The Bazaar of All Nations
My first experience with reported alien sightings took place during the late 1960s in Clifton Heights. It was there that my friend Wayne swore that there were people walking the oval laps at The Bazaar of All Nations who were surely not of this Earth.
Of course I had experienced the wonder of “The Bazaar” before (Wayne always called it “The Bizarre.” Unfortunately, since that sounds exactly like the real name people never got the joke unless he explained it to them.)
There were at least four entrances, but you just had to go through the front door to get the full treatment. The smell of fresh soft pretzels mixed with cinnamon buns and Italian water ice was a roller coaster ride for the nose. The effect was an overall sense of well being that I don't believe has ever been duplicated by any drug, legal or otherwise.
Although I'm not sure that “all” nations were fairly represented, you could buy the widest variety of necessities there, as well as items that no one could ever possibly need. If you had a craving for a Road Runner cartoon T-shirt, an Edd “Kooky” Burns comb or the latest Rolling Stones single … you went to the Bazaar. Gym shorts, Pong, bright yellow yarn, a half-pound of boiled ham? There's a booth for that. In fact, the Bazaar of All Nations was your one-stop shop for anything from pickles to pianos. And you could buy a monkey there, too. Really.
But Wayne was right.
There was something unusual about the people you'd see at The Bazaar. There was the day that it seemed like everyone walking the oval was on crutches. Another day, everywhere you looked you saw redheads with perms. One day it was an unusual number of men (and women) wearing overalls, the next it was funny hats.
Wayne and I never left without having figured out the theme for that day. And I'm embarrassed to admit that it took us years, and dozens of visits, to realize that we were walking that oval, too. That we were part of “The Bizarre” for all the others. And the theme on our visits was fairly obvious: “Dumb Kids Day.”