WILDER'S WHOLE WORLD: Thinking back on the days of Sher-Den Mall

By Dwayne Wilder
Special to the Herald Democrat

With the news of some new development on the site of the former Sher-Den Mall location, I was tugged into the past. Wow! This is the mall I grew up with; this is the place I loved and loved going to. It was always in the background of our lives as it sat majestically on US 75 North in Sherman—not a mile from my house the day it opened.

We had moved to Sherman a couple of years before and saw a few movies on the site at the old Perrin Drive-In (built for all the servicemen and women stationed at Perrin AFB). It was opened to the public, but it was a simple drawing card for the guys and gals who got sent to north Texas for their service time.

Then the announcement that the drive-in would be torn down and the largest mall between Dallas and Oklahoma City would be built on that ground. At its height, the mall boasted 42 stores with auto shops by department store giants Montgomery Wards and JC Penney’s.

And to make it even better, there was a McDonald’s Restaurant across the highway next to the radio station! (Cackle and Oink is there now—this was long before Grandy’s!!! And KRRV-FM and KIKM-FM are gone into the mists of history.)

We took almost weekly trips to Sher-Den Mall on Saturdays; I remember buying shoes for the school year at one of the shoe stores (Remember those?!). We even went a few times during the week; now, that was a special treat. But the best was the almost once per month venture to Wyatt’s Cafeteria for Sunday lunch. We would stand in the long line and patiently wait for our turns. We got to choose whatever we wanted to eat; so cool! The strawberry dessert with angel food layers and whipped cream was a personal favorite! I think I chose it every time…

NOTE: One of my classmates from Piner -unknown to me; and this was later – became the lead cook for Wyatt’s. David Rayford had a long and distinguished career until Wyatt’s closed in the mid-1980s. I’m sure we ate there when he was in the back and I had no clue!

But even more fun was the Gold Mine; we got to stop and play some games on the way out of the mall and on the way home after eating. That was the quintessential ‘arcade’ from the 1970s. I was never much good at any of the games, but I had fun playing them; and isn’t that the point? The pinball games were so cool! (Cue the song ‘Pinball Wizard’ from the Who or Elton John.)

Sher-Den Mall had a movie theater as well: Cinema I-II (and later III-IV, which was built onto the theater out into the parking lot). I saw so many movies there; ‘The Towering Inferno,’ ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and ‘Star Wars’ (five times!) I even saw a movie there the last week it was opened, but I don’t remember which one. The theater was simple, but so incredibly cool for moviegoers and movie lovers.

David’s Books, Toys by Roy and Orange Julius were other places I loved to frequent. The bookstore was greatness (named for the owner’s son if I remember right) and what can you say about ‘Toys by Roy’ when it was THE toy store of your childhood! The model rockets alone…

Two other stores included Musicland, which I was in every mall visit once I got to a certain age; and the S&H Green Stamps Store, which my mother shopped as a collector of those classic stamps. We got so many cool appliances and other items over the years. I was amazed at some of the things you could get there.

There was a Kroger store in the mall, too; this was rare as you just don’t see grocery stores in malls, but there it was for a while. I remember Del Italia and that the ice cream bar (with nuts) shop, the one that I could never find again until Six Flags over Texas had them for a few years in the early 2000s.

Another interesting note – among many – was the steel girders used to build the mall. I watched one day as crews demolished JC Penney’s and was shocked to see – in big black bold letters ‘Mosher Steel’ on the girders under the concrete. This is where my uncle worked during the 1960s and 1970s in Dallas; I’ve actually driven by it once. So, I like to think that my uncle put together some of those girders that held up the mall I cherished so.

Something new may come to that site, but the memories of the ‘old mall’ will live forever, at least for me.

Dwayne Wilder

Dwayne Wilder is a Sherman native who currently lives in Denison. Wilder’s Whole World is his commentary about life in Texoma and the world. Wilder can be reached at cmandad17@gmail.com. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.