I missed the weekly assignment about amusement park rides. I didn’t have any tales about Amusement parks. I forgot, there were amusement rides BEFORE there even was a Disneyland.
In Los Angeles in the 1920s and 1930s there were Venice Pier, Ocean Park Pier, and Long Beach Pier. The carnival rides, the tattoo parlors, the cotton candy vendors gathered there. And each had a roller coaster, and each coaster had its unique thrills. All three were the rickety wooden variety, standing tall against the skyline, and all of them over the ocean. Lord help you if you went off the track or fell out, you’d have to swim for it. Hold on tight unless you were idiot enough to hold your hands over your head. Some fools did.
Ocean Park coaser was famous, and made familiar by Cinerama, a pioneer wide screen movie with stereo sound that gave the feeling of riding the coaster. Venice was a bit wilder, and you had to be bolder to tackle it. And Long Beach had a unique thrill. You started fast…you took off down hill into a dark tunnel, and then made the long, clanking ascent to heights that took your breath away.
They would all seem tame compared with today’s steel monsters with loops and spirals that take you UPSIDE DOWN. But we were unsophisticated in those days.
We were unsophisticated enough to enjoy the merry go round. Adults on a carrousel? Yes, and if you rode the outside horse, and could lean out far enough, you could grab a ring as you flew by the semaphore. Then half-way round you threw the ring at a grinning devil’s face. But not if you caught a BRASS ring. Hold on to that. That was good for a free ride.
Because my name is Ferris, everyone expected that I would love the Ferris Wheel. But I hated it. Going up was not so bad, but coming over the top was scary, and descending with everything behind you and no visible means of support was more frightening than I could take. I learned to avoid it.
My friends here in Central California had their amusement park in Santa Cruz, “The Coney Island” of the west coast. And, you, you folks in the East had the real Coney Island, with its coasters, its Hot Dogs, the Boardwalk, and its Parachute Drop.
That was living.