Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Remember the Salem Mall? By Abraham Lincoln

It was 43 years ago when me and my son, Christopher, then 11 years of age, was digging in our sack looking for something to eat. Chris used to go with me to art shows in the area. He was probably full of cheese given away at the shows and too young to drink wine – so I drank his.

I liked to use art shows as a kind of gauge to see what people were buying. If I had some of that then I knew I would be successful and bring home the bacon, or enough money to buy it with.

Sometimes I noticed that landscapes were selling or the larger “sofa size” pictures sold out fast. Whatever sold quickly was what I would be painting for the next show.

It was like the good old days, when I sold oil paintings, because we could buy things for the family. My wife said the extra money was spent for clothes and shoes for the kids – we had five children. We got the new washer after selling an oil painting and a week later I sold another and we got a matching clothes dryer.

Chris and I used to go to the Art Shows held at the National Cash Register Company, NCR, on south Main Street in Dayton, Ohio. If not there then at the University of Dayton where we set up, with others, on the grounds and sold our pictures.

At NCR I would always sell out and often won prizes NCR awarded for the best drawing or the best oil painting. I won Best of Show for a Buffalo I carved out of a piece of floor joist taken from the gutted farm house they were tearing down to build the new JVS.

I have a drawer full of ribbons and while some have faded, others are permanently wrinkled – they bring back a lot of memories of those days when art with a capital “A” was important to me and my family.

Salem Mall was a mecca for me and other area artists who met there to compete with one another and to sell pictures to the wandering public. I always set up my display in the hallway besides Rike’s Department store because it had a constant stream of people coming and going through the store or through that end of the mall complex. And I did very well there.

I was set up there when the first lunar vehicle was landing on the Moon and the surface of the Moon was being described on radio.

The crew consisted of Armstrong as Commander and Aldrin as Lunar Module Pilot, with Command Module Pilot Michael Collins. Armstrong and Aldrin landed in the Sea of Tranquility and became the first humans to walk on the Moon on July 21.

I listened and looked at my still wet oils depicting the Lunar landscape with the landing module firmly in place. People stopped and looked at my black and white oil paintings and practically fought each other to buy them.

It was so lucrative that I came home and painted one or two more Lunar landscapes and hurried them back to the Salem Mall and sold them too. I didn't sell much of anything else that week but I was selling and other artists came down to see what I had that was causing such a ruckus. Sadly, that era of space for artists ended.

I never thought that the Salem Mall would end up being hauled away in large dump trucks and the giant parking lot that was filled to overflowing with shoppers would be a sea and Sears an island?


  1. I remember the Salem Mall well, and I miss it. Too bad that it was overtaken by latch-key kids from the local neighborhood. The mall people just couldn't keep up with the influx of unsupervised kids, and later gangs. It got so bad even the locals from Trotwood wouldn't go there anymore.
    RIP Salem Mall

  2. You nailed it. There were gangs of Trotwood kids who knocked people down in the mall. People stopped going to the mall. I understand it is those gangs that keeps the Green and other East side shopping malls from having buses pick up and drop off passengers at their malls. I don't blame them.

  3. It got to the point I wouldn't let my Wife go there alone, let alone with me. The busses from downtown were the death of the place. It was the only place I liked to shop. I would get a cigar from the smoke shop and a good coffee and turn Gwen loose. In 1977 I passed out from food poisoning on a first date in the restroom of the theater while waiting on the Star Wars premiere on a first date! Good Times!!!

  4. Salem Mall may be gone but there is still some good shopping in this area. Burlington Coat Factory always has a good deal or two. And you can't beat GFS when you're planning a party. I also frequent Target, Best Buy and Honeybaked Ham.

  5. The Best Buy in Trotwood is a DUMP. Sorry, but drive a few minutes longer and you can shop all you want without worrying about your car being broken into or stolen, and shop in stores that are cleaner and have more stock. Trotwood is nothing but one large ghetto these days.

  6. I loved the Salem Mall. It was not too big and the plantings inside were lovely up until they tore it down. I worked there when they built the food court and I went on many dates to the movies there, bought prom dresses there too. I stopped working and shopping at that location when I no longer felt safe with the large groups of teens up to no good. I wish Greenville had built a small mall when they were building Staples and Penneys. Those would have been great anchor stores.

  7. If I remember correctly there was a proposal to build a small mall in the area where the sears store is not. It was to have included a theater. Would have been nice. No clue why it never happened. I suspect local business people were against it however.

  8. The Salem avenue area is NOT safe. I know two people who have been robbed on Salem. One man was pumping gas two blocks from the police station and was robbed by three men. The other had their car broken into and items stolen. I go to Dayton on business twice a week. I would not consider it without having protection. Carjacking has made it even more dangerous. No way my wife will go down there by herself.

  9. I agree, I used to work on Salem, to call it safe is laughable. Nothing about that area is safe. I also agree, that the businesses there are dirty, run down and they have a minimal selection as compared to other areas. The best Buy there IS a dump. The store is filthy, the staff is unhelpful and they often lack a large portion of the sale items they advertise.


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