once the construction people had left for the day. quite the climb to get into them but what a refuge for us in those days. Also remember walking around the monkey cages at the Hall property--we lived in some forgettable apt. off Vogel and would do anything to get out of the house. Had no idea about who lived there or the history of the place at that time (1966-67?). Thanks to all for filling in the blanks.

Barb Davis, our family went to MHT too, but slightly different years. We had moved away from the Ocotillo Hills neighborhood by early to mid-'65 or '66, I believe, and on to apartments at the top of Central, then on to Scottsdale. I remember learning to swim at the Sunnyslope public pool with my mom. Wow, that was a long time ago! The seediness must have eluded me because I was a kid. But looking back now it does seem a little "Blue Velvet"-ish or like something John Waters would have liked. Maybe just the starkness of desert, sky, and slump block sixties homes, in their turquoise and pink paint with white rocks on the roof.

There is an Irish song by the Dubliner's called, "Dirty 'ol Town". However, sung and lyric's of affection. That is the emotion I get about Sunnyslope. It has it's "bad" elements through time but more good. It is my home town, good and bad. Google the song. Both parents worked on Dunlap Ave and loved it. From High School to Brookshires, to Northgate Bowl.

When I was around nine years old a man said he kidnapped m. Hr was my neighbor. I had been there earlier that day, but my Father came and picked me up in his weekend he wasn't supposed to have me and my sister. The man use to lay me a penny a cigarette butt and have me sit on his lap to count then while I was in my bathing suit. A rel creeper. Anyway, he had a standoff with the police and they sent in smoje bombs when they finally figured I wasn't in the apt. He cut himself and wrote in the door I love you Lisa, before shooting himself in the head. My mother and I ended up cleaning up the apt after the investigation scraping dries brain matter and scraps of skin and hair caked in dried blood off the walls and floor of the bathroom for free rent. If anyone remembers this story, I would love to know the name of the apts. They were a single story all white shaped like a u. Dirt lot in the front and the only grass was between the apts. They had two doors one led into the kitchen and the other went to the grassy area frin the living room. also if anyone remembers the story, I would like information on ehat newspaper it was in. I know that they had a news station out there too. Thanks

Sorry for the typos. My phone was dying and I didn't have time to proof read it.

I've lived in Sunnyslope for two years and live at 3rd and foothill. I have a section of a mural that I have been told was in Dr. Hall's house. It's of a Dionysian festival in a 17th or 18th century SW mission town.

This history is very cool and thanks for sharing it.

Just came upon this site ... From December 1967 to spring 1970, I delivered approx. 100 copies of the AZ Republic to customers in the semicircle bounded by Central, up to Foothill, down 3rd St. (or 3rd Drive? Whatever, the last existing street in that direction) to Mountain View and back, plus part of Vogel Street. The so-called North Mountain Hospital was my best customer: 10 Republics every day. I lived south of Sunnyslope (330 W. Seldon), so apart from good money for an under-sixteen kid, it was a great workout. I moved to Israel in 1977 but I've been back many times for family and work. Showed my kids around, too.

My parents moved into the Sunnyslope area when my father over saw the construction of the J C Lincoln high rise in the early 60's. Even at a young age I realized the disparity that existed in the community and especially at SSHS. If you lived North of the canal you were likely from a low income family, many living barely above the poverty line. If you lived South of the canal you were likely from a middle to upper income family. The disparity was predominately social economic. As disparate as things were on the social economic front there was virtually no ethnic disparity. Not a single African American and maybe a couple of Hispanic individuals were part of my graduating class, something I wish had not been the case.

Wow. So interesting to read all this. I moved to Sunnyslope from Maryvale in 1964 in the 2nd grade. I grew up just west of Central right on Hatcher behind a guitar shop. My fathers place, LIttle’s Guitar Shop. He taught guitar. I went to both the grade school and the high school. Mr. Foster at the grade school was my favorite teacher ever. High school hip huggers and Herberger Park on the canal. Great times. When I was young I had a German shepherd that a lot of people knew. The humane society knew him so well they started bringing him home instead of charging my mother ransom like so many other times. The humane society was near to visit and had a sad cemetery where I frequently read the headstones. There was also a liquor store I remember. Eches Electronics, Pedroes restaurant, of course JC Lincoln Hospital where my mother worked and was also a patient quite a few times. Where a grandfather in law tended the grounds. I remember the the animal cages and monkeys a little further to the north. I climbed that S mountain a thousand times and walked over to the shopping mall and A &W and A J Baylee’s. Many sun burns at the pool. Walked by Shaw’s Jewelers, where I bought a 50th anniversary gift for my grandparents and where unfortunately Mr. Shaw was later shot and killed in a robbery. When I was young I did not see the disparity but as I got older I did. But I loved the quaintness of especially the older parts.

Ollie, good post.
If you havent i suggest a visit to the Sunnyslope Historical Society. I laid a brick there and visit once or twice a year and leave some $.
I'm Cal Lash, Sunnyslope grade school graduate 1954. Lived at 9822 N 3rd street. Just two blocks from Soleri's house, better known as Doctor Halls house. He owned and operated North Mountain Hospital. I'm at [email protected]

Hi! I loved this read too! I have so many memories of “The Slope” too. First my Mother worked in the attendance office at Sunnyslope HS from maybe 1970 to 1986. Mrs Hack was her name for anyone who is interested. Spent a lot of hours at Frankie’s Bar and I think the other one was Horseshoe Bar? Frankie’s was on 19th Ave and Dunlap where the Taco Bell is now. The Dirty Dozen were pretty active in the drug world back then. We use to say “Wana buy some dope, go to Sunnyslope.” Lol

Heres to all the good Slopers.
And a hoit to Johnny Loper.

1970's i managed the U-tot-em store at 7th Ave. and Dunlap. Glad to get out of the area. Got a real job and bought a house in Maryvale. Lived there for 29 years.

Hi, so glad I found this blog. I moved to Sunnyslope in 6th grade and went to Sunnyslope Grade school and then to Desert View before going to SHS. Before that we lived in Phx (31st st and Oak area) and I went to Creighton grade school. I was a naive kid and was totally unaware of anything bad going on in the Sunnyslope area. We used to ride our bikes to N. Mntn Park and play there with no concerns. Also walked to the library which IIRC was around 3rd and Dunlap or Hatcher. Spent many a Saturday in that old, comfortable library. We lived on Orchid Lane near 3rd St and it seemed like a very nice neighborhood.
I always thought that SHS was a very good high school. I go "home" for Christmas but live in NY state now.

Hi I moved there in 1966 , my sisters had asthma We lived in apartments across the street from Montfort Park We were poor, but we had so much fun at the park. It gave us a place to hang out and do sports. We played basket ball, softball, volleyball, ping pong , we had a place to go. We are what some off you are referring as trash, poverty, seedy. We were not all drug addicts or criminals We were just poor and did not have the same opportunity as the other people had on the other side of slope. I remember going to high school and the lady that worked in the office treated the kids on the more prosperous side a lot different then the way she treated the less
fortunate . I would not trade my years playing at Montfort park for anything we were poor and we did not have a lot, but we were a group of kids that knew how to,play and have fun and be independent because we did not have a lot. So of us made it and some of us didn’t do so well, but again I would not trade those days. Purple Cow, Northgate Bowing , Sunnyslope Pool, Herberger Park, riding our bikes everywhere

Thank you for this excellent article and comments. We currently live in Sunnyslope in the Ocotillo Hills area (16th Street and Mountain View Road area).
Does anyone know or remember any "Ocotillo Hills" neighborhood entry signs on 16th Street at Cinnabar Avenue, Mountain View Road, or Hatcher Road?
There are some remaining rock walls from the mid century that have rebar posts that most likely held the original "Ocotillo Hills" entry signs. We would like to add those signs back to our neighborhood and would like to know what color and style the original entry signs were. Thank you for any information!

I came upon some old letters to my Mom that were written in 1947. Apparently my Mom was living at 318 E. Dunlap then. I came on here looking for pics of what that area looked like then. Didn't see just where she lived, but it was interesting seeing your old pics. I graduated from Sunnyslope H.S. in 1971.

My experience in Sunnyslope goes from July 1966 to September 1976: eighth grade at Royal Palm School on 19th Avenue, four long years at Sunnyslope High, then college, then a year in new Mexico and 46 years (thus far) in -- that's right -- Israel. In December 1966-spring 1968, I delivered the Arizona Republic in an area bounded by Central, Foothill, 3rd Street, and Mountain View, plus a block on Vogel -- around 110 customers, including 10 copies to North Mountain Hospital until it was ... er... shut down, costing me a good customer.

The point of that wordy preface is that during those years it never occurred to me that Sunnyslope carried a stigma. No one elsewhere suggested it, and the people I knew there didn't reflect or deserve it. No one bothered to tell me that my colleagues in playground basketball fell short of others in status or wealth (their height and skill was my problem). Does any of this unpleasant business still persist?

I lived in Sunnyslope from birth (1970) until I was 9 and then continued to visit my grandmother there until she moved in 1999. My grandparents moved there from Pennsylvania in 1959 because my aunt was very sick and the doctor told them she wouldn't survive another winter in PA. My grandparents lived at Mt. View and 7th St and we lived on Sunnslope Ln and 15th street.

I hope most of you have a Facebook profile that you can join, "Growing up in Sunnyslope". Facebook page. I am there and would love to hear from you all about the years we all spent there. Thanks. Michael Mallon.

My family moved to slope in 1955. Buena Vista north of Hatcher (now 5th ave). Went to sslope elementary and shs. Slope was still a market town for small farms, ranches and miners in surrounding area. Occasionally people rode horses. The Tumblewwd bar had a horse trough out back under cottonwoods and occasionally horses were standing there as riders refreshed themselves. My mates and i lived a kind of Tom Sawyer life. Swimming in canals riding bikes all over and bb gun wars in the desert. I liked it.

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