Rumor has it that funeral services for the MacDade Mall may be premature.
I hope that's true, because that mall was my ringside seat to watch the wild and wonderful 70s fly by.
I can remember walking into the brand new MacDade Mall for the first time and having the same reaction as when I stepped into the runway at Connie Mack Stadium and saw the Phillies play live … the colors were startling! There were the individual activities of over 30 stores as well as some sort of special mall-wide activity every weekend.
One week it was a baseball card show with Johnny Callison and Tony Taylor signing autographs … the next, a bridal show (okay, they weren't ALL winners) … the next, a yoyo master demonstration by a man who seemed very cool at the time but who I now suspect lived a lonely, lonely life.
So I'd stop by for no apparent reason with no particular shopping to do and no time limit in which to do it. My generation pioneered “going to the mall” as an accepted activity in itself. We had a great time doing nothing long before Seinfeld's show about nothing. Parents would ask what we were shopping for, but they didn't get it. I always ran into someone I knew and we'd take a few laps around, finding adventure, drama or comedy at every stop.
There would be a substantially built woman arguing that the sizes were all marked wrong at the dress shop. About six units down the aisle, as the ticket-taker at the movie theater was trying to decide if the peachfuzz-faced patron standing before him was old enough to see Hitchcock's R-rated “Frenzy,” four 12-year-olds snuck by him. There was a store right near the main entrance that sold beads and mod-style vests and posters where I could pretend to be a hippy, even though my parents never actually allowed me to be one.
Of course there was pizza by the slice, pretzels and a more formal restaurant (which may or may not have had a bar, since I was too young to know or care).
At the record store in the mall I made a discovery that influences my music tastes to this day. I had heard a song on the radio (WMMR-FM, with the late, great DJ Ed Sciaky) that I really liked, and I tried to remember the name of it while browsing in the store. I knew it was by some guy named Bruce, but that was it. At the time, there were two albums out by this Bruce Springsteen fellow, so I got them both just to be sure.
It turns out that the song I liked was actually “Wondering Where the Lions Are” by Bruce Cockburn, but I fell in love with the two albums I bought by mistake. Just weeks later I saw Springsteen in a concert at Widener College that is still legendary among Delaware Countians of a certain age.
So you see I have a lot of history tied into the MacDade Mall. But I'm not alone. I'll bet that most people over 30 from this area have their own set of stories about that particular piece of real estate on MacDade and South.
Let's hope it comes back at full strength so there will be fun stories for today's kids in 30 years or so.