Larry Jacobson, JTV
Somewhere between 1976 and 1979 my older brother Freddie was spending his boogie nights at a place in Jackson he just called ‘The Sheraton.’ It was a time of Saturday Night Fever and Studio 54. I was around ten years old and my mom would take my younger brother and I shopping for school clothes, and on one occasion she bought a pair for Freddie. However, they had to be specific – she said ‘they had to be the kind that sort of flare out at the ankle.’ I didn’t understand the concept of ‘bell bottom jeans,’ but I knew Freddie was cool, therefore those jeans must be something special.
He told me about going dancing at this place in downtown Jackson and he said once ‘it’s like another world in there.’ He told me stories about flashing strobe lights and a disco ball, about crazy dance parties and pretty girls and a mechanical bull.
I only heard of the stories about the Sheraton – I never actually experienced them myself – but maybe by not being old enough to go in there I’ve allowed the legend to grow. Being on the outside and hearing my brothers’ tales has saved me the disappointment of reality and I’m free to let the place remain legendary, if only in my mind. On a VH1 episode of ‘Behind the Music,’ one that featured 70′s pop superstar Leif Garrett, a list of places he’d performed during his prime flashed briefly on the screen and, you guessed it, ‘Sheraton Inn – Jackson, MI’ was there for a moment, and then gone.
Just like in real life, the Sheraton Inn was there for a moment, and then gone. No more disco ball, no more sparkling lights, no more mechanical bull… The place that mystified me with my brother’s words: ‘It’s like another world in there…’ has drifted silently away.
I thought about that when I stood outside the perimeter fence a few months ago and watched the destruction of the once-proud Jackson icon. All those happy voices, all that music, all that promise – all silenced by time and a wrecking ball. Soon it will be a parking lot or ‘green space’ ready for someone else to buy and build on.
I asked Freddie about the place not too long ago and his eyes lit up. ‘Oh man, I could tell you some stories about things that went on there!’ And tell stories he did. Because the stories never die – nor do the memories.
The building itself, though – one of the magical memories of my childhood (like Aladdin’s Castle in the Westwood Mall, Holly’s Steak n’ Four and Shopper’s Fair) – has turned out the lights and drifted silently off into the American Wasteland.