The sands of time are cruel, especially when you wake up in the morning, look at the calendar that reads "2020" and you realize that you are pushing 30 years old...

I'm getting gray hairs, the food I used to eat throws my stomach into DEFCON 4, and I have bills to pay.

I used to get pummeled by other kids in tackle football (sans helmets and pads) and be perfectly fine, but now my back hurts because, I don't know, reasons I guess.

The point I'm trying to make is that I wish I was young again. I'm not old. I'm only 27. However I would love nothing more to go back in time.

There's more incentive for this than just being in a time where I didn't pull a muscle every time I sneeze. The 1990s were awesome, and not just because of the television, movies, and food.

There were lots of amazing things that we were able to experience here in the Southern Tier that, whether they are no longer around or we just don't do because we're older, I would love to experience again...

  • 1

    Those Wooden Playgrounds

    I went to school in Greene from kindergarten, all the way through 12th grade.

    Now I don't know if every school had one of these, but I do know a lot of them did, and sadly, they're no longer around.

    Were they a huge splinter risk? Yes.

    Were their safety standards dubious at best? Yup.

    Did I burn my thighs on the metal slide you could bake cookies on? You betcha.

    But would I also give anything to play on one of these one last time? Definitely.

  • 2

    End of the Year School Trips

    No matter what school you went to, there was always and end-of-year class field trip.

    These weren't the educational one where you, I don't know, looked at lizards or some crap like that. The goal was to have fun.

    I can remember going to Skate Estate, Greenwood Park, Dorchester Park. Didn't have to learn anything. Pure bliss.

  • 3

    The Disney Store at the Oakdale Mall

    Disney Store Times Square Grand Opening

    Let's be real with ourselves for one second...

    We all have bills to pay, jobs where we deal with spreadsheets, or something else like that.

    We make quarterly reports. We give presentations at work.

    But you are crazy if you think that after that long day of work, that a 90s kid isn't going to binge watch Disney movies on Disney+ when they get home from that long day of work.

    The holy pilgrimage site of the religion that was 1990s Disney was the Disney store in the Oakdale Mall.

    I can still see that huge shelf of stuffed animals and gigantic screen playing Disney movies.

    The store left the Oakdale Mall a while back, and turned into a Pacsun, then a Victoria's Secret... so the opposite of a Disney store...

  • 4

    The Arcade at the Oakdale Mall

    Yes, I know there is a new arcade in the Oakdale Mall, close to where Sears used to be, but that's not the one I'm talking about.

    There was another one back in the day just a few spots down from Oakdale Pizza. For the life of me, I can't remember what it was called, but man did I spend a lot of time there.

    Days there were some of my earliest memories of playing video games. NFL Blitz, Hydro Thunder, Cruisn' USA, 18 Wheeler: America Pro Trucker were some of my favorites.

    I would go there every Saturday with my grandpa, get a bunch of tickets, and redeem them for basketball trading cards. Good times, man.

  • 5

    The Mini GIANT Store at the Discovery Center

    This is technically still around today, but to me, it's just... not the same.

    One of my favorite ever field trips was to the Discovery Center when I was in kindergarten.

    One of their exhibits is a mini grocery store. Great way for kids to imitate their parents' trips to the store that the kids have tagged along on.

    Back then It was branded as a GIANT Markets. Obviously, that went away once Giant Markets was sold to Weis Markets, and the Discovery Center location changed it's branding.

    Seriously, this was so much fun. Flash forward to today, where I go through the store letting out a long, monotone, "Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy" as I dread how much food costs.

  • 6

    Old Country Buffet

    If you were a "husky" child in the 90s like I was, Old County Buffet at the Town Square Mall was your absolute JAM.

    Seriously, it's a buffet. A buffet is to a big child like myself, just as an eight-year-old boy likes mixing sodas at any soda dispenser to create a brand-new, often disgusting flavor. I know that, because that was me.

    I can still taste that macaroni and cheese.I remember always getting their carrot cake for dessert.

    We went there every week, and I'm lying if I said it wasn't one of the main things I looked forward to each week.

    The best part though, and I genuinely mean this, was our waitress.

    I would say about 80 percent of the time my family went to Old Country Buffet, a woman named Heidi served us.

    Heidi was a tiny Asian woman who would often take care of way too many tables at one time, but she did it absolutely flawlessly.

    She didn't speak English very well, but she was always happy to see you and always had a smile on her face.

    I was a shy little kid, so I didn't talk with her very much, but deep down, I was always genuinely excited to see her.

  • 7

    Toys R' Us

    When Toys R' Us announced that it would close all its stores, many 90s kids saw it as the death nail of their childhood stores.

    For us here in the Southern Tier, going to that location right on Harry L Drive in Johnson City felt like going to a theme park.

    Toys R' Us was the Fort Knox of toys--  a goldmine of all the latest toys any kid could ever want.

    Kids everywhere made a habit of getting the Toys R' Us holiday catalogue and tagging every single page  so much that we probably inhaled the marker's fumed for a little too long.

    Getting all those toys was a pipe dream for most of us, but darn it, it allowed us to dream...

    Pour one out for Geoffrey the Giraffe. I can still hear that song in my head....

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