For a walk with restless Jo this week, I bring to you the leftover remains of the Azalea Mall in RVA.
This is linked to because this old mall space whispers of days gone by. Thursday Special’s Traces of our Past Theme
Walking along this broken up terrazzo floor incited certain emotions. First, it was an experience to feel the hallow, crumbling crunch. Second, I thought of the shoppers who walked this very corridor: Rustling bags in a hustle, clutching hands in a stroll, or shuffling keys to open business. This interesting floor composite is also what made me look up the history of what used to be the Azalea Mall. As the boys skated briefly, I did a little research – and first I found O3’s cool post called the azalea wasteland – HERE.
It turns out that the Azalea Mall was the first enclosed mall in Richmond, VA: It opened in 1963, , and for two decades it has been fenced off and closed in 1995 waits for a new life.
The big anchor for the Azalea Mall was a department store called Thalhimer’s. When I thought about this German name, I wondered how a branding expert today would comment on using this family name for a store chain, because name pronunciation and the mood invoked matters ( check this site for a snippet on the bouba/kiki effect). I then found out that the name was in fact slightly modified when California based Broadway Hale Stores bought the chain in 1978 – they dropped the apostrophe and made it Thalhimers. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what branding experts think, but sometimes it does.
In this collage, I include this shadow selfie – because it shows how long my hair is getting! Last summer, I chopped my hair and while it was something I always wanted to do, I really like having long hair again.
This quote has been coming up a lot this month – and as I walked around the remnants of old mall floors filled with decay, it reminded me of when I used the “everything happens for a reason” phrase while teaching science. On nature hikes, I would always remind students about the natural life cycle of all living things. For example, even though it is sad when a great tree falls, it also is part of a needed cycle, which makes way for other things. A fallen tree can open the forest canopy so sunlight can reach saplings and a fallen tree ends up nourishing soil as the FBI (fungus, bacteria, insects) do their part. “Everything happens for a reason,” I would remind students as we moved along the trail. And the same goes for so many areas in life, whether it be closed malls or difficult life circumstances, sometimes what seems so devastatingly empty and void is usually part of a rich cycle that works for good and contributes to a meaningful whole.
When I walked across the checkered remnants section, I think this might be where Woolworths had an eatery. Did you ever go to a Woolworths? I used to go to Woolworths at the Thruway Mall in Buffalo, NY, which happens to be another one of America’s “dead malls.” The Thruway Mall will always be special to me because in 1983 I recall going there and feeling all grown up because I had my own babysitting money to spend. I only remember the year ’83 because on one fun shopping day – as I was looking for bargains, Lionel Richie’s “You Are” song was ubiquitous and I can still picture a couple of older ladies in a store singing along as it played. Go here to hear the You Are song.
Well nowadays – I am all grown up, compared to those early shopping days in the 1980’s. However, I still like to find bargains and I am still maturing – you know… just always growing and trying to embrace each day for what it has. And in this above photo – you can faintly see my son’s car (back center left) – which is how we ended up at this vacated mall space – my son is logging lots of driving hours with a learner’s permit and they begged me to stop here real quick like. I was reluctant, but agreed because even though I had a list of things to get to – sometimes investing in requests is a simple way to deposit into that “relationship account.” I ended up with this enriched stroll down memory lane and when I told my son about it- how I took a few photos and also soaked up spring sunshine, well he said something about how his good ideas pay off (ha! – oh…. the grandiose mindset of a teen) – but you know, it really “was” win-win. Remember folks, a lot of personal pleasure can come from being able to enjoy the very simplest of things that come our way. Try not to miss out – don’t let life weigh you down – don’t take things so seriously all the time – I know life issues are not always easy and you may feel heavy and worn down – kinda like this old mall space, you might feel like you are waiting for some freshness and would like (or need) a whole new life – but never give up – because even though better things are coming – so much can be enjoyed right now. Try and find it. And know that God has good things in store, because He not only promises to give us peace that passes understanding, but He says that will give us the desires of our heart. And that is good news.
Goals are important. Achievements are satisfying. But if you really want personal joy that goes beyond circumstance and if you want to know what surpasses the ups and downs that can come with tangible, overt success – try these three things that Emerson suggested for a rich life: Be Silly. Be Honest. Be Kind. It will serve you well.
Hope you have a nice day and for more Monday Walks- check out Jo’s blog
HERE, where this week she also gives us some traces of the past with a Daffodil Walk at Farndale (and a fun shot of some well groomed poodles).