I seldom go to shopping malls. I live six blocks from Evergreen Plaza, but I haven't shopped there since buying diamond pattern sweaters and baggy slacks from Chess King in 1984. I went to Oakbrook Center earlier this year to buy a birthday present for a dear friend, then realized I hadn't been there since I. Magnin--remember them?--was there. That must be 20 years ago.
It wasn't always this way. When I was a kid growing up in the 1970s, a trip to the mall was almost a treat. We'd get in the car and travel far beyond our usual retail haunts like the Community Discount Store at 87th and Greenwood, or Frank's Shoes on 79th Street--and my father's favorite, Starks Warehouse somewhere on Harlem on the Southwest Side--and land in climate-controlled suburban retail utopia, where the stores were endless, the air seemed candy-scented, and the old man could find easy parking for that big black 1970 Buick Electra 225.
I thought about this while reading the new book Randhurst: Suburban Chicago's Grandest Shopping Center, by Greg T. Peerbolte, executive director of the Mount Prospect Historical Society.