Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jefferson Valley Mall

There was once a sign near the corner of US 6 and Hill Blvd in the Jefferson Valley section of Yorktown, NY.  It said, in some words, that a new shopping center was coming, featuring Sears and a host of other brand names of the era.

It never seemed like it would happen, but the dirt was moved throughout 1982 in preparation for the largest shopping mall in the Northern Westchester/Putnam County region (and I'm proud to say, that my father delivered much of the plumbing to the site).  Read's Department Store was the first tenant to open, in the summer of 1983, with the rest of Jefferson Valley Mall opening by November.  The Service Merchandise store was supposed to be one "of the future" with the merchandise all behind glass, and the dreadful purchase process involving taking a catalog number up and waiting...and waiting...

Our shopping options had been the smallish Westchester Mall near Peekskill up until then, or the Bazaar Mall in Mount Kisco.  Before that, we took longer trips to White Plains, Poughkeepsie, and Danbury.  I will never - ever - forget nibbling cashews with my dad at the Sears in White Plains, or eating in the cafeteria there.  But now, we had "JV."  We took our dates there.  We got jobs there.  It was our mall!

I worked in the Burger King (the old one - with its own seating area) for one day before my dad talked me out of it, and I went to work at the grocery store (Shopwell in Mahopac).  I filled in for a friend at the Swedish furniture store a few times (I liked that job).  Eventually, I would come back and work at Sears from 1986-1988.  I made friends that I'm still in contact with.  We spoke our own language there.  And, yes, in some ways, the foundation for Sean Adams was created there.  We all worked at Sears.

Truth be told, the Danbury Fair Mall would eventually blow JV out of the water by 1987, as far as we were all concerned.  We'd go to "the mall" for the necessities, but that was it.

I was heading home on the Taconic Parkway today, in need of a walk (just deep in thought), when I decided to pay a visit to the JV Mall.  It had been a few years, I think.

It was fairly depressing.

I walked through Sears, and while some things change, some things stayed the same.  Specifically, the bathrooms back near what used to be the offices. Apparently there are stories to be told from those walls.  That's what I've been told.  Maybe just urban legends.  Maybe Snopes knows.

I strolled past the children's department, where you would find me during those days in the 80's, although I mostly worked in the back.  The hijinks were normally in high demand back there, like this fine piece of photography...
While things have changed, I can still see Sarah in the photo studio, and Jon in shoes (as we would mock his boss, my boss, and anyone else)...
Jon - just hanging around in the shoe department.
Jon doing his "Huey Lewis" impression.
Jon's boss was named "Bob."  Quite the character.  So we had some fun with it.

John M. would come over to see if we wanted to go on break (while discussing "tuttlenecks" or keeping a bottle of soda with him on the pitchers mound in softball).  Maybe Shagger Dave would join us.  There was a whole group of us.  Mostly, it was guys talking about the girls we were going to date, or just being teenagers (into our early 20's).  Or punching in and going to the homecoming football game before returning.  Fun stuff.

The rest of the mall has the feeling of a ghost town.  Very little of the upstairs is the same.  The pet shop, Service Merchandise, Hot Topic, the photo studio - all gone (and have been for some time).  The food court, once a vibrant area with many questionable options, was down to only two or three tenants.  Mama Brava, with its overpriced pizza?  Gone.  Burger King?  Nope.  Chinese food, Baskin Robbins, the cookie place, the sandwich shop with the grape drink (hmmm?), or Arby's?  All long gone.

I missed Record World and Record Town, where so many of my - gulp - records, and cassettes, and eventually CD's were bought.  I missed Winners, where some of my early football jerseys came from.  Where was Chess King, the home of my skinny ties?  The CVS, to grab a soda, a snack, mind.

So much dead space.  Somehow it took my already pensive mood and darkened it.

Oh the Gap is still there, and Macy's (in the former Reads...Jordan Marsh...A&S).  But there's no movie theater, or Waldenbooks, or B Dalton.  The Disney Store is gone.  Even one of the Hallmark stores closed up (the one my former mother-in-law worked in).

I was out within 30 minutes, and on my way home.

We all moved on, all of us, in one way or another.

It is, as of now, a relic of another time.  Mostly just memories now.


SSB88 said...

My mom and grandma use to take me here all the time as a kid. My mom always got stuff from service merchandise and i remember having to wait for the stuff to come out on the conveyor belt. There was also a friendly's as well i remember it being one of the few sit down places in the mall besides burger king. There was also this candy shop that was really late 80's looking i forget the name but i remember going there a lot as a kid. Wish i could find more old pictures of the mall in its prime i went there this past summer and its really depressing

Boomstick said...

The candy store was Mr. Bulky's!!

jj from carmel said...

Hey what about the Baldwin Place Mall from the 70s/very early 80s?

jj from carmel said...

Hey don't forget Baldwin Place Mall from the 70s/very early 80s. Rollerskating rink there was fun and an arcade before that mall got abandoned