It’s 11:35 on Wednesday, 2014. I went home for thanksgiving. I’m in the house the I grew up in. Between 1991 and 2001 I lived here. That brings up some feels, sure. Right now, though, I’m in bed awake in the room that I slept in most of my life. Well I say most of my life, I’m 34, so for about a third of my life. I should be sleeping. I can’t.

My mind is pulled to a time that doesn’t seem as far away as it actually is. 1994. I learned to play Magic in this room. Around this time 20 years ago I began casting spells with cardboard. That’s pretty interesting I suppose, but something much more profound happened today.

I went to the mall.

The Deptford Mall. During the mid to late 90’s this place was really home. I ate here, worked here, and most importantly I played here. All in the upper corner of the mall, Legends Comics and Games Stop #6.

I, for the first time in the 9 years since the store closed, walked over to it to look inside. Legends is a shadow of its former glory… The Gloucester County store. For 9 years I’ve been haunted by the ghost of my adolescence. Unable to peer into the depths so to speak.

Let me paint a picture for you. It’s 1997. The Deptford mall is a buzz with the Christmas vibe. Inside the top corner of the mall the Legends crew sat debating comic continuity, playing Magic and eating some Hickory Farm meats and cheeses. Two days a year were a important time for us. We all, customers, and staff got together on big holidays and hung out. On these days business ensued, but was not really much of a goal. It was about family, seeing our friends and knowing that the next day we weren’t gonna have a place to be.

Legends was that important to us. So important, that we nervously comforted each other in the fact that for the next 24 hours the mall would be closed and we wouldn’t have Legends for a day.

Legends was not just a place for Magic Players. Or Comic books guys, or Warhammer guys, or toy guys, or RPG players. It was somehow much more than that. It was a sort of Library of Alexandria in a world of … I don’t know unbelievers. Clearly we were true believers.

Back to the point, every Thanksgiving and Christmas eve we met in the store in a mutual comfort that we would in fact see each other in two days. Part of it was the magic of the season surely as this didn’t happen on the Saturday before Easter. So I’ve tied this time of year with this memory. John, Marc, Bryan, Ian, Jay, Mike, John, Dr Andy, Chris, Joel, Damian, Milligan Messick, Ron, Frank, Alex, Rich, Terry, Scott, Mike, Jim, Chris, Joel and anyone I forgot has to feel the weight of this time of the year with out that ceremony. Star Wars playing on that small TV, behind the counter privilege in full effect, and just a promise that we would all see each other once again.

So back to present at the Deptford Mall. I entered at the same spot, dropped off by my dad, in the same spot I’ve always entered the mall. Upper mall entrance near Strawbridges. It’s not Strawbridges anymore but that’s how we still call it. My family still drives to that same spot to go to the mall. Because that’s where I wanted to be dropped off when I hung out there, then it’s where I worked. Everytime I’ve come to the mall since Legends has closed I’ve walked into that entrance, but I’ve never walked over since the store has changed. The purple paint has become white and the storefront is still there serving as a mausoleum to a once great empire that was the comic shop in the Deptford Mall.

Today, after a long walk around the mall, some bourbon chicken from the food court and a bit of dismay about what stores have popped up and fallen since, I walked over to the remains of this dead empire and I stared into its husk. A rush of sadness, washed over me. I had my girlfriend take a photo of me in front of my dead childhood.


We walked around the mall some more and I realized something. Something that I guess I am quite thankful for. Legends closed at just the right time. I stopped working there in 2001. It closed in 2005. Four years after I was no longer an employee but I was still family and I was there the day it closed its gate for the last time. I consider myself blessed. I believe it is better to burn out than fade away. I’ve worked so many jobs since then. Some of those places I’ve considered places like Legends, where I’ve grown to think of them as home. After I’ve stopped working there they remain. And I visit them. Staffs change, layouts change, and the magic dies. That didn’t get to happen with Legends. These other places passed their golden age and then moved into another age. For me at least they die a little.

Legends never truly did. My friends still worked there when it closed. I was a welcome, hell I was celebrated when I entered those purple pillars. I was like Norm in cheers, always recognized always welcome. That never changed, until Legends died. When it died that changed, but the memory wasn’t sullied with a new staff that didn’t know me or hadn’t heard of me. I’m thankful that I only hold love for that place. That’s interesting to me as I was actually fired from the job and I held that much love to the place that it never dulled to me.

I know this post isn’t my normal diatribe about deck decision or traveling to a Grand Prix. There’s not a lot of talk about Magic here. And for that I apologize. Some of you probably feel robbed here. Imagine how I feel. So many of us have places that we called home away from home. These places for some of us no longer exist. I love Twenty Sided Store, that’s where I play now, but the ghost of Legends is so immense that the world still feels numb without it.

Zac Clark

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