Part of Before The Springfield Mall, The Bazaar in Clifton Heights was the shopping mecca for we middle class families. It was the first of its kind in our area—too many stores to count in one huge rectangle. Indoors, a movie theater within 100 yards, and later (during puberty), Putt Putt.

It had everything a kid could want: game room, pet shop, soft pretzels, toy store, a hobby shop—it was cool.

Mom liked it too as it kept us entertained and there were sales galore.

It was an event when mom said the Bazaar was our destination. (This was before sneaking there myself when I was 13 to watch a Bella Logosi triple feature at the movie theater, or “Let it Be” not to long after that.)

But the highlight of each trip—for Mom at least— especially on a Friday night, was entering the Hammond Organ store. I had forgotten to mention in my previous tales, that Mom and Dad made me take organ lessons.

Picture a husky, Pugsly-like grade schooler, slaving away practicing for eight long years while the ’hood was playing in the woods. You heard me, eight! I became relatively good, but always longed to be a piano player—to be able to sit down in any setting and play like Schroeder in Peanuts.

But with only an organ in the house, I was pigeonholed.

So, we'd stroll in the store and Mom would ask the salesman if I could play. Of course he said yes as it meant an unexpected, cost-free marketing ploy. He could just sit back and let Pugsley stop the traffic.

And normally I did, as it was the Bazaar, and bored hallway strollers were curious of the husky that could do something other than eat.

Truth be told, I hated it each time, as it meant I wasn't watching TV or playing army (not yet old enough to know if girls were worth missing.)

After finishing “Blue Prelude” by Girshwin, my dependable hallway clogger, I'd finally get to leave, amidst some clapping, knowing a front seat to the TV, with channel-changing pliers in hand, and a Doctor Shock movie in my immediate future.

Bob McCole, a native of Springfield, has put fingers to the Blackberry to ‘pen’ some of his favorites memories of growing up in the Township in the ‘60s and ‘70s with his eight siblings. This is just one in his collection of tales that he calls ‘The Husky Years.’ To contact Bob, email bscrambler@aol.com.

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