Scottsdale: 79th and Cicero (southeast corner)
If you do a GOOGLE photo search of "scottsdale shopping chicago," you'll see all kinds of beautiful stucco shopping centers with tall, majestic palm trees out front; and if you're like me -- often sleepy; frequently confused -- you'll start wondering, "Did I really live in such a place? Was Burbank even more beautiful than I remember? Was the southwest side actually Xanadu, and I just didn't realize it?" And then you see the word "Arizona" attached to one of the photos, and you realize that, no, where you grew up was full of mostly ugly strip malls, and the sky was often overcast.
Let's face it: the glory days of Scottsdale are over. In fact, I'm not sure I was ever alive during its glory days, but it was certainly more of a staple for shopping when I was a kid, and it certainly had more character than today's strip malls, what with its big-ass sign (not the one pictured above) and its asymetrical design. I realize I'm pushing my case a little too hard here, but I'll go so far as to say that Scottsdale Plaza was ahead of its time. If you go to L.A. today, all you hear about is the trend of the "open air" shopping center, which is usually a couple of blocks of stores, where walking outside, usually amongst some professional landscaping, is a huge plus. Now, Scottsdale didn't have the greenery, per se, but it did have the potential for it. And, as I said, it was structured interestingly.
The anchor store was GOLDBLATT'S.
Here's what I remember best about Goldblatt's: the pet store. If I remember correctly, it was just inside the entrance and off to the left. Just before my fourth birthday, I talked my mother into buying me a baby turtle.
A few days later, our trailer (we lived in Guidish Park) burned completely down in the middle of the night. (We made it out safely.) My father threw a few things out the front door before the fire engulfed the entire trailer: our finch (in its cage, of course -- it was probably brain-damaged afterward); a Code-a-Phone answering machine (a high-dollar item back then), and a few other strangely disparate odds and ends. It wasn't until a few days later that I remembered the turtle. When I asked my mother where it was, she had to break the news: the turtle, whose name I no longer recall, didn't make it out alive. So there you go: my indelible Goldblatt's memory for you. (Hold on a second: I need to blow my nose and dab my eyes.)
But hey: Do you remember the photo store? I believe that, too, was a Goldblatt's enterprise, but it was in a building by itself. I loved going in there and looking at the Super-8 projectors and seeing what movies they had for sale. (For the younger readers, here's a "I-walked-fifty-miles-in-my-bare-feet-to-school-every-morning" story for you. Probably about a year after Star Wars came out, a Super 8 movie of Star Wars was released. This was a BIG DEAL for anyone withe a Super 8 projector. I'm assuming Star Wars ran about two hours, give or take several minutes, at the theater. Well, a Super 8 movie ran, on average, 8 minutes. With sound (that is, if you wanted sound), it would cost probably twenty-five bucks. If you were wealthy, you might be able to spring for the twenty minute version, which cost probably in the neighborhood of forty or fifty bucks. To own even the eight-minute version of the movie back then would be the equivalent today of, I don't know, owning a Hummer and a Rolex.)
For the life of me, I can't remember any other store in Scottsdale. Help me. There was a furniture store down the way, right? But what else was actually in Scottsdale?
All right, folks: time to chime in with your own Scottdale memories. And if anyone has any old photos of Scottsdale, please (please) send them to me at email@example.com for posting.
Ah, but to imagine what Scottsdale could have been with a little imagination...
(Photo of Scottsdale sign, courtesy of Renee Greco)