Monday, April 16, 2007

Phoenix in the 70s and 80s

Having lived my entire life in the Phoenix area, I have witnessed tremendous growth. Many businesses have come and gone. And too many architectural treasures have been torn down. Today, I am waxing nostalgic about the Phoenix of my childhood. And, true to my character, most of these list entries pertain to shopping. My local readers--all two of them--will especially enjoy this one.


You lived in Phoenix in the 70s and 80s if...

--You remember when Bell Road (especially thorough Glendale) was the considered edge of civilization. There was nothing there but tumbleweeds and prarie dogs. Now, it's where you go to run all your errands.

--Your parents took you to Legend City.

--Mornings were spent watching The Wallace and Ladmo Show. When it was over, it was time to leave for school.

--You remember when Beardsley Road was a seldom traveled, two-lane blacktop. Now, it's the eastbound frontage road for the 101 freeway.

--Before there was Target, there was Gemco. Now, most of the old Gemco stores are Targets.

--You watched Star Wars at the original Cine Capri (I fell asleep...I was 4).

--You remember stores like Yellow Front, FedMart, Woolco, Newberry's, TG&Y, Sprouse Reitz, and Yates.

--You remember when Metrocenter had a below-grade ice skating rink. Watching skaters from the overlook above was the best way to escape the summer heat.




--Also at Metrocenter was a Farrell's ice cream parlor. No Farrell's trip was complete without getting to see two waiters run though the restaurant with a sundae resting on a stretcher, while lights and sirens whirred in the background. Sometimes, the ice cream would fall off the stretcher.

--You were bummed when Farrell's closed. The space was later occupied by 'Round the Corner, a burger and sandwich place similar to Red Robin. The decor reminded me of the Regal Beagle on Three's Company.

--You ever saw a concert at Compton Terrace.

--Your dad subscribed to the Phoenix Gazette.

--You remember when the Brass Armadillo antique mall was Angel's--a building supply warehouse similar to Home Depot.

--You remember when the Phoenix Suns were the only professional sports team in the state, and they played their games at Phoenix Memorial Coleseum.

--Your groceries came from Alpha Beta, AJ Bayless, Lucky's, or Smitty's. Smitty's even had a little coffee shop attached to it.

--A night out consisted of family dinner at the Lunt Avenue Marble Club. Their deep fried mushrooms were the best.

--You remember when eastbound I-10 ended at Dysart Road. In order to continue east, you had to take McDowell or Thomas Road 15 miles to I-17 and head south. I-10 started up again somewhere east of downtown.

--You ever ate breakfast at Sambo's.

--You remember when houses were built with carports instead of garages. Roofs were covered with wood shakes or asphalt shingles instead of concrete tiles.

--You remember home builder's billboards that advertised interest rates of 11% (I distinctly remember one such sign at the corner at 7th Street and Thunderbird).

--Your aspirin and cough syrup came from Skagg's, Revco, Thrifty's, or Drug Emporium.

--Your shoes came from Buster Brown.

--You remember when CBS was on channel 10...ABC was on channel 3...and channels 5 and 15 were independant. Now, CBS is on channel 5...FOX is on channel 10...ABC is on channel 15...and channel 3 no longer has a network affiliation. NBC and PBS are the only ones that stayed on their original stations (channel 12 and 8, respectively).

--You remember when channel 15 broadcast pay-tv at night (I believe it was called ON-TV).

--You spent hours watching early music videos on UHF channel 61. Due to the limited number of videos at the time, songs like "Down Under", "I Ran", and "Come on, Eileen" were repeated quite often. You were lucky if you could get decent reception.

--You accompanied your dad to the True Value Hardware store in Westown in hopes of getting to stop at Baskin Robbins afterwards. (We once tried to get ice cream at 9:30 in the morning, but BR was closed.)

--You shopped at Valley West Mall before it bacame a ghost town, and was ultimately torn down.

--You shopped at Phoenix Spectrum Mall when it was known as Chris-Town.

--You woke up to Bruce Kelly in the morning on KZZP.

--You rode the "Tico" to Park Central.

--You remember quality local programming like Open House with Rita Davenport or Sun Spots with Jan DiAtri.

--You accompanied your dad to the LaBelle's catalog showroom to buy your mom's Christmas present.

--Before he was governor, you remember Evan Mecham as the owner of a Pontiac dealership in Glendale.

--You remember when Castles 'n' Coasters was known as Golf 'n' Stuff.

--You remember when the entire state of Arizona only had one area code. Now, there are three in the Phoenix area alone.

7 comments:

Homo Escapeons said...

I was in Phoenix in 1977 in search of the real America..sort of an Easy Rider type tour.
Although I was unaware of these landmarks I can say that I was there back in the good old days.
Go Me!

ROD WILLETT said...

We used to have a Farrells in Portland years ago. My sister has a second home in Phoenix; Bell has a lot of restaurants!!

Anonymous said...

This was so funny to read...I grew up here in the 80's too and I am still here so I can relate to your nostalgic feelings for how it used to be.

Jeff said...

Here is my response:
My 1st bank account was at Valley National at Westown - before there was a basket robbins there. I rode my bike on the dirt field know as Metro Center and later said this lyric to get 2 licorce whips: Farrels features fabulas food and fantasic fountain fantisies for frolicking, funfilled, festive families. We rode our gocart in the desert on Beel road and 32 street. And we took Buckeye Road to Ogilsgy Road to catch I10 to LA.

Jeff said...

Here is my response:
My 1st bank account was at Valley National at Westown - before there was a basket robbins there. I rode my bike on the dirt field know as Metro Center and later said this lyric to get 2 licorce whips: Farrels features fabulas food and fantasic fountain fantisies for frolicking, funfilled, festive families. We rode our gocart in the desert on Beel road and 32 street. And we took Buckeye Road to Ogilsgy Road to catch I10 to LA.

misinmiami said...

This blog is old I reckon, but I'm soon to be also. I lived in Mesa, worked in Phoenix in 1971--1975. When driving from Mesa to Tempe to Phoenix, they were actually seperate towns, with a short desert drive in between. I worked nights, & in the morning the sun glowing off the mirrored, National Bank, I beleive it was, was amazing---& it was the only tall building downtown. I went back in about 1978 or so, & couldn't find that bldg for hours. The growth of the town was crazy---And, my sister-n-law worked at Sambo's. And for $5 you could go to Diablo Stadium and listen to the Greatful Dead for 5-6 hours.

David said...

Holy Farrells! You summed up everything I experienced growing up in Glendale in the 80s. Thanks for reminding me of Lunt Avenue Marble Club. It was our family's go-to "Nice dinner out" place.

I worked at various Metrocenter stores throughout the 80s. General Cinemas, Yogurt Lite, Gifts III, The Frame Up... not to mention "cruisin' Metro."

Thanks for the trip down amnesia lane.