Friday, April 23, 2010

Will You Still Feed Me When I'm Sixty-Four?

Holiday Village - 8, 2010

This is apparently some people’s idea of an idyllic slice of retirement heaven. These are the kinds of sights you expect to see in a place like Tempe, Arizona, one of the Phoenix suburbs that seems to be a Mecca for retirees and snowbirds.

I’m told there are retirement communities in Florida that are very clearly segregated by where their residents used to live. As in, “The Detroit people live over in Waverly Pines. The Grand Rapids people live in Blue Seas Shores.” As best as I could tell, if you’re from Milwaukee, you want to be careful not to mistakenly land in the development where all the Pittsburgh people are.

I don’t know what the geographic arrangement is of people who’ve settled in Arizona. If you’re from Denver do you go to La Casa del Mirador Phase I or Phase II?

Holiday Village - 10, 2010

There are lots of New Yorkers, that’s for sure. And lots of people who’ve retired from the Upper Midwest to the Southwest in search of relief from respiratory conditions. There are lots of senior communities around the Phoenix area, and down the highway south of Phoenix and Tucson are all kinds of retirement communities seemingly stuck out in the middle of the proverbial nowhere.

I stumbled on the settlement shown in these pictures while killing some time before I was scheduled to interview managers at one of the biggest senior living communities in Tempe. From the street I thought it might be a cheery kind of place, what with all the palms, pastels and bright white trim.

Upon closer examination, it wasn’t nearly so cheery. To be sure, there are people who live here year-round in mobile homes and formerly mobile homes that have been fastened to the ground and gussied up with trim, attached porches, carports, patios and landscaping. I’m sure they’re an affable lot. There were freshly painted shuffleboard courts in some yards and card tables arranged under umbrellas and awnings. But I didn’t see many people. There’s a lovely pool area, too, but no one was using it or the comfortable lounge chairs around it.

I saw a few people riding bicycles, but they looked like they were doing obligatory exercises rather than popping out for a casual recreational spin.

Maybe everyone was at the nearby Village Inn restaurant, where a banner hung outside advertising a free slice of pie with every lunch served on Wednesdays. I have to admit that was a tempting offer. But I had interviews to do. So I got on about my business.

Holiday Village - 15, 2010


  1. Wonderful photos--they really do tell such a story. I often wonder if this is going to seem glamorous compared to where I might wind up one day!

    "Send me a postcard, drop me a line, stating point of view..."

  2. I don't know, it all looks very cheery to me too. But then blasting sunlight and clear blue sky and a semi-tropical look is always cheery to me! Sun, heat, instant mood elevator. And reading where people retire FROM, cold northern climes, grey wetness, blasting icy winds, my idea of hell is cold dark weather... so I think they are here for more than just respiratory reasons, but for their day in the sun...

    Maybe just because there weren't any people about right then doesnt mean they aren't happy there?