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January 19, 2021

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Nice column
I see my 59 Belair is still
parked at Woody's.
348 and 4 on the floor.

Classic, 8 mpg and a carbon footprint the size of TRex...but, hey, gas was a quarter.

Now that an appreciation for midcentury modern has developed, someone ought to build that second punchcard building. Sarmiento's plans are probably still somewhere.

We had the potential for a great museum row, but the Arizona Science Center elected to build in the old core, the Arizona Historical Society chose a museum site out in Tempe, and the Musical Instrument Museum one out on the urban fringe. Had those been put in proximity to the Phoenix Art Museum and the Central Library, that would have been a cultural focal point of some note.

Phoenix reliably never takes advantage, never identifies synergies...

Had a high geared rear end with a large four (4) barrel carb. Had good top speed.
At around 140 mph
Gus Stallings passed me south bound from Sun Set Point on the old Black Canyon Highway in his 57 Gull Wing Mercedes Coupe. I blew a rear tire about
Rock Springs.
Woody's El Nido had good food but the family owned La Casita on South Central was my favorite in the early 60's.

"someone ought to build that second punchcard building..."

That was my first thought when I saw that picture.

Cal, this 300SL was claimed to have been owned by Gus Stallings.

https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/14018/lot/529/

Worked in the life insurance business in the early 70s and had lunch often at Woodys,Carnation Dairy,and the Az Club.Had office in Az Bank building on 6th floor.Used to go to bar at the Financial Center but can’t remember name.Great memories.

I seem to recall it was White or Silver.
And that Gus drove with leather leather gloves. I recognized Gus and the car on the highway from my times on Central Avenue. Stallings i think had a Mecedes dealership about Central and Roosevelt near American Health Studios. I married the lady that was with me that day when Gus whipped by. I met her at The Curve resturant on Bkack Canyon Highway just north of Deer Valley Road. That same night I met biker Monk and his friend Larry Smith. Smith played the ape tyoe guy with no shirt in chains on the Wallace and Ladmo show.
Thanks for the article on the Gull Wing.

It was silver when Gus owned it.
I remember a lot of those buildings going up.
I worked at putting in the escalators at Park Central.

I ran the hose gun for Ora Hopper Plastering and construction when they poured a new rubber riof on the flat part of the Goldwater's store at Parkcentral.

Is that really your Bel Air, Cal? Nice ride! BTW, thanks for the email. Interesting read. Jon, great column as always. I love to read about the things I saw when I was growing up in the city in the 1980s. Even though we lived in the suburbs (56th Street and Thunderbird from 1980-1991, and then Scottsdale Road north of Dynamite from 1991 until I left for NAU in '94), I rode around with my dad as he visited job sites for the company he started. It was an interesting time.

56th Street and Thunderbird back then must have been nice, I'm not too far from there.

Stallings owned two different 300SL's the red one was a color change so that was most likely it.

Perhaps someday Central will be high rise living from Downtown to Camelback.

These comments from past (and current) locals make me wish I was around back then.

The great Sonoran desert was fabulous around 1000 AD.
Was pretty good in the 1950's. Loved that Malt shake you could turn upside down and it stayed in the metal container.
For the future More people.
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/arizona/articles/2021-01-15/zombie-subdivisions-coming-back-to-life-in-casa-grande
Good by Sajuaros.

Thanks for writing about this. As a kid, I watched mid-town sprout from the foot of Squaw Peak in the late 70s and early 80s. Even then, I thought it wasn't quite right. You touch on many different dynamics. Is there any detailed history on how it was allowed to happen for so long?

Ben Bethel really helped to change the Midtown area after he bought The Clarendon Hotel. Lots of history at the Clarendon.

Gary S
There was one person that tried to slow that mountain side growth.
Went to prison

Cal said: "For the Future: More people."

See

https://www.theonion.com/new-study-finds-most-of-earth-s-landmass-will-be-phoeni-1819579315

My Mom worked in the accounting department at Del Webb's Townehouse, which at the time was one of (if not THE) tallest buildings in Phoenix. Ironically, the accounting department was in the basement. (And for you gearheads in here, she drove a '69 Impala Custom, 396 V8, red with a white vinyl roof 0 a classic!)

Ha! Joe.
Read that back sometime ago.
I also collect old Mad Magazines!!!
Just gave away my last Bansky and
"The Shadow" collectors books.
At 80 i have implemented that
Swedish Death Cleaning method.

Looks like the "can't we all just get along" plan worked less than 24 hours.

Cal, I researched the Swedish Death cleaning method. No where did I see how Apache Junction fit into the equation. Are you sure you didn't accidently look up a Swedish meatball recipe instead??

I'm a vegan.
I'll buy you the book.

The original Del Webb tower at Rosenzweig Center had two duplicates, one in Albuquerque and the other in Fresno. They're still standing, too, looking even crappier than they did back in the '60s. The Phoenix tower was renovated and reskinned back in the late '80s, and looks infinitely better than the original.

My father had a minor role in Central Avenue history. He tore down for salvage rights the Heard mansion, Casa Blanca, where the Phoenix Tower co-op stands. I remember walking through the ruins - I was about 8 at the time - perplexed why a house was sitting on piers with little more than wood floors separating human feet from air space. About the same time, my father tore down the Central Drive-In to make way for Park Central. He salvaged a large photographic mural from it that later adorned his Sunnyslope clinic.

Across the street from the Central Towers south of Thomas was a restaurant called The Golden Drumstick. It had a huge neon sign, which would be the only reason to remember it. Further south on Encanto was a magnificent period mansion that had big two-story box built in front of it for offices. You could still see the semi-Gothic roof peeking above it. Today, Tapestry on Central occupies the space.

In the mid '80s, there was a proposal for a 55 story office building at Glenrosa & Central. The vacant parcel there once housed a trailer park and Karsh's Bakery. Today, the entire 20 acre parcel is mostly a vegetable garden tended by volunteers. The office building, needless to say, never got built, a victim of the 1986 tax reform law that made real-estate investments much less lucrative.

In the mid-aughts, there was a proposal for a high-rise condo project, again around 50 stories, just above the Grand Canal on Central. The "developer" opened up a sales office, which seemed quite busy. The financials of the project seemed rather dubious and it all crashed by 2007. Another proposal, immediately south of Macayo's involved two 30+ story condo towers. It too expired in the financial collapse of 2007-8. And, equally bizarre, there was another project on the SEC of Thomas & Central, which would have been 50+ stories. Again, the same story.

Today, there are thousands of apartments on Central in 5+1 buildings. Along with the massive increase in housing there's the redeveloped Park Central/Creighton medical school. Together with light rail, Central Avenue is very nearly vital. Good for Phoenix.

"once housed a trailer park..."

Hard to imagine. Here's The Golden Drumstick...

https://www.instagram.com/historyadventuring/p/BomRBqDnnx1/?hl=es

Thanks, soleri.

Does any one recall the Zombie Drive up restaurant on Central east side south of Thomas?

Cal, I don't remember the Zombie but one, which I never hear discussed, was Bo's Uptown on the NWC of Highland & Central. It, too, had a big neon sign which enchanted my juvenile eyes. Across the street was a well-regarded jazz club called the Amsterdam House, which hosted name acts like Anita O'Day.

I don't remember Zombie either. Bo's was the northern end of "Cruising Central"

Carolyn Bethel, the AZ Republic did a really good feature story a few years ago on Ben's transformation of the Clarendon. I think it used to be known as the Les Jardens, right? One thing the writer did very well was explain how Ben discovered the hidden access to the roof via the kitchen (I think), which was key to the rooftop terrace's development.

100 Octane, 56th and Thunderbird was a very nice area of town back in the early 1980s. There used to be a big Arabian horse ranch about a mile north of Thunderbird on 56th. When my parents bought our house in 1980, my twin brother and I immediately set out exploring the area. We were 6 years old and back then, parents let their little boys out of their sight as long as they stayed in the neighborhood. Anyway, the ranch was then called "Big Sky Ranch", and it even had the name inscribed on an arch over the entry gate. A few years later, some corporate interest bought it and it became known as Brubet Arabian Farm. We used to ride our bikes around the property and pet the horses. The horse shows were fun because we helped ourselves to the apple cider and doughnuts they served to the patrons.
There was a lot of open desert in the area back then -- perfect for young boys to build forts in. We also got into our fair share of trouble in the desert. I remember one time a friend of ours decided it would be fun to light a box of Blue Diamond matches and toss it into the scrub. The field went up like a fireplace and the brush unit from Phoenix Fire Station 31 responded a few minutes later.
Those were the days. We didn't need tablets or video games to occupy us. We used our imaginations and had fun doing so. I'm glad I grew up before tablets and smart phones and social media. And play dates.

ChrisInDenver: I grew up in Phoenix ca. 1958-64, and parents were even more laissez-faire about the comings and goings of their kids than in your time. When school ended in early June, we were turned loose in the neighborhood and allowed free run, as long as we turned up again the Tuesday after Labor Day. (OK, that may be a slight exaggeration, but only slight. Also, no school before Labor Day, and the idea of commencing school in August would have been met with open rebellion.)

My neighborhood was near 24th Street and Camelback -- the edge of town in those days. We rode our bikes up 24th past the entrance to the Biltmore, at which point the road turned to gravel and terminated at the Arizona Canal. Much opportunity to mess around on the desert up there. There were still big cottonwoods along the canal -- SRP had yet to remove them.

Before turning us loose, our moms had various injunctions: Don't slosh through irrigation laterals in bare feet -- there is broken glass and dead cats in those; don't hang around the Arizona Canal -- too deep and dangerous and you may run into disreputable teenagers driving on the canal maintenance roads to pull guys water-skiing on the canal. Don't cut through people's yards. Don't rummage in trash cans in the alleys looking for "good stuff" that people threw away.

We did not obey most of these warnings.

We also had our own Phoenix-specific kid lore: Never drink the water running off evaporative cooler pads -- toxic and immediately lethal; be on the lookout for alligators in the canals and laterals -- they escaped in a monsoon flood from Jack Adams' Alligator Farm (tourist trap) in east Mesa.

Though we were free-range, the moms did have a tracking network. A mom might get a phone call such as "Hi, Mrs. Schallan. Your Joe and his pal Eddie just cut through my yard. They're fine."

One wonders what a generation or two of helicopter-parenting will do to initiative and self-reliance.

Christ I'm sounding like a fogey. Which is OK because I am a fogey.

BTW if no one has mentioned it yet -- there's nice coverage (24 pages) of mid-century Phoenix in the current issue (February) of Arizona Highways magazine (many Bob Markow photos). The cover features his shot of the Palms Theatre in the 1950s. I saw The Guns of Navarone there in 1961 and thought it was just the best thing.

I was one of those "disreputble teenagers".
It was more fun than eating dead bugs. You just had to know when to turn loose of the rope to avoid losing some skin to the bank

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