Home » personal » In Remembrance of Amusements Past

In Remembrance of Amusements Past

The Abandoned Amusement Park of My Youth

Geauga Lake: The Abandoned Amusement Park of My Youth

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.

The Fun House at Geauga Lake

The Fun House at Geauga Lake

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!