The little Fat Okie with her Granny at Crossroads Mall Spring 1974
On October 31st, 2017, what was one of the greatest malls in the country closed for what might very well be the last time. Crossroads Mall came into existence in 1973 and was the place to shop for 25 years. While older generations of Oklahomans recall the shopping experience of downtown Oklahoma City in the 1940’s-1960’s, it’s my generation that will speak fondly of Crossroads. In the ’70’s and ’80’s, that’s where you hung out, whether you were really shopping or just needed some place to go instead of school.
I have very fond memories of Crossroads. It opened in February 1974, I was just a baby. We lived in Norman and it was the closest mall at the time. We were there shopping all the time, especially the holidays. I can still remember playing in the clothes racks at Montgomery Wards while my parents shopped for Christmas presents for the extended family. We always started at the Wards entrance, I think my parents had a credit card they could use there, so it was first on the trip. I remember being 8 and finding a cute purple dress at Wards, I needed it for some school presentation. My parents were nice enough to buy it for me. Later in the early 1990’s I found another cute purple dress there, my dad got it for me as a Christmas gift. At least I still have that one.
After Wards, you went into the main mall. I always started upstairs. The first store you would come to was the pet store. Don’t remember the name but I loved going in there to look at all the cute kittens and puppies. Now I know that those cute animals most likely came from a puppy mill but then everything was still innocent and you just didn’t think about things like that. After that you had Eastern Treasures, where you could always find cool stuff that was way more expensive than my budget would allow. A little further down was Spencer’s with all of their lava lamps, black light posters, and lightning balls. That store just seemed magical to me with all of their silly stuff. There was no real food court, so we would stop at the McDonald’s for lunch. For some reason I thought it was cool that you had to go up another half level to order, it was like the counter was on a stage. After we were done eating, we would pass Frederick’s of Hollywood. That was another store that held a fascination with me, especially after I was a teenager in the ’80’s. All of that cute, lacy clothes that you saw on MTV was there in that store. It was so cool. Eventually we would get to the other end of the mall, JC Penny’s. On one trip in the ’90’s I found these cute stuffed “honkers” from Sesame Street in the kids section. I was just walking through and had to have them, still do.
Downstairs we would then go and into the Hobby Shop. Another store that was just too much fun. You never knew what you could find in there- model cars, model trains, collectibles of all sorts. Next door was the Le Mans arcade. I was always up for a few rounds of skeeball but if my dad was with us, you might as well be prepared to stay a while. He would play Donkey Kong and Pac-Man until he ran out of quarters. Once we got back to the middle, we would sit and look at the fountain. I can still see those blue tiles in my head. After making a wish and throwing a penny in, I would then ask to run up and then back down the ramp. Seems silly now but back then it was fun. Eventually we made it back to Wards and out to the parking lot. We always went in the downstairs entrance and to the south of the doors there was a hill that led to the upstairs parking lot. My dad would carry me to the top of the hill, then with his hands under my arms, would start to run down. By the time we hit the parking lot, my feet were off the ground and it was like I was flying.
I remember in the 1980’s going on many shopping trips with my Granny. She would want to “work out the plastic”, those trips were always good for a new sweater. I know I’m not the only kid in the metro who spent a school day ditching at Crossroads. I’m sure all of the schools would have benefitted from having a paid lookout, then many of us would have been enjoying some quality time in the office explaining how the mall cured us of what was ailing us that day.
The Nineties saw a change in the mall, the ownership at the time thought it was a good idea to remove the ramp and fountain. Replaced with an elevator and carousel, some of the magic was lost. In the late 90’s, a series of shootings gave the mall a bad reputation that it could never overcome. The situation was worsened by road construction on I-35 and I-240, construction that is still going on today. Stores started to close eventually becoming a dead mall. A group tried to bring it back but with no luck. Now the mall is up for sale with rumors of it becoming a school or office space (there is a school in the old Wards section currently).
Just makes me sad to drive by and remember all the fun of going to the mall. Also makes me sad to think of all the younger generations who will never know the fun of ditching and hanging out at the mall. So RIP Crossroads, we may not be able to waste our days inside your doors any longer but we’ll remember the good days that you did give us.
Little Fat Okie at Crossroads Mall Spring 1974