There can’t be two more diametrically opposed places of business that have reached the end of an era. One, a sedate hair care establishment epitomizing small town Americana with the wholesome name of Kenton Family Hair Care, the other a seedy mega complex of sin and debauchery both suffering from the demise of an old school way of life. The first, the way an older generation takes care of their hair, the other, the way an older generation takes care of their, ahem, soul?!?
Kenton Hair Care had a way of appearing like a business out of Mayberry, the old fashioned hair dryers, the booths with the stylist’s names on them and pictures of children or grandchildren tacked to the walls. It was the type of place I imagined my grandmother visited for her weekly hair set. I was drawn to the hair dryers, so quaint, it reminded me of photo taken of the Violent Femmes in the 80’s for the Campus Voice Biweekly posters that were posted at my college.
Clientele was dwindling for years at Kenton Family Hair Care. When the Third Thursday event started they opened in the evenings and attempted to sell quilts and prints of squirrels. I know, I bought one of those prints. Out of step, perhaps and now, out of time.
The Town Plaza is a whole other story. As nasty as it was, you could only imagine the appeal it could have had for someone who wanted to indulge their purient interests–a smorgasbord, with a video store, a juice bar called the Sugar Shack, a strip club, a bar and grill named the Pink Marlin and even a burger joint. I can imagine the place, brand spanking new and shiny, briming with temptation, I’m sure Satan himself was there, possilby in disguise, when they cut the ribbon. In the last few years, there seemed to be no trace of activity besides fish sculptures and neon in one of the windows that faced the busy section of Lombard Ave. The strip club may have continued to operate after all the other businesses shut down but it was hard to tell.
I never saw the parking lot until I drove around to take pictures. Burger Island was only known to me through the remainders of its sign that was never torn down. I saw no evidence of any burgers or relics of an actual burger joint around the place. The building was purchased by the nearby neighborhood who paid over 2 million in an attempt to rid the area of the activity that occurred within the checker board tile laden building.
To me it was always a curiosity. Even when driving by with a friend who voiced disgust, I still held on to a slight glimmer of appreciation for a place that made such an attempt of commodifying seediness for those in need. Maybe it was just a matter of the wrong place being in the wrong place.
End with a more wholesome image.
6 thoughts on “Mayberry and Gomorrah: An Orbit Obit”
Burger Island was a good place to go for great burgers and fries. It burned down and then they tore the building down.
The great thing about posting on dead memories is getting feedback and learning the history of stuff. I always wondered about Burger Island. Thanks for the info Becci.
“Mayberry and Gomorrah”! The Orbit is hittin’ it from the git-go! I want to be a castaway on Burger Island!
Well you could always live in the weeds next to the old sign.
The town center used to be a grocery store a zillion years ago. My cousin and I would haul bottles from 60th and Simpson and get some cash when were about 10 years old. (Late 70’s) not sure when it became the Mecca for all things of bodily delight, but we bought candy there, then proceeded to the golf course to scrounge up balls to sell to people. Ah… to get excited over the dimes we collected, once again.
What a way to make a living–but really, big money for kids. That probably was a good location for a grocery store and burger joint. I only knew it as the den of shame within the last ten years but even then it always seemed like it was closed.