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A piece of my childhood about to be removed from the planet...


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#1 dauber

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 01:37 PM

Kind of going along with nosweargamer's post about Sears...a place that brings back fond childhood memories for me is not just closed (it's been closed for a couple of years) but is now on the verge of a judge-ordered demolition: Lincoln Mall in Matteson, IL.

 I lived in Bourbonnais, Illinois when I was a little kid. We didn't have a mall back then (there is now one in neighboring Bradley), so my familly -- my parents, my ten-years-older brother, and I -- would take a trip to Lincoln Mall every month. It was about a half-hour drive. That was the nearest place to shop other than the mediocre Meadowview Shopping Center in Kankakee. I'd always be excited to go. Usually on the way there we'd stop at Frank's Nursery & Crafts, a store my mother loved. While she was in there, my dad and my brother and I would often just sit in the car waiting listening to the radio (usually a baseball game, as my dad and brother are both big baseball fans), or my brother would check out Ortigara's Musicville in the same strip. After that we'd go to the mall. Maybe a trip to Venture would sneak in either before or after the mall. (Those of you not in the know, Venture was basically a store along the lines of Target but more rustic, I guess.) My brother would venture off on his own or maybe stick with my dad and me, and my mom would check out clothing stores and such. Usually we'd go to Record Bar, maybe one of three book stores in the mall (as predicatble -- B. Dalton and Waldenbooks, sometimes the much larger Kroch's and Brentano's, and usually my mom would join us for that), basically stuff that wouldn't bore us. I remember there was a weird novelty place called Joker's Wild, which sold a bunch monster masks and had one of those crazy mirror thingies. My dad and I would share a box of popcorn from KarmelKorn. There was no food court at the time - all the food joints were spread apart. My dad and I would usually have lunch at the McDonald's there. Three things I remember about that McDonald's: 1) the burgers were actually pretty good there, unlike at most other McDonald's locations; 2) in the middle of the menu above the counter there was a second-hand one-minute timer with a sign saying that your order would be ready for you by the time the second hand made a full circle -- and damned if we didn't always get our order in under a minute!; and 3) it was the place where the flavor of onion first made me throw up (they forgot to leave off the chopped onion; I always found the flavor of onions disgusting).

 

And of course there were other common mall stores in that mall -- Stride Rite, Chess King, Wicks'n'Sticks, the Baldwin piano/organ store (and there was always, ALWAYS, a fat guy in a suit demoing one of the organs at full blast; not the same fat guy every time, either!)...oh, but no Orange Julius. Instead there was a competing business called Orange Bowl. Record Bar eventually became a Musicland (a Sam Goody-owned store). The anchor stores in its heyday were Carson Pirie Scott & Company, J.C. Penney, Montgomery Ward (closed in the late '90s I think), and Wieboldt's (closed in the late '80s; don't remember what - if anything - replaced it in the mall....maybe a Sears?? I know there was a Sears when the mall closed but I don't know whether it was Wieboldt's replacement.)

Sometimes we'd go into the Montgomery Ward. I remember they had a Commodore VIC-20 out on display with a little sign with a very, uhh...basic BASIC program you could type in. Eventually the Vic-20 was replaced with a C-64. (Wow...I'm a programmer for a living now, and it all started with the Commodore demo models at Montgomery Ward in the early '80s!) If you exited Montgomery Ward on the lower level and turned to the right, there was...well, here's the story.

One time when I was a REALLY little kid...maybe about five years old...we went into this place my brother loved called LeMans Speedway. I don't remember much about it, but I remember it had a lot of pinball machines. Next time I went to that place it was shortly after I first discovered Pac-Man and other video games. LeMans Speedway was now called Bally's Aladdin's Castle. And so began the tradition of my dad giving me a dollar for video games. Man, I was a bratty kid...sometimes I'd cry when my last token was gone. (Once when my dad wasn't looking, when I spent my last token on a Donkey Kong game that didn't last long, I claimed that it ate my token. My dad tracked down a worker, who would open the coin box and trigger a credit for me, so I got a fifth game that day!) Once in a while my dad would claim one of the tokens and we'd play a two-player Ms. Pac-Man. Some of the popular machines had a second monitor attached and placed on top of the cabinets so that others could watch the game in progress. There was a video jukebox. Many remember the bumper cars, but I don't; where the bumper cars were was a room full of primarily cocktail tables, and years later the cocktail tables were gone and replaced with NeoGeo cabinets.

 

This Aladdin's Castle was a magical place for a kid like me. What I remember most is the smell of burning circuits. I only encountered that aroma in two places: there, and YesterCades of Red Bank. I also remember the oddly-shaped tokens. It was at this Aladdin's Castle where I first saw Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Man & Chomp-Chomp (dead serious about that, too), Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man, Baby Pac-Man, Professor Suck-Man, and Pac-Land. Man, what a great place. My dollar, sadly, never lasted too long, and my dad wouldn't give in to my pleading for even just one more quarter, but if I saw a stray token on the floor or if my brother had any extras he didn't want to use, I was allowed to use 'em.

Lincoln Mall was also where I met The Lone Ranger. Thanks to some Google searching and finding a blog post complete with a photograph from the event, I now know that it was in August 1979, just a couple of months shy of my fifth birthday. We took our monthly trip to Lincoln Mall, planned around the fact that The Lone Ranger would be there. Well...I had zero freakin' clue who this "Lone Ranger" guy was, but my parents made a huge deal about how I have to meet him. So anyhoo...my mother wandered off to the stores she usually checked out, while my dad and I got in line to meet The Lone Ranger. Right before we get to his table, my dad bent over and told me, "Be sure you tell him, 'I see you on TV!'" Now, inside my mind, I'm thinking, "Wait, this guy is on TV?? Huh. Well, whatever you say, dad!" But when we got to his table, I did exactly what my dad told me and said, "I see you on TV." The Lone Ranger responded; I don't remember what he said, but I'm certain it was very friendly. And he gave me an autographed picture. And that was that.

Years later -- I think I was in college -- I was cleaning out a junk drawer in my dresser, and I found a couple of autographed pictures. One was from this guy named Eric Jackson, a Michael Jackson impersonator who appeared at The Carriage Lane Mall in Kankakee some time around 1984, 1985-ish. I have no idea why I stood in line for his autograph, so I tossed the autograph. The other was the Lone Ranger pic. I remember thinking, "Ahh, yes, I remember that day when I stood in line to meet the guy in the Lone Ranger getup." The picture was signed "The Lone Ranger." No other information there. No contact info for his agency of record or anything, so of course, there's no way this was the real Clayton Moore. So the picture went in the garbage. Ahh....except...remember that blog post? Well...that blog post told me what an idiot I am, basically: I threw out a genuine Clayton Moore-autographed picture of Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger, whom I met in August 1979 at the Lincoln Mall. D'OH!!!! (To this day I haven't told my parents that I threw it out.) And now I live practically next door to Nicholas Senn High School -- where Clayton Moore was educated. So every time I take my dog out to poop, there's that constant reminder of what a boob I was!

But anyhoo...

Had some good times at Lincoln Mall. I remember some time in the '90s a couple of friends wanted me to join them there just to hang out, so after work I headed over there. In the space that once was Bally's Aladdin's Castle was now just an unnamed space, much smaller than Aladdin's Castle was in its heyday, that had a row of games on the left, and a row of games on the right; all modern stuff, no classics. It was sad seeing what it had become.

My wife is from New Jersey, so I told her about the mall closing and of course stories of my adventures there. We traded stories of our childhood malls being closed. Yeah, I'm a big supporter of stores going back to the downtowns, but man, this is still sad. I lived in New Jersey from late 1998 until spring of 2006, when I moved to Chicago. Shortly after that move I took a drive over to Lincoln Mall...I got there too late -- it had closed for the day -- but I could tell it was a tragic shell of what it once was.

Chris Rock once said that everywhere you go, there are two malls: the mall white people go to, and the mall white people *used to* go to. The former mall was Orland Square in not-too-far-away Orland Park. It always was a more attractive mall, but it had no arcade. And, sure enough, Orland Square is still going strong to this day, but sadly, it's no different from any other mall: a few anchor stores, and clothing stores for teenagers who want to be hip.

I'm sure everything I typed is a common story with people my age. (Except maybe the Clayton Moore story...but let's face it: Jay Thomas has a MUCH better Clayton Moore story!) But still...just wanted to get this out.


Edited by dauber, 08 May 2017 - 04:23 PM.

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Supernatural, perhaps...baloney, perhaps not.


#2 RickR

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 02:06 PM

Great memories.  You know, i got my VIC-20 from Monkey Wards!  I probably got hooked on that same display here in Portland,  The Montgomery Ward's that I got it from is now a Target, and I sometimes feel the ghosts of MW when shopping there. 


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#3 Rowsdower70

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 04:40 PM

The mall of my childhood is a bed of crime now, and it used to be the hangout for local kids for miles around.   I really think mall culture is simply dying.   In a world where we can shop online for most goods, and everyone is connected electronically at all times, the mall just doesn't fit in like it used to. 
Literally the only reason I go to mine is Second and Charles, and they're pretty sketchy themselves.

You're right though, I have tons of memories from our local mall.


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#4 RickR

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 04:47 PM

Most of the smaller malls here are dead now, but we have two large malls that are still thriving. 

 

The mall closest to us is also one that I went to a LOT as a kid, and I'm very happy that it's still there and great.  One bad thing though....they used to have some really cool totem poles in the center of the mall.  Two of them...probably 30 feet tall and just inspiring to see.  But they took them out probably 10 - 15 years ago during a renovation.  It's always sad to think about.  Reminds me of how they covered up (and then destroyed) a Mary Blair tile mural at Disneyland....just a tremendous loss of priceless art. 

 

Here's a picture of one of the totems and an article about them:

 

118582109130930200.jpg

 

http://portlandtribu...rticle?id=90022


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#5 kamakazi20012

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 08:17 AM

Man I can totally relate to the loss of a physical structure where childhood memories were made. My hometown still has a mall that use to be called Ozark Mall but is now called The Fashion Center. It still has a J.C. Penny's that I am aware of but the Magic Mart that use to be next door to it was a Goody's the last time I was there. That mall was home to the Twin Cinema where I watched TRON, E.T., and other movies. It also had the first arcades to come to there called King Koin and Monkeyshines. Magic Mart is where I spent my first paycheck on a 2600 JR and one game and Penny's is where I would pick up my pre-ordered Dreamcast and game.

Good memories there but my favorite memories come from all of the visits to Springfield, MO.
Again most of the stores we visited in the mall and around it are no more. But at least the buildings are there being used. Venture is one store I definitely remember...they had a better 2600 kiosk than Wal-Mart did. it as usually crowded, too. and the smell...Venture, while it didn't stink, always had this smell that was distinctive. This was where some of my 5200 games would come from.

The Battlefield Mall would be where I would visit any toy and electronic stores in search of games and systems. Up until I turned 18 Mom and I would visit here often and she would help feed my video gaming habits when she could. My Dad's side of the family would take me here as well usually around the holidays. This is where I would find the Atari 7800 and many of the NES games I once had.

Just like the stores, however, the family members that would take me to these places I no longer have. If time travel were possible it would be to relive those moments again whether I got anything or not. Just to see, hear, and feel their touch again would mean more to me. That is what video games have me with...great memories that live on.

#6 Atari Adventure Square

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 11:05 PM

Lotsa cool memories.

 

In particular, thinking back on those mall arcades years, the scent of burning circuits as dauber mentioned was also unforgettable to me and forever linked to those moments walking into a roomful of pixelated discoveries.

 

I remember trying to describe it to people years later and stopping halfway as trying to explain the nostalgia contained within those lost aromas was nearly impossible.

Kind of a 'you had to be there' thing.

And I do believe we were glad we were.


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#7 RickR

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 11:32 PM

Anyone else always get shooed away from touching anything at the mall electronic organ store?  Gee whiz, how do they expect a 10 year old to know if he's a natural organ player?  Every once in a while, I see one of these beauties in a thrift store and always look around for a snooty salesman before I hurry over and flip all the switches!

 

 

2012-07-23-BarryShop01.jpg


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#8 kamakazi20012

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 08:56 AM

Anyone else always get shooed away from touching anything at the mall electronic organ store?  Gee whiz, how do they expect a 10 year old to know if he's a natural organ player?  Every once in a while, I see one of these beauties in a thrift store and always look around for a snooty salesman before I hurry over and flip all the switches!

 

 

2012-07-23-BarryShop01.jpg

Never seen an organ shop but seen keyboard shops similar to this.  And, yes, kids were never allowed to touch even when a parent was present.  At 10 years old I was already a keyboard player having been taught by my grandmother.  Which is probably the main reason why I don't like Baldwin/Roland keys come to think of it.  The Yamaha store across the street from the mall encouraged me to play.  Huge difference.


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#9 Keatah

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 09:07 PM

2 of the malls of my childhood are still around and flourishing. The arcade/mall where I met the wife has long been abandoned. The Toys'R'Us I grew up with was still there as of last year, and while the Venture is long gone, another department store took its place. So it isn't all that bad in my area.

 

What I do miss are the hobby shops with model rockets and remote control cars - those were loads of fun!


Edited by Keatah, 25 April 2017 - 09:20 PM.

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#10 dauber

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 10:53 AM

Aaaaand....demolition of Lincoln Mall has begun. :(

 

lmbb.jpg


Supernatural, perhaps...baloney, perhaps not.


#11 Justin

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 05:53 PM

This is a sad day 






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