Once upon a time, one of the nicest retail spots in my part of Baton Rouge was I.H. Rubenstein, one of a local chain of department stores and one of the anchors of the Broadmoor Shopping Center.
It sat right between the Broadmoor Theatre and the National Food Store. Way back there then -- when dinosaurs roamed the swamps, gas was 45 cents a gallon, you could buy all the 45s you could eat at TG&Y, Buckskin Bill ruled the local TV scene, and I had hair -- the Broadmoor Shopping Center was a happening place.
Then again, that was before my hometown pretty much abandoned my old neighborhood. That was before "my" part of town (and lots of others) turned into a reasonable facsimile of Port au Prince and the hair jockeys at the Broadmoor Barber Shop all started packing heat.
Not an exaggeration -- I was there just last week on a not-so-pleasant trip back home to see my 90-year-old mother in the hospital and clean out her home of 57 years . . . the home of my childhood.
SHE WON'T be living there anymore. I probably won't set foot in it again. It's a hard thing.
Like I said, I.H. Rubenstein was a nice place, and the flea market that took over the space after the department store closed wasn't unfortunate, at least as flea markets go. Then again, both were pre-Port au Prince.
What you see here is post-Port au Prince. And somebody expects to sell or rent this mess.
Somehow, I don't see that happening, though I think it would be a fine spot to relocate the city-parish government. Very appropos, don't you know?
I've written a lot about my hometown on this blog, and I've covered the creeping blight of Baton Rouge on more than one occasion; I don't need to belabor the point here. And when she lived in Red Stick for a while, New Jersey-native Colleen Kane made a vocation of chronicling the abandoned places of my old home via her Abandoned Baton Rouge blog.
She even did a post on the Broadmoor Shopping Center almost five years ago. Yes, decrepitude has been an issue there for some time now.
PLUS ÇA CHANGE . . . etcetera and so on in "America's Next Great City."