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May 18, 2017


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Thanks, Jon. I enjoy your columns about the history of Phoenix, and this one about Maryvale inspired me to share a bit of my own Maryvale story:

In 1983, when I was six years old, my family moved from the hamlet of Eagar in Arizona’s White Mountains to a John F. Long home on 57th Drive in Maryvale. After living in a cold and windy place, it was exciting to live in a house with eight palm trees and a swimming pool in the yard.

My mom worked for a few years at Gaston Jewelers in the Maryvale Terrace shopping center. I remember visiting her there, and enjoying the plaza’s little secret garden, which had a waterfall and fish pond, park benches and nice landscaping. Old-timers said that the garden used to be open to the public, but by the time we moved to Maryvale, it was hidden behind gates, a place for shopping center employees to take their lunch breaks.

I loved riding my bike around Maryvale when I was a little kid, and I made lots of friends at school. Many of their parents were well-educated professionals. I was friends with the sons of John F. Long’s longtime director of real estate. I remember many, many teachers living in the neighborhood. Starting just a few years after we arrived, most of these professionals (generally Anglo, although I remember several Hispanic teachers and their families living in the neighborhood, too) moved out in quick succession. Many moved to newer developments in Peoria or Arrowhead Ranch to the north or the Villa de Paz/Garden Lakes area to the west.

The families that moved in to replace those who departed were often poorer and almost never Anglo. Many were single-mother households. The appearance of the homes and landscapes declined rapidly. Graffiti was everywhere. By the late 80s, the schools were pretty bad. Racial and ethnic tensions were a constant presence on the campuses, as were street gangs.

Still, my dad, a blue-collar union worker, loved Maryvale. It was his kind of place. Tough and gritty, but with many great people who had good stories to tell. Dad served for a while on the Maryvale Planning Committee. I remember attending the groundbreaking of the Maryvale Amphitheater (quickly renamed Desert Sky Pavilion; who knows what it is called now?). Actor Don Johnson arrived in a helicopter to the middle of a big dirt field, and turned over one of the first shovelfuls of dirt. My dad thought that project would help revitalize the area.

When I was in eighth grade, a house in our neighborhood was firebombed early in the morning, just before the resident was to testify as a victim in a trial at Superior Court. That Christmas Eve, our car was stolen from the carport. Over the next year, there was a drive-by shooting at the local Jack-in-the-Box restaurant, the on-the-job murder of the manager of a local movie theater, and a drive-by shooting at the busy new Olive Garden restaurant outside Westridge (now Desert Sky) Mall. The final straw for my family was the drive-by shooting on our own street. It was a school night, and I was jerked awake by pow pow pow pow pow pow! I peeked through my bedroom’s mini-blinds, and saw the shooter’s car speed by. It turned out that my friend Domingo’s house was the place that had been shot up (luckily, nobody was hurt).

At the end of ninth grade, my family moved just outside the Phoenix city limits to the then-popular Villa de Paz golf course community. We lived about a mile from John and Mary Long’s gated estate, with its pastoral duck pond. I transferred from Maryvale High School to Westview High School, which had far less racial conflict and gang activity, and just basically was a better environment for learning. I’m not sure how Westview has held up in the long run.

When I was a senior in high school (1995), there was a vote regarding whether Villa de Paz should be annexed into Phoenix. My parents and the majority of other residents, many of whom had moved there from Maryvale too, voted in favor. The western boundary of the map of “Maryvale Village” was quickly extended to encompass a golf course surrounded by curvilinear streets. And it was at about that time that people of financial means began to move out of Villa de Paz; to Goodyear and Litchfield Park to the West, to Arrowhead Ranch and Surprise to the north…

Personally, I'm partial to the Tempe Spring Training Stadiums. Maryvale definitely FEELS historic though.

I lived in multiple homes in Maryvale for two decades. John F. Long and his foundation truly supported the community throughout that time.

He wasn't just a builder of homes, but connected with the city and school district. His Maryvale Mall routinely displayed schoolwork and artwork from local schools. One could always count on donations from his foundation for all types of charities, especially youth activities.

How different from now. Can you name any homebuilders now who can compare to the level of community support over time? Or do they build for profit, then move on? Perhaps our current expectations of corporations exclude community concerns?

I lived in Maryvale during the 80s and early 90s when it was considered a good place to raise kids. They could walk and bike to parks and schools. It was considered a good place for affordable starter homes, in a safe, multicultural, family neighborhood.

All places change over time. But during those decades the name Maryvale had positive connotations.

I know Maryvale well. The original Maryvale was where Jon mentioned that JF Long built his first house.
My father was then Superindent of the Alhambra School District. Alhambra could not build schools fast enough to keep up. Andalucia - at 47th Ave and Campbell did not have locks on the doors the first three weeks of school
I walked guard duty with my trusty Winchester for that time.
John Long was actually a former student of my father's.

Dad always accused him of trying to get even for something that happened during that time.

The truth is Long was more than cooperative - even donated the land for the aforementioned school.

The school that was built at 35th Ave and Missouri was originally named Maryvale

Sadly, Maryvale has, like many other areas, has suffered from "White Flight"and detoriated greatly.

Such is life in the Megalopolis of the Salt River Valley.

Spent many an hour looking at homes we couldn't afford with my ex-wife as she liked to look at the decorating.Usually went to the Hallcraft home models as it was closest to us.Wasn't it on Camelback and around 24st?

I always enjoy Jon’s re-posting of Phoenix 101 articles as they remind me of my past and also I know this re-posting gives Jon time to work on his next mystery book and take care of his “day job”.

Maryvale Begins
“Yes, the planet got destroyed. But for a beautiful moment in time we created a lot of value for shareholders”. From a toon in the New Yorker magazine (2012).

I recall when the first truss joist left the manufacturing yard in South Phoenix to begin the widespread onslaught destruction of the great Sonoran Desert. My deceased friend Bob Cosgrove an ASU Architecture student was part of the making of the prefabrication effort to bring cheap housing to the desert. He went on to D.C. and became the guy in charge of “if one had a problem with regard to V.A. housing”.

With all due respect to folks like John F Long and other such “stewards” of the Valley of the Sun, their intentions may be have been honorable but their efforts were a mistake that continues today. But developers today are not honorable and have no civic concerns. As you read this they continue the sprawl by slashing the Deserts from the west coast to the east state boundaries of Arizona throwing down dwellings for more soil banker retirees and Canadian outlier’s.
But does it really Matter? Should I just accept that “Manunkind” is going to continue his climb from the current 7 billion towards 30 billion?

Will "rough men that ride through the night” become the guys carrying shotguns enforcing the rules on mining off planet where capitalist companies feed workers drugs to increase production to send resource’s back to the planet “earth”? I despair that technology will not save the species and that before we are gone we will have destroyed most other species with the exception of the cockroaches and the coyotee.

As some would say even after we are gone the planet will still be here doing whatever planets do. But given current world conflict and the downhill slide into dictatorship we have sped up the clock of eventual destruction of its inhabitants.

Well as the quail and other desert denizens drink from my watering hole, it’s time for my workout and some reading (yesterday I took time out from "fact" reading to read the novel, "The Far Empty” set in the area of the Big Bend in Texas).

And today is the day I avoid having a five dollar Mocha. I need a 12 step program to withdraw from Starbucks.

the Maryvales of the future? Off planet communities?




things to look forward too.



Maryvale back in the "good ole days".
"When cars were fast and loud and beautiful and we raced them in the night."
George Pelecanos in The Triple Black Cuda in the book, The Highway Kind.

A number of students who attended Andalucia School from its opening day in 1955 through 8th grade graduation in 1963 still get together for lunch and conversation regularly. One of our classmates even became the school principal!
We have wonderful memories including double-sessions until enough classrooms were erected and bringing sack lunches until the cafeteria was built. We played four-square on on the concrete during irrigation days, 7-up in the classroom when it rained, and enjoyed Friday night dances when we became 7th and 8th graders. Teachers volunteered to host Saturday morning movies in the summer time, Frances the Talking Mule was a popular star, and we spent countless hours at nearby Maryvale park and swimming pool.
Our mother's formed the Maryvale Women's Club and organized community programs for young ladies that included grooming tips, dating etiquette, and a subject considered innovative and controversial at the time, drug abuse education. The club also sponsored the planting of plum trees along Maryvale Parkway and other beautification projects and services.
We all feel lucky to have grown up in the close knit family oriented community of early Maryvale.

I grew up in this area. It’s sad how the are has declined. I keep thinking...certain areas should be designated an Arts district. Might take years to catch on..look at the success of the Roosevelt district downtown. The John F. Long homes are so spacious..crafters ...musicians...painters...could breathe fresh air into the area. Tax breaks and incentives to move into the area would help as well. Giving back to the community...sharing music..art ...skills...could be transformational for a community that has lost a sense of belonging together. I love clay, printmaking ,painting. I honed my skills while living in Maryvale. I’ll bet there are others who feel the same as I do.

I grew up on Maryvale until my parents decided that the water was too scary to stay. ( not whiteflight at all ) most people started moving when the rumors started that the water was not good and going to get much worse. My great grandmother also lived two streets over. I went to Andelucia elementary and moved after second grade to the foothills off carefree highway. We built our own home long before any subdivisions popped up there. I have fond memories of walking to school with my sister to Andelucia and playing at the park , and pool. Also my sister was born at Maryvale hospital.

I Love and Adore Maryvale.... I'm a native and was born at the original Maryvale Hospital in 1963... It was truly a Breathtaking area to live in back then... My dad bought my mom a brand new Golden Medallion Home off of 51st Avenue and Thomas in 1962... There was nothing around us but corn fields to the south, a Circle K & Laundromat on the Northeast corner... It was Heaven on Earth.... It truly breaks my heart to see how it turned out.... My sister Still lives in our family home my parents built... it looks brand new, just like it did the day we moved in almost 60 years ago.... But the neighborhood has changed and Not for the better... It's So Depressing..... but she loves her house.... I just remember when every single home looked like hers does now and it just So Sad....

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