The other day my wife and I went out to find a present for our daughters birthday. We went to a local mall that had a Burlington Coat Factory. I knew this mall had some stores closed and it only has a few anchor stores left. We didn’t find anything there so we stopped at Sears. As she was looking for a coat I wondered, like I usually do, to the electronics department which just so happens to be near the entrance to the mall. I walked out there and just stood there in awe. The place was so empty I could hear someone walking at the other end, and this is no small mall.

My mind in shock, instantly went back to my childhood years when this mall was the place to be. With the big arcade on the first floor and the smaller on the second, there were plenty of games to spend my money. Whether it was honing my skills at Galaga or setting world records on Track & Field, by far the arcade was my number one spot. The movie theater along with the toy stores. Let’s not forget on Christmas! I remember getting separated from my mom because I wanted to go and touch Rudolph’s nose and have it light up as he said “Merry Christmas” to me. The pageantry of the holiday with the train rides, huge snow flakes hanging from the ceiling and that great tree. I remember throwing pennies in the water fountains, hoping for my wishes to come true. I love the little quarter rides near the arcade. The stage was full of entertainers come the holidays. And on Saturdays, this was where the teens hung out. Let’s not forget Hot Dog on a Stick or Camelot’s Music Store, where you could get all the latest and hottest tapes…yes cassette tapes (Cd’s did come later). Looking over the railings on the second floor and viewing a sea of people doing their thing at the mall.

Then growing up the “mall” was the spot. “Mom a few of us are going to the mall” all we wanted to do was hang out and see how many phone numbers we could get on a Saturday.

But, nothing seems to last forever. Young people began acting crazy and fighting was becoming normal. Security had to be beefed up and with that some shoppers left to plant their seeds at the newer malls going up in deeper suburbs. Soon the mall looked like a inside strip mall. The anchor stores began leaving one by one and there were more kiosks open than actual stores. There was even talk of the mall being closed sometime ago, but for whatever reason, that didn’t happen, but in looking at it…it should have been.

So there I stood remembering all the good times in this mall as I walked around. It was a part of my life, even if a small part. When I was a teenager, we didn’t chat in cyberspace or text all of our friends…we actually went to a space to chat…it was the mall…usually over Sbarro’s pizza.

I must say part of me was actually hurting to see the place as you will see in the pictures. I also feel that way about Cleveland as well. So much of what was alive here is dead. And part of that death includes the memories shared with the people and the buildings that are no longer here.

They say every good thing must come to an end…I’m just sorry it ended this way.

until then…

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