THIS was the mall near the area I grew up in
- mom's favorite place to pretend she was some mutant cross between a rich Jew and one of the Gabor Sisters.
What a great place it was
to show off the weekly washed Corvette and the three-tiered Cocktail rings.
A wonderland of high-priced furnishings, electronics,
make-up islands, plated jewelry and 70's fashion that would taunt you to push any credit card to the melting point,
and put matching sets of anything Polyester on lay-away that no functional home actually need.
Gosh, I can't figure for the life of me how this mall went out of business with housewives like ma'mah
dotting the rolling hills of an eccentrically tacky, upper middle class within the immediate 5-mile radius.
While CedarBrook Mall was in it's hay day and I still wore snagged white leotards jammed into scuffed saddle-shoes,
I was dragged there more often than most Shakers kid's see church.
In that freakish frequency,
I got to witness the rather fast deterioration it suffered in the ten short years I was actually paying attention...
Where once, the mall (and all it's circus-esk kiosks) had fantastic lighting that Vegas would be proud of,
someone or something was turning the lights out
one store at a time,
one floor at a time...
then the entire lower lot went into disrepair -
tall weeds took over every crack in the blacktop starting from the top of the ramp
and down, blending nicely with the surrounding woods that threatened to monopolize this sunken hide-away
where no one even knew there was one last store unless you got lost,
or simply wanted alone time in your car with no intention of shopping.
Eventually, with only two main stores out of 20 left,
mall personnel didn't seem to think the main halls of the mall needed lighting anymore, either.
The ambiance was romantic at first, then just plain creepy.
Over time, shoplifting increased, one or two children went missing,
but the place was even too sinister looking for loitering teenagers.
Goth-kids would have appreciated it, had they been invented at the time.
Old men walking puppies began to spring up
and no one stopped them from entering with their eye-stained mutts,
or taking 10-minute, upright naps against those paint-bare quarter rides -
the lunging ponies and bouncing spaceships that should have been lightly linked
to Shaken Baby Syndrome but never were.
The stores that managed to keep the place running at its lowest point were down to discount houses
where you could buy anything as long as you didn't mind irregular sizes, missing stitches,
or crushed repackaging with so much tape
you could barely make out the picture of the appliance that was inside.
A two story, 3-parking level shopper's empire
turned into something of a dimly lit, sticky floored legal black market.
Products made to be sold in bulk
were opened and sold separately against the very visible warning label's sales restrictions.
Clothes shamelessly on the rack
that still bore stains of the last wearer's evening events as the merchandise was returned though uninspected.
Vinyl records missing their sleeves,
and record players missing their needles,
'Ma Bell' phones with ear prints and no curly wire in the box.
When all the Kiosks disappeared, the only thing lighting the main walking strip inside
was sun light through filthy stationary windows high, high above where pigeons occasionally sat on a ledge too narrow
to sleep on.
Elevator Muzak no longer played over the loud speaker.
And then people just stopped coming.
Jamesway and Radio Shack were the last stores I remember still being in business
when suddenly Toys R Us showed up and seemingly breathed a tiny spark of life back into the place.
it was time for me to learn how to drive.
Dad took me in the 84' Blue VW Super Beetle
to CedarBrook while things were still quietly shifting between death and resurrection.
I learned to drive manual stick fairly quickly but my lesson was interrupted by a bigger one.
Dad told me to drive towards the woods in the lower lot.
Following the ferns,
we came to a stop where a narrow beaten trail was starting.
He told me of a huge Tortoise that lived back in there somewhere.
Rumors at junior high school matched the story of this spray painted giant and I smiled
the way a midnight Scotsman might grin at a Hallucination across a famous lake.
I looked back at the mall, and then again into the woods.
I prayed every night for the rest of my life that Nature would be the End of that Mall.
Now, 29 years later,
I drive by on occasion and see the big warehouse in back of this reborn retail beast
called "Hair Town".
With a Fern as my witness,
Nature is my God.
...and now I wonder what the hell my original point of all this was supposed to be.