Strip Mall, Buffalo, NY 1957

Two white-gloved women wearing matching hemlines and sensible shoes strike a proud pose in front of a two-toned 1956 Ford Country Sedan Station Wagon at their new MODERN STRIP MALL, BUFFALO NEW YORK, 1957.

The standout accessorizes her camel coat with a leopard purse and red hat shaped like the Ford taillights. Her co-poser wears basic thick black wool. She carries a matching leather bag and tucks in her silk scarf that matches the car and those toothpick beams holding up the building behind them. Colorful hand-painted signs advertise in plate glass windows. SUPER DUPER is spelled out in red highlighted with glowing neon tubes. It sits on the edge on top of the spot lit, awning covered strip mall walkway.

Suburban strip malls that looked just like this were duplicated in cities all over in the 50s and 60s. They were a logical modern upgrade from the old fashioned Main Streets across the USA.

We all have memories of the strip malls that we grew up with. Mine is the ONTARIO PLAZA, in the Pomona Valley of Southern California. It was built in 1960. My family shopped for just about everything there. We always left the place with bags of merchandise. Several childhood experiences there really made an impression on me. Promotional events were always good. Klieg lights always provided great ambient lighting at the Friday night “Moonlight Sales.”

The grand re-opening of our supermarket, Market Basket, after it was remodeled when I was in third grade, was quite impressive. They gave away SO many free samples. Then the time my dad pointed out two kinda-creepy spinster sisters that he’d seen around town before. They were side-by-side pushing a baby carriage with a doll in it. Then several times we saw a short, stout, balding man wearing full ladies make-up – lipstick, rouge, lashes and all. He wore men’s clothes, but ladies make-up. My mother would say “There’s that ‘funny’ man again.” We couldn’t stop staring.

Here’s to all of our modern suburban strip mall memories,