From 1972 to 1974, I lived in San Francisco State Student housing, "Gatorville", up the hill from SF State and down the hill from Stonestown. My best friend and I would walk to Stonestown many times a week, after school or on weekends.
Those were pre-mall days. Stonestown was an outdoor shopping center. On one end stood the Emporium, on the other end QFI Groceries. My friend and I found a million things to do there.
At ten years old we decided, without parental permission, to get our ear's pierced an earring store across from Judy's clothing. We'd often go to Judy's and gaze at the funky clothes - platform shoes, multi-colored striped socks, crocheted hats. We'd walk down to the Emporium and pose as mannequins in the clothing department. We thought we were so hilarious. Then usually we ended up at the food court in QFI, where we'd rifle through our crumpled dollars and loose change to manage to buy one food from each food booths.
During the summer we would collect money from the neighborhood kids and tell them we would go to Stonestown to buy them candy bars for them. We made a profit selling them for twenty cents for our time and effort, when the bars cost ten cents.
Woolworth was the store we really spent most of our time. Where else could we buy inexpensive earrings and perfume for our mothers on Mothers day and candy for ourselves?
I still remember the smell that hit me the second I opened the glass doors to Woolworths. A sweet, buttery smell mixed with plastic. The candy booth stood in the middle of the back of the store. There were usually two older women who stood in the booth, dressed, I believe, in blue pastel uniforms as they sold white paper bags of popcorn, candy corn, rock candy and gum drops. The booth was surrounded by bins of paste jewelry that my friend and I would scavenge through to find the most amazing Mother's day gift we could get for two dollars, which would usually leave us enough money to buy something for ourselves from the booth full of colorful candy.
Then, there was the movie theater where I spent many Saturdays gazing up at the screen. I saw Bed Knobs and Broomsticks, Witch Mountain, Funny Girl, Sound of Music... Of course there was always a double feature and in between the first movie and the last, we would check our theater ticket stubs for the winning ticket. The lucky person could win a shiny new Schwinn. It was never me.
Stonestown, pre-mall days was just an endless amount of fun for me, and left me with great memories.