There are few things so pathetic as an abandoned amusement park. When I was a kid in Cleveland, I remember going at least once every summer to Geauga (pronounced JAW-gah) Lake in Aurora, Ohio. My father’s union, MESA Local 17, frequently held its summer picnics there. My brother and I always had a ball.
The park had a great fun house, complete with naughty mechanical peep shows that had nekkid ladies for a penny, and you could crank the cards to turn over at whatever speed. By the entrance, one had to maneuver a tricky labyrinth. There was a carney employee stationed by a button that released a jet of air to blow women’s dresses up above their heads. (I guess that wouldn’t go over too well now.) Also there was a giant rolling wooden barrel that one tried to traverse without falling on one’s heinie.
What my parents liked was the big open launch that circled the lake, creating a breeze that refreshed the passengers in the humid Ohio air. There was a roller coaster and a lot of fast rides that I was too chicken to try. (It was enough just to battle the car sickness en route.) No, I mostly hung out at the fun house, or I would pick a nice shady spot to read—ever the bookworm. I even remember one summer in high school reading J. E. Neale’s Queen Elizabeth I to pass the time after I became sated with my crude fun house pleasures. I still have the volume on my shelf.
As I grow older, I see parts of my past being annihilated by the passage of time. Geauga Lake was founded in 1887 and finally closed down in 2007. I guess 120 years was not a bad run. Hell, I wish I could last as long!