Every day, on my way to and from work, I walk past the remains of Midtown Plaza.
Midtown Plaza was the first urban indoor mall in the United States. My parents took me to see the Christmas decorations when I was a little girl and it was magical. I saw Santa there. I shopped there. I even worked there for a little while when I was in college. Midtown Plaza has been closed for a couple of years, losing the battle of history versus progress. For a long time, nothing seemed to be happening. It looked like the Plaza was just sitting empty.
Now, the demolition is in full swing. Big machines are taking down the walls. Bite by bite they are eating up the Plaza. I am a silent observer, noticing the changes as I walk past each morning and evening. This slow demolition gives me the opportunity to take my time saying good-bye.
Good-bye to the time my teenage cousins, Ruthie and Kathy, drove me to Midtown from Cohocton. How they ever talked my Aunt Jane into allowing this road trip, I will never know. I will never forget how grown-up I felt, shopping with my “big girl” cousins.
Good-bye to the horrible memory of the time an elderly man spit on me in the center of the mall, as I was walking to the bus to go back to school. I was so furious! Toothless and obviously suffering from dementia, he accepted my wrathful stare with a childlike grin so harmless that I forgot my anger.
Good-bye to the time I was selected to give out free samples of ice cream at the front of the Wegmans store. Never have I shared in such delight as the hot summer day I handed out mini-cone after mini-cone to adorable, thankful, laughing children and their grateful parents.
If Midtown Plaza holds this many memories for me, I can hardly begin to imagine how many memories it holds for all the people who have shopped, worked, and visited there. But it will not be a vessel to hold memories for long. The walls are coming down and can no longer contain them. As I walk past each morning and evening, I can almost feel the memories spilling out through the holes in the walls. My walk each day allows me to watch the demolition of Midtown Plaza. It is sad to see it taken apart and I am grateful for this time to say good-bye..