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ARIZONA BORDER – 1956

Arizona border sign

This is “Mr. and Mrs. Bobbysocks.” What they did in 1956, I did this last week. I went to Arizona. Yes, in Phoenix. I was there performing slide shows at Taliesin West for journalists flown in from around the country to preview the brand-spankin’ new 2005 PT Cruiser Convertible by Chrysler. On the days off what were D-J (aka Tex), my producer, and I to do but run around looking for local time warps, treasures and leftovers from days past.

There were dozens of scenes and sightings. First of all, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West is out of this world. Hello! Being there is like being on another planet. Its Mother-Nature-meets-Modernism style looks like it could’ve been built in 1950 or 2050.

We saw the ripe underbelly of Phoenix, heading east down the pre-freeway era main drag through town: Van Buren Avenue – used car lots, boarded up motels and sun baked neon signs. As I was recuperating from two spectacular sightings (the Log Cabin Motel where each room was just that, a charming little log cabin, and the cleverly named Jalopy Jungle used car lot), my eyes just about bugged out of my head. I’d spotted a gigantic vintage neon sign standing oh-so proud and freshly painted in the distance. The blazing neon and Old West font spelled Bill Johnson’s Big Apple Restaurant. I pulled up, we got out of the car and stood there in awe. It was a GOD BLESS AMERICANA moment.

Turns out it’s a total classic and AMAZING 1956 old Western roadhouse restaurant. Inside and out it’s a total emersion themed environment. Western all, and I do mean, all the way. The waitresses who have all been there a while wear a gun and holster. And on the menu BBQ! They even sell their own bottled BBQ sauce. And mmm mmm mmm is it good!

In Old Town Scottsdale at the Sugar Bowl, an old-fashioned 1958 Victorian themed ice cream parlor, Tex slurped an ice cream soda while I enjoyed the more sensible fruit bowl served with a most delicious half a date nut bread and cream cheese sandwich – a taste treat sensation that I’ve haven’t experienced since my mother’s one and only Tupperware party in 1973 when I was ten.

Later, just a few doors down Scottsdale Road, we were taken to dinner at The Pink Pony, a baseball memorabilia filled steak house serving since 1952. Walking in the door I tried to keep my involuntary gasps to my self as I spotted the various vintage pink pony artworks that stood out against the black Naugahyde curved booths lining the room. Perusing the menu the chef salad sang out to me so I ordered it. Against the advice of our dinner mate, a local, but not the waitress who said “Oh it’s good, it’s fresh!” Tex ordered the swordfish. As I enjoyed the processed meats and cheeses, served julienned of course, Tex said: “Do you think this fish is bad” I thought “Bad fish at the Pink Pony? Noooooo, let me taste it.” GAG, YUK, it was rancid!!! Never order fish in a steak house!

GOD BLESS AMERICANA and ARIZONAIANA