|Plaza lighting from atop the Swanson's building|
And such a big part of my former life. I lived and worked on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City for so many years waiting tables at the last of the owner-operated restaurants on the Plaza. All of the rest of them were corporate 'chain type' places but this one was special for so many reasons. The owner, Cliff Bath, played it like a fine instrument. A true restauranteur.
|Harry Starker's Restaurant|
Here I made friendships that have lasted 30+ years. We have stayed in touch, watched each other's kids grow and lives change. We moved away and we came back - we couldn't wait to get away but couldn't wait to get back. And we marvel at how old we are and how we ever managed to stay up past 1:am every night of the week. This place was magic and how we manage to remain connected is no mystery. Pure magic.
Stores on the Plaza were unique - there was a teeny grocery store, a bowling alley, a large theater and a small one with several screens, so popular in the 70s. A dimestore, a bookseller, a needlepoint shop, a record store with booths where you could play a record before you made your purchase, a fabric store, a florist who knew you bought daisies every Friday, the shoe store where my first rockin' shoe purchase started it all for me, and several large retail stores but unique to Kansas City. Harzfeld's, Hall's, Swanson's, Woolf Brothers, Cricket West. In the 80s those blocks were bought up by the usual big guys - Saks, Bonwit Teller, all of them the usual mall experience.
|Carriage rides - Nichols Road on the Plaza|
I lived at 4726 Summit at the west end of the road pictured here - a darling apartment for which I paid $100 a month and I worried every month that I couldn't scrape that together. Still, I could walk back and forth to work at midnight and not worry. Maybe I was just young and had no fear but Kansas City and especially the Plaza was a wonderful, safe place to be.
I know we all must pine for the 'good old days' but this is one instance where I truly wish the Plaza could have retained that individuality. I suppose it's difficult to reclaim that when the big box guys pay their rents on time. Predictability is good. But still . . .