It’s all going away


Southwyck mall to close June 30 (

It’s amazing how every little detail of something like Dad’s death seemed to add just that much more pain to the ordeal. When I was young, Dad always took me out to a bunch of places on Saturday morning and afternoon, as soon as my morning cartoons ended. He called it "Adventures," and in retrospect he was probably doing Mom a favour by getting me out of the house for a while, but I probably did more bonding with Dad during Adventures than I did with anything else we did together. We’d get lunch together, go to the arcade together, and see a lot of stores at the mall. When I say mall here, though, I’m not referring to Southwyck; I’m referring to Franklin Park Mall, the mall closest to our house, and the only major mall still left in Toledo. (Mind you, it’s now called "Westfield Shoppingtowne Franklin Park Mall" and barely bares any resemblance to the mall I remember as a kid. To me, that mall died a long time ago.)

My first memory of going to a mall, though, is going to Southwyck. There are a few things I remember about going to Southwyck as a child. First of all, they had a lot of small water fountains throughout the mall, all of which had different coloured lights in the fall that projected up and made all the water these soft, translucent colours that I thought were some of the prettiest things I’d ever seen. Secondly, in the middle of the mall — it was one of those malls with several "spokes" full of stores around a central location — they had the only full-size merry-go-round I’ve ever ridden on (the miniature merry-go-round they used to have in front of K-Mart doesn’t count), and a kind of small pit that sloped gently and seemed, to my young mind, like a natural performing venue, a theatre-in-the-round sort of thing. Third, Southwyck had the first "arcade" I ever went to, a place called Old Towne that had the kind of machines that you used to associate with arcades before the Pac-Man era.

I can only remember going there a few times when I was young, but I went there a lot when I was a teenager. The mall’s a fairly short walk from the private school I went to for fourth through twelfth grades, and since I usually stayed after school to use the computer lab (the only computers we had at home at that point were old TRS-80s), if I had some extra time before my parents got off of work to come pick me up, I’d walk over to Southwyck. Old Towne was long gone by that point, but our local arcade chain, Red Baron, had set up shop there, and I was in the middle of my Street Fighter II phase around this time, so I played that an awful lot. My first post-high school crush worked at the Waldenbooks over there as well, so that just gave me more reason to go over.

Southwyck has been ailing for a long, long time, and there had been a lot of talk about doing something new with the property for a long time. A few years ago a developer opened a new shopping complex down in Perrysburg called Levis Commons that, surprisingly, is a pretty awesome place. (Aside from the Books-A-Million and East of Chicago over there, the stores are painfully upscale, though.) The thing is, Southwyck is not in a very good part of town, and even if they raze Southwyck down to the ground and construct something truly grand in its place, that’s not going to change that it’s surrounded by a lot of low-end businesses in crumbling buildings on moldering streets. I’m fairly certain that someone will try to do something to "fix up" that part of town — we’re in about the tenth attempt to "revitalize" downtown Toledo in my lifetime — but Southwyck shuttering feels to me like the one true note of confirmation that this part of Toledo is now dead.

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