This “Throwback Thursday” post is one to which only my longtime fellow Long Islanders might relate. And it’s really more of a bittersweet news item … I signed onto Facebook the night before last only to see this message from a great old friend from the neighborhood:
“They tore down the old T.S.S. today.”
Yes — that’s “T.S.S.,” as in Times Squares Stores, even though nobody ever called it the latter. And “T.S.S.” is an appellation that only the 40-and-up-ish crowd would recognize, I think. Everyone else thinks of it as “the old K-Mart.” But in the late 70’s and early 80’s, it was a sprawling local family discount store.
I and other Longwood High School kids have a hell of a lot of memories from there. I remember accompanying my parents there during their shopping expeditions when I was .. maybe the age from Kindergarten through the third grade?
“Warehouse”-type club stores weren’t really a thing back then. T.S.S.’ immense space was truly impressive to a little boy; it seemed like a world unto itself. We all remember the toy section — that was where I browsed wistfully through the very first Star Wars figures — I’m talking the original toys released in connection with the 1978 and 1980 films. I still remember them arrayed along the racks in their original packaging — Lord only knows how much those racks of unopened original toys would be worth today. I’m also pretty sure that’s where my parents picked up those Micronauts figures I got for Christmas one year. Come to think of it … I’ll bet the majority of my Christmas presents were bought there.
I also vividly remember the bedding department, for some reason. I think it’s because I really took a liking to some Charlie Brown bedsheets I saw displayed there.
But more than anything else, I remember the weird entranceway — they sold concession-style drinks and snacks on both sides, the better to appeal to children to beseech their parents.
There’s a neat little blog entry, complete with the store’s original TV commercials, right here at LongIsland70skid.com:
T.S.S. was such a vivid, memorable part of my early childhood that it was pretty damned depressing for me Tuesday to discover its eventual fate. I’m not talking about the sprawling space being razed. I’m talking about the goddam dystopian state of disrepair into which the entire commercial property fell.
After some long intervening years during which the space became a K-Mart, the building just went to hell after that doomed chain went as defunct as T.S.S. Tuesday’s Newsday article, below, should give you the rundown.
And the rundown isn’t pretty. Over the past decade, it seems that the “hulking eyesore” of a building was the site of squatters, drug users, and encroaching wild plantlife. If you have fond childhood memories of the store, then do not perform a Google image search for the location, as I did. It’ll show you a massive, vacant monolith of a building on a vast, overgrown, dangerous looking lot. It looks frikkin’ postapocalyptic. And it’ll make you sad.
And if that weren’t enough, a murder victim was found this past Saturday in the woods just next to the site:
“Middle Island vacant K-Mart demolished days after body found,” by Carl MacGowan, Newsday, 4/5/16
They say you can never go home again, huh?