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I am making my annual Thanksgiving plans, which almost always involve Arizona, no matter where I actually live.  There’s nothing like The Valley of the Sun in the winter. While astronomically speaking winter won’t arrive for almost another month, Thanksgiving, to me is part of winter.

Perusing my now, rather large postcard collection, I came across this post from “The Davenports” to Milt Nickols.

“Hi Milt – Some of the boys here were asking about you so thought I’d better let you know you aren’t forgotten in The Valley of The Sun. Staying at Valley Garden Trailer Park. Very nice – leaving 11/9/53 for Florida – The Davenports”

This card is postmarked November 3, 1953.  I am writing this on November 3rd. On the postcard, the sun is shining the sky is blue, the Jokake bell towers are white, with bright umbrellas and flowers in the foreground.  What could be more Valley of the Sun than umbrellas, blue skies and flowers in November? I am sure a reader is a car aficionado and can identify the fabulous woody in front of the hotel.

When I write these posts, I search old newspapers on the date of the post mark. This postcard led me to the Salad Bowl, which I think would make a good restaurant name.

This Salad Bowl, an actual football game, not the type passed around the dinner table.  This football game was played in Phoenix, and appears to be the precursor to the Fiesta Bowl.  The football game was played at Montgomery Stadium at Union High School, which makes me smile. While many references say the Salad Bowl ended in 1952, I found an article in the Arizona Republic, dated December 23, 1953 which talks about the Salad Bowl. Other than wit and irony, there appears to be no specific reason for the name.

I found reference to The Salad Bowl, in connection with the Jokake Inn. According to that article, every team hosted by the Jokake Inn won, except for 1952.

My family moved to Calle del Sud, just south of the Jokake Inn, off Jokake Road in the early 1970’s. Such a long time ago.  I remember the Jokake Inn bell towers being a terra cotta color. I am curious if this postcard was colored differently from the actual colors, or, if at some time the towers were actually white. In any case, I find the old hotel so quintessentially Phoenix.  Spanish and Hopi influence, seen through the lens of an artist.

The name is Hopi “tsöqaki”, which means mud house, aka adobe. As I write these Love Letters, I find the same names over and over. I find the architects, innkeepers, guests and an explosion of creativity, arts, culture. entreprenuers and newness. It’s that “otherness” that I find in Arizona. I feel like people knew Arizona was special and different and were so excited to be there. Didn’t matter if they were there for a football game, or a horseback ride, or the cowboy experience, or the sunshine, it was all exciting.

And so, I am planning the Thanksgiving trip to Phoenix, where mesquite fires scent the air. Where stars shimmer so brightly, clearly, glittering in the cold skies. Where the cold is different, where cactus are decorated with Christmas lights, where the mountains are stark against the sky.

Happy Thanksgiving, no matter what kind of Salad Bowl you will enjoy!



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