Memories 19: A Not Quite Public Space

WordPress is acting flaky on me again. This is the second time this week. I wrote quite a lot this morning and for some reason a large part of it disappeared in the edit window. When I went to the revisions screen and all of what I had written was there and the current version had more than was in the edit window. However, I couldn’t restore it because the restore button was grayed out. I went back to the edit window hoping that it was just some weird bug but it still had only the oddly truncated post. I went back to the revisions screen and just copied and pasted the text in a new post. Unfortunately, the two versions are mixed up now. I’m feeling grumpy and not in the mood to do the necessary tidying up of the text. However, I’ve posted every day since the first of the year and I have other things I need to do today, so I’m just going to post what I have. I don’t expect anyone to read it. When the headache goes away, I’ll clean it up, so come back later.

When writing down my memories, I try to travel back in time in my imagination and not only remember what occurred and how I perceived events at

the time. It is hard from the point of view of 2013 to convey the excitement generated in our town by the construction of the new Dee-Lux Park

only one town over. It’s hard to write about it without sarcasm today, but we were actually thrilled, and I mean thrilled, by the promise of a

brand, spanking new shopping mall. Luxury for the masses was what was on offer. Until then, we had two, very small shopping malls.

When writing down my memories, I try to travel back in time in my imagination and not only remember what occurred and how I perceived events at

the time. It is hard from the point of view of 2013 to convey the excitement generated in our town by the construction of the new Dee-Lux Park

only one town over. It’s hard to write about it without sarcasm today, but we were actually thrilled, and I mean thrilled, by the promise of a

brand, spanking new shopping mall. Luxury for the masses was what was on offer. Until then, we had two, very small shopping malls.
This was the late seventies, and shopping had already left the downtowns of large cities. Our town, a medium-sized town, certainly not a city, as

I’ve already described, had no real downtown. There were several shopping areas where a family could find stores catering to daily needs, a

grocery, a drugstore, gas station, and newsstand that sold candy and comics.         This was the late seventies, and shopping had already left

the downtowns of large cities. Our town, a medium-sized town, certainly not a city, as I’ve already described, had no real downtown. There were

several shopping areas where a family could find stores catering to daily needs, a grocery, a drugstore, gas station, and newsstand that sold

candy and comics.
The two existing shopping malls were located at either end of the economic spectrum. One, bare bones and unenclosed, was anchored by a large

discount store where we would go with our maternal grandmother. I remember in the beginning of the summer going there to pick up cheap flip-flops

that inevitably broke before school resumed in the fall. Like many of the items in the store, they were piled high in big bins.         The two

existing shopping malls were located at either end of the economic spectrum. One, bare bones and unenclosed, was anchored by a large discount

store where we would go with our maternal grandmother. I remember in the beginning of the summer going there to pick up cheap flip-flops that

inevitably broke before school resumed in the fall. Like many of the items in the store, they were piled high in big bins.
The other shopping mall, being enclosed, was warm in the winter and cool in the summer. At the center was a modernist fountain, geometric,

symmetric and hushed. Our paternal grandmother would take us to this one to buy us velvet party dresses for Christmas.         The other shopping

mall, being enclosed, was warm in the winter and cool in the summer. At the center was a modernist fountain, geometric, symmetric and hushed. Our

paternal grandmother would take us to this one to buy us velvet party dresses for Christmas.
Although it was an era that was soon to end, we were still in that period following the Second World War when economic gap between the rich and

the poor was at its nadir. Like many of the people born in that period, I thought that was just the way the world was. In any case, there was a

huge, unfulfilled market and Dee-Lux Park intended to fill it in a spectacular fashion. In the center of the mall there wasn’t simply a fountain,

there was a large atrium with a waterfall landscaped with plants, a glass elevator and a maze of winding, landscaped staircases leading up to a

food court, a new idea at the time. Leading outward from this center were two long, bent wings, each anchored by a major, mid-priced department

store. This was mid-century, middle class, middle American consumer heaven rendered in decorative cast concrete building units.         Although

it was an era that was soon to end, we were still in that period following the Second World War when economic gap between the rich and the poor

was at its nadir. Like many of the people born in that period, I thought that was just the way the world was. In any case, there was a huge,

unfulfilled market and Dee-Lux Park intended to fill it in a spectacular fashion. In the center of the mall there wasn’t simply a fountain, there

was a large atrium with a waterfall landscaped with plants, a glass elevator and a maze of winding, landscaped staircases leading up to a food

court, a new idea at the time. Leading outward from this center were two long, bent wings, each anchored by a major, mid-priced department store.

This was mid-century, middle class, middle American consumer heaven rendered in decorative cast concrete building units.
Dee-Lux mall had, from a teenager’s point of view, that all important item, a large music store. This was where my sister and I, pooling our

allowance, bought our first record album. On the far right of the store was a display where one could find all the Top 40 singles. Along the left

hand side of the store ran a long display of musical instruments. My mother’s uncle, a luthier, had dutifully given me violin lessons, but somehow

it never took. My sister an I both played the piano, the one instrument they did not carry. We did, sometimes, go through their racks of sheet

music and, to this day, stuffed in my sister’s piano bench, is an embarrassing amount of sheet music to Barry Manilow’s songs.         Dee-Lux

mall had, from a teenager’s point of view, that all important item, a large music store. This was where my sister and I, pooling our allowance,

bought our first record album. On the far right of the store was a display where one could find all the Top 40 singles. Along the left hand side

of the store ran a long display of musical instruments. My mother’s uncle, a luthier, had dutifully given me violin lessons, but somehow it never

took. My sister an I both played the piano, the one instrument they did not carry. We did, sometimes, go through their racks of sheet music and,

to this day, stuffed in my sister’s piano bench, is an embarrassing amount of sheet music to Barry Manilow’s songs.
There was a store that sold denim, Levis, Lees and Wranglers, piled up to the ceiling. Denim jackets painted with the cover art from favorite rock

albums were a popular item, but they weren’t for sale. A few times, I remember going to that store with a boy from school where he would buy a

jacket for me to paint. I would get twenty-five or thirty dollars for my trouble, which to a kid is a lot.         There was a store that

sold denim, Levis, Lees and Wranglers, piled up to the ceiling. Denim jackets painted with the cover art from favorite rock albums were a popular

item, but they weren’t for sale. A few times, I remember going to that store with a boy from school where he would buy a jacket for me to paint. I

would get twenty-five or thirty dollars for my trouble, which to a kid is a lot.
The was a store that rented formal wear in the garish colors popular at the time and would make a generation of young men hide the photos of

weddings and proms, and a store that sold cheap trendy clothes for teenage girls where we’d buy things like sequined tube tops to wear to the Soap

Factory disco.          The was a store that rented formal wear in the garish colors popular at the time and would make a generation of young men

hide the photos of weddings and proms, and a store that sold cheap trendy clothes for teenage girls where we’d buy things like sequined tube tops

to wear to the <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WIh1OWS0Qk&#8221; target=”_blank”>Soap Factory</a> disco.
Today, I think of shopping as a chore and one of the least fun activities in the world.
We would often go in a large group. Our parents thought there was safety in numbers, but once there we would often break up into

smaller groups and pairs. When I would get bored with the other teenage girls, I would head off alone to a shop that sold posters and novelty

items where the was a college age store clerk who seemed to like to talk to me. Sometimes, he would express regret about the age difference, but

it never went beyond talking.
Today, I think of shopping as a chore and one of the least fun activities in the world. I wish I could remember just what the

fascination was for us. We rarely actually bought things. We’d browse the clothes, and not buy. We’d browse the records, and not buy. Maybe we’d

get an ice cream.
Suzy Q, constantly bemoaning her lack of curves would tell me to remind her to eat more. Frequently, she’d get an ice cream and I

wouldn’t. I already had the curves and was trying to keep my waist. One day, she bought an ice cream up by the food court. It was afternoon, the

lunch crowd was gone, but most of the tables were dirty. We walked down the labyrinthine staircase that ran behind the waterfall, eating her ice

cream along the way. It must have been summer. She wore jeans and a blue and white striped knit shirt with short sleeves and the pendant with a

Taoist symbol that she always wore, not the one people are used to, but a Chinese character. SuzyQ wore a size zero, which fit her loosely, but

she didn’t want to shop in the children’s department any more. Although extremely tight jeans were popular at the time, I didn’t wear mine that

way either because I thought they were uncomfortable. I could have squeezed into a size two, but instead bought a four or even a six for comfort.

Skimpy shirts we called camisoles with narrow “spaghetti” straps were popular at the time and I was wearing one. SuzyQ’s mother would not allow

her to wear them. She constantly warned that white men sexualized Asian women in a way that was not good. SuzyQ would complain to me, rolling her

eyes and groaning, “My mother is soooooo paranoid. Like she’s just off the boat, or something.” To a girl who hasn’t yet begun to menstruate and

whose contact with white men was mainly limited to school teachers and terrified prepubescent boys, these fears seemed, at best, exaggerated.
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6 comments
  1. This has happened to me more than once. I just eventually delete and start over. This was random for you but I read it dutifully . I still like shopping : )

    • fojap said:

      Do you? I can’t for the life of me now remember what the fascination was, but obviously I must have liked it at one time.

  2. I have given up halfway, I will come back after you tidy it up my friend and do have yourself a great day!

    • fojap said:

      Thanks for trying, but I really didn’t expect anyone would read it. I’ve posted everyday, although sometimes past midnight, since the first of January. I’m afraid if I say, “Oh, I’ll skip today because this went wrong or that went wrong,” next I’ll stop posting. So it’s a weird sort of discipline, but I think it’s been working. I’ll be taking the train to visit my mother today, and I had to do laundry and pack and get to bed at a decent hour because my mother has more energy than I do. She runs me ragged.

      • There was a time I could manage to post daily, of late, I get busy and end up not posting for close to one week.
        And do have a great time while visiting with your old lady!

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