Monday, May 7, 2012

Last Lap of the Manchester Parkade

The Parkade. For years it was my hometown's retail hub. A 1950's shopping plaza that had just about every type of store you needed. I have always had good memories of it. As a kid, my brother and I would wait in the car as Ma shopped. The big store was King's, and it had a sign that would flash the letters in sequence. We would sing along with the sign.  K, I, N,G, S, Kings! The HESS gas station had those awesome trucks.

Later it was a place to spend the hard earned paper route money. Record Breaker had cool posters, Sears had sporting goods and the arcade could take all of your money if you were not smart.

My first job was at Sears, my first date was at the UA Cinemas and my first Chevelle had the gas tank fall out on a Friday night. Under-age beers flowed at the bowling alley.

During the teenage, driving years, the place was a paradise after dark. Kids would come from 20 miles away to show off their cars, chicks would cocktease or put out, the tough guys with no cars would start fights, and the cops would usually leave you alone.

Drag racing was big the first couple of years I hung around there. Racers would hang out and talk shit, then go over to the incomplete Interstate and duke it out on a marked off 1320. The cops began a loss of license campaign and the racers eventually faded away.

I had a red Catalina and it was flashy enough to pick up a few chicks. I met my best girlfriend ever, Maureen, as she drove by in her Trans Am. Eventually, I lost her by hanging around with the other, numerous Parkade floozies. Greed is bad.

I got my first bike in '88 and started to hang with a different crew at the Parkade. None of my friends had a bike, so I made new ones. Dave Hess had an Interceptor like me. He was a quiet dude, but eventually we started riding together. There were other guys with bikes and we all took a ride to Laconia that Summer.

By 1990 I was more into the bar scene and didn't go there anymore, the new Buckland Hills Mall was killing the retail life and wigger culture was beginning to blossom. The Parkade world dried up.

Tomorrow they begin the demolition of the plaza half we used to cruise around. There will be a ceremony, I am on the RSVP list. I will drink a Purple Passion in honor of those great Summer nights. I am not sad about the demolition, the buildings are ugly and an eyesore. No architectural treasures are being lost.

I am sad at the demolition of my youth. While as the excavator knocks the first wall down, I will feel it inside. The crumbling bricks will tell me I am old and outdated, just like the plaza.

1 comment:

thepainter said...

cool story man,....

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