An hour-long edit of the documentary about the Bazaar of All Nations in Delaware County will air on WHYY TV 12 tonight.
If you're old enough to remember the Bazaar, you know what I'm talking about. If not, read my 2010 story about the documentary, which sold out 17 days of screenings at Cinema 16:9 in Lansdowne:
IF YOU NEVER set foot in the Bazaar, it's tough to understand its place in Delaware County's collective memory, and why the question "Remember the Bazaar?" can still set off an hour-long discussion 17 years after its doors closed.
The Bazaar of All Nations, as it was formally named, was a massive indoor shopping center on the border of Upper Darby and Clifton Heights, a blue-collar precursor to the modern mall.
Built in 1960 on the grounds of an old mental hospital, the Bazaar was a semi-surreal maze of pegboard, wood paneling, chicken wire and miles of fluorescent lights.
Wander around long enough and you'd find what you needed. Maybe it was a part for your broken lawn mower or school supplies for your kids. Maybe just a cold beer and a soft pretzel from Bernie's. Or maybe your future wife.
Dubbed the "Twilight Zone" by some local cops, the Bazaar was part farmer's market, part carnival and part something unique that seems difficult to identify today through the haze of nostalgia.
I got to make a few trips to the Bazaar when I was a kid before it closed in 1993 and was demolished. Vaguely remember the smell of cinnamon buns, buying a Nirvana single (cassette) and getting some cheesy photos framed. The place had everything.
One of my favorite descriptions comes from this this blogger: "Gym shorts, Pong, bright yellow yarn, a half-pound of boiled ham? There's a booth for that. In fact, the Bazaar of All Nations was your one-stop shop for anything from pickles to pianos. And you could buy a monkey there, too. Really."
Watch WHYY TV 12 tonight at 5 p.m. for an hour-long version of the documentary. You can buy the full DVD here.