I was walking through the Poughkeepsie Galleria the other day when it occurred to me how different malls are nowadays compared to the malls of yesteryear. Much bigger, and people actually are there to SHOP. It’s certainly a far cry from the malls that I used to go to when I was a kid. But we loved those malls and they were awesome places to just hang out. In fact, we did a lot more hanging than shopping back then. Do you remember when these malls were the coolest places to hang?

Mid Valley Mall in Newburgh

This is actually the very first mall I remember. Before the Mid Valley Mall, all the businesses were on Water Street and Broadway. But the Mall was awesome. Not only did it have Schoonmaker’s Department Store, but there was a movie theater, a pizza place, The Doughnut Shop where we shared plates of french fries and ketchup, and then there was The Village Shop. The Village Shop was considered a "head" shop. It had the coolest candles, posters, hippie sandals, and all sorts of great stuff that mostly collected dust when you got it home. We spent many Saturdays hanging out at the Mid Valley Mall.

Orange Plaza in Middletown

My first experience with an indoor mall. It was more of a drive from my house in New Windsor than the Mid Valley Mall, but it was indoors. And it had cool stores, none of which I can recall. I do remember that one of the stores had a restaurant and that was the first place that my Mom let me smoke a cigarette in front of her. Yup, you could smoke in malls back then.

The Dutchess Mall in Fishkill

I loved this mall. It had May Department Store on one end and Service Merchandise on the other. It was easy to get to, just off Rte 84, and it was pretty. There were fountains and shiny floors and a few good restaurants. It eventually became home to a giant indoor flea market, but in its day, it was a great mall.

The South Hills Mall in Poughkeepsie

The South Hills Mall was one I frequented because it had a Sears and that Sears had a Ticketron. I remember going there to buy tickets to see Yes, Peter Frampton, Bob Dylan and many more. There was a delicious bagel shop, and always a record store. I think Media Play was the last one in that spot, but it was always music-related. I’m pretty sure that Tepee Dashery, one of the coolest clothing stores in the Hudson Valley, had a store in the South Hills Mall.

All of these malls still exist in some way. The Mid Valley Mall has a big Market 32, a liquor store, and a few other businesses. Orange Plaza has become a pretty respectable strip mall, the Dutchess Mall still had a flea market until last month and also a Home Depot, and the South Hills Mall is now the outdoor Shoppes at South Hills and actually has some pretty good stores. And I still visit each one occasionally, but long gone are the days of hanging at the mall. Sigh. Those were the days.