In the past, I have mentioned some of the places I frequented as a kid and how they are all disappearing. I have made a mental list of some of these locations and I shall now share them with the world. Let's take a little trip down memory lane, shall we?
1. Then: The 49th Street Galleria - Built in 1983 and later renamed the Fun Dome, this building was the only spot in the valley that you could rent skates, play laser tag, get a strike, get accosted by gang members and contract an STD all in the same place.
Now: It seemed so far away growing up, but now the spot is just a few blocks away. It was supposed to be turned into a restaurant hub with 7 or 8 restaurants, but I believe it is now the Utah Pet Center.
2. The Sports Park - This was a great place, just off the freeway around 9000 South. It was a sort of precursor to Boondocks. It had a go-cart track, bumper boats and batting cages. My mom would drop my friend and I off there and we would spend all day on the go-cart track. This was strictly a place for boys to be boys. I don't know how many coins we dropped into the video games there.
Now: I have no idea. Maybe a used car lot? Speaking of video games...
3. Peter Piper Pizza - Home to the world's worst pizza. The crust was always burnt, we would often find hairs in the cheese and once the tomato sauce smelled like cottage cheese. Nevertheless, I spent countless hours there as a boy, cranking quarters into the machines and earning all sorts of tickets. My friend down the street would pay for it all using his endless supply of quarters. We collected so many tickets as a group that we were able to exchange them for a $200 boom box. It turns out that my buddy was stealing his Grandpa's quarters from his quarter collection. We were suspicious, but we were not about to turn him in for fear that our free pizza play dates would come to an end. And who could forget the old chef saying, "SO C'MON OVER TO PETER PIPER PIZZA!"
Now: A Patagonia store, I think. Also, Big Brown Bear's burgers and dogs was around the corner and I think that is now a coffee shop. Big Brown Bear's - home to the burger topped with a hotdog. Like no one had ever tried that before.
4. Swimming pools - The old South High Pool, the Sugarhouse waterslide, and the Higea pool.
Now: Salt Lake Community College, a Wendy's and an Outback Steakhouse.
5. The University of Utah golf course - I've played this course more than any other by a landslide. Even though I haven't played it in years, it will be missed.
Now: Future home to more ugly buildings.
6. The old dirt track. My buddies and I were on our way there when I was abruptly struck by a car, but that is a story for another day. Our BMX track was awesome. It had 4 different trails to take and the all ended with a giant, sloped turnaround. Each trail had different challenges. I bent the fork of my bicycle on that track at least twice going off jumps.
Now: A giant condo unit. Shame.
7. The Blockbuster music store - Every other Friday when we got paid, my friend and I would cash our checks and head straight to the Blockbuster music store. We would buy at least two CD's, sometimes more. We would then hop into his old jeep and pop them in our Discmen and start enjoying. Through this method I was able to accumulate a collection of more than 200 CDs.
Now: A Blockbuster video
8. The old Taco Bell on 21st South. Back in the day, this was a huge hangout for my high school. It was truly an old school taco bell, complete with a viewing area so that you could see your tacos getting made by the same punk kids you went to high school with. Often, I would wonder if I really wanted my taco to be handled by a kid I knew. In the end, it didn't matter. Taco Bell was going to make me ill one way or another.
Now: I want to say a dry cleaning place.
9. The softball field below our church (a.k.a. "the gully") - I have such fond memories of this old field. Every summer we would borrow some unsuspecting dad's weed wacker and lawn mower and mow down the weeds in the field. I recall one friend getting grounded for weeks because he completely dulled the blades on his dad's mower. Once we had the weeds down to a manageable length, we would play hours upon hours of softball. That is perhaps how our ward became the softball champions that we were. The left field fence was a perfect distance and by the time we we all 14, we could launch balls over it with ease. We didn't care when the weeds grew back, it just meant that we could spend the night playing capture the flag. Surrounded by trees and rocks, it was a early teenage boy's dream playground. I may have spent a quarter of my life between the ages of 13-16 down in that gully. If you have ever seen the movie "The Sandlot", this was our perfect sandlot.
Now: The church has actually remodeled the field, introducing a beautiful pavilion and lush grass. We would have hated it though. The pavilion is centered directly in right field. We would have been constantly running into picnic tables.
10. The Salt Palace - Some of my most fond memories with my father occurred in this old, oval crap hole. As the oldest boy, I was spoiled in that I was the only one remotely old enough to understand basketball. Thus, my dad took me to ever game, or so it seemed. I remember walking up the long, twisted ramp to get to our seats. I recall just enjoying the game as I sat next to my dad. Once, I stood on my chair and pulled down a miniball, only to have the man behind me spill beer all over me. My dad was so patient and helpful, taking me to the bathroom and drying me off. I am not sure how he pulled this off, but after the game he took me down into the tunnels where we met some Jazz personnel. He explained the situation and we were able to exchange the miniball for a free Jazz jersey. So cool.
I loved going to the games with my dad. I remember once the Jazz being down by 8 with just 45 seconds to play. Darrell Griffith hit three 3 pointers in a row and the Jazz won at the buzzer. I remember jumping up and down with my dad and hugging him as the crowd went berserk. And we would always stop for the free fries at Hardies if the Jazz held their opponent under 100 points. (Speaking of Hardees, that is another place that is no longer around.)
Back in those days, there were no cheerleaders, Jazz bears or even fireworks. We only had the Jazz band to keep the energy up. My dad and I would always make fun of the Jazz band. Once, after a game as we were traveling back to our car, we met some of the band. I must have been all of 11 years old. Jokingly, I asked for one of the band member's autographs. He seemed genuinely excited and came over to give it to me. Flustered, I did not know what to say, so I simply said, "Uh, I was just kidding." As the band member sadly walked away, I recall my dad just chuckling and telling me that it was funny. Great times.
Now: The convention center.