|Thanks to http://bigmallrat.blogspot.com for the pic|
Really it's pretty funny that I have had this association for so long, because there were not many other malls at the time. The Great Mall was a Ford plant. Valley Fair was open air and mostly deserted at the time. Valleco was around but far away. I think the Mayfield Mall was the only other mall my parents visited with any regularity. You can see that something like Eastridge becomes the place to go pretty quickly. But very early on I realized the location was pretty crappy and some of the clientele were pretty frightening.
The First Visit to Eastridge I have any recollection of was with my Gramma and Parents. I am not sure why but my parents always entered through Penny's and so have I. They always take the elevator and so do I. Even to this day some thirty years later I take that nasty elevator. This was early in the old malls life an it was awesome back then. There was all this exposed black concrete and sunken seating areas. There were some hella cool light towers that had ascending lights of various colors to check out. This was right after Logan's Run it was high fucking tech for the day. This died away pretty quickly and even the nice fountain in the center of the mall has been relocated.
I remember the stores were all nice and on target for the era. This was not the shit mall it would become a few years later. But mostly of that first visit I remember the Pie Shop restaurant by the Macy's and King Norman's toys. Those were awesome! King Norman's was just light years ahead of the Long's Drugs toy aisle. The pie shop my Mom and Gramma actually took me too without my asking. Pumpkin flavored HEAVEN!
This wonderland of pie would soon change though. The mall seemed to do retcons every few years, as there was always this creeping shitiness that assaulted it. But the place changed, no pie or King Norman's. But there were KB and Woolworths now. Electronics Boutique opened up selling weird computer magazines that contained type written programs you were supposed to duplicate on your Commodore 64. So there were still interesting stores for me. They even had a record store that sounds odd these days but yep they sold records and tapes.
My family moved nearer to the mall when I was around High School near this time. This made it a bit of an after school hang out for my friends and I. The mall was so big and poorly designed that a few kids could get away with murder in that place. Some one in High School used to steal model train cars from KB toys, and the poor design of the malls second level made it so no one could ever catch him. Seriously there was a second level in the center that had a four foot disconnect with the rest of the mall. He just hopped a rail and was impossible to catch. Still it's odd that a high school student would shoplift model trains.
Skateboards were the thing at the time so my friends would always ride in the mall and get yelled at by security. They were paid enough to yell but gave up if to you took off. We also knew the paths in back of the stores. There is a sort of secret world of back passages hiding in the mall. It allowed you to sort of disappear and come out in another part of the mall like a secret passage. Even faster if you had a skateboard, well except for me.
Woolworth closing and Spirit taking up shop for a season was perhaps the sign of the end of the mall. At least for me it was. Sure I visited the arcade up on the top floor by Sears but the mall continued to fall into ill repair. There was a whole phase were there were nothing but off name stores in that place. I instantly thought of Eastridge when seeing the Other Mall part in Mall Rats. I hear now its all fixed up and nice. I might even pay a visit and see if any of the old floor tiles from back in the day are hidden around the back corner areas.