austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

I'm the last of the good old renegades

It's a dangerous thing to try going to two amusement parks in a day. Even if they're small parks. It's hard to give enough time to both. On our fantastic Pennsylvania Parks Tour we cheated Idlewild by just poking in to Knoebels for lunch, and we cheated Waldameer by our discovery of Conneaut Lake Park. On the New England Parks Tour we tried to see both Funtown Splashtown in Saco, Maine, and Santa's Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire, and we didn't have nearly enough time in either.

But when we have only a specific window of time to tour places, and many spots that can be visited? Maybe sometimes the decision to split the day is the best one available. Bowcraft was a small park, and if we had left after three hours we could have fairly said we'd experienced it. There was another park, an hour farther into the Jersey Highlands, the Land Of Make-Believe, that we found tempting but ultimately rejected. Maybe next time. What we wanted to make our Tuesday evening was a place on the shore: Keansburg Amusement Park.

It's, as the name suggests, in Keansburg, New Jersey. I knew the place name tolerably well, as one of those shore towns that I would hear about, the more when my grandparents were alive and in nearby South Amboy. And I knew dimly there was an amusement park there. And that as one that opened on Newark Bay, you could see from it New York City. Indeed, its nearest neighbor amusement park is Coney Island, and on a clear night you can see one from the other. I was never perfectly sure I was looking at Coney Island, but I made my best guess, and told it to bunny_hugger, and she accepted my reasoning. She didn't know anything about Keansburg until our last trip, when I picked up a flyer for it at a Turnpike rest stop and she realized she had heard the park was smashed by Sandy, not so photogenically as Seaside Heights, but still ---

And that's why this became one of the parks we most wanted to visit. We weren't caught in any too-bad rush hour traffic, but I say that from the perspective of someone who grew up with the escaping-New-York flow of cars. I did overshoot the $10-paid-parking lot briefly, and bunny_hugger had to guide me to the parking lot with the big KEANSBURG AMUSEMENT PARK PARKING sign over it, which really ought to put an end to the idea that I'm somehow better at navigating than she is. Parking came with a bunch of tickets, offering everything from discounts on books of tickets to discounts on fries or pizza to a free gift with any play at Machine Gun Alley. It also promised that this was part of their Best Day Ever! plans. Between this and the Best Day Ever! poster in the gift shop at Six Flags Over Texas it's clear that someone at Cedar Fair is dropping the ball on their trademark protection.

As we walked into the park I was haunted again by that thought that I should remember this. As with Bowcraft I realized: this is exactly the sort of place that my father would take us to. Maybe more than Bowcraft, since this was so much closer to his parents' home. My recollections centered on this kids' miniature train ride, one of those little loops. Its train was a series of cars with that worn-down streamlined-car design that could be 30s, could be 60s, without any clear change of style. They're red cars with a bright yellow central stripe and labelled the Keansburg Coast Line N.J., the periods a testament to the ride existing before zip codes. This felt extremely familiar, though I never quite rose to saying so to bunny_hugger.

My father later confirmed that he took us to Keansburg. Before I could describe the miniature train ride he said there was this miniature railroad ride that I could never get enough of as a kid. This isn't something I have to convince myself to accept. This is certainly somewhere I had been as a kid.

Now I know what you all wonder. Given that I have recollections, and my father's testimony, could I add to my roller coaster count? Could I log having been on some kiddie coaster at Bowcraft or Keansburg in 1979 or whatever and close the gap between me and bunny_hugger with now-gone rides? No, alas. Not out of a ruthless self-skepticism that wouldn't let me log a ride I didn't specifically remember being on. In the circumstance I'd accept as probably-fair-enough my father's claim I had been on one. But the Roller Coaster Database doesn't report Bowcraft ever having a roller coaster before --- well, 2006 is the earliest date. It doesn't know when the Dragon arrived, but bunny_hugger had ridden that. Similarly the Roller Coaster Database has no records of a roller coaster at Keansburg between 1947 and 1984. The 1984 roller coaster, Wild Cat, I'm very sure I had never ridden, based on its pictures. It's plausible they're overlooking something. Small amusement parks in an era barely Internet-searchable are great places to misplace rides. But I can hardly claim to have ridden something nobody knows exists, not fairly.

Trivia: There were 154 attempted hijackings of American planes to Cuba from 1968 to 1972. Source: Naked Airport: A Cultural History of the World's Most Revolutionary Structure, Alastair Gordon.

Currently Reading: Sail and Rail: A Narrative History of Transportation in Western Michigan, Lawrence Wakefield, Lucille Wakefield.


PS: And a couple more Kokomo's pictures:

SAM_7270.jpg

A little something for c_eagle: their coin-op fortune-telling toucan, and some of their art with their mascot selling gift cards.


SAM_7286.jpg

What we're really at Kokomo's for: the Serpent roller coaster, a ride in two cars of two seats each. Ride operator returning the swipe card to bunny_hugger, in her bunny hoodie, while I mess around instead of sitting.


PPS: How August 2017 Treated My Mathematics Blog, and how I broke above the 1,000 mark again! ... OK, now you know how the thing turned out.

Tags: bowcraft, fifth anniversary trip, keansburg, kokomo's, new jersey
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