Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Diamond Dames

PHM0714Flash-1-8They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend. But for some girls, this is only true if the diamond in question is the one you circle after smashing a hanging curveball into the cheap seats.

Formed in the early 1930s, Phoenix’s bygone semi-pro softball teams represented an era of surging wartime popularity for women’s sports in America as male athletes fought abroad. The Queens, along with their hometown rivals, the Ramblers, helped Phoenix become the unofficial softball capital of the world in the mid-20th century by winning multiple national championships in packed ballparks, according to a 2010 Arizona Republic article.

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O Brothers, Where Art Thou?

0614PHMPF25Back in the early ‘60s, the recently razed Mountain Shadows Resort hosted a hokey – and now hugely obscure – syndicated detective show..

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. But in 1960 and 1961, what happened in the resort playground of Paradise Valley aired on syndicated TV.  

At least that was the case when the recently razed Mountain Shadows Resort was used as the background for a short-lived – and now virtually forgotten – syndicated TV crime drama called The Brothers Brannagan, about a pair of sibling private eyes who ran around the luxurious property keeping the guests and citizens safe. Filmed on location in the Valley and featuring the Mountain Shadows Resort sign in every episode, the show was a Dragnet-era Simon & Simon, with Phoenix standing in for San Diego.

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Location, Location, Location

0614PHMPF27The Brothers Brannagan wasn’t the only face time Phoenix had on the boob tube. Here are a few other shows set in the city.

Alice (CBS, 1976-1985): A show about a widowed waitress, shot in California but set at the real (and still open) Mel’s Diner on Grand Avenue.

Medium (NBC/CBS, 2005-2011): Patricia Arquette starred as real-life psychic Allison DuBois, whose character on the show was employed as a consultant for the district attorney’s office in Phoenix.

American Body Shop (Comedy Central, 2007): This improvised comedy show about an accident-prone crew at a dysfunctional auto body shop in Phoenix was canceled after one season.

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Hot Springs Eternal

0614PHMLL01A history of healing waters and prominent patrons lingers among aging palm trees and deserted buildings at Castle Hot Springs Resort near Prescott. Described as “an island of lush green, placid in its surroundings of ranches and gold mine properties, a spot where one can ‘listen to quiet,’” by writer Margaret Dudley Thomas in a 1974 issue of Arizona Highways, the resort’s rugged beauty is recalled in this photo (circa late 1960s) furnished by the Arizona Historical Society.

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The Italian Job

PHMLL01Forty years ago, Phoenix was transforming from a sleepy desert town into a full-fledged city. Shopping malls sprang up like crabgrass. Construction on Papago Freeway began. City-dwellers fled to the suburbs. Everything was in flux, including two Italians who would change the Phoenix food scene, bringing a big taste of Little Italy and big personalities to match.

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Towering Legacy

PHM 500x500 FPOThe new air traffic control tower that soared over Terminal 1 became an immediate architectural landmark when it opened in 1952. The cylindrical tower was composed of underground fuel storage tanks that had been welded together, and topped with a stylish, art deco control cab equipped with the latest communication technology. The tower’s appearance was even lauded by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, though the building did have its shortcomings. “As beautiful as the tower was, the structure lacked such amenities as a restroom and an elevator, which made going for snacks and toilet breaks a real adventure,” Operations Assistant Michael D. Jones says.

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Terminated Terminal

PHM 500x500 FPODefunct since 1991, Terminal 1 lifted Sky Harbor Airport into the modern aviation era as a dining and entertainment destination during air travel’s golden age.

The 100,000 passengers that pass through Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on a typical day are to be excused if they think the city is mathematically challenged. Terminals 2, 3, and 4 teem with flight activity, but Terminal 1 is mysteriously nonexistent. Having ushered modern airline travel into Phoenix when it opened in 1952, the facility formerly known as Terminal 1 was razed in 1991 after 38 years of service. Subsequently, the name “Terminal 1” was retired, causing the odd numbering scheme.

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