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Town & Country Mall History


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I've been looking for history on T&C Mall. I looked on some older thread here, Wikipedia, DeadMalls, and a few other places. From what I heard, it was an unrenovated place that never thrived due to poor location. I also heard that it had a canvas, tent-like roof. Anyone have pictures/floorplan descriptions/stories/etc.?

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it failed for a number of reasons

the 80s oil and S&L bust probably killed it the most

it was set well back off the road and semi hidden by garages, strip like shops, movie theaters and parking lots

construction on Beltway 8 slowed customers from going there and after construction the layout of the freeway made it harder to get to unless coming from the south heading north on Beltway 8

it was 3 stories high and multi level malls just don't work as well as single or even double level malls because of the way foot traffic is in them

Memorial City got it together and upgraded themselves

The movie theaters in front of it were VERY OLD and VERY SMALL one was a 6 screen and the other a 3 screen and they were closing or going to dollar movie format about the time the mall was getting going and that cut down on traffic

Some of the original anchors pulled out because they went under or were bought out and there were too many locations around town

The mall was geared towards "high end" which is hard to pull off for any mall IMO and even harder in a city like Houston that already has one high end mall in the Galleria and is full of people not obsessed with high end

I believe it had a slight L shape to it, but I can't remember the longer length was parallel to Beltway 8 and I believe it took a slight turn on the South side towards the east.......as you walked through it going north it seemed like it had some shape to it because of the way the stores were laid out but really it was mostly a straight shot

It had pretty cool glass elevators (cool in that you could see your friends as you were going up and down) and then some escalators and stairs, but not really enough escalators or elevators or both for being 3 stories

It was always in very nice condition when I went there because it was so new in fact it was in nice condition probably up to the day it closed

The roof was the same fabric that you see in many similar buildings and I know it did tear one time (99% sure) during a strong wind storm (possibly Hurricane Alicia because it was right during that time) and it was "fixed" pretty crappy for a while......I think it always gave them some issues from day 1, but I don't think that had anything at all to do with the closing

There was a McDonalds and a Sbarro and the McDonalds was down near the Southeast end and the Sbarro was at the north end on level 3 on the east side I am sure there was a cookie company as well, but I can't remember where.....other than that I can't recall any of the other food places

It had a Funway Freeway (I am 99% sure that is what it was) on the north side as well I think on the third level

Honestly it was a nice mall, but not that memorable for me....Sharpstown or Memorial City was the place we went when I was younger and when I was old enough to get around on my own The Galleria was a lot funner or sometimes West Oaks.....at that same time there was also Westchase Mall that probably few people remember and probably fewer people today even know was a mall.......it was on Westheimer between Walnut Bend and Wilcrest and was an actual mall at one time with indoor walkways and was probably one of the few malls that was able to successfully convert to the big box format without much change.......basically they just closed up most of the mall area and allowed some of the bigger retailers to build back as far as they needed to.....so I spent a lot of time there at God Fathers Pizza, Arcade that I can't remember (want to say Aladdin's Castle but I don't think that was it it had a yellow sign and it moved from the back of the mall to the front and I want to say it had a name like "The ***?" there were others in Houston but not many) and I hit a lot of the other malls as well so once Town and Country started losing anchors it did not offer much to younger kids.....it was higher end and really no food court and arcades were on the way out by then or starting to charge stupid prices for the games or not maintaining them well or both

Really it was a nice mall built at the wrong time that had a TON of things hit it over and over and it just could not recover from them all

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I've been looking for history on T&C Mall. I looked on some older thread here, Wikipedia, DeadMalls, and a few other places. From what I heard, it was an unrenovated place that never thrived due to poor location. I also heard that it had a canvas, tent-like roof. Anyone have pictures/floorplan descriptions/stories/etc.?

Ah, this was another one of my shopping resources, starting in about 1969, when the "mall" was actually Town & Country Village, an assemblage of mostly higher end stores, grouped as building clusters and opening to the outdoors. This village promoted store to store transport by car, making it cumbersome for shoppers to hop from store cluster to store cluster, getting into and out of their cars repeatedly. Then, there was the Houston weather that people don't like to be out in. The original main department stores were Sakowitz and Joske's, with Sakowitz located on the south side, about where Randall's Supermarket is now, and Joske's at the north side of the village. Stores in the village were designed with a Spanish style appearance, with many archways and using red terra cotta tiles for roofing. "Spanish" was a popular building style in the mid to late 1960's.

Sakowitz had a spectacular fountain in the center of its store, with small green hued mosaic tiles and some sort of metal sculpture emanating from it to spray the water. It was a one story building. Wish I had thought to take a picture, but I was a little kid at the time. Anyway, as I remember, we didn't shop much at the Village, except for the two department stores, on occasion, and some of the little shops that formed the "village". To the north of Joske's was a group of little one story shops, facing outdoor courtyards and connected by covered, porch-like sidewalks along their perimeters. It gave the area a very cozy feeling and the shops were detailed on the exterior with an abundance of wood, and a human scale that was quite intimate. Here were shops such as the pet store, from which we bought our first dog, a candle shop, card shop, a high end men's clothing shop, and a larger clothing shop on the east side of Joske's, that catered to the teenage girl of the mid to late 1970's.

Restaurants did dot the T&C acreage in free-standing, isolated locations, none connected to the shops. The Pappas BBQ restaurant was one (on the west side of the complex), and there was a large Mexican restaurant later on, just north of Sakowitz. Joske's had a small cafe located on their second floor ( the south side, I believe). As with Memorial City's original Foley's, this was a left over trend from previous decades, before the advent of the food court.

Bigger draws to the village in the 1970's were the multiplex movie theaters, Town & Country 6 and Loews 3, both located on the west side of the village, along West Belt (Beltway 8). They were always busy with moviegoers. On the east side of the northern end, (in the vicinity of the present post office) were located an antique mall and ice skating rink. These were in a vast, stand-alone, rectangular building... metal clad, I believe.

By the late 1970's/1980, the village was languishing and I remember they had gone so low as to host a wet t-shirt contest on their north side greenspace! Afterwards, the T&C owners decided to concede to Houston's heat and humidity and open up a 3 story enclosed shopping "mall" in an L-shape, in 1983. This was built to the north of Joske's, in the area that once held the courtyard stores. Again, upscale stores were the anchors, including the existing Joske's, Neiman-Marcus and Marshall Fields. Also included, was a MacDonald's and a food court type eatery location, along with glass elevators in the two axes of the L and escalators located at the corner of the L. The 3 stories were, from the beginning, overly anticipated. The third story was never fully occupied and it was rather quickly losing stores. In addition to the extant parking garage which was built just south of Luby's at that time, another parking garage was built on the west side, between the 3 story mall and the movie theaters. This last one has since been demolished.

Here is a good link to further commentary about the mall, which you may have seen:

http://www.deadmalls.com/malls/town_and_country_mall_tx.html

I believe that T&C is much better off today than it ever was in the past. The inclusion of multi-use: multi-family housing and office space within the acreage is a good move to vitalize this area. It has most everything you could want.... major retail, restaurants, post office, supermarket/pharmacy, close proximity to 2 highways. You could walk or bike from your new townhouse to any variety of amenity. Are the theaters returning in its new plan?

Edited by detached
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T&C withoutadoubt, had THE best toy store in Houston. They carried old and new, which no other place did. It was one of the very last stores to vacate, along with Sam Goody and others. Don't think it EVER had a canvas roof though.

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First of all, the thread link you gave is broken. Secondly, from the looks of this, the Joske's looks like it was separated by a road.

Secondly, I prepared a JPEG of the mall, but I'd still like to know the interior and where the food court was and what not. Was the third level contiguous?

Where was Penney's and Marshall Field's/Saks?

3129145851_85b2781b1b_o.jpg

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First of all, the thread link you gave is broken. Secondly, from the looks of this, the Joske's looks like it was separated by a road.

Secondly, I prepared a JPEG of the mall, but I'd still like to know the interior and where the food court was and what not. Was the third level contiguous?

Where was Penney's and Marshall Field's/Saks?

3129145851_85b2781b1b_o.jpg

Marshall Fields was the store in the center - north of Joskes. Penney's was on the east side. When the mall opened, there was a food court on the third level. It had McDonalds, and some kind of restaurant with grilled chicken. Later on, these all closed and there was a smaller food court on the second level close to Joske's (which was not separated from the rest of the mall.)

The third level was contiguous. My parents used to walk there every day. I loved that mall because it was never crowded. I always thought it was much nicer than Memorial City, until MC was remodeled in the 2000s.

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The red is where Penny's was

Blue is where McDs was on third level

Green Sbarro on third level

White you are thinking is a road is the fabric part of the roof

Lavender is Marshall Fields

Orange is game room on second or third level

Light blue is where there was a covered walk way for all three levels to the garage where it was easiest to park

and every level of the mall was basically the same footprint so yes the third level went all the way around

and the above poster may be correct that McDs was on the second level, but Wiki says third and I am about 99% sure Sbarro was 3rd level

post-5819-1230003752_thumb.jpg

Edited by TexasVines
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T&C withoutadoubt, had THE best toy store in Houston. They carried old and new, which no other place did. It was one of the very last stores to vacate, along with Sam Goody and others. Don't think it EVER had a canvas roof though.

Toys For All. You're right, that place was amazing. They subleased space in the back of the store to a guy that had one of the most impressive inventories of vintage Hot Wheels that I've ever seen.

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First of all, the thread link you gave is broken. Secondly, from the looks of this, the Joske's looks like it was separated by a road.

Secondly, I prepared a JPEG of the mall, but I'd still like to know the interior and where the food court was and what not. Was the third level contiguous?

Where was Penney's and Marshall Field's/Saks?

OK, well I see others answered your questions, and I fixed the dud link.

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White you are thinking is a road is the fabric part of the roof

No, no...you misunderstand. I was referring to that in the original Village, one could not walk to Joske's without crossing the road, which is, at least in present day, Queensbury Rd.

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No, no...you misunderstand. I was referring to that in the original Village, one could not walk to Joske's without crossing the road, which is, at least in present day, Queensbury Rd.

That is correct. As I said before, the original shopping center was built for cars.

This has been a helpful web site to see old configurations:

http://www.historicaerials.com/

Type in "Town & Country" for the Landmark. Zoom out. Hit the 1973 tab to see the original mall layout that I referred to. You can see Sakowitz and the road configuration at the time. Also visible, is the long building on the east side, east of Joske's that was the antique mall/ice skating rink.

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Restaurants did dot the T&C acreage in free-standing, isolated locations, none connected to the shops. The Pappas BBQ restaurant was one (on the west side of the complex)

I think you mean Demeris BBQ. It was right by the Town & Country James Coney Island, which was JCI's 2nd location.

Panjo's Pizza was in that old T&C Village, too.

There was a childrens' clothing store there called Chocolate Soup...it's still there in the new T&C Village version.

I spent lots of time at T&C mall in junior high. For a while it was clearly better than Memorial City Mall, which found itself run down.

By the time I had graduated from college, moved back to Houston and married my wife, T&C mall was closing at 6 p.m., aside from Dillard's and a few other exceptions. It was actually kinda nice, because it was never crowded...and we had registered at Dillard's.

Looking back, I think the tollway construction killed it. Or at least played a major role in its demise.

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I can add in some more info...

When the mall opened it didn't have elevators (well the big stores did, but not out in the mall), they were added later with Scotty from Star Trek doing the honors. McDonalds was on the third floor and Neuhaus Chocolates (which was on the first floor, across from Hanson Galleries) kept their cakes in their freezers. There was also a pretty large food court on the third floor near McDonalds for that first year or two with a Corn Dog 7, Chinese Place and probably 3 or 4 others.

My brother worked at the AMC 3 theater and was the guy who popped all of the popcorn from 84-86. He would pop it in the morning and they would keep it in big bags to dole out that evening. So, you probably didn't have fresh popcorn while watching a movie there.

Also when it first opened they had coupon books that you took to many of the various stores. Radio Shack gave out big grey flashlights and then would sign you up for the battery of the month club? I think you got a free battery each month with some random discounts?

During Hurricane Alicia, the fabric on the center portion of the roof tore open in multiple places, but the mall opened a few days later with air conditioning and a view of the sky:) I hung out at the mall for about 12 hours just to be in the AC...my house didn't have power for more than a week.

The arcade Tilt was originally on the 3rd floor, but eventually moved to the second floor and started charging 10 cents per game. The computer store Babbages was on the 1st floor. Another computer store, Electronics Boutique was on the second floor. I wish I had an old map of the place. My friends and I used to call the end of the mall past Babbages the 'Dead Zone' since nobody went down there.

I worked at Neuhaus and Babbages from 88-92ish. One of the mall security guards named Rodney used to let us in after close to roller blade around the mall, which was surprisingly cool.

Down the street towards I-10 was a Zindlers clothing place? I remember buying some Birdwell's Beach Britches for summer swimming there. Anybody else remember those?

Sorry for the rambling. Let me think what else I can dig up in my noggin'.

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I can add in some more info...

When the mall opened it didn't have elevators (well the big stores did, but not out in the mall), they were added later with Scotty from Star Trek doing the honors. McDonalds was on the third floor and Neuhaus Chocolates (which was on the first floor, across from Hanson Galleries) kept their cakes in their freezers. There was also a pretty large food court on the third floor near McDonalds for that first year or two with a Corn Dog 7, Chinese Place and probably 3 or 4 others.

My brother worked at the AMC 3 theater and was the guy who popped all of the popcorn from 84-86. He would pop it in the morning and they would keep it in big bags to dole out that evening. So, you probably didn't have fresh popcorn while watching a movie there.

Also when it first opened they had coupon books that you took to many of the various stores. Radio Shack gave out big grey flashlights and then would sign you up for the battery of the month club? I think you got a free battery each month with some random discounts?

During Hurricane Alicia, the fabric on the center portion of the roof tore open in multiple places, but the mall opened a few days later with air conditioning and a view of the sky:) I hung out at the mall for about 12 hours just to be in the AC...my house didn't have power for more than a week.

The arcade Tilt was originally on the 3rd floor, but eventually moved to the second floor and started charging 10 cents per game. The computer store Babbages was on the 1st floor. Another computer store, Electronics Boutique was on the second floor. I wish I had an old map of the place. My friends and I used to call the end of the mall past Babbages the 'Dead Zone' since nobody went down there.

I worked at Neuhaus and Babbages from 88-92ish. One of the mall security guards named Rodney used to let us in after close to roller blade around the mall, which was surprisingly cool.

Down the street towards I-10 was a Zindlers clothing place? I remember buying some Birdwell's Beach Britches for summer swimming there. Anybody else remember those?

Sorry for the rambling. Let me think what else I can dig up in my noggin'.

I remember a lot of that! Zindler's I definitely remember.

My family lived in the Sheraton there...which is a Sheraton now, again...for 7 weeks while repairs were done on our home after Hurricane Alicia. I vaguely recall that the roof was torn in the mall.

I definitely remember Babbage's and buying video games there.

so funny you remembered the Star Trek character being there to "open up" the new elevators! :) I remember that, too.

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Ah, this was another one of my shopping resources, starting in about 1969, when the "mall" was actually Town & The original main department stores were Sakowitz and Joske's, with Sakowitz located on the south side, about where Randall's Supermarket is now, and Joske's at the north side of the village.

I can still remember Joske's had these green colored tiles when you walked in the entrance. I think they might have been glass. And it also had a distinctive smell.

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Apparently JCPenney left in 2002 or something like that but had a several year gap before reopening in MCM (while Dillard's was almost immediate). Did Penney's hold on until after L&T closed in 2005???

I also found a picture of T&C (just one) from their old website (and that was the only thing they had) that gave a few visual clues:

The tile was red-and-beige.

There were real tree of some sort.

A statue of a longhorn and a cowboy on a horse was near Merle Norman, first floor.

The railings were red.

What happened to this statue? Does anyone know?

Edited by IronTiger
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hmm.. I worked at Sam Goody back in 90-92's? or so? 2nd floor.. There was a smaller 3rd floor which was always empty.. but if we didn't have something we'd call up there and see if they had it.. heh..

Random Memories:

McDonalds was one of the last to go from the 3rd level.. There was hardly anything left up there even in those days other than the department stores which had stuff on the 3rd level..

There was an Arby's and Sbarro and the cookie place.. not much left of a food court then..

The mall cop busted two guys in the 3rd floor restroom having "relations"..

Our store got broken into and the safe busted into at some point.. Doubt they ever caught the guys..

The district manager was spying on us with secret shoppers to see if we were being "helpful in pushing product.." I forget the name of that guy..

The hot girl working at Express downstairs.. :)

It was fun while it lasted.. sad to see it go..

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I lived right across the street from T&C Mall growing up (...and still do) and have nothing but fond memories of the place. I loved how open and sunny it always seemed. It had these staircases and escalators that jutted out into the main walkways, so when you were going up or down them you always felt the vastness of the space with its three-story ceilings and bright skylights.

I loved Neuhaus Chocolates, but only for the chocolates themselves. Everything else there was terrible. :D

There was an Express and a Sam Goody at one end of the mall. I used to spend a lot of time on that end. Bought my first CD at that Sam Goody -- it was Counting Crows' August and Everything After. I coveted all the clothes at that Express and would beg my mom for shopping trips there.

In high school, I used to get all kinds of good but random deals on the third floor of Neiman Marcus, where they sent all the merchandise from that Neiman's and the one in the Galleria for final liquidation. The ladies that shopped up there were kuh-razy. You didn't want to get between them and a dress/throw pillow/pair of shoes they'd set their eyes on.

I went to that Merle Norman all the time to get my eyebrows done. They were super cheap and super nice and super fast. I miss them. :(

When I was little (probably 10 or 11 years old), T&C Mall was the place to be, not Memorial City. You'd go on the weekends with your parents and see all of your friends with their parents. The parents would stop and talk and give the kids a few bucks to run off to the food court (on the second floor). As the years went by, it got quieter and quieter as more stores left and people increasingly went to Memorial City.

*sigh* I liked T&C. But progress is progress. :)

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I lived right across the street from T&C Mall growing up (...and still do) and have nothing but fond memories of the place. I loved how open and sunny it always seemed. It had these staircases and escalators that jutted out into the main walkways, so when you were going up or down them you always felt the vastness of the space with its three-story ceilings and bright skylights.

This is excellent. You're absolutely right. It was open and light...and great point about the stairs. It was contemporary and felt like it was ahead of its time when you were in there.

You and I are probably roughly the same age and grew up in the same area...with the same memories of this place. :) Playing Ikari Warriors at Tilt was all good.

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This is excellent. You're absolutely right. It was open and light...and great point about the stairs. It was contemporary and felt like it was ahead of its time when you were in there.

You and I are probably roughly the same age and grew up in the same area...with the same memories of this place. :) Playing Ikari Warriors at Tilt was all good.

I used to walk my toddlers through T&C to Stride Rite in the late 90's,early 00's. Nicest, cleanest and quietest mall in the Houston area. It was light and happy and I always felt safe there..

I wish that Neimans could have hung on. I think it would ahve done well in the new Centre thing that's going up.

My husband claims the Beltway killed it. But it seems the City Centre marketers are counting on the Beltway to make it fly.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I used to walk my toddlers through T&C to Stride Rite in the late 90's,early 00's. Nicest, cleanest and quietest mall in the Houston area. It was light and happy and I always felt safe there..

I wish that Neimans could have hung on. I think it would ahve done well in the new Centre thing that's going up.

My husband claims the Beltway killed it. But it seems the City Centre marketers are counting on the Beltway to make it fly.

I don't think it was the Beltway that killed it....it was the construction on the Beltway (which seemingly took forever) that killed it.

Had the Beltway already been there, I have no doubt that T&C Mall could have survived.

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I remember Town and Country Mall. There were eating places, but they were spread out, which there was no food court. Also, the mall felt more confined than other malls I have been to. I did like the place because it was no crowded.
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I actually worked for The Midway Companies back when they first acquired T&C and made several trips through the 'bowels' of the mall after the tenants left. We salvaged some very cool commercial-grade seasonal decorations (Christmas, Easter, etc.) and recycled them for use in Midway's residential developments. One of Midway's fat execs used to squeeze himself into the Easter Bunny costume we saved and run around our corporate offices yelling "which way did da wabbit go?" We were very professional.

It was eerie to be in T&C just before they demolished it. Some of the food court vendors had actually left rotting food for all to enjoy like huge jars of moldy pickles, rotten nacho chips WITH hardened orange cheese, fossilized hot dogs still on the warmers and popcorn strewn everywhere. (I don't know why some of the food equipment was left). Very tantalizing stuff. But the funniest thing was Midway's decision to bid a fond 'farewell' to T&C by having an employee only paintball party. By then, T&C was almost completely stripped down including the safety railings on the upper floors. I, along with a couple of other sensible employees, decided against participating in this stupid and seemingly moronic exercise. Of course we were branded as not being "team players" because of our stance. Everyone put the pressure on us hold-outs to take part in the paint ball mania. However, we didn't seem like the stupid ones the next day when all these battered and bruised 'team players' came limping and whining into work. The receptionist had taken a paintball right in the face and had a huge black eye and swollen nose. She wore sunglasses at her desk for a week. Others had sprained ankles, twisted knees, contusions, massive bruises, swollen faces and busted lips. Naturally, Midway made every participant sign an agreement holding them blameless for any injuries at this fun and festive event. Best of all, the paintball 'party' left these real estate 'professionals' looking like mixed martial arts fighters who ended up on the losing end of a fight. <_<

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  • 8 years later...

I always liked Town & Country mall.  It was my "go to" mall for a long time, mainly because it was never very crowded and it was quick to get in and out.  They had an Abercrmobie & Fitch, on the south axis I think, back when it was an outdoor equipment store.  

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I always like it best coming to Houston in early 80's

 

I always wondered if the owners didn't "play ball" and curry favor (bribes?) the right people.

 

At Beltway 8 and I-10 traditionally would be an ideal location. But got blocked by the two big construction projects. Made it easy to see from highways but difficult to get to. About the time I came I-10 was expanding from 2 lanes each side to 3 lanes each side. Then the Beltway tollroad was built on what was a 2 lane road in the middle of a green space. Both projects made access much much worse. They would of had a hard time making the mall more inaccessable.

 

Memorial City down the road had two very useful exits from I-10 going east and 1 or 2 going west. It blossomed while Town and Country was starved. The closest exit to Town and Country going east was so far down you either had to go to Gessner (where Memorial City was and loop back or fight your way over and go through the neighborhood. A bunch of turns.  

 

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