Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A crumbling icon fades to black

Of another era
Laval, QC
August 2015
Thematic. Shopping. Here.
I grew up in a place called Chomedey, a sleepy suburb in the city of Laval just across the river from Montreal that somehow sticks tightly to the souls of everyone who once lived there, no matter how long they've been gone*.

The Recreatheque - or more commonly, The Rec - was central to life here. Originally opened as Mon Mart (trivia bit: Jayne Mansfield attended the grand opening in 1962) it went bankrupt by 1965 and the giant building was soon reopened as a multipurpose entertainment complex. It had a bowling alley - where my mom used to bowl as I sat propped up in the hard plastic seats - a roller rink (please don't ask), mini golf, a flea market, a bingo hall and even a cheesy disco known as Kebekelektrik. Generations of kids bought their clothes here, hung out here, partied here and generally grew up here.

The Rec closed in 2013, a victim of evolving consumer tastes and the fact that the land values made the site far more valuable as a housing development than anything else. I took this picture last summer as the empty building awaited its fate, and I'll admit part of me can't imagine what this street corner - Notre-Dame and Labelle, if you're in the area - will both look and feel like without this massive chunk of crumbling-yet-familiar brick and concrete.

Sure, it was downtrodden even when I was a kid, but it represented the kind of enterprise that branded a community and made it unique. Only Chomedey had a place like this, and to this day just mentioning "The Rec" to anyone from here is enough to unleash a flood of memories. Looking at the cookie-cutter suburbs of today, filled with chain-based businesses that all seem to have come from the same template, it's clear that today's kids will never have anything like The Rec to both hang out at - or reminisce about years later.

Pity that.

Your turn: What buildings, businesses or places made the place where you grew up unique?

*We've been here before. Behold the Dirty Bakery.

1 comment:

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

The schools I grew up near (and attended) are still there.

But lots of the stores are gone, and the banks have turned into a few mega-banks.