Recently while cleaning out my jewelry box, I came across a sweater pin of an amusement park. It has a ferris wheel, a roller coaster and arcades. It immediately brought to memory the sights, sounds and smell of thick, black grease that kept the gears and cogs turning in the salty air of famed Pacific Ocean Park down in Southern California.
This was a magical place where King Neptune guarded the gate against intruders with his trusty trident, a weapon that resembles a three-tined fork, and where mermaids found shelter in their giant clamshells. I can hear the chain of the roller coaster clicking, inching its way to the top only to spill over the edge down, down as everyone screams with delight and panic as the wooden roller coaster careens over the great, blue Pacific Ocean.
It seems I was able to convince my very loving, indulgent mother to take me there at least once every week. It was, after all, a very magical place, and only 10 minutes from my childhood home of Venice.
So, as we drove there, inevitably I would break into a chorus of “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” very pleased that I got my way again, but I think my mom enjoyed it every bit as much as I did.
For those folks too young to know what Pacific Ocean Park was, you can “Google” pictures of it on the computer, and while you’re at it look up the words to the song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.”
In an age where young and old alike seem to enjoy everyone and everything else except the moment they are presently in (i.e. texting and talking on phones instead of to the persons in front of them or at the other side of the dinner table), I ask, what memories they recall?
I would love to see an amusement park get built with some grant money. Slow, one ride at a time, like the London Eye, a giant ferris wheel that will give you an eagle’s view of our fair town, then add some bumper cars.
It would teach young mechanics about how to keep things running.
The crown jewel of our collection of thrills would of course be a daring roller coaster that juts out over the sea and maybe, just maybe, King Neptune will return to guard the gates against intruders, or at the very least, charge willing tourists who want something more to do besides hike, camp, stay at a motel or go out to eat. It would be a place where cell phones are checked in with the mermaids and locked up for a time, so the memories of the souls that pass through Neptune’s gate would be of a magical time of salty air, coaster grease and delightful screams of joy that will never be forgotten.
Velma Rinehart is a Crescent City resident.