Thursday, September 19, 2013
To: The Editor
Subject: We were Englewood Plaza pals and punks
“Englewood Plaza pals and punks”
Like white hairs growing from man boobs, another reliable undeniable sign of late middle age is thinking and talking about how and where things [and me] used to be; e.g., when I drive by and look at the abandoned [soon to be razed] Englewood Plaza at Union Road and Route 40, and at Kroger (at Union and Wenger Road) where the old Denlinger/Harrison farm house and barns used to be.
In the early 1960s, Clarence Phillips, Corky [Ralph] Jackson and I [a trio of hellions] used to ride our [America steel] bicycles on those blacktopped country roads, as did all of the neighborhood kids. On Sundays, some of us also attended the Brethren in Christ/German Baptist/Dunkard church located across from the cemetery. In 1964, I-70 was built under Union Road and Englewood’s first plaza was built on the other side of Route 40, replacing another old farm with house and barn. Clarence, Corky and I started skipping church to hang out at the new plaza, becoming pioneer Englewood Plaza pals and punks.
Robb established his plaza pizza place within the corner space, long before he had a bigger nicer real restaurant there. I would bet that Robb was thrilled by us pop-drinking teenagers who were taking up space but not paying his bills. Dad went to Eddie’s SHELL service and gasoline station at the corner of the plaza parking lot. The new Imperial Food Town grocery store was the first worse competition for Flint’s IGA (off Route 48), where my parents stopped to shop.
One day, Clarence, Corky and I were sitting inside Robb’s pizza place and looking out the windows at a small circus that was setting up in the parking lot outside. A circus man offered us boys a job, setting up the circus, if we were big and strong enough to work hard; he told us that if we worked good we’d get paid good. So, while trying to impress him and each other, we three young men helped unload, set up and reload circus tents and bleachers, etc. We got to watch the circus for free and got paid one dollar each. Talk about cheap labor.
I bought and drove two Cushman motor scooters before I was 16 years old [in 1966] and had a license to drive. A curious cop stopped me outside of Imperial Food Town and followed me back home to talk to my parents and me about this.
The Englewood Plaza was a great place and had everything entertaining that we kids could or would need…until the Salem Mall opened in 1966. We brats then became among the first of the young dumb mall rats that soon had mall jobs. We also started to drive and then explore new territories, stopping to shop at newer prettier plazas and malls as the old ones faded away; until they became decrepit or were abandoned and demolished to disappear from around here.