Scottsdale Had a Summer of Love

Scottsdale Had a Summer of Love

By Joan Fudala

This year, pop culture historians and many Baby Boomers are reflecting on and celebrating the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love,” a time when thousands of teens and young adults – “hippies” — congregated in the Haight-Ashbury (“Hashbury”) District of San Francisco and staged love-ins and be-ins at nearby Golden Gate Park.  

What was Scottsdale like during the summer of 1967, particularly for teens?  Take a look back, 50 years ago:

Scottsdale consisted of 65 square miles (compared to today’s 184 square miles) with a population of 62,000 (today, over 231,000). Bud Tims was mayor; Bill Jenkins, Leonard Johnson, Robert Jones, Doris McCauley, Ken Murray and John Senini served on the Scottsdale City Council. Bill Donaldson was city manager.

Nationally, Lyndon B. Johnson (“LBJ”) was president; Hubert H. Humphrey vice president. Jack Williams was governor of Arizona; Carl Hayden and Paul Fannin were Arizona’s U.S. senators; John Rhodes, Mo Udall and Sam Steiger were Arizona’s congressmen.

Scottsdale’s four public high schools — Scottsdale, Coronado, Arcadia and Saguaro – graduated 1,500 seniors on June 7.

The Scottsdale Daily Progress offered to run free classified ads for teens seeking work and for employers seeking teens for summer jobs. The Scottsdale Public Library, located in the Little Red Schoolhouse, employed several teens through the Youth Employment Program. Teens also spent the summer in volunteer jobs, such as Candystripers at Baptist Hospital of Scottsdale (now HonorHealth Osborn Campus) or serving on the police department’s Scottsdale Youth Patrol.

For teens and families on a tight budget, in early June the Bigburger at Papago Plaza advertised a hamburger sale: 35 cents each or three for a dollar.

The Scottsdale Daily Progress reported in its June 9 edition that the Coconino County Sheriff’s office was preparing for “the possible invasion of 20,000 to 50,000 hippies,” as they had received information that a “love-in” would be held in the national park from June 30 to July 4. Due to problems with the site, organizers canceled the gathering and opted for a San Francisco “be-in.”

In June, thousands of area teens attended a nine-day Teen-Age Fair at the Arizona State Fairgrounds, featuring a battle of the bands (rock and folk), dances, fashion shows, rides and fun. Engelbert Humperdinck headlined the event.

Also that month, members of the Scottsdale Lae-Tae Y-Teens held a fashion show in the St. Barnabas Parish Hall, modeling summer fashions like tent dresses, sleeveless shifts, sandals and white t-strap shoes.

For those more interested in hippie fashion and atmosphere, one could go to the Happy Unicorn Company on Scottsdale’s First Avenue (run by Apple, a self-described “flower child”) or The Liquid Giraffe at Seventh Street and Virginia in Phoenix. Mill Avenue near the ASU campus was also known as a “hippie haven.”

The municipal swimming pool can be seen in the center left in the photo, adjacent to Scottsdale Stadium. The pool was a popular place for teens. (Courtesy of Scottsdale Historical Society)

Dining and nightspots popular in summertime Scottsdale included Wild Bill’s (Scottsdale & Shea; now Handlebar J’s), Cavalliere’s Reata Pass, Trader Vic’s, Dale Anderson’s on Marshall Way, Lulubelle’s, Los Olivos (still open and thriving!), Pink Pony, Saguaro Steak House, JD’s on Scottsdale Road, Joe Hunt’s at Scottsdale Fashion Square, Paul Shank’s French Quarter at the Safari Hotel and Reuben’s (where Dolan Ellis performed), just to name a few.  

For cheap eats, Papago Lanes on Scottsdale Road advertised a 99-cent all-you-can-eat fish fry every Friday (and the same deal for chicken on Tuesdays), or the Plain & Fancy Smorgasbord at Papago Plaza, Ranch House Hamburgers, Guggy’s at Scottsdale Fashion Square and Morrisey’s Chicken Dinner House on Main Street.

Favorite hangouts for summer cool-offs:  the Sugar Bowl (also still open!), Lute’s Pharmacy soda fountain, A&W and Dairy Queen. In early August, the Scottsdale Boys Club held its annual snowball fight on the lawn of its Osborn Road clubhouse. Boys pelted each other with the quickly melting powder.

Unlike in previous years, most 1967 businesses stayed open during June, July and August. A few still closed: Paradise Inn, Ride n’ Rock Ranch, Jokake Inn, Casablanca Inn, Camelback Inn, Chez Louis, Gene’s Broiler and some shops.

Teens enjoyed movies at Scottsdale’s drive-in, The Round-up, on Thomas Road.  They also took their dates to the Kachina Theatre on Scottsdale Road (where the Galleria Corporate Centre now stands).  Among the summer’s blockbusters: Hawaii and You Only Live Twice.

Scottsdale’s municipal pool was a huge summer draw, located where Civic Center Library parking garage now stands. Ask a teen of the era, and maybe they’ll admit to sneaking into one of the resort pools. A pool was under construction at the newly named Eldorado Park. The YMCA offered swim lessons in its “pool-mobile,” a water-filled trailer that the Y moved around town to elementary schools.

Teens flocked to Legend City; some even scored summer jobs at the former amusement park near Papago Park.

Phoenix Giants minor league baseball games at Phoenix Municipal Stadium was a popular nighttime draw. On July 15, the Scottsdale Charros treated 2,000 Scottsdale area Little Leaguers to the Giants vs. Tacoma Cubs game there.

Eighty-five Coronado, Scottsdale and Arcadia students practiced several days a week to stage Kiss Me, Kate in late July, directed by Coronado’s music director Eugene Hanson. Some 250 area teens participated in Sing Out Phoenix, staging performances with a message of “Moral Re-Armament.”  

Scottsdale celebrated the Fourth of July with a parade on Scottsdale road and fireworks at Scottsdale Stadium, sponsored by Post 44 of the American Legion.

Despite the heat, many new things enhanced the community. Scottsdale Municipal Airport opened on June 16, reviving aviation at what had been a World War II pilot training base (Thunderbird II Airfield) and launching a new economic engine for Scottsdale. At opening, the airport had a 4,800-foot runway and operated out of a trailer.

At its June 6 meeting, the Scottsdale City Council passed an ordinance establishing the Fine Arts Commission. Residents appointed to the new commission (artist Phil Curtis, artist/art patron Kax Herberger, artist Boris Bogdanovich, etc.) began cataloguing and further expanding the city’s art collection. Their efforts led to Scottsdale’s renowned public art program and laid the groundwork for building the center for the arts (which opened in 1975).

At that same June 6 council meeting, Scottsdale annexed land that included the McCormick’s cattle and horse ranch into the city.

Dickson Electronics consolidated its workforce from 20 buildings into a new facility and semi-conductor manufacturing plant on Thomas Road on June 9.

The Scottsdale City Council adopted the Eisner Master Plan on July 18.

In world news during the Summer of Love, Expo ’67, a world’s fair, opened in Montreal; China exploded its first H-bomb; a six-day war took place in the Middle East, and President Johnson lifted the bombing ban on North Vietnam. Racially motivated rioting occurred in many U.S. cities.

If there were “be-ins” or “love-ins” in Scottsdale, news of them was not found in the archives of the Scottsdale Daily Progress or The Arizona Republic. The newspapers, however, were full of advice to parents of teens who had adopted the “hippie attitude” and manner of dress. Columnists told parents to be patient, that having long hair, going barefoot and wearing outlandish clothes was just a phase. Many watched an hour-long Harry Reasoner documentary in mid-July that took the respected reporter into the heart of Haight-Ashbury.

Hope you have your own memories of the 1967 “Summer of Love,” wherever you were.  Peace. Love. Harmony.