To my everlasting amazement, the response to last week’s grump was more positive than I expected. Certainly, it was more positive than I was. (Granted, that being more positive than I was last week is not, by definition, all that hard.)

Of the many messages I got in the E-mail last week, one really caught my eye…One reader sent me a link to an bit posted over at Gennie’s place and asked if I had any response.

Well, I had several responses, most of them unprintable. However, having calmed myself a bit, let me say that I read Gennie just about daily, and I’ve always liked her work. But the intent of my reader linking that particular story went right by me, I’m afraid… and I think the reasons for my grouch last weekend got lost somewhere around trying to link it to other people’s geopolitical strutting. In any event, I doubt Gennie saw my bit of last week.

But, look, let’s not get our “Haines Her Way” in a twist, OK? I’m by no means suggesting we all take part in an organized effort at shutting down (insert business here) for the day, nor am I in protest of any business taking part in such post-Thanksgiving sellathons. The businesses are out there giving people what they ask for; that’s why they’re in business. I’d just as soon they didn’t go out of business. Far from it.  However, that means little for my personal actions; I’m not too keen on going to ‘boy band’ concerts, either, nor am I into Sushi bars, or Elvis impersonations, but that doesn’t mean I’m overly concerned with the forcible removal of them from the planet…. (Well, OK, maybe the Elvis impersonations!)

For the most part, Gennie’s ire as she directs against such organized groups as want such sales to fail, seems to me right on the beam… They are after the failure of such sales, because they’re after the failure of the usual Christmas sales spike, and thereby the failure of the economic policies of the president… For reasons of their own socialist mantra. This is not some great morally driven crusade we find them involved with, (if morals can EVER be said to drive liberals).

Yes, I’m serious. Ask yourself; did you see such high-minded concern for the sanctity of Christmas being reported widely during the Clinton administration? No, it’s only when the Bush Administration comes along, and it would suit the socialists well to see a sales drop-off under Mr. Bush, that this stuff comes out. And I note, as Gennie does the theme popping up among the DU(h) crowd.  I’m as Skeptical as Gennie is with these folks for three reasons;

1: I doubt their stated goal is a good one
2: I doubt their real goal is their stated one.
3: I doubt that their real goal is a good one either.

And as a bonus, frankly, I doubt any goal the DU(h) morons get behind as a general rule.

Still, I’ve always sought shopping venues that were at something less than 300% of fire safety occupancy limits.  There is something about doing Christmas shopping under Decorations that don’t have dust on them from late August. I will contribute to the economic recovery, but I’ll do it in my own time, thank you.

Though I must say, that if there’s anything that can drive me screaming to the stores, checkbook in hand, on that day, it’s leftist nutbags saying I shouldn’t go.


Speaking of shopping and Christmas, and businesses and whatnot…  One of the annual mileposts have just gone past me.  I wonder how many more times I’ll see it, however. Your understanding of this is going to take a little setting up.

Back in 1962, a group of Rochester business people got together and formed what turned out to be a harbinger of the future of the shopping center… Midtown Plaza. An all-indoor shopping mall, particularly in a smaller market like Rochester was kind of an unknown.. And was ahead of it’s time. When you go to your local mall, and look around remember this is where the concept got started.

The second picture on that page is pretty much what it looks like today, though this picture was taken about four years ago. Notice the kiddie monorail, the Christmas tree, and so on. The outside picture is taken out in front, and is of the old Sibley’s building, and features the Liberty Pole in Downtown Rochester.

That milestone, as I mentioned, is that the Christmas tree is now up. It stands where you see it here. Years ago, the putting up of the Christmas tree at Midtown was an event covered by all the local news outlets, and was often in the early years set off with a party. Santa arrived in the same day the tree did, and did a land office business from November 26th on. No more, since as all downtown areas have, downtown Rochester is falling on harder times, as people interested in lower crime, less parking hassle, and better prices due to lower rent and taxes, head to the ‘burbs to do their shopping.

Still it’s nice to see Midtown and putting their usual holiday spread up along with much of the rest of Downtown Rochester. The place holds many memories for me; Myself at age 5, being escorted through the downtown for a ride on Midtown’s monorail… Yes the same one… Way back when. It seemed so much larger then.  Of course it was much busier, too.. Many many more shoppers. Going downtown used to be a special trip, something one looked forward to. Alas, few people look forward to that trip, or even consider it, any longer.

One thing I do remember also about those years is the rather unique clock, shown in the interior shot on the page I linked. There are 12 nations represented on that clock… And each one of the pods you see, contains a diarahma depicting that country. It moves, and has a soundtrack for each country, too…  And was all made by hand, and worked for the first time the week the mall opened back in 1962. At the time, the electronics were all electron tube based, and tape recordings provided the (rather poor quality) sound. Since then, a computer has taken over the operation of the display which vastly improves the sound, but some of the hand-made parts have broken, and the gent whose clock outlasted him, isn;t around to care for his creation. Sad.

I can remember begging my sister to wait just until the top of the hours, just so I could hear the music and see all the doors opened at once… And see all the displays, instead of just the half-hour where only one of them opened.

If this all sounds quaint, keep in mind; This was magical stuff for a 5 year old, particularly for the time. And the time itself was of the same magic; The country was under the Presidency of JFK, the world, supposedly, was united..And our place in the world was pretty much secured, except for those nagging nuclear bomb drills in school, and some background noise during the dinner hour about a place called Vietnam.

It’s rather strange how my history seems to have unfolded with this building. Many of the jobs I’ve had since I started working in the middle 70’s, have ended up being in this building. Back in the early 70’s, I started at WVOR, fresh out of High school. They were on the third floor, then. Almost all of the jobs I’ve had since have ended up within walking distance of it.  Later, I worked at Xerox Tower which is attached by walkway system. And since then, I’ve been working elsewhere in the building supporting computers. This too, is attached to Midtown Plaza. Indeed; there’s hardly been a time in my life when I’ve not been in this building at least once during the week, once I grew up and started working.

Over the years, I’ve watched as the bigger stores… The names of which won’t mean much to people not from around here, but I’ll mention anyway… McCurdy’s, B. Forman’s, Sibleys, Scrantom’s, Wegmans, and in later years, “The Shed” and so on, one by one, went out of business, and/or left Midtown. One of my memories is the station I used to listen to as a Kid… WBBF, the top 40 station of the day hereabouts… Had offices on the 8th floor. They moved out of downtown too, just recently. Very seldom now do I go though the place without remembering where those stores were, and how much better off it seemed to be in those days. And I wonder, as I look at the empty office sections, and the empty storefronts, how much longer I will continua to see this place decked out for Christmas… or at all, for that matter.

The idiot of a Mayor as I described to you last week, certainly isn’t helping matters any. A few years ago, he started a movement toward tearing part of the place down, and replacing it with a government owned performing Arts center. Nobody wants to get tied into this as a business location because they’re afraid the mayor’s PAC will throw them out of their lease, mid term.

Good move, you Bonehead.

We’ve seen the scenario too often before in downtowns all over the country…. While the doctors argue about what treatment would be best and do nothing, the patient loses the fight for life.

I still shop here for some of my Christmas giving… for two reasons… I work here… and I like the idea of coming here each year. It’s something of a tradition for us to bring the boys down and show them around. They particularly like the model train displays that get set up each year at various locations, and of course a ride on the monorail s a good thing…  But I know that this place is a memory, now on borrowed time. And that’s sad.

Thus the unannounced, yet impending demise of an old friend is noted in this blogger’s musings for the week.


Saturday was a fine day. We all piled into Bit’sBox and headed south on I-390 and 86 to Corning, NY to an open house at the Corning Museum of Glass. They have what is undoubtedly the most expansive and interesting collection of ancient glass I’m aware of… and a fascinating show about what glass is doing today… The technology is amazing. They have glass articles dating to well before the time of Christ. Well worth the visit. Check the link for details.

On the way home, we ran though what has become something of a holiday tradition around here. One entire neighborhood about a mile from here got together and put together one of the outright wildest Christmas light displays you’ve ever seen… It covers several blocks.

But that’s for next week. With some luck, I’ll even have some pictures for you.