The Economics of Nostalgia

I am planning a trip to Oklahoma sometime soon. I’ve been really, pathetically homesick for just over a month now, so I’m going back for a tour de youth of sorts. I’ve been rolling this trip around in my head for weeks now, thinking about all the places I used to go and all the places I never got around to seeing while I was there. I want to go by my old house which, according to some photos my friend’s dad took for me, has been fixed up quite a bit since we left. I want to drive around Lake Hefner with my windows all the way down and feel the night air like I did nearly every night for a few summers. I’m going to the Omniplex. And, of course, I’m going to Johnnie’s and bringing home at least a couple of quarts of Sauce. But you know where I won’t be? Enterprise Square USA.

Take me to your economics lessons

Of all the folks I have talked to about Enterprise Square (two, total), I am the only one that remembers liking it at all. But boy, did I like it. In fact, I loved it. For those of you unfamiliar, it was an interactive museum focused on economics, specifically free enterprise. In this case, I could not care less about the lessons it tried to teach. What I loved about this place had very, very little to do with supply and demand. What I loved about this place was the animatronics.

See, when Enterprise Square was made, in 1985, it was totally state-of-the-art and had lots of people from Disney working on it. The result was an alien spaceship that crash landed, conveniently, right by your tour group at the beginning of your journey. The aliens inside needed to figure out how to make money in the States so they could fix up their spaceship and get back home. But that was just the beginning!

Next, you go into this doughnut shop full of big, brightly-colored cake doughnuts, where Doc, a futuristic-in-the-early-eighties robot, teaches you about supply and demand!

Economy + doughnuts. Economonuts?

Awesome, right? Not according to SophistiKatie.

That’s fine, though. She can grouse about this all she wants. But I don’t know how she can argue with the enormous cash register and hilariously oversized canned goods. Or the Economics Arcade, where you can play games like Lemonade Stand all you want for free. They had a whole room full of personal computers, for Pete’s sake! This was in 1985! How am I not supposed to have fond memories of a whole room full of personal computers from 1985? There were also singing dollar bills and a room full of gigantic leaders of industy. It was magical.

Unfortunately, Enterprise Square was only state–of-the-art in the late 80s, and couldn’t keep up with the times. It closed its doors soon after the turn of the century. I just found out today. After weeks of planning to go relive one of my favorite field trips, my hopes were dashed as soon as I Googled it.

Since you can no longer go see it for yourself, you can at least find some better pictures of what I’m talking about on Tom Tomorrow’s blog. On second thought, don’t. It makes Enterprise Square look way less awesome than I remember. And you know what? He’s probably right. SophistiKatie, as much as I hate to admit it, is also probably right.

But you know what else? I DON’T CARE.

I am sad that I won’t get to go there again but maybe it’s for the best. This way, I will get to keep my memories from the perspective of an elementary school kid. It wowed me. I felt like I was in Willy Wonka’s business office. And if Doc the Doughnut Robot taught me anything, it’s that my desire for those good memories will really drive up the price.

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4 thoughts on “The Economics of Nostalgia

  1. Russell says:

    Well that is lame. That place sounds cool and now all I can think about is what non animatronic garbage they’ll replace it with. Probably a CVS.

  2. sophistikatie says:

    The thing that was really lame about Enterprise Square was that they had this big game about doughnuts, but you didn’t actually get real doughnuts at any point. That’s a bigger downer than I am.

  3. Doc Mollyday says:

    I’m not sure if this is better or worse than a CVS, but here are the plans for the old place:

  4. Jay Stumpff says:

    I’m so happy to stumble on your site. I’ve read so many sites bashing Entrrprise Square USA and I was pleased that you remember it with the fondness I remember. I actually went to Oklahoma Christian in the 90’s and I regret now I never went there more than a handful of times while I lived on campus. Sure by today’s standards it was lame but the message still rings mostly true in a world where everyone thinks that socialism is fantastic we could use more Enterprise Square USA.

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