The waning days of January finds our town saying goodbye to Miracle City Mall, our modest hometown mall that I’ve loved (and loved to hate) for more than four decades. It’s been several Januarys since MCM made the DeadMalls.com calendar, but this is indeed The End.
Prices are now slashed to 50 percent off at J.C. Penney, the first anchor tenant in 1968 and the last store still open. I had no luck sniffing out bargains when all I could smell was the mildewy odor that permeates the entire mall. Most of the women shoppers my age looked like they were on the verge of tears. I was too.
This was our place. We were the kids who hung out at the new mall when it opened, and here we were as AARPers to pay our respects.
Smack in the middle of the now-empty mall sits Dave’s. Ever since polyester and platforms it’s where we’ve gone for a cold drink and a hot dog, maybe some nachos or a hot pretzel. The booths, stools and counter are in a late 70s holding pattern, yet the analog clock has always been set a few minutes fast. With The End approaching, the Dave’s faithful have gathered twice already to show their love. Yesterday, just like at a real funeral, we stood in line to sign the guest book. Many waiting in that long line were young parents pushing little ones in strollers, young people who never enjoyed the glory days of the mall like we did. Clutching my Chicago dog and Peach Julius-like drink, I could have sworn it was 19-something all over again and not 2013.
One thing does make me smile: they chose Feb. 2–Groundhog Day–as the mall’s last day.