The Granite Run Mall was as important to my teen years as anything. When the mall comes down (as Phil Heron reported), as crazy as it may sound, a part of my childhood will come down with it.
We have this funny attachment to buildings, to places. The way that many shed a tear when the Vet was blown up, or when the Spectrum was finally (and anti-climatically), hit with a wrecking ball. The way that you get that feeling when you drive by your grade school, or the house you grew up in. It sounds sort of ridiculous to have that feeling about a mall, but I do.
Really, the Granite Run Mall is being put of its misery. Anyone who has been in there over the last several years has seen it dying a slow death. Half of the store fronts have emptied, as rumors about its impending doom have made the Delco rounds. I remember walking through the mall after my brother and I jokingly visited Dino Don’s Dinosaurium on its supposed last day, and seeing a storefront that was 90% drywall, and 10% a single Coke machine. It’s amazing really that it seems like the Springfield Mall is thriving, when at one time it seemed like the ugly cousin of Granite Run.
I guess what I’m saying is that even though that lot will have condos and a Target, or whatever the hell a “walkable mixed use project” is, I will always see the mall when I drive by.
I will see Aladdin’s Castle and the red pouches of tokens. The time Ed Reilly threatened to beat the crap out of me (not sure why) at that arcade (also buddy, I went on a date with your sister when I was like 20, just FYI). The days at Aladdin’s Castle when I would waste my entire Wawa paycheck on NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat. Wasted is a strong word, because I got pretty damned good at those games.
I will see Jolly Time, the arcade that eventually challenged Aladdin’s Castle’s dominance, with a smaller yet more brightly lit space.
I will see the Be Bop Cafe, and how as a kid I would wonder what the hell that place was, and why I wasn’t allowed in.
I will see Chi Chi’s and their eternally subpar Mexican food that my mother thought was really good (it wasn’t).
Who could forget the area’s only Chik-Fil-A (for a long time), and their free samples that old ladies would give out. I would eat so many of those free samples, because they were good and I was fat. Also, I remember many teenagers in the area working there or Lima Estates.
I will see Peking, the one place in the mall that stood the test of time, and actually was always worth at least visiting for take-out.
When I pass, I will see Spencer’s, a place that I walked into 5,000 times, and never bought anything.
I will see Orange Julius, where I spent hundreds drinking that magical elixir that you’d try to replicate in home ec class, but never quite master, along with a pretzel.
I will see the Wall (previously Wall To Wall Sound and Video) and see blue stickers that meant lifetime guarantees, and that guy with the long hair who worked there 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
I will see Scotto’s Pizza, a place that I will remember for having better pizza than it probably ever did.
I will see the 15 Waldenbooks that it seemed like that place had. One of which was the first place I ever shoplifted anything (I was like 14, give me a break). It was a paperback biography of Jim Morrison, who I didn’t even like or was interested in.
I will see Suncoast Pictures, the second place I ever shoplifted anything, that being Sega Genesis games in the armpit of my ridiculous black motorcycle jacket with spiderwebs on the elbows and a giant skull on the back.
Sidebar: I was eventually nabbed for shoplifting on the Ocean City boardwalk some time later, for taking a t-shirt that had a peace symbol with the Russian and US flags on it. I was with my friend Herb, whose parents couldn’t have been nicer about it, and still took us to see a Clive Barker movie. I’m sure they knew I was just going to get in trouble when I got home. The police officer who BOOKED US, told me I’d never get into college because of my ARREST. Look at me now buddy!
I will see EB Games, and that one dude Eric who was always really nice to me. I’ll see Bain’s Deli, which was always really pungent for some reason.
I will see the baseball card shows, where I bought and sold enough cards for my first car.
I will see whatever that skateboard shop was on the second floor, across from Hallmark, that I made my mom waste hundreds of dollars at.
I will see the Granite Run 8, where you’d see a movie and then go wreak havoc on Friendly’s.
I will see the giant window that broke my nose, as I walked in to try and buy some shoes. They added new doors and glass windows next to the Peking one day, and there were no markings at all on them. I walked directly into it, and unknowingly broke my nose. I walked in, bought shoes, and was horrified when I got back into the car and looked at myself. The nose was clear on one side of my face (but no blood). It was the night before Thanksgiving in (I believe) 1992, and we spent it waiting for a Dr. G____ (name redacted) to come and fix me (as you can see, he didn’t do that great a job).
I’ll see the Sunoco next door, which I worked at for years throughout high school, and turning down many (but not all) underage kids who wanted to buy cigarettes.
I’ve already mentioned to Fantasource that we’ll need to do a farewell podcast for the mall, which we’ll do, hopefully as we walk through the place. I may even handcuff myself to the building to prevent its fall.
But all in all, I just want to make sure I pay proper tribute to the Granite Run Mall. You will be knocked down, but never forgotten.