Friday, August 23, 2013

Thanks For The Memor -Oh, Never Mind

It's weird being fifty-two years old and walking around Tanglewood Mall these days. Specifically, the mall brings back great memories, but now it's like walking through a ghost town.

I fully understand that things have to change over time. The question is, does anyone recall that shopping malls were more than places to shop? Pardon me for sounding like a codger, but back in the day Tanglewood had a huge amount to offer. Nowadays it seems that one of the main attractions is Miller-Motte College. Have you ever tried going into Miller-Motte to buy a pair of socks? Me, either. What's a college doing in a shopping mall anyway, asks the Old Codger.

This evening I decided to take a walk-through to remember what can only be considered the "Golden Era" of the mall. And, in typical Old Codger fashion, I can tell you that for two dollars (in 1977) one could grab a small loaf of bread and a Coke from Martha's Vineyard and challenge one's friend to a couple of bloodthirsty games of air hockey at Time Out Family Amusement Center. (Thanks, Mark Overacker, for being patient with us. I'll slip you that twenty later.)

Think about that for a minute. Nowadays, that two dollars would translate to eight, and just about the only thing you could buy at the mall would be some wings at the Chick-fil-A. "In my day", muses the Old Codger, "there were so many more things to do on a weekday afternoon there before going home to do trig homework. Music Land -a wonderful music store assistant-piloted by good friend and fellow codger Chuck Knapp- always had the best tunes oozing from its entrance, as though taunting you for spending your money on bread and Coke instead of a nice ZZ Top LP.

I dunno. I miss being able to buy model kits at Woolco. I also miss getting the occasional Orange Julius on the way out. Or, for that matter, being fired from my first job -Pappy's Family Restaurant- for being incapable of remembering the approximately four thousand thirty-two different ways to make a hamburger. Heck, I'll admit it -I miss their pizza. If you ever get fired from a job, make sure it's a pizza place. The comfort food is right there.

Does anyone remember that JC Penney once had a candy counter? A good friend of mine and I once bought and ate one pound each of a marshmallow confectionery shaped like goobers and called "circus peanuts". That experience introduced me to post-traumatic stress disorder as we each tried in vain to purge ourselves of the hideous orange-flavored tooth-rotter. That we didn't cash in due to reactive hypoglycemia is a testimony to our youth. From that day forward I was a loyal Raisinette man.

For some reason I can even remember the floor in the mall. Oak parquet. You'll understand if I wanted to get a game of basketball going outside of Spencer Gifts. Speaking of which, my generation owes the world an abject apology for mood rings and pet rocks. Seriously, if I had known you wanted one, I'd have dug one up in the back yard, painted some eyes on it, and sold it you for two dollars (Martha's Vineyard bread loaves didn't come cheap).

Great memories are wonderful things to share, but it's time for me to climb out of my rocking chair. The postal carrier is here with the Space Food Sticks I ordered from, and Adam-12 comes on in five minutes.

I hope you'll share some of your favorite memories from the mall. Who knows? Maybe one day we consumers can encourage some new life in the old gal.

I'll meet you in front of the Hippodrome.



  1. Gosh, I sometimes allow myself to feel older, and wouldn't change it for the world and it seems you wouldn't change your maturity (using the term lightly LOL) either you old codger.

    I don't have a lot of memories of Tanglewood Mall, but do remember walking through the field that was there before it was built to get to grandma's house in the city. It was a long walk from Starkey road!

    I do remember Spencer Gifts and loved lava lamps and black lights and looking through the posters in the back. Ahhhh, and the Leather Hous (did it have an 'e'?) with that wonderful combo smell of leather and incense! We all knew what was upstairs and hoped no one would see us ascend the stairs, unless they were going there too! It was the 70's, which followed the 60's of course! We were the next hippies and had the long hair and worn out jeans to prove it even if we weren't flower children per se' but thanks for paving the way! I didn't understand much of 'The French Quarter' and maybe because the Leather Hous took its toll. ;) They built the French Quarter later, so I'm not sure us 'originals' really cared anyway; we didn't go for a lot of new. We liked familiar.

    1. Papp's Pizza -mm I can still taste how good that pizza was. Martha's Vineyard for bead -fresh out of the oven and waiting for you right as you walked through the doorway. I never bought anything from Leather Haus, but I knew a lot of folk who did. Mainly, I loved the uniqueness of the French Quarter. It sure beat the 80s renovation when Tanglewood lost all sense of identity.

  2. I do remember Time Out and mostly hung at the pinball machines because I was good at that! I loved the long ramps and the 'electronicness' of it (okay, so 'new' pinball machines are cool), even though it cost more compared to the 7-11 on Colonial that had the 'Star' machine and on which you could win many free games and hang for hours. When you shot the ball up the middle, it would continue up each hole and keep racking up points! Speaking of 'racking' I bet Overaker remembers that machine too! I know Todd does. ;)

    I did used to work at G. C. Murphy's though putting big wheels together (the best part being placing the stickers strategically) after what I guess you would call graduating from the diner. (What a great little diner it had!) I did get confused though when the colorful customers (in all due respect) would ask what kind of soda we had and replied as vanilla, chocolate and strawberry until I finally caught on and realized it meant soft drinks!

    When the store closed, I reluctantly adopted one of the gerbils because he was soon to be homeless. Of course I named him Murphy and knew he would bite anything in his sight when I got him. I used to put a box in his cage and get him to enter so that I could get him out in order to change the cedar chips weekly. My dad really got mad when he ran on his wheel in the middle of the night (not as mad as when my wind up alarm clock went off one time in the middle of the night and it only took once -- time to buy a clock radio!), but Murphy couldn't help it; that's what rodents do! At least he didn't end up like the alarm clock! One time he got out and got his tail caught in the closet door as I chased him and after caught (most certainly in a box!), my dad took the butcher knife (which I still have btw -- there was only one in the house of course) and cut off the sideways part that was bleeding. It scared me to death and I may have cried but only a little because my parents were always my heroes and I trusted them with everything I was or ever hoped to be.

    1. I don't think that rodents have very many nerves in their tails, so my guess is that Murphy was more frightened than anything else. I think it's great that you adopted him! Gerbils are hilarious and when they run at night (along with hamsters) on their wheels you can only smile!

  3. I totally enjoyed the regulars in the diner which mostly, well entirely, consisted of the security guards (which is now referred to as mall cops for you youngins), oh and one delightful man who went by the name Hoppy (I think his last name may have been Hopkins), who worked at Davidson's. When serving each of them their 20 cent cup of never ending coffee, I thoroughly enjoyed getting the twenty-five cents tip to compensate minimum wage of $2.30/hour and I was elated to figure my hourly rate including tips at one time of $4.10! I think that was around Christmas time and after learning what 'soda' meant, regardless of what was described on the menu. I was a very 'exact' type of person, after all, I learned from Cave Spring's school system where they would deduct 10 points on a test if you didn't put your name in the exact top right corner, even though they knew whose paper it was! It was all about following the rules! God bless them all! I'm better for it today! I suppose, or just maybe somewhat more obnoxious!

    Speaking of Christmas, I also thoroughly enjoyed setting up the front display windows and the sidewalk sales! I sold three jukeboxes in one day and those things were really cool ('sick' for you youngins) with flashing lights! It's very cool when G. C. Murphy's has 'stuff' that may have also been found in Spencer Gifts! It wasn't a commission job and after all, I was only 16 so I'm not sure I even knew what commission was and apparently the store knew that as well! It could be loaded with 300 of the owner's 45 rpm records and [still] cost around $300. I guess that could be considered a 'big CD' as referred to by one of my best friend's grandsons when seeing a 33 1/3rd rpm record. Ahh, the good ol' days to hear the crackling and popping through my Sony turntable and Technics Amp! I visited a friend the other night, who by the way is several years older than me, and he played music through his computer, and when I complained about Enya (I'm spoiled), he put on Zeppelin, and it still came across as elevator music in its digital sense, which is hard to believe, but I was Jonesin' so much I had to come home and actually play the 33 1/3rd on my component system. I'm sure there is a physics reason for the additional 1/3rd, but it sure is harder to type!

  4. My uncle used to have 78 rpm records that were as thick as pancakes and as dense as lead (but not quite as heavy). My cousins and I used to wear out the song 'Sea Cruise' because it was about the only one worth listening to. ;) What's funny is I sang that song in 'Just Duet' in my recent years and it was one of my favorites!

    I'm no writer Rob, so please feel free to rewrite this and make it funny! I'm sure there's much humor here; I just don't know how to extract it! Oh, and you may want to consider limiting the number of characters a comment can be. LOL! Oh, after hitting the publish button, there is a max of 4,096 and I'm not counting these, so I'm breaking it down in uncounted sections consecutively, so please hang with me, but by the time you read this, you will have already, I hope.

    Thanks for another Final Blog! You should be given Ben Beagle's job, but I guess you'd have to buy a station wagon and find a driver. ;)

    With love,

    1. Ben Beagle was one of the better humor columnists I've ever read. Do you remember his dogs? First he had "Faithful Dog Arthur". Later it was "Faithful Dog Max". Both of them were Boxers -a perfect breed for a humor columnist!

  5. Wow! That was a lot of rambling! Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it. ;) I even made it through figuring out those two words that are blurry and smooshed together, etc. that you have to type in order to let the system to know that I'm for real! Yes, like Joe Dirt, I'm for real!

    Take care my friend and hope to see ya' soon!