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Friday, August 15, 2008

Crying you an ocean

Can you blame our youth of today complaining there’s nothing to do in this town?

Let me throw some places out for you, and see if they ring any bells.

Fantasy Zone, Denny’s, Perkins, Jumpers, Montgomeryville Mart, Lans-Bowl, Town & Country Lanes.

Remember these?

Here’s more: American Billiards,
, St. Marie’s Club.

If you try to look for these places – with the exception of American Billiards – good luck.

They don’t exist anymore.

These were places to go for fun, once.

Boredom was never rampant with a place to shoot pool or play Laser Tag while battling your buddies at "Mortal Kombat" or "War Gods."

Everyone knew your name at places like Denny’s, which sat where Walgreen’s is at Route 309 and North Wales Road, and even Perkins, which was across the street where yet another bank has gone up.

And why, oh why, do none of these places exist anymore?

First thing that comes to mind: crime.

Could it be youth were having so much fun that they decided to make their own by fighting outside or sticking kids up for their money? Or maybe even the entertainment in this town wasn’t enough for them – so they made their own “fun.”

Fantasy Zone, which is where Outback Steakhouse is today at Five Points, was a great place. Arcades , birthday parties, Laser Tag – it was a fun place to go to kill the boredom.

Then, one day, it was gone.

Billiard City , which was over in the shopping center in New Britain where Genuardi’s is located, also had arcade games and a cool billiard hall. You could rock an X-Men arcade game while waiting for a table.

If you got bored there, you just took a trip down the street to American Billiards, located near Bennigan’s in the area where Ethan Allen furniture exists. There were more billiard tables there, and yes, arcade games too, and there was a good chance you’d meet someone you knew there while sinking the eight ball in the corner pocket and talking about the old days.

Yet, sadly, both those places no longer exist around here. American Billiards, though, has moved to Quakertown.

Remember the Montgomeryville Mart? I do. I used to go there with my grandparents as a youth. You’d walk out of there with a new treasure each time. Then it was destroyed by a fire, and never rebuilt.

Same can be said of Lans-Bowl. Another place to meet with friends, have a lot of laughs and play a couple games. That too burned to the ground and I’m sure it will never be rebuilt.

How about Town & Country Lanes? The owner of that property thought it’d be nice to sell off the land, and now we have Party City and a shopping center that already has a failed anchor store on the record.

My younger days saw my friends and I strolling around the Montgomery Mall. We’d circle the place three or four times, buying stuff here and there, but mostly people watching.

When we stopped into stores, which ones did we go into? Time Out arcade, Spencer’s Gifts, The Wall and Sam Goody.

Time Out, gone. Spencer’s, gone. The Wall and Sam Goody, gone and gone.

Afterward, we’d all meet up at Denny’s for a late night meal and more camaraderie.

All those great high school memories are now paved over and even now when I stand in Aisle Seven at Walgreen’s I think to myself, “I ate right here once” or “Right over there’s where I almost got in a fight.”

St. Marie’s Club in Lansdale , which is now a Muslim temple, used to be a place where local hardcore bands could play. Talk about a good time. Nope, no more.

Acme on Main Street? There used to be a club there called Jumpers, and rumor has it, Wu-Tang Clan played there once. It didn’t last that long.

There’s other things I, and others I know, miss too, like the high dive at Hatfield pool and the BEST store that was once at Airport Square.

Then there’s the things that were once around before my time that I kind of wish were still here: the 309 Cinema drive-in; The Tremont Inn; the West Point amusement park; the Hatfield Speedway; that baseball card shop that used to be next to The Trolley Stop; The Store a.k.a. The Old Mill which is now Towamencin Shopping Village, a place that used to sell more than just sports and camping supplies; and Big Pixie, the drive-up eatery where they used to take your order on rollerskates that was where the bridal shop is now across from Astor Place. Even Astor Place itself – now called Clubhouse Too – is another example.

The list goes on, and will be for ages.

Will we ever get our fun back? Will there ever be something for the kids?

Instead, we get pharmacies and banks galore. I never had so much fun cashing a check or picking up Advil.

Sure, visits to open space like Peace Valley Park are always an option, but who likes dodging goose gifts?

Heck, once upon a time it wasn't illegal to skateboard in Lansdale.

And how many times can you really cruise up and down Main Street for hours figuring out what to do?

I guess one thing still remains for us that can never be removed and is perhaps all we’ve got: our youthful spirit.

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