Beachwood Place

Image from historical archives, Beachwood Place Grand Opening 1978

It’s midnight forty-eight and I’m playing word search on my phone and I suddenly started thinking about the Beachwood mall, AKA Beachwood Place. It’s weird how in my head it’s exactly as it was years ago in 1983. Actually, I can’t remember exactly when the mall was opened, well, not which year. I DO remember it opening though, and being SO excited. I had no idea what a “mall” really meant, but it was such a huge estate and I watched the entire thing become itself from ground up. It was exactly three miles from my house. When I was old enough, I was so excited because I could walk to the mall, rest inside, and then walk back for fun rewarding exercise. Three miles the other direction from my house was a Diary Queen, which was no disappointment either. Anyways I was thinking about the mall and remembering it as if I was there. One entrance was at the food court. As you walk in the food court, about 4 stores on the right was the 50’s diner with the old fashioned candy counter. In the back I think they sold bubblegum ice cream. I loved that flavor but hated the gum bc it was frozen and hard as a rock. So I’d spit the gum out but eat the delectable creamy sugary cold confection around the gum. To the right of the diner was Sbarros pizza. That place still exists. Not at the Beachwood mall maybe, but in other food courts around the world. I think I want to go there when this pandemic ends and see if I like the pizza as much as I did when I was ten. Come to think of it, the mall must have opened in 1980 because I’m pretty sure Char and were ten when our parents used to drop us off so we could peruse the toy stores, candy store, and any other stores that carried stickers (and later cassette tapes. And later, CD’s). We were both collectors (of stickers, and eaters of candy). Right past the food court was a big fountain that formed the fork in the road to either one department store or another. It wasn’t Nordstrom’s. That came later. I can’t remember which stores were featured on the ends at first (Higbees and Saks??). There were also smaller fountains on each of these ends. The fountain to the left (I believe by Saks) was where Char and I would go fishing for coins, which we used to buy more stickers. I can’t remember when we figured out the genius idea of stealing people’s wishes, but at some point we decided we could and would. We’d scout the fountain perimeter, mark our prey, and then courageously stick an arm in to grab a quarter or a nickel or whatever. Except pennies. I’m pretty sure we never took pennies. And I’m not sure how we didn’t get caught or in trouble!! Maybe we did and I don’t remember because at some point we stopped looting the fountains, and it was long before we were 16. There was a store upstairs called Apropos  that sold 80’s tchotchke jewelry, super trendy clothes, and of course, you guessed it….stickers. I loved puffys and scratch and sniff and I feel like Char liked the ones with googlie eyes but also she liked the scratch and sniff. As we got older, once Express came into existence and we were more into clothes, I bought earrings at Apropos.  They were so haute. The left ear earring was a gigantic black question mark with a neon pink dot dangling below it. The earring was almost the size of my face in length! The right ear I don’t remember at all and it’s possible it was only sold as a single because that was a trend back then. I loved that thing and thought I was so cool when I wore it. Unfortunately it did nothing for my popularity status at school but whatever. I’m glad I had the courage to define “cool” in my own terms. And I still think if I was at public school those earrings alone would have bought me a passport into the In Crowd (private school fashion was SO conservative!!).

The center fountain of the OG Beachwood Place. The huge skylight juxtaposed with the pillars and store windows created the most interesting acoustics. 

Eventually Apropos became so super tacky and I swear by 1990 it became Z Gallery?? Back in 1980….. There was a drug store upstairs with a phenomenal teddy bear and stuffed animal collection (once my allergy shots started working I was a huge stuffed animal collector since I was forbidden from having them for so long). I remember buying Greydawn, an adorable lion, and bubblegum bear (omg I loved that thing). I can’t remember Greydawn’s animal category (donkey?) because just now, as I pictured her in my memory, my brain literally overflowed with a shuffling of a bajillion photographic memories of all my stuffed animals. Bubblegum bear and the lion stood out. Bubblegum bear was soft and squishy and round and two different shades of pink with a white belly. He was round like a blob of gum, had a different kind of fabric (not fur, so he was hypoallergenic!), and a squishier filling than the norm. I think the lion was the first one I bought without my parents permission, and the first one I bought at the drug store at Beachwood Place. I remember he was up by the pharmacy and I got him before the big section of stuffed animals came into existence. He cost $12, which was a huge amount of money to me at that time. My father was an animal lover and a huge supporter of my wonderful collection. He was also a contributor, with his occasional convention wins like Floppers, a little brown dog with big floppy ears (and the first love of my life). Eventually my mom donated most of my animals. I was ok with it, mainly because I was thirty. Anyways, I remember when that drug store went away and turned into something else. It was hard for me a little, even back then, to feel loss. I was sad for the store. It was gone and no longer existed and soon no one would think of it anymore, and that broke my heart a little.

I don’t really remember the smell of the mall but I do remember the sounds, the way the voices bounced off the glass skylights and echoed around the “halls”. I remember the spray of the fountains and how loud the cascading water was in its watery ways. I wish I could make a symphony of those sounds with added beats of sneaker squeaks, stroller wheels, women talking (but with inaudible words) in the mix of voices, and we can’t forget laughter and youthful screams of elation. I also remember how the light reflected off the different textured walls, the mirrored pillars around some stores, and the all around abundance of natural light that right now as I think of it feels like a huge hug placating my inner photophile. Back then it just was what it was. Ambience. Light. Freedom. It’s funny because I’m not sure what’s where in that mall anymore. I’m not even sure if that mall is even in that mall at this point. Probably it was taken over by legacy village (another newer mall). I hope its still around though. Despite any changes, additions, new stores, new century….etc, Charlotte and I left some childhood energy that I like to imagine still exists there, running around like the giggling little nyphs we were. If I’m ever feeling old and lacking of youthful spirit, I can visit the mall and reconnect.

My memory of the mall reminded me of something I just read in a book- “your now is not your forever”. I’m applying that to this pandemic. People keep talking about the “new normal”. Nothing about this is “normal”, but I have to believe that science and medicine will figure it all out!! When I was 10 years old laying horizontally on a fountain rim, elbow deep in chlorinated water while fishing for quarters, i had no inkling of an idea that anything would be any different. Or that that action in itself could have triggered a ripple in change (no pun intended har har har). I DO remember knowing it was probably wrong for some reason, but I had no idea why and no known ramifications to be afraid of. Its funny that as we age we have more fear. Obviously this has to be directly correlated to living through more cause and affect. As humans we tend to focus on the negative, but really an outcome will go either negative, positive, or a zillion things in between. There is a 50/50 chance to be positive or negative, so why not assume the positive. Maybe the owners of the Beachwood Place drug store sold their store, bought a yacht, and traveled the world like they had always dreamt of but the experience was even better than imagined!! I don’t know, I just want to know I’m safe. I want to believe we can all get through this (please let it be unscathed), and that we all have many more fun positive and bright experiences waiting to meet us in the future 💗


Stay safe.








A few years ago I wrote this essay about my father and I wanted to re share it here. My dad always loved my writing and often suggested I focus on it. He is one of the reasons I started this blog! Four years ago, on Oct 12 2012, my father passed away from complications of dementia. He was 87 years young. I say “young” because even until the end he maintained his child-like sense of curiosity and humor. He was gifted at finding excitement in even the most banal things. He was one of my biggest supporters, always helping me to see the silver lining and to seek the “funny” in every situation.  I miss him immensely.

When I was two or three my father taught me how to ski. At first I didn’t love the sport, but I DID love my beautiful red ski boots. Once a shoe lover,always a shoe lover, I guess. I adored their candy red shell, and how it felt to walk around in them with that fun clunky gait. Ba-bam ba-bam. Those of you who have skied know the rhythm of which I speak. The sport grew on me and eventually I learned to really enjoy it. In high school, I followed in my brother’s footsteps and became a certified ski instructor. Other than my current career, this was probably the best job I ever had. It was rewarding teaching people a sport and it felt great to be part of a like minded group of amazing and fun people who remain my friends even today. I also loved the bonding between my brother and me. Over the years I went on family ski trips to Colorado, Utah, Vermont, New York State, Austria, Switzerland, and others that I’m probably forgetting. But the trips that stick out the most in my mind are the ones I took alone with my father. Whether it was a local day trip to the Cleveland Ski Club, to Peak-and-Peak (just two hours from home), or to Park City, Utah, Skiing with my dad was always very special. It gave us time to bond and have fun together. To laugh, share ideas, and also to sit in peace together on the chair lift and take in the beauty of nature. “Look Jilly, isn’t it beautiful?”, my father would say. Somehow being there in the snow, hearing only the swishing of the skis and the creaking motor of the chair, everything else in the world was quiet as if the blanket of snow was silencing the earth into a peaceful lull. I asked my dad once why he loved skiing so much and he said “because we live in Ohio and I needed to find something fun to do outside despite the winter cold.” And then in an exhilarated tone he added “Also, don’t you feel so free flying down that Mountain?!!”. My father skied until he was 85. And the two years he was stuck in the home before he passed away, there was always a Ski magazine next to him. By teaching me the art of skiing my father taught me so much more. How to see the best in something, how to find the good in a challenging situation, how to learn from your mistakes or at least laugh at them, how to see beauty where other people don’t, the importance of silence. But the greatest thing he did, I’m not even sure he was aware of. I had avoided skiing for a long time once my father became ill and especially after he passed away. This past weekend I went for the first time in five years. I was nervous and tried to make excuses not to go but my friends very supportively nudged me on. I sat on the chairlift and looked out. I saw the beauty of the blue sky. The snow covered mountains, the green pines, the frozen lakes. As I sat there, going up the mountain, I could hear the beautiful peace and quiet of the blanketed earth, the familiar sound of the lift motor, and most importantly I could hear my father say “Look Jilly, Isn’t it beautiful?” and for that brief moment he was there with me. By teaching me skiing my father gave me a gift. The gift of him.

Dad’s first selfie! This is a photo of my dad and I during a winter visit in 2011. I’m so glad he was still laughing. We had so much fun that day taking a walk around the home where he lived. He slipped on ice and fell but thankfully wasn’t hurt. Despite his illness he remembered to lift his head so he didn’t hit it.

Life is way too short. Lets embrace every moment.