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The postcard starts: “Dear Vera:  Should have sent you my address before but as usual, I’m delinquent.”

The beautiful Jokake Inn. I spent the middle part of my childhood, into adulthood two blocks from the Jokake Inn. It is such an odd thing to me – I never visited this hotel, despite the fact that it was within walking distance from our home, as in down the street. I wonder if we just thought it would always be there, or was it just part of our normal scenery?

I wonder now, how many wonderful places are all around us, every day, that we don’t fully appreciate. Somehow the distance of time makes a place seem different, more special. Perhaps I’ve been delinquent in visiting meaningful places, large and small.

In this case, I really did miss something special. I look at this card, from the chair in the foreground, the striped swing, bougainvillea, to the adobe and I imagine what it would have been like to walk here. Certainly, that feeling of walking down an adobe breezeway. In the summer, it would have been hot, hot, hot, but the shade would have been a respite. In the winter, it would have been magnificent – brisk, sunny and lovely.

You will notice that it is captioned Jokake Inn, near Phoenix, Arizona. Near Phoenix? When I was living there, this was pretty much the middle of Phoenix. And, now, it is certainly, the middle of Phoenix. This area became Phoenix in the 1950’s, ten years after this postcard was written. The general area was and is still known as Arcadia. Development started in the early 1900’s and continues today. The homes I knew as a child are being replaced by new designs. I miss the old ranch homes, with shake roofs, large lots and the ubiquitous orange trees. In the 1980’s the Jokake Inn was replaced by The Phoenician.

The card says:

“Jokake Inn – is a Winter Resort Hotel situated on the Desert, on the “sunny side” of Camel Back Mountain.”  “…ten miles from the center of Phoenix…”

I find the choice of capitalization interesting, as well as the use of the word “on”, as in “on the desert”, versus, the more current “in the desert”. Maybe the entire phrase to imply the resort, travel atmosphere of the time of being “on a ship”, or “on a train”? As in, an entire experience wrapped inside a human built architectural feature inside a remarkable natural environment?

The “sunny side” of “Camel Back Mountain”.  When I first read this, I thought good grief – everything in Phoenix is sunny – it is called the Valley of the Sun, for goodness sake! It is sunny 211 days, partly sunny 85, for a total of 296 sunny days a year!! How could there possibly, ever, be a “sunny side”. And then I remembered – in the winter, at this latitude, the sun makes its way across the southern sky, never directly reaching parts of the north side of Camelback Mountain. The northern slopes are shaded while the southern slopes experience shadows only from the clouds. Sun-worshipers on the south, shade seekers on the north.

What attracted me to this postcard?  The colors – always those Arizona colors, in this case, the buildings, the flowers, Camelback Mountain.

Happily, the iconic building in this postcard with the two bell towers is still stands, part of the Phoenician Resort. This trip, I am not going to be delinquent. I will, in fact, visit what’s left of the Jokake Inn. I plan to take a second look at the amazing and beautiful things around me before they are gone.


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