Friday, May 22, 2015

Photo Essay: Another Ghost of My Childhood

I was doing some paid audience work last weekend that brought me back to Panorama City, which sticks out in my mind as one of my least favorite places in Los Angeles. The place has always made me nervous. It doesn't feel safe.



And so upon my return visit, I shouldn't have been surprised to notice some urban blight: empty lots, burned out cars, and an abandoned shopping center...



...with a pretty modern-looking corner store (maybe a fast food joint?)...



...and a Montgomery Ward.



Wait – when did this place close, 1985?!



It turns out Montgomery Ward – which I remember vaguely from growing up in the 1970s and 80s – was actually in business until the year 2000...



...after a 128-year run as a successful (and then floundering) catalogue / mail order business.



This particular Montgomery Ward retail location has been closed since 2000...



...alongside the smog check shop in the front...



...all of which have been hanging in Limbo for years while developers have promised all the trappings of urban renewal and gentrification...



...including mixed-use new construction, condos, fancy shopping, etc.



Meanwhile, Montgomery Ward – along with its electronics off-shoot, Electric Avenue – has been supplanted by Kohl's, Target, and even Wal-Mart...



...all of which somehow have managed to survive the death of the American mall.



The whole area along Roscoe Boulevard is fenced off, but people have managed to make their way in:



...the chainlink has been patched over and over again, and graffiti has been painted over.



Even cordoned off, the rest of the property continues to succumb to the elements...



...as the paint peels...



...and the pavement cracks...



...slowly...



...unnoticed.



Although I managed to get through the fence to get a closer look...



...the building was boarded up like a fortress, and I'm not one for breaking in. If there's no extant opening, I don't create one.



Besides, who knows who – or what – has taken up residence inside there? I'd rather not find out.

It's amazing how a brand name can evoke such strong feelings – and for me, especially a name of a store, even if I never really frequented it. Montgomery Ward. Woolworth's. Sibley's. Dey Brothers. Chappell's. Service Merchandise. Hill's. Lechemere. Camelot Music. Record Town. Tape World. Media Play. Circuit City. Tower Records. Virgin Megastore.

Those words make me shudder, as I wander the ghost towns of my mind.

And the ghosts of my childhood follow me wherever I go.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: (Mostly) Abandoned Hawthorne Plaza Mall & Parking, Exterior
The End of an Era
On Nostalgia
Photo Essay: Wilshire May Company Building, Miracle Mile