The 199th Post Retrospective Spectacular Whatever
This is the 199th post in Four Baggers and Foreclosures 4 plus year history. Instead of making a big deal about the milestone 200th post, I'm going to celebrate the one that precedes it instead. Because that's the type of thing I do...
So I commissioned a massive fireworks display, to be fired off over the Round Lake Shoppes of Coon Rapids, to celebrate!
As of November 13, 2021, my stories have been viewed a total of 152,552 times. It's closer to 155,000 today, but November 13th was when I wrote down how many views each of my 198 stories had. So these numbers are not currently accurate. But they are good enough to stroke my ego.
Mainly, I wanted to do something separate from the zine I'd been writing for near 25 years.
Post 1 - This is NOT Wasted Quarter (36 Views)
The first post in Four Baggers history was uploaded on July 18, 2017. It was titled: "This is NOT Wasted Quarter", as a sort of mission statement and introduction to what I was trying to accomplish here. As you can tell by the measly 36 views, very few people have read it. And that's okay. It was more of a test than anything. With nothing planned other than "Let's see if I can figure out how to do this..." I familiarized myself with the Googles Blogger feature, and a few hours later, the first official post in Four Baggers history was live.
Although I said from the start that I'd occasionally dip into that Wasted Quarter well for stories to re-write here, I wasn't going to just make web versions of my 24 year old zine. Wasted Quarter was officially on hold, but it's not finished. At some point, I fully plan on printing another issue of WQ. Simply because I loved the process of making them. Four Baggers would be a place to tell the stories that wouldn't translate as easily to a black and white printed book. This format would allow for more photo heavy content. Although the intention was to write all new material for Four Baggers, there was a huge amount of stories from Wasted Quarter that I could draw from, rewrite or add to, for new ideas to put up here.
Post 40 - Jeff Innis (512 Views)
The story honoring "Wasted Quarter's Favorite Baseball Player" featured reprints of every "Jeff Innis Report", that appeared in WQ between 1994 and 1995. These were combined with new text and images, the likes of which were just not possible on a single-sided, black and white Xerox.
Apparently, I'm not Jeff Innisis only fan, as my story has been viewed a seemingly incredible 512 times. Unless there's just THAT many people who liked my poorly hand-written Wasted Quarter paragraphs. Haphazardly thought up in the middle of the night at a gas station.
Yeah, it's probably that...
Post 108 - Bob and Bob and Bob and Bob and Bob the Duck (268 Views)
While the idea of another Bob the Duck cartoon ever being printed is up in the air, I decided to honor my extremely lame cartoon creation with an online presence. In addition to recalling all of Bob's appearances over 20+ years of Wasted Quarter, I scanned a baseball card of everyone I had named Bob.
Just seemed like something to do.
From the day I started Four Baggers, I've been fascinated with following the numbers. Not that they mean anything, but the Googles provides statistics for page views for each of the posts I've made. Meaning I can watch trends on how often my stories are getting looked at. Now that I've banked up 198 stories, I can compare how I feel about these stories vs how popular they may or may not have become. Which stories have staying power and still generate hits. Which ones have been overlooked, that very few people have seen, despite how I feel about them.
In order to give this completely unnecessary retrospective some real genuine Whatever, between talking about old stories, I'll use it to count down the Top 13 Most Read Stories on Four Baggers and Foreclosures!
Starting off with the 13th most viewed story...
#13 - Post 185 - Abandoned WalMarts over Apache Plaza (1342 Views)
Posted on March 30, 2021.
Late one night, I found that an abandoned WalMarts had recently been demolished. Barely 15 years after a nearly abandoned shopping mall was demolished to make room for it. Photographed intact in 2015 and 2018, this was an excuse to show off a few of my old Apache Plaza photos. To my surprise, a link of it was shared to the St. Anthony, Minnesota, facebook page. Netting me more than a few hundred additional views.
When I came up with the idea for this blog, I wanted it to share time equally between two absolutely unrelated subjects. Photography of urban decay with whatever I feel like talking about over them, and Baseball Cards. (And I'm particularly fond of combining the two, any chance I get.)
Baseball and baseball card related stories had been a frequently covered subject dating back to the earliest issues of Wasted Quarter. I love writing about baseball in any form. But a zine wasn't the best format for what I wanted to write. There was an absolute goldmine of baseball related stories to write, sitting in the other room. I just thought it was time to start telling them.
The last few years that Laura and I lived in Colorado, I was without a Local Card Store. From July 2013 through May 2018, when we moved back to Minnesota, about 95% of any cards entering my collection, came via retail packs. I never bought singles, so I was at the mercy of whatever the WalMarts and Targets were able to stock. Unless I wanted to go to Unfriendly's Dickish Collectibles, which was usually a resounding NO...
Post 94 - Cards From My Pals at Pal's (115 Views)
Whenever Laura and I were in town to visit our respective families, I made sure to drop by and leave a decent sized chunk of change on Twins, Expos and Rockies at Pal's Sports Cards, in Andover, MN. Cards that I wouldn't have ever found inside a big box retail chain. Conveniently located just a few miles from my parents house. Our house that Laura and I moved into in 2018, is even closer to this store.
And my collection has never been the same!
Post 153 - 1978 Bill Frisz Twins (95 Views)
One of my favorite cards I've bought from Pal's, is a complete 52 card set of 1978 Twins Retired Stars. It was a team issued release, featuring the photography of Bill Frisz, who did a lot of work with the Twins in the 1970's and 80's. I'd never seen this set before and was happy to own it.
Having that long lost Local Card Store back in my collecting life, added a huge amount of new stories on top of all the old ones I wanted to write. I couldn't keep up in covering all the new awesomeness coming in, so I had to give up trying. Safe to say, unless I'm writing a card story from somewhere specific, those cards came from Pal's. And I've written a whole bunch of those stories.
The best of Pal's:
Post 106 - National Hobby Shop Day
Post 119 - Get Yer 1969 Minnesota Twins Program
Post 131 - New Card Clean Up - 1955-1970
Post 175 - 1955 Bowman & 2020 St Louis Cardinals
Post 187 - 2021 Bowman and More
Post 196 - Did Anyone Care About 2020 Bowman Heritage?
But before I was writing about new purchases, I was having fun with the old stuff I already owned...
Post 34 - Bad Jokes and Bad Rockies (80 Views)
A throwaway idea one afternoon lead to this story, posted on September 3, 2017. A particularly bad Rockies game was on the TV, and I started thinking about some of the bad Rockies teams I watched in the late 1990's. Along with some of the failed prospects that were supposed to lead us into the postseason. Then I started thinking about some really dumb and bad jokes I've remembered from over the years. So why not combine the two?
I have always loved mashing up unrelated subjects in my stories, finding ways to bridge the massive gaps and making something fun out of the mess. Even though very few people have seen this story, it's still one I really liked.
Given the state of Colorado Rockies baseball, it needs a sequel...
Story For The Future - Mike's Sports Cards
I've been planning on a Mike's Sports Cards story since I started Four Baggers. But have never gotten around to it. Mike's was my go-to card shop from late 1996, when I moved to Englewood, CO, until he closed his shop in June 2013. During the span he was open, I wasn't focused on collecting my now standard Twins, Expos and Rockies cards. Mike's always had a really great stock of nice affordable vintage cards for sale. So in between chasing whatever the new hot unopened wax at the time, I was adding whatever key singles from the 1960's fit my budget.
Story For The Future - Shinders
Before I moved away from Minnesota in 1996, Shinders was a key contributor to the card collection. As well as a place to find weird and obscure magazines, comic books and a lot of other cool things (don't forget porno!) that shaped me through my teenage and early adult years. Shinders closed all of their Minneapolis area stores in early 2007, due to new ownership being more into meth and illegal guns than Topps and Upper Deck. Not getting into the whole Shinders story here, because there's too much involved and I'm saving that for later.
Shinders holds a special place in many a Minnesotan's hearts. It dated back to a 1916 Minneapolis newsstand on Hennepin Avenue. So it's well known for more than just sports cards. It was an institution, and I'll get to writing about it someday.
In the meantime, watch this. It's from 1982 and an interesting take on life near that old Hennepin Ave. store, in a seedy part of downtown Minneapolis. It's pretty fun!
That's all long gone now.
About a year after Shinders closed, two former employees attempted to resurrect the franchise. They created Beyond Shinders. A scaled down version of the store with two locations in the Minneapolis/St. Paul suburbs. In early 2009, I visited the Maplewood location. Which was in the dirt mall across the street from the larger, indoor Maplewood Mall.
Post 31 - Beyond Shinders (707 Views)
Beyond Shinders will forever be notable for the five packs of 2008 Upper Deck Spectrum I bought that day. One of the packs had a redemption card for a mystery Celebrity Cut Signature. And J.R. Ewing is an excellent prize! Those same five packs also gave me a second incredible dream card, an on-card buyback autograph of Ken Griffey Jr., numbered to 50. Unbelievable luck that day...
Unfortunately for Beyond Shinders, the luck didn't hold up. I've never been able to find a date when they ceased operations, but I don't think they lasted much past 2012. The market just wasn't there anymore, thanks to the internet and how that has changed basically everything fun in life.
Posted on August 30, 2017, this story was one of my first "hits". Four Baggers was barely 6 weeks old, and I was seeing some relatively shocking numbers over it. Likely due to the high position it took in searches for Shinders on the Googles, but it showed me that people still do care about what Shinders was.
Once near the top, today my Beyond Shinders story doesn't come close to cracking the Top 13...
Up next, the #12 Most Read Story on Four Baggers and Foreclosures!
#12 - Post 177 - Famous Dave's (1392 Views)
Posted December 1, 2020.
This story received the obvious boost of publicity from the Coon Rapids group on facebook. Famous Dave's recent closing and immediate demolition was fairly big retail news in there. I capitalized on it by writing and posting a lengthy story based on Famous Dave's. But it wasn't the story that anyone expected or wanted. I wrote a bunch of stories that spun off from Famous Dave's, from incidents nearly 14 years earlier. I blended my stories together, and spread them out in a non-linear format. Cast against a backdrop of restaurant demolition pictures. Famous Dave's wasn't at all the story I wanted to tell here. I certainly didn't have thousands of words to say about Barbecue Pork alone.
Shockingly, this wasn't well received by the audience. On the other hand, I loved it. It's one of my favorite pieces I've ever written, and I wouldn't do it differently if I could do it over. All the little stories added together into one big coherent story. If you followed how it all went. The seemingly random non-sensical one liners were subtle segues to transition between parts, but they had meaning to the big picture. It all made perfect sense to me, and to those who were there. If you got it, you got it. If you didn't, you told me that I wasted your time and to lay off the drugs.
Another of my favorite card related things to cover here was Box Breaks. As I mentioned earlier, when I started Four Baggers, I didn't have a LCS to supply my habit, so I was forced to buy only retail. Since you aren't going to buy sealed boxes at a Targets or WalMarts, you're reduced to whatever packs they have in stock.
Post 145 - 2019 Bowman's Best (95 Views)
Which isn't ever going to be something like Bowman's Best...
For a couple of years, I tried to establish breaking a Hobby Jumbo Box of each of Topps' 3 series. Looking at what I liked from each of the ten packs inside. All while noting how bad Topps flagship set was getting. I gave up on that in 2021. Since 2021 Topps was a set that pretty much disgusted me on all levels.
Although not as bad as this...
Story For The Future - 2006 Bowman Originals
But next, the #11 Most Read Story on Four Baggers and Foreclosures!
#11 - Post 96 - Let's Loiter at Oak Park Plaza (1498 Views)
Posted on August 6, 2018.
Directly in the middle of one of the most difficult stretches of my life. Laura and I had moved back to Minnesota two months earlier. She was living with her mom, and I was living at my parents house. This was a temporary set up until we purchased and moved into our house, at the end of September, 2018.
I was working first shift at my new job. Which was similar to my old job in Denver, which helped me not lose it completely. I would pick her up after getting off work on most days. Then we'd find someplace to hang out until late in the night. Quite often it was wasting copious amounts of time at Oak Park Plaza (which was nearby to both my job and her mom's house). The aging in-line retail center had recently undergone a major renovation, with a new grocery store replacing the demolished, long-closed old one on the north end.
Photographs of Oak Park Plaza were taken in 2011 and 2015, back when it looked really awful. The 2017 facelift made the place look a lot better, though it still had a ton of vacancies. It sill does today...
Yet another baseball related topic I wanted to cover on Four Baggers was attending baseball card shows. Which hadn't been as frequent of an occurrence after the Junk Wax Era ended. Just like I went without an LCS for several years, I hadn't been to a card show in close to two decades. The last one coming in the location of the number one most read story on Four Baggers!
Post 124 - St. Cloud Card Show (312 Views)
That changed in March of 2019, when I read about a small card show in St. Cloud, Minnesota. This was about an hour away from home. However, the drive up and back, as well as driving around town, would make for as good of a story as going to the show itself. I made several check-ins with St. Cloud area landmarks that I remembered from many years ago, and wrote a story I really liked. Even though less than half of it was about the card show itself.
Post 191 - Valley West Mall Card Show (404 Views)
Then the Covid pandemic struck and I didn't make it to another card show until this past Summer. This story was more focused on the card show, with only a few minor sidetracks. Including an abandoned Fuddruckers, that was being converted into something else. Although that sweet Fuddruckers sign remained standing for me to get a few decent pictures of.
Story For The Future - March 5, 1995: Minnesota Moose Card Show
Something I've been wanting to write about for a long time was this card show at the now-demolished St. Paul Civic Center (the Xcel Energy Center was built for the MN Wild, at the same site). The arena concourse was lined with card vendors, including myself, as I had a table located near the arena entrance. Directly across from the women's restroom. A prime location as the dudes would stand at my table, waiting for their wives/girlfriends to finish powdering their noses.
The Minor League Minnesota Moose (of the IHL) had a game during the card show. The game was a feature along with former North Stars players and the Hanson Brothers (from the movie Slap Shot) on hand to sign autographs. It was a very busy show and I made a nice amount of money selling cards that I wasn't too interested in keeping. I have a few photos from that day, as well as a list of everything I sold and how much I got for it.
Someday it will make for a fun story, whenever I get around to writing it.
Just like how I once wrote the #10 Most Read Story on Four Baggers and Foreclosures!
#10 - Post 39 - The Shack With The XXX's (1659 Views)
Posted on September 19, 2017.
The Shack With the XXX's in Ramsey, MN, was a rewrite of an old Wasted Quarter story from 1994. There was a lot to update from 1994 to 2017, as the city of Ramsey purchased The Shack With the XXX's, using something that seemed a whole lot like eminent domain. Ramsey wanted to clean up the area, and a porno shop wasn't exactly family friendly. As soon as the sale was complete, The Shack With the XXX's was ripped down with a shovel the next day. Video of which can be found in my story!
The Shack With the XXX's was a pretty notorious location in these parts of Minnesota. Even though I didn't identify it by name, it still generates a few hits every week. Guess Minnesotans just want to know the proper definition of "Floating Penishands."
Another planned series of stories was to be about all of the different stadiums that I saw baseball games at, between 1992 and 1996. Thanks to Jay Buckley Baseball Tours, I got to attend games at most of the Major League stadiums east of Minneapolis. Many of which are long gone today.
Especially this one...
Post 2 - Municipal Stadium and League Park, Cleveland (60 Views)
I was so anxious to start this project that League Park in Cleveland, Ohio was the second story I posted on Four Baggers. It was written the same night as the first post, and went up just a few hours later. The story covered both the former home field of the Indians (through the early 1940's) and the current home, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, which the Indians would leave at the end of the 1993 season.
Looking back, I wish I hadn't written this story then. I could do a much better job with it today. And I find it almost sad that it's only been viewed 60 times. It's a much better story than 60 views gives it credit for...
Post 21 - Jarry Parc and the 1976 Montreal Expos (690 Views)
A few weeks later, I continued the stadium series with my twice-in-a-lifetime vist to Montreal, to take in an Expos home game. In 1995, the tour bus brought us out to the still standing Jarry Parc, home of the Expos from 1969 to 1976. Shockingly, the groundskeeper let our whole tour group inside the stadium so we could see it! Even though the stadium had been converted to a tennis complex, there was still a lot of it that looked like the Expos former home. But only for a few more weeks. Not long after our visit, Jarry Parc was closed and underwent a massive two year renovation to where it no longer looks anything like what it did when the expansion Expos once called it home.
Seeing this place like it was in 1995 meant almost as much as seeing the Expos take on the Cubs at Olympic Stadium later that night. That being said, I wish I'd waited on this story as well. I could do a much better job with it today, but it's a lot better than my Cleveland story. And over ten times as many people have viewed it.
Just goes to show you how popular the Montreal Expos still are.
Or at least Jarry Parc...
Post 130 - 1997 Upper Deck Charlie O'Brien (146 Views)
Even though this story was about a single card, it was still about watching a game in a foreign stadium. In this case, SkyDome in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. As a set, I absolutely love 1997 Upper Deck. Every card has the photo dated, along with a note about what's going on in the photo. On this date, September 13, 1996, I was in attendance to watch the Blue Jays take on the Yankees. Cool enough that this photo was taken at a game I was witnessing personally, but what makes this notable is Charlie O'Brien's catcher's mask.
In my story, I detail how Charlie O'Brien worked with the manufacturers of masks that hockey goaltenders use, to develop a mask for baseball catchers. O'Brien had lobbied the Commissioners Office throughout the 1996 season to allow him to wear it in a game. This was a story I'd been following for much of the 1996 season. After a big bunch of Bud Selig bullshit, he finally allowed O'Brien to wear the mask. News broke of this a few days before the game.
That morning, I picked up a copy of the Toronto Sun newspaper. Inside the sports section, there was a blurb that Charlie O'Brien was planning on debuting his new mask that night, against the Yankees. I couldn't believe my luck! I followed the story all year, and would actually end up at the first game O'Brien's mask was worn! Being a Friday the 13th, O'Brien's image on the SkyDome Jumbotron would feature him as famous masks from different movies.
This has to rank as one of the coolest baseball events I've witness in person.
Definitely better than watching Barry Bonds hit three home runs in Coors Field, against the Rockies...
Post 98 - Almost Perfect (215 Views)
That mask would be a baseball event which would likely only be topped by something like a no-hitter or a perfect game... Which I almost saw on Saturday, September 8, 2018! Rather anonymous Kansas City Royals starter Jorge Lopez had thrown 8 perfect innings, just three outs to go and I've never been rooting so hard against the Twins.
Opening the 9th inning, Lopez walked Max Kepler. Perfect Game gone...
Next batter, Robbie Grossman lines a soft single to center field. No-Hitter gone...
Kepler took third on the hit. Ehire Adrianza hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Kepler. Shutout gone...
Joe Mauer and Jorge Polanco both flew out out to end the game. Lopez won the game, but it was a one-hitter, and he didn't even get to finish it.
And I've still never seen a no hitter or perfect game.
But I did see Charlie O'Brien's new mask for the first time!
Story For The Future - Pursue the Pennant
I'm now in my fourth year of planning to write this story...
Back in the spring of 1990, I used some of my dry cleaning money to purchase this from the Games By James store at the old Northtown Mall. Not really a board game, it's played with dice and individual cards for each team. There's over 900 players available between the (then) 26 teams, based on the 1989 season. You could play solo or with someone else, simulate a season (if you had 8,000 years available to do so) or play a series, or draft your own All Star team. This was such a fun game that it definitely needs to be covered here at some point.
Who knows, maybe someday it can become one of the most read stories? Possibly overtaking this one...
The #9 Most Read Story on Four Baggers and Foreclosures!
#9 - Post 63 - Saxon Motors (1706 Views)
Posted on February 7, 2018.
During a November 2017 visit to Minnesota, my friend Trav and I drove up to Elk River specifically to take pictures of a large abandoned car dealership. I was so excited by this photo shoot that I wrote this story up as soon as I got back to Colorado. Once I had a chance to breathe after all the chaos that ensued after this trip to Minnesota. Which was it's own story and I'll get to that later.
Saxon Motors became a very popular story rather quickly. It was one of those that was getting consistent hits every week, and I noticed it was one of the first results that came back when you entered Saxon Motors on the Googles. But earlier this year, I noticed a big spike in traffic on this story. After doing a little research, the property had been sold and the dealership was going to be demolished. And I was going to be there to take pictures to write the sequel!
Post 192 - Saxon Motors II: The Wrath of Flar (367 Views)
Pre-demolition work was well underway when I visited Saxon this June, 2021 afternoon. And all of the doors were left wide open! I took that as an invitation to go inside and check out the entire complex!
Though I still regret not going upstairs...
Abandoned restaurants, be they fast food or full service, are some of my favorite vacant buildings. Unlike general retail stores, when the people leave, there's usually some defining fixtures left behind. When a store closes, it's usually cleared out to four walls. But restaurants usually have seating, tables, kitchen equipment and all sorts of other identifying marks staying behind once the last burger has been fried.
Post 52 - Dinner Break - McDonald's Littleton, CO (318 Views)
This nearly hidden McDonald's fried up more than a few burgers for me when I was living in that nearby house with my four roommates in 2005-06. Not sure when it closed, but I took these photos in June, 2017, and it appeared to have been open not all that long ago.
Some of my other favorite Dinner Breaks:
Post 46 - Dinner Break - Super Buffet, Lakewood
While many of the Dinner Break stories took place in Denver, Colorado, I still have a decent sized bank of them from in and around my past and current hometown of Coon Rapids, MN. A lot of the stuff from Crapids was set up for a series of Wasted Quarter books that never happened. All of that material is slowly being published here.
Including this one...
Post 29 - Dinner Break - Ground Round, Coon Rapids (513 Views)
The Crapids Ground Round was destroyed by fire in early 1998. They never rebuilt after the fire, and what was left of the building was demolished a few months later. I was living in Colorado when all of this happened, but was sent a few photographs of the damage, that my mom had taken. This particular Ground Round was a place my family frequented over the years. I even briefly attempted to work there in 1992. Given the positive memories the restaurant holds with many Crapidians, it's garnered a decent amount of views despite my not giving it much publicity.
Let's stay in Coon Rapids, but go across town, to (one of) the locations of The #8 Most Read Story on Four Baggers and Foreclosures!
#8 - Post 152 - Whatever Happened to Clarks Submarine Sandwich? (1895 Views)
Posted on February 17, 2020.
I took this photo of the long closed Crapids Clarks Submarine Sandwich store back in 2006 (it's now a Dunn Bros. Coffee today). This was one of around 20 Clarks locations in the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area. For the most part, the chain was dead around 1990. But the legend of their delicious sammiches lives on. For this story, I found a list of former Clarks locations and decided to turn to the Googles to see what was going on at each of their old stores today. This was a pretty fun little project, although I got a few of them wrong. Which are pointed out in some of the comments left at the end of the post. The high amount of views reflects just how popular the chain was with Minnesotans. (Hint: It was the salad oil!)
And I could still really go for one of their Mixed Cold-Cuts...
Another genre of Four Baggers baseball card stories that have been surprisingly popular, are the Re-Pack Whatevers. Be they Fairfield or other.
Post 158 - 2020 Fairfield Re-Packs (620 Views)
I guess people like looking at random junk cards nearly as much as I still enjoy opening them. Granted, most of them are pure garbage fodder, but there's always a few cards that get added into the various player collections. If you want to revisit some, here's a few of my favorites:
Post 73 - Opening Day Fairfield Repack
Post 90 - Presstine Marketing Inc.
Post 92 - PressTine II - Ohtani's Repack Revenge
Post 174 - Gavin Lux Fairfield 2020 Whatever
Another planned series of baseball card stories I'd planned to cover here was Sets You Forget About.
Post 17 - 1994 Classic Minor Leagues (35 Views)
1994 Classic Minor Leagues was a set I really liked. Even though the subject matter interested very few people, this set featured a great checklist and some pretty damn good photography. But so few people cared about it, that it's only been looked at a mere 35 times! I don't have too many stories that have been viewed less.
The only other story officially under this header would be 2002 Upper Deck Authentics, but that was seen at least 185 times. Totally kicking Classic's ass.
Story For The Future - 2002 Topps Total
If I ever get around to writing it, this will probably be the third entrant in the Sets You Forget About category. I've been planning it since September of 2019, and have well over 200 cards, plus box art scanned and ready to go. Problem is, I've written zero text for this stuff. As much as I like the concept, writing this story has just never been a priority.
Maybe next year?
Maybe next year I'll get around to more installments of the Random Top Loader idea?
Post 147 - Vinnie Rottino (80 Views)
The point of the Random Top Loader stories was to cover a single specific card, housed in the boxes of Top Loaders. The card chosen would be determined by a random roll of a series of old Dungeons and Dragons dice. Once chosen, I would then write my reflections on said card. Where it came from, why I bought it, do I even like it? Etc...
So far, I've only written three of these. The above Rottino, a 1995 Select Greg Maddux Artist Proof and a 1993 Topps Gold Derek Jeter. In theory, these would be quick stories that I could bang out in a hurry. Instead of taking weeks to write, with over 100 images to sort through, as has become my near normal. Yet I'm still choosing to start lengthy project stories, instead of giving stuff like this some attention.
2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes Joe DiMaggio Jersey 22/25
After all, a card like this deserves just as much love as any Expos card.
What am I saying???
I could be saying an introduction of The #7 Most Read Story on Four Baggers and Foreclosures!
#7 - Post 91 - Toys R Us: Reflections of Bankruptcy (1906 Views)
Posted June 22, 2018.
During that three month stretch of time when we first moved back to Minnesota, and had no place of our own, we spent a lot time around town doing anything we could to not be at one of our parent's houses. One evening, Laura was eating dinner at LeAnn Chin's and I was quickly becoming repulsed by the smell of the place. Across the street was the Blaine Toys R Us, a good month into their going out of business sale. In fact, they had less than two weeks left before closing their doors forever.
She suggested that I walk over and check it out while she ate. As soon as I entered the parking lot, I had an idea to walk around the store and take pictures of what it looked like. Now this would make a good story! There wasn't a whole lot left of interest when I walked around, but the pictures I took were great. A little blurry, but still great. And the story they turned into quickly became very popular. I can still count on this one getting a nice amount of views every week.
Because even people besides me, miss Toys R Us!
Almost as much as I miss living in Colorado...
The way my life was set up the last few years we lived there, was nearly every weekend, I'd get off work early on Saturday or Sunday morning, and drive around town for pictures. I had several specific areas that I was photographing often. These missions led to me creating Four Baggers. Obviously, the baseball card part was already there whenever I needed it. But the rapidly growing collection of abandoned building pictures needed an outlet.
Post 56 - X-Mess 2013: The Road to Fan Fair (592 Views)
I'd been taking pictures around Englewood for much of 2013, but at the end of the year, I decided to branch out to other parts of town. Starting on X-Mess morning, when I remembered that extremely odd looking Fan Fair building, and decided to drive out to the long closed department store (Fan Fair ceased operations in 1965). As luck would have it, I caught it just in time. Half of the building was already demolished. The timing could have been better, but not by much...
This story was too large and needed to be split into parts. So the first half was dedicated to driving there, and a week later, the second half was the drive back. With all sorts of pictures taken along the way(s). Part two was less popular, with only 452 views, showing that getting there was more fun.
Between 2013 and 2015, there was one small area of Denver that had my specific attention. The intersection of Broadway and Mississippi, once home to Gates Rubber Company. Not only was the long abandoned massive factory being demolished, but everything around it was being destroyed in favor of luxury apartments. Beautiful urban decay was getting cleaned up and gentrified. I shortsightedly missed a whole bunch of it years earlier, so I resolved to capture everything I still could before it was all gone.
Post 70 - East Asia Garden (215 Views)
East Asia Garden was the last open business in this very old in-line retail building. It was demolished in the summer of 2015, with a very large apartment complex replacing it.
Post 125 - That US Bank by Gates (418 Views)
Just north of East Asia Garden was a US Bank that I used for a lot of my Denver years. It met the bulldozer just weeks before it's Chinese restaurant neighbor.
Story For The Future - More Gates Rubber Company
Of course, the main event was the demolition of the Gates Rubber Company itself. Tearing the massive factory down took nearly a year, and I made weekly walk-arounds of it for that entire year. For covering it on Four Baggers, I planned on many individual stories, each covering a week or two's worth of pictures. Depending on how interesting that period's photos were. So far, I've put up 6 installments of the Gates Demolition Diary, with many more planned for the future.
Post 160 - Gates Demolition Diary Pt 1 (905 Views)
Post 161 - Gates Demolition Diary Pt 2 (252 Views)
Post 165 - Gates Demolition Diary Pt 3 (251 Views)
Post 167 - Gates Demolition Diary Pt 4 (188 Views)
Post 172 - Gates Demolition Diary Pt 5 (268 Views)
Post 180 - Gates Demolition Diary Pt 6 (218 Views)
They seemed to have gotten less popular as they go on.
I blame myself...
But it's not just Gates Rubber Company in this area, there's a virtual gold mine of material just on Broadway alone. Like the previously mentioned Griff's Hamburgers, and the not yet mentioned Sinclair Gas Station. Or one of my favorites:
Story For The Future - Kitty's South
Kitty's was a small chain of Denver Adult Bookstores. This location closed around 2008, with others closing earlier or later. Reports were that a lot of meth was involved in Kitty's demise. Kitty's South held more interest to me. I'd been inside of it several times in the late 1990's. Just in the retail area, not back in the labyrinth of jerk-it booths, built over the previous seating area of the old movie theater. However, a friend of mine did go back there. Often. The stories he told were pretty wild, which jive with the Kitty's reputation I've heard much about. Distinctly remember one afternoon when we were hanging out there (he was friends with a couple of the employees) and the janitor (or jizzmopper?) was ranting about how "It happened again!" Turns out the "it" was someone took a dump in one of the jerk-it booths.
The building itself was once known as the Webber Theater. It was a legitimate movie house dating back to the 1930's, before turning to porno in the 1970's. After Kitty's closed, a homeless person started a fire inside that destroyed the interior. After sitting empty for 10 years, the building was completely gutted and renovated into a trendy distillery. It opened for business just weeks before we moved away from Denver.
Post 194 - Caboose Hobbies (329 Views)
Caboose Hobbies wasn't as lucky as Kitty's in avoiding the wrecking ball, and was removed from Broadway in April, 2017. This story unexpectedly became one of my all time favorites I've ever written. Originally intended as a quick throw-away story, since I only had a few exterior pictures, as I started working on it, it became so much more than just the demolition of a model train store.
After I wrote it, I posted a link to a model train group on Reddit. Which generated a fair amount of extra traffic. This has been a rather new thing for me. I just joined Reddit a few months ago to directly advertise my stories to audiences that may be interested in them. (Something I quickly discovered, there's a lot of dicks on Reddit!) Now the reason I finally got around to using Reddit will come up soon enough...
Small sampling of some more of my favorite Denver stories:
Post 16 - Burning Down the Rockies Inn
Post 77 - Happy 420
Post 112 - Watsons Grocery
Post 118 - The Dead Beat Club
Post 176 - A Subway Farmers Car Wash
That list just includes Denver stories. I've written a bunch more out in the suburbs, involving urban decay in Lakewood, Littleton, Aurora, Sheridan and especially Englewood. Living nearly 20 years of my life in Englewood will lead to a decent share of memories to write about.
Post 43 - Bye Bye Buy Back Games (663 Views)
For a brief period of time, this was my top viewed story. I've never figured it out, but almost immediately after I posted this one, it shot up to over 500 views. Just as quickly, all interest dropped off and I don't think it's seen more than 100 visitors in nearly 4 years. Which doesn't surprise me. It's really not that good of a story.
If you want to read something decent that I wrote about Englewood, check one of these out...
Post 102 - Star Express
Post 121 - Hilltop Motel
Post 155 - Wachovia Bank
Post 188 - London Motel
Post 198 - Larry H Miller Nissan
Something you can't read about Englewood (because I haven't written it yet), but will be one of my better stories when it's finally posted, is my tale of...
Story For The Future - Martin Plastics
An abandoned plastics company, that closed in the early 2000's and was demolished in 2015. In favor of -you guessed it- expensive apartments. One of the mornings that I was walking around the property as it was being demolished, the owner saw me and we talked about what I was doing. In a totally unexpected move, he invited me inside to show off the oldest part of the complex. During pre-demo work, they discovered an old ceiling that would be saved and incorporated into the new apartments. I took a bunch of pictures that I never expected of Martin Plastics, and have been saving this story for a special occasion. A version of this unwritten story did appear in Wasted Quarter, so if you have a copy of Abandoned Englewood, you already know...
Another story that was previously written poorly for Wasted Quarter, takes place a few miles to the southwest of Martin Plastics, just beyond the Englewood city limits, in Littleton.
Story For The Future - Columbine Square
The sad tale of the Columbine Square Shopping Center was another Colorado story I followed close, and photographed several times. A failed concept in both design and location, the last few tenants were asked to leave in the Summer of 2013. There was a fiasco over designating the property as blighted, in favor of tax benefits, resulting in a years-long battle with the city of Littleton. During that time, the shopping center itself was beaten unmercifully by taggers and vandals, undeterred by the simple security fence. Columbine Square was finally demolished after a suspicious fire on the east end, in January 2018.
That'll come eventually...
Post 144 - Burger King Columbine Square (919 Views)
Part of that story was told in the form of an old Burger King, previously located at the far west end of the shopping center. I watched that building fall apart for years, until it was finally scraped from the landscape, in March, 2018. Dropped a few choice photos of Columbine Square and a few of another former sports bar & grill next door. Also one of my more popular "Dinner Break" stories, at over 900 views.
Which is still less than half as many views as my most seen baseball card story...
The #6 Most Read Story on Four Baggers and Foreclosures!
#6 - Post 117 - 1993 Topps Finest Refractors (1974 Views)
Posted April 6, 2019.
Formatted as a "Top Whatever" list. "Whatever" being the term I give to a ranked list of a non-set number of cards. In this case, it was a Top 4 (as I only had 4 total 1993 Topps Finest Refractors when I wrote it). I padded this countdown with several stories about my personal history with collecting this ground breaking set. And it did respectable as far as my baseball card stories go. After a year online, it had garnered about 400 views. Definitely on the higher end for my baseball ramblings.
In general, my baseball card stories average between a quarter and half of the views that my posts about abandoned buildings get. And that's about what I expected when I started writing Four Baggers. To my knowledge, there are more baseball card blogs, than photo-heavy abandoned building blogs. While baseball card collectors likely far outnumber abandoned building photo admirers, the ratio of each group of their fans to the amount of material out there is rather uneven.
One day, I found this story had over 300 views in the past 24 hours. That number ballooned to over 600 views in the next three days. Nearly all of this new traffic was coming from Reddit. My 1993 Topps Finest Refractors post was linked in a very popular story about the changing baseball card market in 2020. I felt really surprised that of all the things that have been posted online about 1993 Topps Finest Refractors, the author chose what I wrote to support his case.
Because I'd like to return the favor from my diverse and far reaching audience, here is a link to his story.
Even after nine months have passed since it happened, I still get 5-10 views of my 1993 Topps Finest Refractors story every day. Good thing I still like what I wrote!
When I started Four Baggers, I had all kinds of ideas for baseball card stories based on the cards I had. My Top Whatever idea seemed to be the best way to do that. Everyone relates to countdowns and best-of lists. It's an easy concept to turn into a fun story.
Post 58 - Top Whatever: 1981 Fleer (253 Views)
In the Summer of 2011, I found that I had a total of less than 15 cards from both the 1981 Donruss and 1981 Fleer sets. Both companies respective debuts in the modern baseball card market. Boredom lead me to ebay, where I purchased a sealed wax box of each brand. Now that was a fun afternoon breaking both of them! The newfound abundance of old cards that I didn't own before, would lead to lengthy Whatevers. I posted the 1981 Fleer story first.
Post 61 - Top Whatever: 1981 Donruss (581 Views)
A few weeks later, the Donruss story went up.
It was more than twice as popular.
Shortly after the two 1981 card stories, I posted my memories of a set from ten years later.
Post 64 - Top Whatever: 1991 Stadium Club (351 Views)
Anyone who collected baseball cards in 1991 will remember the stir that 1991 Stadium Club created when it first hit the shelves. A 1991 product that sells for $10 a pack, immediately after release?!?! What kind of madness is this?!?! The Fall of 1991 was also my junior year in high school, and to my friend Military Mike and I, 1991 Stadium Club was THE set to chase. This is the story of what our lives were like in those days, between school and our crappy part time jobs, set against our tireless and very expensive pursuit of the nicest looking cards we'd ever seen.
I still love this story.
But I wont limit the Top Whatever concept to reflecting on specific sets of cards.
Post 71 - Top Whatever: The Big Trade
Ranking the cards I acquired in exchange for tens of thousands of minor stars, inserts and rookies. While thinning out the collection, before moving back to Minnesota.
Post 76 - Top Whatever: 1994 Bowman
Post 193 - Top Whatever: 2021 Topps Silver Pack
Or it could still be sets...
Post 149 - Hall of Fame Top Whatever: Larry Walker
Or to honor the first Colorado Rockie (and former Expo), upon his election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame! A top 33 (his uniform number with both teams) of my favorite Larry Walker Expos and Rockies cards. No, it's not a Top 66, but two alternating Top 33's!
Post 179 - Top Whatever: 2020 Baseball Releases
I decided to summarize the year in baseball cards by counting down my favorite 2020 card sets (that I bought at least one pack from). Since we're less than a month away from 2022, I will not be doing another one this year.
Post 182 - Top Whatever: Nolan Arenado
How about a Top Whatever, written out of spite for a team's horrible mismanagement of their star player? Especially one who was one of my all time favorites. I say was because I still throw up in my mouth a little when I see a Nolan Arenado St. Louis Cardinals card. And I've actually pulled some beautiful St. Louis Cardinals Nolan Arenado cards this year. And they all make me very sad...
But I don't want to confine the Top Whatever spirit to solely baseball... In the future, I plan on Whatevering my favorite pieces from my miniscule Hockey, Football, Basketball and Wrasslin card collections.
Even a Top Whatever dedicated to...
Story For The Future - Top Whatever: 1985 Transformers Action Cards
Stupidly threw all of the ones (well over 100) I had out in the late 1980's, that I'd picked up at area grocery and toy stores, back in 1985. Regretted that for a long time. Then, I stumbled into actual unopened packs of these cards, for only $5 a piece! The long since closed Xeno Toys, on Capitol Hill in Denver, Colorado, had a full desktop display from the original packaging, in their awesome store (which closed in 1999). This was back in 1997. I couldn't believe that price on these, so I picked up about ten packs during the span of several visits. None of them were thrown away, but they've all been scanned!
And they need to be Whatevered!
Junk Wax Prospector
Back in my early days of collecting, I was drawn to the false promise of rookie cards. Even to the point of actively collecting Minor League cards. Because one day they'll fund my retirement! Some of these players panned out, most of them did not... But I still keep their cards today, because they're some of my favorite stories of collecting. And they're fun to write!
Post 15 - Junk Wax Prospector: Kevin Mmhat (103 Views)
Mmhat was the second of MANY planned installments of the Junk Wax Prospector concept. Even though he only appeared in 4 Major League games, at the end of the 1989 season. His first game took place during a national broadcast, which I watched at the dry cleaners I was working at. Mmahat became a player I was obsessed with, based solely on his name. Which was actually pronounced: "mom-A-hut". Until the announcers got clarification of how to say his name, they spent his first two batters saying it many different ways.
This is exactly the type of player I will always collect!
Some other Junk Wax Prospector stories of players that achieved mixed results at the game's highest level:
Post 9 - Junk Wax Prospector: David McCarty
Post 23 - Junk Wax Prospector: David Nied
Post 30 - Junk Wax Prospector: Barber Brian
Post 44 - Junk Wax Prospector: Sam Militello
Post 66 - Junk Wax Prospector: Ugueth Urbina
Post 159 - Junk Wax Prospector: Chuck Knoblauch
But we haven't even scratched the surface here... There's no Gregg Jefferies, Brien Taylor, Marc Newfield, Carlos Delgado, Jerome Walton or Todd Van Poppel to be found yet!
Story For The Future - More Junk Wax Prospector Stories!
Even though the baseball card market of today is both drastically different and eerily similar to the early 1990's Junk Wax Era, and my collecting habits today, still draw a lot of similarities to how I collected then. Biggest difference being, you just don't find cards at every store that has a cash register.
You can't call today a new Junk Wax era (though some may argue that), but prospecting is still very much a thing with today's collectors. Another of my favorite stories I've written dealt with that very concept.
Post 164 - 2020 MLB Draft (146 Views)
Combining a single Blaster of 2020 Panini Stars & Stripes with the 2020 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft, I followed along with the former Team USA players assignments to their new Major league organizations. High praise for the potential of Mr. Martin's drafting by the Toronto Blue Jays that day. Now that he's under contract to the Minnesota Twins, I'm even more interested in following his career and cards.
But for now, I'm more interested in finding out what the next most popular story I've written is...
That would be the #5 Most Read Story on Four Baggers and Foreclosures!
#5 - Post 181 - Ghosts of Riverdale Past (2090 Views)
Posted January 29, 2021.
With another recent rash of closing businesses in the Coon Rapids retail disasterland known as Riverdale, I was interested in finding out how many pictures I had of stores that were no longer open. I was surprised at how large that list actually was. Equally surprising has been the continued interest in this story. Reaching number 5 on this list in under a year wasn't what I expected. I can count on this post generating an average of 8-12 views still every day.
Not sure if I mentioned it yet, but this is my 199th post on Four Baggers. The next one, the 200th post, is a big milestone for me. I look at every 50th story as milestone, since it takes so long for me to finish writing anything these days. The first one hit the internet on July 18, 2017. Only four months later (November 26, 2017), I posted my 50th story.
Post 50 - Donaldson's Fire 1982 (1210 Views)
On Thanksgiving Day, 1982, two juveniles accidentally set the abandoned Donaldson's department store in downtown Minneapolis on fire. The multi-story building was undergoing demolition at the time, and went up in a near instant inferno, spreading to the Northwest National Bank tower that shared the same block. About a month later, my sister, mother and I went downtown to take a look at the damage. My mom shot up a roll of film of the wreckage around the former Donaldson's store. Somehow, I ended up with those pictures and decided that would make for an excellent Thanksgiving story.
Every Thanksgiving since, it gathers a pretty decent amount of hits.
Though I really need to go back and fix all the YouTube linked videos I messed up...
It took only four months to get to 50 posts, and it took another 11 months to reach my 100th post.
Post 100 (and 101) - Duluth (206, 216 Views)
The first part went up late on Halloween 2018, with part two going up the next day. Laura and I had just moved into our new house at the end of September, and celebrated our new home with four days away from it. These two stories were about all the stuff we saw while in the "San Francisco of the Midwest", mixed in with a big bunch of awesome cards purchased from Globe News in Superior, Wisconsin.
I did exact the same thing again with a Duluth trip in June, 2021. Instead of talking about the 1993 Topps Gold Derek Jeter card I had planned on.
My 150th post, which came on February 2, 2020, is another of my all-time favorites...
Post 150 - The Kool Aid House (394 Views)
A few years ago, when I was still living in Englewood, a friend of mine told me about an abandoned house next door to his. Over 100 years old, and in really rough shape, with a really bad looking Kool-Aid Man painted on the living room wall. The property had recently been sold, and the house would soon be demolished. He told me to come and check it out. He talked of some other interesting thins that went on at the house. When it came time to post my 150th story, I wanted to tell the Kool Aid House story. He wrote a few pieces about it, for me to add in.
Story For The Future - Post 200 - ???
Did you know this is my 199th post? Well, it is!
That means the next one is post #200. So it should probably be a good one... For the last few months, I had one all planned out. I collected several hundred images to choose from and started the note-taking and outlining process, to start the first draft.
Then I changed my mind.
So the milestone 200th story on Four Baggers isn't the one I'd planned on posting. You'll just have to wait to find out what direction I go with it.
What could have also been considered a milestone story, the #4 Most Read Story on Four Baggers and Foreclosures is...
#4 - Post 75 - 99 Spillihp part 1 (2397 Views)
Posted April 18, 2018.
Condensed down from a 100 page issue of Wasted Quarter, all about a gas station. This post (and part 2) compiled a ton of stories and images from working the graveyard shift of a small convenience store, between 1993 and 1996. It's a lot like Clerks, only without any cohesion. It was a big hit with the cast and characters involved, but I'm absolutely shocked that views grew to the levels it has. Doubt many are searching the Googles for the term 99 Spillihp. And if you want to know why it's named that, go read the story.
About three weeks later, I posted part 2...
Post 82 - 99 Spillihp part 2 (1122 Views)
The second half focused more on the "wacky antics" that took place during my shifts, while the first covered more of the what, where and why angles.
Four Baggers became my writing outlet with Wasted Quarter on an extended hiatus. The point of Wasted Quarter was to tell stories about what was going on in my life, which were never current by the time I finished writing, laying out and printing a new issue. But with this format, I could self-publish stories as they were evolving, and not a year later. After everything had changed
The period of time between November, 2017 and June 2018 is one that I considered The Countdown to Leaving Colorado. This all absolutely would have been an issue of Wasted Quarter, but it wouldn't have been printed until 2019, at the earliest. By November of 2017, all hopes of us being able to stay in Colorado were exhausted. Now I had to prepare to say goodbye to a place I loved, in favor of a place I merely tolerated.
Post 48 - Not a Story About My Story or Trevor Story (129 Views)
Adding insult to injury would be Laura and I running our car into a deer on the interstate, in the middle of nowhere Nebraska. It was the middle of the night and cost us not only that car, but nearly two months of headaches and problems.
Post 60 - Fleeing From a Winter Wonderland (454 Views)
With the car problem still not solved two months later, I filled our rented mini-van with as much of the card collection as I could, and drove it to Minnesota, one January morning. Delivering the first load of my life back to my parents house. Laura had been in Minnesota for the X-Mess holiday, and while she was there, bought a car for us to drive back to Denver. At least this drive back (in mid-January, 2018) went a lot smoother than November. Worst thing being having to charm my way out of a speeding ticket. Also in nowhere Nebraska.
Shortly after we got back to Colorado, Laura broke both of her legs in two separate accidents. Meaning nearly all of the packing and efforts for us to get out would fall on me. It was overwhelming and difficult to continue trying to wrap everything up with all the new problems we were dealing with. I had been planning on staying at my job until just a couple weeks before we left at the end of May, but with all that was going on, I quit in early March.
And I'm glad I did. I needed the time to get ready for the move, and the lack of going to work every day gave me additional time to say goodbye to Denver in my own way.
Post 67 - Fire House Car Wash (291 Views)
I spent much of the last three months we lived there, driving around to get pictures of as much of the area as I could. Snapping final photos of places I'd been following for the past five years was high on my list of things I wanted to do. I wrote a lot of stories during this stretch of time, knowing -but not knowing- that I wouldn't likely have this amount of spare time again. Once we got to Minnesota, I likely wouldn't have nearly as much time to dedicate to this project as I'd like.
Post 68 - Cheering Myself Up With Urban Decay (609 Views)
It was all very depressing to me. But the days I drove around town cheered me up. Even if I wasn't going to do anything with this material right away, I'd be able bank up a bunch of valuable material to draw from in the future. I made it a point to drive miles away, just for pictures of buildings I was only at once. (Or even never.) Because I always found extra added cool stuff I didn't expect along the way.
Post 80 - Happy May (132 Views)
Like this... I'd hadn't seen or heard of this place before, but that building rules! The security fence kept me from looking closely at it, so I could only observe it from a distance. Plopped next to the freeway, at the top of a hill, in the middle of an industrial area.
May of 2018 was our last month before moving. Packing was a daily mission, though often procrastinated. But it gave me a chance to look through and sort boxes of stuff that had been packed away in closets for most of the 12 years I lived in that apartment.
Post 83 - Packing Up the Magazines (649 Views)
A magazine cover featuring Faith No More and a herd of baby kitties. Whoever thought of this needs an award. The number of views on this story still surprises me. Perhaps it's the wide variety of subjects covered while writing about the magazines I've saved over the years. I'm sure it's popped up in a few searches of the Googles for people not looking for anything like this story.
Post 85 - Treasure Chest Pt. 1 (417 Views)
Before moving, I brought a big stack of collectable toys up to the Mile High Comics warehouse store in Denver, to trade them for smaller items, in an effort to eliminate space in packing. Giving me a chance to wander around that massive comic book and toy paradise with my camera, for a story to add to my story about packing toys for the move.
Post 86 - A Leisurely Walk Around Capital Hill (335 Views)
Of all the leaving Colorado stories, this was my favorite. Two weeks before we left, I drove up to Capital Hill in Denver, and parked the car. Then I walked all around the neighborhood, taking pictures of the entire area. I spent a lot of time with my friends from Overpriced Art College around here, between 1997 and 2000. I wanted a story that would cover the places I hung out at in my early to mid 20’s, and what is there now. Most of those places are long gone, or at least not what they used to be.
Post 87 - Treasure Chest Pt. 2 (762 Views)
Continuing with my “packing for the move” stories of collectable toys with a post dedicated to my original Transformers. Which was fairly popular, but that should surprise me since a lot of people still like the original Transformers. Even Gracie!
None of that Michael Bay crap either...
Still, not as popular as the #3 Most Read Story on Four Baggers and Foreclosures...
#3 - Post 89 - Grumpies (The Coolest Coon Rapids has EVER Been!) (3724 Views)
Posted June 15, 2018
My first post after moving back to Minnesota. I needed something big for my big return, and this fit the bill. I knew it would end up being fairly popular, since the forum I’d use to publicize it was falling all over itself with lame in-jokes about this former bar. Last known as Willie’s, before closing it’s doors for good in late 2017. As soon as we got to Minnesota, I photographed the exterior in all it’s abandoned bar glory, then combined them with some interior photos I took of the bar in March of 2004.
When King Buzzo shows up in your hometown, you make sure you’re there!
The legendary Melvins showed up to play a quick set in this bar, back when it was known as Grumpy’s (Yes, I purposely misspelled the name, not going to get into why). Longtime Wasted Quarter ally, Dr. John, and I were there that night. So was a lot of noise and baffled bar patrons that had no idea who the Melvins are.
My story was an instant hit, just as I’d predicted. For a good amount of time this was my most read story. But I wasn’t a big fan of it. I wanted my most popular story to be something of a little more substance, so I needed to find something that would beat it out.
Grumpies/Willies sat vacant for a few years before getting a much needed renovation and re-opening as Lenerd’s. Also a bar and grill.
And I couldn’t care less…
One good thing about being back in Minnesota, was the ease in which I was able to update old stories in the greater Crapids area. Since I never finished the planned Wasted Quarter mini-series based on my stories and pictures from my hometown and nearby locations, not only could I eventually put them up here, but I could easily update them with new photos and information I probably wouldn't have gotten if I was still in Colorado. Is that a good trade off? Maybe...
Post 190 - Railroad Bridges of Coon Rapids Blvd. (435 Views)
A story about a 2011 photography roadtrip around town with a friend of mine. I posted this to the Crapids facebook group on the 4th of July, 2021, with the tag line: "Something to read while you wait for fireworks." and was disappointed in the lack of response. I thought this was a good story that briefly touched on a whole bunch of local subjects. Some were covered in more detail before, and many will be covered in greater detail in the future. Perhaps this poignant graffiti rubbed people the wrong way?
But if you wanted to replicate our cruise around Crapids, and were in need of gas, you wouldn't be able to refuel at any of these former Coon Rapids gas stations:
Post 08 - Amoco 610 Crapids Blvd
Post 59 - EZ Stop
Post 168 - Conoco Round Lake Blvd
Looking back, I'm surprised that I haven't written more stories of former Crapids businesses. I still have plenty of material to draw from, so there will be more in the future.
Including stuff like this:
Story For The Future - Village 4 Theater
Back in 2002, close personal friend of Wasted Quarter, Trav (who coincidentally came up with the name Four Baggers and Foreclosures) and my father, lead multiple separate missions to photograph the demolition of Village 10 Shopping Center. Which included the Village 4 Theater. Between the two of them, I was able to have the demolition captured almost as if I was there to do it myself!
But it's not just a bunch of Crapids. There's all sorts of good stuff to cover in the neighboring towns!
Post 148 - Anoka Perkins (696 Views)
Like a salute to boothrotting at the old Anoka Perkins, which closed abruptly in November, 2019. A popular haunt for myself and many of my friends back in the day, I used the pictures of the closed up family restaurant and mixed in some stories of late night coffee, writing and loitering. Still one of my favorite stories I've written.
Post 116 - 2020 Sound Northtown (1169 Views)
A salute to the store I loved the most in the shopping mall in the town next door to Crapids. I didn't have a whole lot of material to cover the history of the mall, so I filled in the gaps between talking about rare CD's with basic mall bio. Until this mall meets it's likely demise, this is as good as I'll do on the subject. This one still gets a few hits here and there, although it was kind of an overall disappointment.
Post 137 - Skyline Motel Fire (672 Views)
Good timing led to this story. The city of Mounds View conducted a planned fire at an old roadside motel, back in the Summer of 2019. I missed out on taking pictures of it looking all closed up and run down, but I made a specific trip just in time to tour the property before the ashes were cleaned up. Luckily, no crews were working on Labor Day! A few days after taking my pictures, only a cleared field remained.
Here's some other locations around Crapids that made for good stories:
Post 74 - Andover Liquor
Post 104 - Andover Convenience
Post 122 - Sunfish Express
Post 133 - Godfathers Pizza Fridley
Post 138 - 242 and 65
And a personal favorite involving a drive to south Minneapolis to check out one of the last remaining KMart stores in Minnesota, a week before Thanksgiving in 2019.
Post 143 - Lake Street KMart (730 Views)
Never as familiar with Minneapolis as I was with Denver, I chose a route that took me past some of things I did remember from years back. Including an abandoned miniature golf course that I didn't remember, but was tipped off to it's hidden location. The KMart didn't disappoint, and included a bonus abandoned grocery store next door. KMart had planned on closing this store in June 2020, but the property was badly damaged in the riots after police killed George Floyd. KMart never reopened and the building was sold to the city.
I've always wanted to go back down to see what the property looks like now, but I haven't made it yet.
Speaking of big box retail, that brings us to the #2 Most Read Story on Four Baggers and Foreclosures...
#2 - Post 110 - Brookdale (5387 Views)
Posted January 21, 2019.
Brookdale was a well known shopping mall in the Twin Cities metro area, that fell into disrepair and eventual abandonment. My dad and I drove over when it was being demolished in September, 2011. Most of the mall was gone by that point, but I was still able to get some really good photos. My story was supplemented with photos of a nearby Perkins restaurant, that I worked at in 1992. The glue that pieced the whole thing together was a recent trip back to photograph the recently abandoned Sears store. Which was still open when the rest of Brookdale Mall was demolished. Now that Sears had vacated their large building, I had to go back for more photos.
It took a while for my Brookdale story to overtake Grumpies as my most read story. But Grumpies leveled off after reaching 3500 views, and Brookdale still gets 20-30 hits every week. Some weeks will see an even bigger rise in traffic. There's not a whole lot of Brookdale out there on the internets, so I'm pretty happy that my story gets to place high on a Googles search. I'm rather proud of what I wrote here. I feel like I captured a lot of my near 30 year old memories of the area, in a way that readers were able to relate to.
Despite some criticism that I didn't cover any of the gang activity and racism that marred the malls last few years. There's more than enough of that angle on Brookdale out there already, I felt absolutely no need to cover it in my story.
As we are nearing the end of this absolute marathon of a story, I'm thinking of some more subjects I'm planning on covering in the future...
Story For The Future - Apache Plaza
Sticking with abandoned shopping malls that people still have the warm and fuzzies for, I have a nice stash of photos of Apache Plaza, in St. Anthony, MN. Opened in 1961 and closed in 2004, Apache was a mall that my mom frequented throughout my childhood. It died a long and slow, painful death. Brought on by changing demographics and a tornado ripping the mall apart in 1984. In the 1990's, it was the home of my favorite baseball card store of the Junk Wax Era, Coach's Corner. This store was one of the last three left in the mall, when it closed for good in January, 2004.
This was the long planned story for post #200 in Four Baggers history. But it's going to be held off for a while longer. Although I am fairly anxious to write and post it since I think it will end up being pretty popular. Just hinting at it with the #13 WalMart story brought on a lot of unexpected views.
Something I'm also looking forward to writing, but I don't anticipate near as much interest in, was located in the distant foreign land of Iowa...
Story For The Future - Orange School, Waterloo, Iowa
My sister lives in Waterloo, Iowa, otherwise I probably wouldn't think twice about it. When Laura and went to visit her in 2015, she told me about a very old and abandoned school building that was scheduled for demolition. It was torn down about a year after I took a bunch of pictures of the property. The school was unlocked and wide open that day, but I got too nervous to enter.
I still regret that.
But as long as we're in Iowa...
Post 146 - Coon Rapids, Iowa (337 Views)
Most Crapidians are aware of an Iowa city of the same name, but few have actually visited it. On a drive from Denver to Minnesota in 2017, Laura and I found it on the map and made the back country road detour to see it for ourselves. Only a fraction the size of the Coon Rapids we knew, the Iowa version also had a fair amount of abandoned buildings for me to get my fix. It was a quaint little town, and if (the need for) money were not an issue, I could see living there.
Well, maybe not there, but a small town in the middle of nowhere like it.
Okay, I've padded this more than enough. It's now time to announce...
The #1 Most Read Story on Four Baggers and Foreclosures...
#1 - Post 134 - Villa Italia Mall, Lakewood, CO (6542 Views)
Posted August 13, 2019
The popularity of this story wasn't a surprise to me at all. I knew when I wrote it that it would bring in a near constant stream of views. Even after two plus years have passed, I can count on between 10-15 views of it, nearly every single day. It was once a prominent and beloved shopping experience for several generations of Denver residents.
Villa Italia Mall opened in March, 1967. It closed forever on July 15th, 2001. In May 2001, my mom was in from Minnesota, visiting my sister (who lived in Lakewood at the time) and myself (I lived in Englewood). One day she said she was going to look at the mall and see if there was anything of interest in the "Going Out Of Business" sales. I had no emotional attachment to the mall, but I went along with. Bringing my crappy 35mm camera along with. Even though I wasn't thinking along those lines back in 2001.
While she looked at whatever it was she was looking at, I walked all around the mall. I wasn't familiar with the place, so I just took pictures of stuff I found interesting. Wish I had brought more than one roll of film, so I could have taken more pictures. Especially of the exterior, since I got none. I had the pictures developed, then I ignored them, The mall was demolished in 2002.
But Coloradans still look back on Villa Italia with fondness. I knew that I had these pictures to share at some point, and it was one of the first stories I thought of doing when I first started Four Baggers. Like I said, I knew it would be popular given the interest in the place. I finally got around to writing this story one afternoon when I randomly decided it was time. It was a big hit right away.
It's also one of the shorter stories I've written for the blog, and not one I'm terribly fond of. Mainly since I have no emotional attachment to the place. No interesting stories to share about it. Just a small stack of photos and my reactions to them.
Some day, I hope to have a story that overtakes this one in popularity. But I am happy that I had pictures of a place that many people do have fond memories of. And I was able to share them with as wide of an audience that wants to see them.
Even if I'm completely underwhelmed by what I have here, that's just not the point.
Now go home!