Funny how memories work… we don’t remember what we had for dinner three days, ago – but we remember stupid details about our childhood almost to the T.
Growing up, we shopped between two local-ish malls (three if you count the ghosts of Lakehurst): Hawthorn because it had Sears in a time when that was still relevant, and Gurnee Mills for whatever. I don’t remember what we ever went to the latter for (other than that time 7 or 8 year-old me got to meet radio legend, Dick Biondi, at Computer City) — come to think of it, I don’t remember much at all about that place other than kid-me disliked being dragged there over Hawthorn. The sentiment has never really changed, to be honest.
There was, however, one childhood thing I liked about the Mills: all of us pausing momentarily in the middle of the “discount wing” (usually at the ass-end from where we parked), staring up at this floating red barn emitting loud drilling and clanking noises… waiting for the doors to swing open for “the old man and his flying machine” to take his next ‘flight’ down to what used to be a Sears Outlet and back. It was one of several zany (early-90s) animatronic features the mall had back in the day… and for those who grew up at that time, easily the most fondly-remembered.
Those 90s-kitschy things which gave the mall sorely-needed character were eventually unplugged or disappeared one-by-one as they aged and the mall later fell into new ownership… sadly, the barn is now among those. Probably 12 years after the old man took his last flight, this summer the mall announced plans for a major renovation (finally)… with the floating barn and the track overhead being the apparent first victims of the project. As of a few weekends ago it was being dismantled; today there’s not a trace to be found.
I don’t know what compelled me to flick the barn back around January, but I’m now glad I did.
Polaroid SX-70 Alpha 1
Impossible Color SX-70