Finally, school was out. It was mid-June, and I would be a big senior at Madera High when classes started again. It was time for summer fun. We dragged main (Yosemite Avenue) all day. We stopped at Big Top Drive-in for fries and a Coke, and later Reed & Bell for a great root beer float. In the late evening it was to the Madera Drive-in with another couple hidden in the trunk.
But this was the first weekend after school had ended and my dad was flying most of the day. He told me I could drive his maroon 1963 Olds Cutlass convertible, but to have it home by 6 because he was taking mom (Gail) out to dinner. I picked up my high school sweetheart (my future gal), her sister, Paula, and her boyfriend, Johnny. We were off to the big town of Fresno. Our stomachs growling, this time we stopped at Bob’s Big Boy at Shaw and Blackstone avenues for burgers then cruised down Blackstone to Belmont Avenue and Mars’ Drive-in for a lime rickey.
From there it was time to see the mall. We drove slowly south on Broadway Street with the top down listening to KYNO. Just as we passed the Rainbow Ballroom (the Mag) the radio station advertised the Cindermen would be playing at the big dance hall.
After just six months of construction and almost (only) $2 million, the mall had been officially opened by Edmund G. “Pat” Brown (the father of the current governor) on Sept. 1, 1964. It was an idea conceived by the redevelopment agency of that time to return shoppers downtown after the opening of the Manchester Mall in 1955. Fulton Street was originally J Street, but was renamed in honor of Fulton G. Berry, a prominent financier who died in 1910...