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The Last Days of the Dome: I'm a Mallie Girl, in a Mallie World

I passed the Dome today. I didn't have a chance to stop; Dad was visiting and wanted to check on his storage unit. "It's really closed, isn't it?" he asked me.

"It's such a damned waste."

"What are they going to do with the seats?" he asked as he rolled down the window. It was already warm; he doesn't do well in the heat, hence him living in San Francisco most of his life.

"I think they should auction them off and the proceeds go to the library."

He snorted. "Hey, aren't we near Sunvalley? Didn't they have a movie theater when you were young?"

"God yeah," I said, remembering. "We saw The Great Mouse Detective there, remember?"

Dad nodded. "We saw something else there."

I thought for a minute. "The Lone Ranger."

"That's it!"

Yes, long before Armie Hamner picked up the mask, Dad and I saw The Legend of the Lone Ranger at the Sunvalley Mall movie theater. Klington Spilsbury played the Masked Man. It was his lone acting credit.  Maybe he would've had better luck if he had his name be "Klingon." Then he could've gotten some Star Trek work, who knows?

"The mall is so sad now," I told Dad later as we headed towards Walnut Creek. "There's no bookstores at all."

" 'Course not. No need for them."

"It would be nice if there was one bookstore. At least."

He shook his head. "Doesn't sound like there's much at that mall at all."


After Dad went home, I started thinking. When I was growing up Sunvalley Mall was the place to go and hang out. It had everything. Going to the mall was an adventure. My grandmother would go to get me clothes for back to school. Since I wore an uniform most of the year, mostly I needed nice slacks and a couple of dresses. We would sit downstairs while she smoked and listened to organ music. 

When I grew older of course I LOVED the mall. Anytime I needed a new dress for an event or an interview, I went to the mall. I would walk around, have a Coke, then ooh and ahh over the puppies in the pet store window.  It's no surprise I loved the bookstores. The mall had two: B. Dalton's and Waldenbooks. I just finished a ebook by Robin Hardwick called If You Lived Here, You'd Be Perfect By Now where she describes every month she got to go to her local mall and buy a new Sweet Valley or whatever new series book was out. That was my life as well: At the B. Dalton’s I bought the latest Judy Blume, Norma Klein or Cynthia Voigt in paperback on paydays. There was also Francine Pascal’s Caitlin series. Ooh, Caitlin Ryan (not to be confused with feminst/Joey Jeremiah loving Caitlin Ryan from Degrassi) Just a rich spoiled girl, and oh, how she is misunderstood. But she was going to get her way, no matter what!


When I was in seventh grade my mother and I moved. It was Christmastime, so we didn't have a chance to decorate the new place. Two days before Christmas, we managed a walk around the mall. I loved the mall during Christmas; they had the same decorations every year with a Christmas tree on the first floor.


An hour after we got back, there was a knock on the door. Mom opened it to see my uncle. "What's the matter with your phone?" he asked.

"It hasn't been hooked up yet. Is Dad all right?" We all lived within several blocks of each other by then; we probably didn't need a phone.

"There was a plane crash at the mall. Several people were killed. You two okay?"

"What? But we were just there..."  We found out later it happened minutes after we left. My aunt and cousin were shopping but were told to go back. On the top of Macy's roof was a plane. Several people were killed; others suffered burns. A week later, Rick Nelson was killed in a plane crash. It's no wonder I didn't want to fly anytime soon.

The bookstores were the place where my mother wanted to go shopping, she dropped me off there and I could spend hours looking at everything. There were two other places parents could drop off their kids: the movie theater and the Sunvalley ice rink. Of course I loved the movie theater;  they always showed kid friendly movies, with Rocky Horror on Friday nights. You bought the tickets from someone in a booth, then walked up a long stairway. It only had two movie screens. Two! 


 Did I love the ice rink? Not so much. Since I had balance issues, staying steady on an ice rink was a challenge. Of course for Brownies/Girl Scouts/birthday party someone always had a party at the ice rink. So what I did was hold on the wall, then slowly but surely skate. I was no Peggy Flemming or Dorothy Hammill, but somehow I made it through. It was always freezing cold in the rink; during the summer I went in there just to cool down and have a Coke.


In 1988 it was announced the ice rink was going to be demolished. Signs were posted all over Concord, Pleasant Hill and my high school to save the rink. Local ice skating teams protested in front of the mall. The reasoning behind it was that people were going ice skating anymore. Due to recent kidnappings (including three in my county) parents didn’t want to leave their children alone anymore in the mall. The rink was torn down early 1989, along with the movie theater as well. It was gone before people even knew it was gone. The last movie played? Working Girl. What sprung up in its space months later? A sporting goods store. After all, anything that brings in revenue to Pleasant Hill is a good thing.