In 1972, South Plains Mall in Lubbock opened its doors to thousands of enthusiastic shoppers. During these 50 years, several generations of shoppers have made beautiful memories in the mall. Here’s what former employees and customers have shared.

Sue Hammons: First date, 25th anniversary award and how mall trips shaped her life

“(My first visit) was when my husband and I started dating, less than a week after it opened. I had never been there, and neither had he. It was a different time, and he put his hand on my back as he opened the door to enter the mall. Our favorite stores were the pet store, David’s stationery, and we had to buy a hot dog. That was the deal .

On the 25th anniversary, the mall held a contest for people to discuss what the mall meant to them. Hammons won and received a t-shirt, a $50 mall silver coin, a coffee mug, and a phone card.

“You take a small town and then you put something so massive in it, it was the center of the town and the meeting place for everyone. My mom, after my son was born, would take him to the mall. When the twin grandsons arrived, they and their older brother were playing on the concrete animals.”

“I probably changed more than he did. Back then, we had churches and the mall. It was just the place to go.”

Sue Hammons experienced love, loss and a lifetime of memories at the South Plains Mall.  This photo shows her at the mall's 25th anniversary.

Former South Plains Mall Employees Recall Jokes, Storms, Frisbee and Love

“I was terrible working the cash register, but they were kind enough to keep me on the job over the summer and Christmas break,” said Jan Johnson, who was a 19-year-old student and JC Penney employee. the day of the opening. “I remember a friend telling me to ‘not wear men’s clothes’ and it took me a while to get the joke.”

“It was a common sight to see 30 or more people lined up to be photographed when I arrived in the morning at the studio,” said Kay Bradford, who was the director and photographer of The Children’s Photographer in the mid-1970s. “And the queue rarely got much shorter as the day progressed. It was exhausting and an experience I will never forget!”

“(I) shocked my girlfriend when I called her on the phone and suggested she come into the store to look at the wedding bands because they were on sale, and with my employee discount I could afford it” , said Robert Carr, who worked in the men’s department at Hemphill-Wells in 1972-73. “She cried with joy the whole way as she got there as fast as she could. We picked out rings, put them aside, so I could make payments until We happily set a date for the wedding in about 6 months However after 2 months she asked how much longer until she gets paid and we can get out of layaway so I could present her with the engagement ring. I told her that she should be paid the week before the wedding. She really wanted this ring, so she paid the last part of the balance herself! She thought that her money was to be Our money after marriage, so shared a little early…best investment we’ve made together, (and) still married after 48 1 /2 years!”

“I was working at the Swiss Colony in 1972. ‘I was pushing cheese samples when a tall, bearded man in his twenties approached me,’ said Diantha Roberts, who worked at the Swiss Colony in 1972. “He stood there awkwardly and of course I offered him some cheese. He took the cheese, but said he would really like my number. I thought it was kinda cute, being the 70s! I grabbed a paper bag from under the counter and wrote my name and number on it. Fast track 50 years later, and I’m still with this not so scruffy, but bearded man. Thank you South Plains Mall, Swiss Colony and cheese for a great husband!”

“My boyfriend worked at Gingiss Tuxedo and often wore his tuxedo to work and looked so handsome,” said Barbara Hardy, who worked in the women’s economy dress section at Dillards in 1973-74. “We would meet in the middle of the mall during our breaks if we could. He surprised me with a beautiful wedding ring from Tabor’s Jewelers and, praise Jesus, I’m still wearing it almost half a century later. “

“I worked at the mall for 6 months when it opened. It was unlike any other recruitment I had experienced,” Pat Heath said. “My application was distributed to the managers of stores that were completed or were about to be completed. The managers then decided which candidates they wanted to see. I was selected by two managers, one was a clothing store and the The other was at Swiss Colony. I chose Swiss Colony. It was a wonderful experience. I remember that one day a huge snowstorm came. The mall was empty of customers. To pass the time, we played frisbee around the mall from where Dillards was to Coach House Gifts and up to Smoker’s Haven.”

Customer memories span decades: fountain wishes come true, first-day adventures, children’s parties.

Mary Beth Meyers recalled the excitement of the mall’s opening days, when she took a trip with her family.

“My dad had a big black Lincoln Continental with suicide doors, and he loaded all 5 of us girls and our mom in it, and drove us there to see the new mall,” Meyers said. “It was something new and exciting for Lubbock!”

“The first day it was open, my son, 5, threw a nickel in the fountain, and wished he was going to Six Flags…he had no idea we were going there in three days” , said Robbie Motgomery. “When we left he smiled and said, ‘See dad, my wishes really worked out.'”

Three children enjoy the fountain with their mother in this archived photo from July 26, 1972, the day the South Plains Mall opened.

“My daughter celebrated her 10th birthday there,” said Danna Baker Watkins, who shared this memory from 2000. “We started in the food court and divided the kids into teams. Each team had a list things to find (something Christmas theme, something purple, etc.) Each team had $10 After all the teams returned, we put all the finds from the hunt in a bag and the first team back had to choose their treasure first. Each child had to draw several times and it was their “goodie bag”. Many stores gave something to the team instead of charging them. We had meals Chick -Fil-A for the kids and a cookie decorated as a birthday cake. It was a huge hit!”

These were collected from readers’ emails, comments from the Facebook group “If you grew up in Lubbock, Texas, you remember when……” and Twitter replies.

Alana Edgin is a reporter who covers Business News in and around Lubbock. Send him a topical tip at [email protected]

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