949 – Boulevard of the Gymnast Dropout
Talk a stroll down a road in Scooters mind, into retro restaurants, malls and dojos, all as you tumble into deep sleep.
949 – Boulevard of the Gymnast Dropout
[START OF RECORDING]
SCOOTER: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and friends beyond the binary, and my patron peeps and my patron peeps and my patron peeps; I said it three times for a reason because if you saw the title of this episode…to cozy up the bed for you ‘cause it’s time for the podcast you support. What do you say we get on with the…? Oh hey, patrons, don’t forget to sign up for our patron newsletter, sleepwithmepodcast.com/patronnewsletter. You’re probably already subscribed but just in case you’re not, we have two newsletters. One for just major alerts and then one regular one. I don’t know if by…when you’re hearing this it’ll have been…any of them have come out but just wanted to get you the info. Thanks.
INTRO: [INTRO MUSIC] Hey, are you up all night tossing, turning, mind racing? Trouble getting to sleep? Trouble staying asleep? Well, welcome. This is Sleep With Me, the podcast that puts you to sleep. We do it with a bedtime story. Alls you need to do is get in bed, turn out the lights, and press play. I’m gonna do the rest. What I’m going to attempt to do…I’m just gonna attempt to do it. I do sound like…I mean, if…let me get away any misconceptions. I know I do sound like a daring…whatever those people are. Stunt performer? I forget what they’re called. What I’m going to attempt to do thought is not do trapeze or a…I guess it is a bit of a…it’s a bit of a low-wire act ‘cause I don’t even want to use that other word. It’s the wire that’s so close to the ground…I guess I’d say well, where else am I gonna get started? I gotta put the wire on the ground.
You think I’m gonna…? That’s the best place…I mean, I guess I’m just wondering. They say well, it’s actually…actually, we never thought of that. I said, isn’t this the Low-Wire Institute of Performance-Based…? They say, no. This is just the hardware store, sir. Once again, we…and I said oh, boy. Well, I just wanted to come in. I find it very soothing to come in and handle your coils. I mean, or spools. I like to just come in and I realize that…I try to respool everything I unspool. I don’t think I make it as nice as it does but…you know in those big box stores, it’s just not the same. I don’t even know if they have spools in there, but…that you could just…should…I know. I support you, though. Every time I need something and I remember to come here and then I overcome my resistance to go anywhere or to do anything, and then to do anything that might be helpful, I’ll come here.
Then I get distracted by the…were you listening when I was pretending I was going to be…’cause believe it or not, while I’m talking to you I’m also supposed to be introducing a podcast. But were you listening in while I was unspooling and respooling this…? Yeah, maybe you’re right; maybe we should do an episode about this tonight. It’s possible. Anyway, sorry about that, listeners. Got off-track really early. What I’m going to attempt to do is create a safe place where you could set aside whatever’s keeping you…excuse me, I’ll be back to my shopping here at your store. Also, is there an Ace or is Ace a name or is it like…’cause the other place…what happened? I prefer to go someplace where I say I don’t know if I’m looking for an Ace. I am looking for a value that’s true.
I know you got…there is that good jingle you have. I never know how it ends, though. I know Ace is the place for your helpful something…friendly something hardware stuff. Oh, the listeners just corrected me. Thanks, listeners. Anyway, I’m here. What I’m gonna attempt to do is create a safe place where you could set aside whatever’s keeping you awake, whether it’s thoughts you’re thinking about…I mean, now you may have a few. You say wait a second, is that how those balancing acts get started? I mean, I remember when Scoots talked about when he was a gym school…gymnast school dropout. I’m no Pinky Tuscadero. Believe me. But I did drop out of gym…whatever it was. It was a gymnastics…gymnastics; that’s what they call it. I’ve talked about it.
This has been a few years and I probably shouldn’t do it at the very beginning of a sleep podcast when I already went off-topic once but I mean why not, right? Well, I just…I’m trying to figure out a way to do it. Well, I got to gym…I said mom, I got a…it must have been the…after one of the big Olympics. I identified with one…some of the Olympians. I mean, it was definitely women’s gymnastics. No offense to men’s gymnastics but I said I gotta tumble. I gotta spring off the spring…the springer…spring horse or whatever they call it, and I gotta pommel that thing. She said okay, well, I’ll look into it. I want to help foster your dreams as a young lad. This was when my mom still had…before…this was the before-time, before she realized what she had her hands full of. She said, so you’re sure about this?
I said, as sure as I was about everything else. I’m sure. I gotta spring. I gotta spring into the sky and flip around and…I’m as uneven as…I’m gonna make those uneven bars…yeah, I…for sure, mom. I’m into it. Then the first day of gymnastics class, they had us run down towards the pommel horse and step on the jumpy thing, and that was it. I said, what time…okay. This is an hour, right? What time are we gonna be doing the flips? I’d like to get in…they said…the teacher said well, have you flipped before? I said have I…teach, if I had flipped before, I would…I’d be outside doing flips. No, I have not. She said well, this is the introductory class. I said right, the introduction to pommeling and springing. Whatever this thing’s called, I want to…like, the Americans, the Romanians, and the Russians.
I gotta be…I gotta do…I gotta fly free. I don’t think I knew who Nadia Comaneci was ‘cause I think that was a little bit before me but I probably said I gotta…she said well, that’s not…we’re just running. I said well, I mean, I can run up and down…so, that was the end of my gymnastics career. I never went back ‘cause my mom said well, how was gymnastics? I said well, we were…just ran up and down an aisle and stepped on a springboard but we didn’t even spring off it. Also I realized that it was gonna take a lot of…who would have thought you can’t just do a triple Lutz right then? That’s exactly…if you’re into this, that’s how you end up making a sleep podcast. Those are the stages of…you say, what are the form…must have been some formative experiences that really guided you towards this calling.
I’d say yeah, like the time I dropped out of gymnastics class, or the time I made my piano teacher cry, or the times I made my tap teacher, tap-dancing teacher exasperated, or…yeah. Or is it something else? So anyway, if you’re here…I’m here to take…create a safe place to take your mind off of whatever’s keeping you awake. I’m sorry I’m so…if you’re new…for a regular listener, you’re…this is a treat, am I right? But for a new listener, let me tell you. Whatever’s keeping you awake, I’m here to take your mind of off that. Could be thoughts, feelings, or physical sensations, changes or travel, or just stuff. Whatever it is that’s keeping you awake, I’m here to take your mind off of that. What I’m gonna do is try to create a safe place, then I’m gonna send my voice across the deep, dark night.
I’m gonna use lulling, soothing, creaky, dulcet tones, pointless meanders, superfluous tangents. I’m gonna go off-topic and keep you company and all that but if you’re new, usually I try to get to this stuff sooner but you might have figured it out already; this podcast is very different and not normal. It’s made by someone that fits those…if those are monikers…I mean, this show is made by a gymnastics class dropout. [00:10:00] I wouldn’t say I dropped out of piano class because that was actually what taught me how to drop out of stuff, because I don’t know why I couldn’t drop out of piano class, but I just couldn’t. I didn’t have the moral or whatever, the…I don’t know if that’s turpitude, though I probably was the same age.
But I said, that’s where I learned all my all-or…some of my great all-or-nothing ways of living. Kids, don’t live like a all-or-nothing person like me. You either take piano class for twenty five years and you never learn piano or you go to…there’s a happy medium. You could go to ten gymnastics classes and then say oh, if I progressed or not…or ten piano lessons and actually practice, maybe. Maybe be more open-minded about it, but it’s okay. We’re all…we’ve all been children and some of us are just a little bit more childish. That’s just the truth. Some of us have trouble getting back to the point. So, if you’re new, a couple things to know. One, I’m an acquired taste, so there’s that. If you haven’t acquired the taste for me, there’s no wrong…that’s totally natural.
Actually, 90% of our listeners, it…they say it takes two or three episodes to acquire a taste for this podcast, to not listen to it. I’m not quoting exactly but they say don’t…so, don’t be like me and just run…you say wait a second, the guy didn’t put me to sleep. He just talked about gymnastics class even though the episode was called Unspooling something; Unspooling My Dreams. I said well, hubba-hubba. I say, you definitely got the wrong podcast, then. This is not Cinemax. But so anyway, so this podcast is a bit different but the thing is, you don’t really listen to it. If you’re still trying to make sense of it or wait to get started, kinda start to tune me out or loosely pay attention, kinda like I’m a piece of tracing paper or something that you barely see. You say okay…because the podcast, it never really gets started.
It kinda just putters along on a meandering path and then I loop back. Also, this podcast really doesn’t put you to sleep. It’s just here to keep you company as you drift off. That’s why the shows are about an hour, to give you plenty of time. But also if you can’t sleep, you…oh, wait, I’m gonna be here to the very end to keep you company, so I’m here whether you’re awake or asleep. So, that’s one of my jobs. Other things to know is…let’s see, what else do you need to know? Is structure of the show; show starts off with an intro. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and friends beyond the binary. That’s so you know everybody’s welcome here. Then there’s business. That’s how we keep the show coming out twice a week on the regular. Then there’s an intro.
The intro goes from about minute four or six or something to minute twenty, twenty-two. That’s where I try to introduce the podcast, as you’ve seen, and then I immediately get distracted and go off-topic, sometimes twice. We already visited a hardware store and a gymnastics class, and got a little insight into my childhood. Those are all things that in a normal intro you would cut out or you’d say here’s the sleep podcast. Let’s get on to the sleepy stuff. This is Sleepy McSleeps and I’m here to stuff up your pillow full of dreams. You say well, if my pillow’s stuffed with dreams, how am I supposed to sleep? Because they’re supposed to be in my head. You say okay, well…but so, this pod…what was I saying? Oh, so the intro; it doesn’t get to the point but it’s really part of the show.
A lot of listeners use it to wind down and get some distance between the day and the night, whether you’re in bed or you’re getting ready for bed or it’s during the day and you need a break, however you want to use it. So, those…that’s the intro. Then there’s business between the intro and the episode. That’s the structure of podcasting, is this thing called the mid-roll. That’s essential to bringing the podcast. Then there will be our story which now, after this intro, I say well, I guess our story’s gonna be about unspooling dreams somehow. So, that’ll be interesting. There will be our story; that’ll be about forty-five, fifty minutes, and then there will be some thank-yous at the end. That’s the structure of the show. Yeah, you don’t really need to listen or pay attention.
Then the reasons I make the show is one, because I’ve been there. I know how it feels in the deep, dark night, tossing, turning, mind racing, trouble getting to sleep, trouble staying asleep. So, I’m happy to help if I can because I say well, I don’t like that. Then the other reason is because you deserve a good night’s sleep. I believe that you do deserve a good night’s sleep, a place where you can have some solace and some rest and some comfort. If you do…if this podcast can help you do it, then that makes the world a better place. You say well, it’s not that big a deal. I say well, it is to me. I really do believe that it’s a little…it’s important. You deserve a place where you could be rested tomorrow and flourish. Now, the flip side of it is, like I said, this podcast just doesn’t work for everybody.
Not everybody likes me and I mean, I totally accept that, or they don’t like my voice or the style of the show. It just doesn’t work for them. There is other sleep podcasts and sleep audio out there. It’s getting more and more popular. But so, I hope you find something that works for you, or fans or music. Whatever it is, but give it…this show a couple tries at least, if you’re having trouble sleeping already. Or usually somebody recommends this podcast, and just see how it goes. But yeah, I’m really happy and I’d be honored to help in any way I can. I appreciate you coming by. I really appreciate you checking the show out. I yearn and I strive because I really want to help you fall asleep, so thanks again for coming by and here’s a couple of ways I’m able to bring you this podcast twice a week, right on time, Sunday and Wednesday. Thanks.
Alright everybody, it’s Scoots here and this is a special episode that I didn’t expect to make. It’s about…it’s been a while since we went…the last time I went into a…other than in the intro, to a local hardware store in my imagination where the values may be true or there may be Aces, or maybe it’s…just be…I guess it’s interesting. I wonder if 99 PI has done a episode about hardware stores. Probably. Or maybe another economics podcast ‘cause you say well, has…I just…I guess I’m wondering if hardware stores always been affiliated…also a good question; internationally, they’re probably not called hardware stores. I wonder what they’re called. Let me know, wherever you are in the world, what you call a store or a shop you would go to to get tools, I guess. You could get tools, you could get, whatever…I don’t know.
What are nails and screws called? ‘Cause they’re stuff you use tools on. Usually it’s very specific and there’s one specific feature. In the US, we still have what I would call local hardware stores. I think they’re probably locally-owned but they’re affiliated with broader organizations. Maybe they’re franchises. When you’re little and you go…you have a extra-big cone of ignorance. Like, to me, growing up in Syracuse, New York, that was the center of my world. I think the…I think it was Bob’s True Value was the closest…was the first hardware store I became aware of and I thought that they were all Bob’s True Value. But I don’t think that’s…I don’t think that was the case, though TJ’s…oh no, it was Big…it wasn’t…here’s a question I don’t even know the answer to; so, in Syracuse…and this is a really hard one…is…so, there used to be a store called Big Boys, right?
I guess it was…and there’s still some in Southern California, I believe. It was kind of like a sit-down…it was like a bit of a diner. I think they specialized in burgers. I mean to me, it was a fancy restaurant and I’m…I’ve talked about it before. But the one in Syracuse was called TJ’s Big Boys but maybe TJ was the franchisee. I don’t know. Both of these, I guess you could say, were 80s era, though the hardware store still exists, at least depending on where you live. There are big box hardware stores. Those I find exhausting. No offense, big box hardware stores. Sometimes I go there but it’s not…you’re not easy to deal with [00:20:00] at all. But so, oh, let’s talk about Big Boys for a second. Oh boy, let’s talk about those Big Boys. Definitely some place called Big Boys…either one, you’d say that’s problematic.
I’d say, you’re right. It had a big smiling cartoonish statue out front holding a burger. The reason I miss it is because I think I’ve only eaten at…the one in Syracuse is long, long, long gone. I don’t know when it disappeared. It’s surprising on the boulevard it was on that it was even there. But I guess in the pre…when there was local malls, before a lot of times there was just a mega mall which that happened in Syracuse and it put the mall…the rest of the malls out of business. You probably would…so, a boulevard; okay. A lot of definitions here are coming up. This is a interesting episode. I guess this…I thought this was gonna be a surreal episode and maybe we’ll get into some surreality but for the time being, this is a…we’re grounded in some reality and interesting crossover reality because…okay, so should I talk about Big…?
Let’s talk about boulevards. Now, on Syracuse…or streets. When I say a boulevard I don’t mean a picturesque boulevard with grass medians and…a boulevard in the 80s and maybe the…and the 90s, yeah, would mean…in the parlance of the United States would mean what is the least pedestrian-friendly thing other than a highway where you can’t go as a pedestrian? If it was on Jeopardy, I’d say a place no pedestrian should ever go even though they’re allowed to and don’t even think about it if you’re on a bike. What is a boulevard? They’d say correct. Or there’s other ones but I think boulevard is…though there were streets. Yeah, ‘cause one was Genesee Street, West Genesee Street. But then there was Erie Boulevard in Syracuse, E-R-I-E, and Onondaga Boulevard which was the boulevard I lived closest to.
But this isn’t the boulevard…I think…I don’t know which boulevard I’m talking about. I think we’re talking about Genesee Street in this case. But anyway, it’s…to me, it’s…it’ll always be a boulevard. You’re not just a street to me, Genesee Street. It may be West Genesee Street. I don’t know if it was west…west of what. Maybe…I don’t know. But so, that was a boulevard or a street. It would be…it’s not a highway. It may have a number though because I know those numbers and stuff mean stuff like oh, well, we could make this into a highway if we needed to. I think that’s what those mean, like oh, we could make this…the state or the federals could make this into a highway but we probably won’t. It’s like a state route, like back in the day. This would be before highways.
I don’t know if this was what Route 66 was but I’m pretty sure…yeah. You’d say Route 66 is…would be a lot of boulevards. You know, those of you that travel the highways and the byways, especially these kind in my mind. I guess this is a little bit…this will be a little bit of a tour. I thought we were gonna to go a hardware store and pull on the…but I don’t even know where Bob’s True Value is. So now, we’re on a boulevard. What a boulevard means is it…it’s multi-laned. Sometimes the lanes would be separated with a concrete thing though a lot of times…and it was a yellow double-stripe which means no passing. But you could pass…and they’d be two lanes, maybe three for right or left turns. Probably the speed limit was a little bit higher, like 35. Probably…definitely not 40 ‘cause there was a lot of lights.
So, a place where there’s a lot of traffic; not a lot of walking. That is where Bob’s…or TJ’s Big Boy was, the restaurant. If we were gonna go there…other things that were on that would be…a karate studio was right by there that I went to the introductory class and my parents…like, after the class. I think we might have gone as a group for Cub Scouts, and it was very intense. A little bit like the level of intensity in Napoleon Dynamite. But I think you also had to…it was just…within my parents’ belief system, it was…I think you were supposed to pray to the American flag in the…in this dojo. My parents weren’t comfortable with that because they said well, we have a belief system. At least, that’s what they told me when they said…I said I’d like to learn…and they said no, and then they said well, remember how stuff worked out with gymnastics class?
I said oh yeah, you’re right, I’m a gymnastics class dropout. So, there was probably a photo studio. There was definitely photo-development across the street ‘cause across the street was my first mall, Fairmount Fair Mall, which has appeared in multiple episodes, or what I can remember of it. But so, Bob’s…TJ’s Big Boy. I think it’s called Bob’s Big Boy in LA ‘cause I remember calling there ‘cause they would have…’cause back when I had a job selling fuzzy dice, they might have been one of my customers ‘cause they would have big car nights and that was one of the ways they kept…when…I know I read articles about this, so I’ll have to look it up. When they talk about why in Southern California Big Boys is still in business and popular.
It’s like oh, because of the…and I’ll definitely make a trek to one when we can travel again ‘cause when I’m recording this, it’s not an option. But so, because they would have big car nights or whatever you call it, classic car nights. Or maybe one of my customers would go there and sell fuzzy dice. Yeah, that was one of my jobs as an adult, not as a college student or a teen; selling fuzzy dice and iron-on patches. So, at Big Boys I always imagined…oh, I was talking about my first mall. Fairmount Fair was across the street, so maybe we’ll talk about that. But so, the restaurant Big Boy…TJ’s Big Boys…TJ’s Big Boy; you’re right. Thank you, brain. It was a sit-down restaurant where you had a waiter or waitress, so it was not a…and I think maybe the kitchen was in the center of it.
There was probably a salad bar ‘cause oh boy, the 80s and the 90s were like…salad bars were the thing. I guess in my mind I’m picturing…so there was booths and then there was probably counter seating on built-in stools. So, this was something like a diner…like something you’d stop at on a roadside adventure, I guess. But to me, I guess we ate there…maybe I ate there three or four times. I mean, I can remember the last time I ate there. I’m pretty sure that I ate there. I was definitely probably in middle school and I could probably try to…actually I could look up the date, so maybe I will because I ate there with my dad. It may have only been my dad and I or maybe one or two of my other siblings. I don’t know the reason. I think it was part of a emotional journey we had been on.
This was the bringing-back of the emotional journey which I guess I’ll talk about. I feel like maybe I’ve talked about this on the podcast before, but maybe not. I guess a lot of this is on my mind just ‘cause I was watching this thing about video games on…you’ll see how it connects, on Netflix. But so, okay, so you’d go in there and it was very…it had a very chrome…a golden chrome loungey feel. The only place I’ve eaten in the last twenty years that can compare is Emil Villa’s and that’s a BBQ chain that I think is also slowly disappearing. It wasn’t retro at the time but even twenty or fifteen years ago when I ate at Emil Villa’s, I said this is kind of retro. But so, okay, so they specialized in burgers and they would make the burgers how you wanted them. You say oh, medium rare, well-done. For a kid like me, you say what do you mean?
‘Cause usually you’re just eating a burger at McDonalds or Burger King and a Happy Meal. Their burgers were very familiar…very unique [00:30:00] and definitely contrast with fast food, and probably came with fries and lettuce and tomato and everything which kids…I probably didn’t like. I also remember…when…oh, so you said well, I want it medium-well. They would come with a wooden sign in your bun that said medium-well. Just, if you run a restaurant right now that has sit-down…these are the kinda things, small touches that could really earn you lifetime customers. I’m not kidding. When you’re a kid and then you say can I…do I get to keep this? I don’t know if I did or not but those are special things, those tactile things.
Just a free…and usually because it was made of some sort of wood, like balsa wood or something. Don’t do it in plastic. Maybe a swizzle stick could be plastic but just in case you’re possible restaurateurs, don’t do anything else other than swizzle sticks in plastic, which is something that usually comes in a adult drink to stir it. Or, I don’t know, you…sometimes you just underestimate kids. You say well, this is a swirly straw. You say yeah, it’s just a swirly straw you bought in bulk. Give me something, you know what I’m saying? Other than the retro feel…and I remember the place always felt busy and the burger thing…and then everything came on plates and silverware. I mean, for a child in a family of six, these…this is a major…eating at a place like this…I mean, I can’t even imagine if we…all of us ate there.
One, I don’t know if they’d have a place to put us all at one table. Two, I don’t know, I guess my parents would order for us ‘cause I can’t imagine if we…’cause you’ve all been to…even with someone with a few kids, if you go somewhere and everybody’s ordering; even with adults, you say holy mackerel, that’ll take a day or two to get the orders and then get the orders correct. I don’t think we all ever ate there as a family though we may have, or we may have eaten there as…in a group. What was the other thing I remember, though? Oh, the smell. So, the burger and the restaurant had a very distinct smell. I’m not talking about…I’m talking about some sort of smell. It was neither good or bad. I guess it was shading towards good, but it was unique.
I always associated with that, so that’s one of the most forlorn feelings, believe it or not, of not existing as not being able to go there to confirm the smell or…and the smell was aligned with the food. Again, it wasn’t an off smell. It was a unique smell and the burger was what was generating the smell. It was distinct. I guess that’s not unique ‘cause unique you can say well, unique still doesn’t…I’d say well, it was distinct. This is just my memory so this could be…and maybe it was ‘cause looking at the plastic Big Boy…but I remember the bun…it was very uniform but not in a fast food uniformness. I think their bun was a bit denser than a light, fluffy bun and their burger was also…it was a thicker burger. We’re talking about an inch, I guess. The top-half of your thumb, from your bend to your thumb.
That’s how thick the burger was I think, but it wasn’t…I don’t know. It wasn’t dense like…you know what I mean? I don’t know if you…if you’ve had it before you say yeah, it had a density to it. Not like thick, but you know, when you’re hand-carving…crafting patties, you can make them…some places have it where it’s very…I don’t know. Those are just things I remember about it. I’m pretty sure the fries were steak fries. The last time I remember eating there was when I was eating there with my dad. I think this aligns with another episode I did recently, so maybe I’m just going through something in my subconscious, but I’m pretty sure this was a time when my family was grappling with some family stuff. I was probably acting out as maybe as a result of that or just being myself which involved a lot of acting out and not…things not going well in school.
This dinner and what we did after dinner was a part of my…and maybe it was also me using the circumstances to my advantage ‘cause it’s always hard to tell with kids. Children learn very…on how to influence their parents’ behavior which could be considered manipulative at times or it could be Darwinian where you say okay, I’m gonna take this situation and I’m gonna use it to my advantage to get the most I can out of it. But so, it was…I remember eating dinner and I don’t really remember much about it other than holy cow, reading…but the part of the reason why we were there was because a couple doors down…now, this was on a boulevard so it wasn’t like you could walk. Nothing was walkable. Even though it was like, three driveways down, you had to drive.
I wish…now, it’s interesting that I remember so many details but I don’t remember the name of this place. But there was a place and again, this was pre-big box era, so this was a place…it was a…before even big box places that went out of business, like Barnes & Noble. This was way before that. This place…I’m pretty sure it was…and again, this was at the beginning of the computer gaming era so there wasn’t GameStop or even Best Buy, and so…or even Office Maximum or whatever. So, if you wanted to get computer games, yeah, there might be a computer game store at the mall or something but again, on the boulevard…so, this place, it was…I’m pretty sure it was a bookstore and it sold computer stuff. Maybe not computers themselves. I’m pretty sure it was a corporate place. I don’t know what chain it was.
It wasn’t…I don’t think it was Walden Books ‘cause they were more mall-based. I have no idea what it was called. I’ll have to try to look into it. But what was my point? Oh, so we had gone there. This was in the…I was in the age range where I had…my dad likes to read so he…so I think I had convinced him to go there but really I wanted to go there to see if they had a couple games in stock. There was a couple games and I think this was…I talked about this a long time ago but we had gone through a few different computers and maybe this was when we had moved onto a new computer, but the computers in my life…the personal computers, we started off with a TI-99/4A which was a Texas Instruments computer. That was a very long time ago but it could play games and cartridges.
Then we moved onto whatever the first version of a PC Clone was. I don’t think those were 1086s but I don’t remember the first…I mean, not…for us, it was the first generation. They were called PC Clones because you didn’t have to buy one from IBM which was the creator of the DOS, ‘cause you could just put on DOS. I think it was always MS DOS, or I guess a DOS-based computer. We had got one and you could build these which you can still do today. I don’t know, my…I think Rick was the one who built our computer. It was someone I worked with, who my dad worked with too. But so, we had this one and it had a graphics adapter called a CGA graphics adapter which was not very powerful.
It could only display like, four colors at a time which were usually…you had to choose when you were…I don’t know if you could choose in the settings but if you were playing a game it would either be light blue, a pink, and then black and white. Is that right? Or green, yellow…I don’t know. When it was green or yellow, I can picture a red in there, too. No, I don’t think…there was no shading or anything. I don’t know, I’ve talked about it before and then I never remember. It was low-powered and then it had…I don’t even think it was a 8-bit. Its sound card was very basic. We were a little bit…usually…and just like me today, we were not early adopters. We had six kids in the house so this was…[00:40:00] the previous generation normally is where we would get in on the technology.
At that time, the competing technology was called EGA which stood for Enhanced Graphics Adapter. Then after that was something called VGA which was Video Graphics Adapter, I think. The EGA I think had…could display sixteen colors which was a lot compared to four. Then the VGA was I think 256 colors. Then same thing went for sound cards. We had, whatever, a 8-bit or a 4-bit sound card so it just made…just like the…you’d hear; one step down from 8-bit music. But in some sense there was something…the sound card was…is not as distracting ‘cause you still…I don’t know. I think the programmers were able to be a little bit more creative or they had a little bit more space. A lot of times, you just needed that one channel or two channels to create a…if you weren’t trying…’cause they weren’t trying to create reality. At the time, the games were just not reality-based games.
At the time, I more had FOMO for the visuals versus the audio. The reason I had FOMO was I had got introduced to one of my friends, Charlie. He had a IIGS, an Apple computer, an Apple IIGS. I think he also had a Apple II something else. But the Apple IIGS at the time was absolutely groundbreaking. It was more powerful than even a VGA PC as far as if you wanted to play games or do creative things. It had…it could display so many colors and it had, whatever…I think they called it something number voice was how you rated the sound card at the time. You could do a orchestra. It had early…it came…or you could buy painting programs and…I remember my friend Charlie; he was making music at the time on there. So, early digital audio workstations.
But where it really excelled for middle schoolers was video…playing games, computer games, which are different than video games. Just a little bit more complex, a little…a lot of times less communal and larger in scope and more story-based, though Nintendo and stuff had its own appeal. Okay, so this store we were going to…I guess for me, especially because I was with six kids and I had had jobs on and off…I guess I would have probably still had my paper route in seventh grade but so, I still had some kind of income. Then by fresh…then I got…this was back when…I remember working at a grocery store. You could get a job at like, fourteen or fifteen, though I talked about that. That job did not last very long. I guess that was when I was a freshman in high school. But anyway, so, where was I? Okay, oh, so the store.
Whatever it was called, it sold computer games and there was…it was just weird that it was hard…you couldn’t go online to buy computer games. Really, unless you bought computer game magazines, you really didn’t know about stuff. The way to market it was much different. So much of it was word-of-mouth. My friend Charlie, he got a couple computer magazines or stuff. There was even one that had the walkthroughs and stuff like that. But so, he knew a lot about…he taught me a lot about computer games and one of the great…there was two great companies or maybe three at the time or four…well, we’ll get into…the most important one is Roberta Williams and Sierra On-Line. I’ve talked about her before and she was just on this documentary.
I would have liked to have more Roberta Williams, personally, because she’s one of my heroines. But it was pretty cool to watch her ‘cause they did show her working on story for…or remembering working on the story for one of her first games. But so, she made these games and two of the more popular games she made were called King’s Quest and Space Quest. They had spawned all these sequels and they would come out for PC and Apple. I think at the time, you probably had to put out a Mac version and a Apple IIGS version. Then on the PC, it had to be able to scale. Ideally, at least initially for CGA, EGA, and maybe VGA. Though if you were using the performance of the VGA, you were probably using too much memory for a CGA to work.
But so, she did have games that would work on…I remember I bought one…one or two games that didn’t…our computer couldn’t handle. Maybe I returned those but at some point…and I don’t think it was with this trip. I had read…I started researching I think maybe at the library they had computer magazines or maybe I bought a couple. There was this game based on the movie Willow ‘cause there was…the desire was oh, could we get these games to have some sort of cinematic feel? There was even a gaming company called…I don’t know if they were called Cinemagic but they had a couple games. They had a Three Stooges game, they had a Chicago Untouchables-style game, and then they had a medieval game, none of which of course I can remember what they were called.
But they were all very cinematic. Especially on the IIGS, they really used the graphics cards. But this company did not make this game about the…based on the movie Willow. But I read that you could get it working on our computer or maybe this was when we had changed computers or changed graphics cards. I think I kept asking for a graphics card for Christmas but eventually we just ended up getting a new computer because even back then, the computer said oh no, it doesn’t work. It only works for a couple years or the hardware changes. But I think we did get a graphics card and then maybe…and I was very stubborn. I said well, I’ll just…just get me the card and I’ll figure the rest out. But so, I really wanted…you know when you really want something, you desire it and you think it’s gonna…you could feel yourself…this was how I was with this Willow game.
It was a popular game, I thought, and I remember being like…’cause whatever the emotional journey my father and I had been on, the compact…the healing compact we had agreed on was…or it was we’ll go out to dinner and we’ll discuss this. There was a lot on my father’s shoulders at the time so it was like okay, we’ll deal with this and then we’ll go to this book store and look for your computer game. Or maybe it was like well, how can we make this feel better? I said well, I just want to go get this computer game. Maybe even at the time I was like, I have the money to pay for it. But so, we went there and of course, they didn’t have the game. Oh, boy. I said oh, no. Then I remember being kinda dismayed because…and maybe they even had it in Mac, so I even had to look at the box or they only had the VGA version.
But I was sure this was the game for me, that this was gonna change everything. I think I even asked or my dad asked ‘cause I can picture the layout of the store, even. When you walk in, it had a big front window. The door was on the left. Very typical outdoor walk-in-the-store glass door with the bell, though this was a larger store. Then right when you walk in, there was displays and I think the front of the store was the computer stuff and then the back of the store was the books and the other stuff. I think my dad and I separated and I was like, looking. But I also…and I don’t know if it was this trip but I think it was that I got the first version…so, Sierra On-Line also had a new game called Community Resource Person, trying to solve a mystery.
I did get that game and that game was like, it really was able to make the most…I never got the Willow game or if I did, it said it was gonna work on our computer and it wouldn’t. [00:50:00] But I’m pretty sure I just never got it. I think I felt like I kinda settled. I said well, I’ll get this game or maybe it was just another time that I got that game, the Community Resource Investigator game, solving stuff. I got that game and I was…my mind was blown. It was able to make the most of…whoever programmed that game for CGA, a basic PC Clone, had really outdone themselves because the…even though it was just the basic beep, beep, beep, de-de beep, they were able to have a beat. Even though there was four graphics, it was able to present an experience that felt immersive in a way at the time that made me forget about everything else.
This was different ‘cause I talked about video games and me, and this is…I guess that episode is kind of an emotional intensity episode. This is more of the flourishing and the positivity of computer games. It gave me this world to explore and challenges to solve. I think probably there were times I was obsessing over it but it wasn’t like when I played Nintendo or something where it was like…it was a different kind…those are very visceral, almost animal-level experiences playing those games, a lot of times, for me. I struggled with addiction and that stuff, and computer games can be like that, too. This game, I definitely spent a lot of time in it and a lot of time trying to solve the different challenges and obstacles and puzzles because it was like you were trying to solve a mystery kinda thing.
It was very rule-based and stuff like that. I remember being like holy moly, and I don’t know if this was the first game in the series or the second game in the series. I’d have to look that up, too. But I just remember it being…my mind being blown and maybe again, yeah, I was a late adopter because not that long…I mean, maybe it was a long time after that; the sequel or the third one came out and again, I had the money to pay for it. There was different things going on at my house and whoever was helping take care of us and staying with us…and I remember telling her, I gotta go to the store. I need you to drive me to the store so I can get this computer game. She was a babysitter, right? So she was torn. She was like well, I don’t know if that’s…your parent…I said well, I have the money to pay for it.
Again, there was this deep desire; in some sense a craving. But it was also summer and I was like, I could really get lost in this game and have…it would be really fun for me. Again, I was probably immature, so I was probably older than you’re thinking. But I mean, I am just not a mature person. I remember her being unsure about it. I said well, you could ask…maybe I said well, ask my parents. But it was just ‘cause the game had just come out or something. I don’t know if I called the store but I can remember that one because I remember…you know that feeling when you have something…I don’t know, brand-new that you’re looking forward to, especially as a kid but as an adult too, and you’re like, I can’t wait to get home. I remember all the build up. It was almost like a challenge getting the game, but I had the money.
I’m sure at the time, maybe games cost twenty dollars, maybe they cost forty dollars. I don’t know, but it was an investment. Then I was like, please let it work on the computer. Please don’t…’cause again, with the different configurations…but I think I had researched it. I’m like no, no, this is supposed to work on a CGA, lower…whatever we have. It did again, and again it was like…or maybe I’m mashing up these memories but it was like, it was an improvement on the other version. I don’t remember the story or anything but I just remember all the stuff you had to do. Then I think it did change. Sometimes it was like a third-person perspective and sometimes it was like a POV first-person. That was new. I think in the previous game, it was always a third-person or not even a third-person perspective; you’re seeing it…I don’t know what you call it.
But you’re seeing it at a distance and you’re moving the character around on the screen. It was side-view versus this was POV and it would switch between the two. Then it had cut scenes just like games today do, though they weren’t movie cut scenes. They’d be like, more detailed pictures or something. I’m pretty sure — and maybe this was the game — that it was like, they even figured out a way to synthesize voice through one…I don’t know, a walkie-talkie voice or something where I was like, I cannot believe they’re doing this. Or maybe…but there was also…I can also remember playing one of the King’s Quest games and then getting that sequel, and that was where it wouldn’t work with our computer. So, that was like…that was something. I don’t know. Those are two things.
I think across this boulevard…trying to think what else was on this boulevard. A place where you go when people…a home when people go to the place in the sky, then there was a ice cream place; soft serve. One of my friends owned it for a while as an adult, Marnie, but doesn’t own it anymore. Across the street in one direction was the Pizza Hut we would go to as kids when it was a big deal, one of the two Pizza Huts for a sit-down, big family meal, like a special occasion. There was also a church that we…it was a Catholic church that was really well-known for having a late mass on Sundays. That was like, as your kids got older, you might have to go to that. It was like, 4:00 or 5:00 PM on Sundays.
Then as you got older, maybe you would try to go there because it was more like if you had a crush on somebody that might be there, you’d be like well, at least there’s a higher priority of them being there. Then yeah, the…oh, the mini-golf place that I talked about in Mini Golf and Me or Mini Golf Memories was down there. Then Fairmount Fair Mall which it’s been a long time since I talked about that, so I’ll talk about that a little…with our last few minutes here and then I’m sorry, Bob’s True Value. Maybe we’ll visit you again. So, Fairmount Fair Mall…let’s see. What do I have time to talk about? So, this was the mall that was there when I was…it wasn’t a new mall. Whenever I became mall-sentient, which would have been…you would have gone there to get…we didn’t really get our clothes at the mall.
I’m trying to think of the first time I would have gone to…I guess you’d go there for like…oh yeah, you’d definitely go there for walking around in the holidays because that’s when they had audio, animatronics, and a lot of cotton that was supposed to look like snow. You could go there…oh, also, my dad when he was a smoker or pipe-smoker — this is how different the world was — they would have a pipe shop. Sometimes they would either give away or sell really cheap to get kids early. You wouldn’t get any tobacco but they would sell corncob pipes. I remember going a couple times and me and my brother getting corncob pipes. This was the 80s mall, so you’re talking…I’m assuming there was a Orange Julius, there was definitely a arcade.
Maybe we got to go to the arcade when we were little but I don’t remember going there too much until I was in middle school. There was the anchor…like, the anchor tenants which would have been probably Sears and JCPenney and maybe one or two other companies that I’m forgetting. But yeah, the things I remember most about this mall were one, the holiday decorations because they were quaint but in a cool way. They had where you see oh, they’re…that thing’s pretending to saw something. They would have Santa’s Workshop-type stuff. Oh, they’re pretending to…that Santa’s pretending to wave. Very basic…not animatronic figures but one-motion figures. Also, in…now, this was a one-level mall.
It did have some ups and downs which I talked about on a early mall-walking episode, [01:00:00] so it wasn’t all on…it was only one floor. It wasn’t level though which I think was either brilliant or just how they had to design it where they built it, but it gave it some variety and also probably prevented it…’cause it was just one long thing from being one long thing. Then down the middle it had a trough on and off with water, then there’d be a fountain with tons of skylights. What else? Then a very big memory of mine was one time, my dad volunteered there. Let’s see, this…how do I term this? My dad had a volunteer shift for the March of Dimes and they did a fundraiser every October.
This was a store that had gone…this year…this was the only year…oh no, we went to it a couple other times at different places but this particular year, one of the anchor tenants at this mall had left, probably because this mall was slowly in the decline ‘cause then they had built a new mall literally a half a mile away. This mall would see this slow decline but…or maybe it was a mile away but it wasn’t that far. Then that mall would see a decline, but those were the malls of my youth. Maybe I’ll do another episode about this more. Say Scoots, you’re really…I say yeah, you know, we gotta do this. But yeah, I guess this could be a series. The Malls of My Youth. I mean, I like to talk about malls. I’ve talked about them before. Why am I debating myself about this? But so, this one memory I’ll finish with. I was a stubborn kid.
Now, this was probably…this was in grammar school but maybe I was in sixth grade and my brother Carl would have been in fourth grade. It was just the two of us so we’ll say that maybe I was in fifth grade and he was in third grade. But my dad was volunteering at this thing they did on October to raise money for the March of Dimes where you were led through a house of surprise and fun, themed around the Halloween season, if you catch my drift. My dad was the volunteer for that day’s shift which I presume would be six…I mean, it felt like we were there for like, eight hours. At first I kinda felt like whatever the arrangement was, my mom was like you’re taking those two kids with you or my dad was like, why don’t you come with me? It’ll be fun. I was like, I want to watch cartoons or whatever.
So at first, me and my brother were ornery. Then it kinda felt cool ‘cause my…it was just such a different thing. My dad was selling tickets and people were coming. We had seen inside before it got started but I was like, I’m not a brave person, so I was like well, I don’t want to be in a seasonal display of surprise and fun. I don’t find that fun. The people that were dressing up as character actors for this seasonal display of surprise and fun were coming and they were being kind. They weren’t trying to make us not into it. They were like oh, you should come in it. It was very cool in the sense that you had a tour guide. So not only was there…and I’m assuming these were teens that were volunteering but maybe they were just community members supporting this organization.
But so, they…you would get led through it and it was through a store that we had been to, so I don’t know what store had closed but that was another cool thing, was I know I’ve been in…I was at this store before it went out of business. But so, I finally…they kept being like, come on. I was like no, I can’t handle it. I think my dad was like well, I’ll go with you on my break. I was like, no. I had to wait…and this wasn’t the only time. My younger brother had more courage than me and had to lead the way which he’s probably done a lot of times in his life, so thank you, Carl. Daniel and Julie, if you’re listening, hello. But so, Carl went and he either went by himself or with my dad through this display of…usually this is the older brother’s role, I think, but not in my case ‘cause that was just the same thing with roller coasters.
I would have to wait for Carl to go on it first. But he went through the display and then came back. Then I said oh wow, you made it through. He goes yeah, it’s so cool. You gotta come with me. Then we must have gone through this thing with every single group, so we probably were annoying but I can remember it was, again, like being…I remember just thinking about the story that the guide was telling us and the sound effects and being impressed. Like I said, I think some of the stuff is even set up to the sound effects ‘cause there was the chimes when it turned midnight and that’s when a bunch of action would happen. Then there was a couple other displays you went and looked at. It wasn’t anything like these modern places of seasonal surprise. Not that level of intensity.
But somewhere enough that I think it was more geared towards…I mean, I’m sure adults and kids went but it wasn’t just for kids. It wasn’t toned down to that degree ‘cause it was made to make money for the organization. I just remember it’s definitely a treasured memory of mine that it could have been something like I was resistant and afraid of, so I don’t know if there’s a takeaway there. Have a younger brother than braver than you is one takeaway and appreciate that, but also it was just cool ‘cause then we went through it so many times that were picking out more and more details, like with Ray and the theme parks of like wow, look at that, or oh…or maybe we were even starting to sneak off or walk slower.
Then it got to the point where it was like okay, now I remember these…stores in the mall like that…and this was more of a anchor store, so it was…on these old malls, they were one storey but the anchor stores were sometimes two storeys or they had high ceilings ‘cause they were a storey and a half. They’d have these big pillars and some of the pillars would have mirrors on them and stuff. So, I don’t know. Then I remember just actually being with my brother as the characters were playing with us, or then they realized we were game, so then they were trying to surprise us. Really a great memory of…I guess that’s one of the boulevards in my life that’s really a street, so thank you, Genesee Street. You’ve been here for so many episodes, really. Goodnight.
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