August 10th, 2009

krazy koati

The parachutes at Riverview Park will shake us up all day

In the midst of our afternoon and, I believe, the midst of the park bunny_hugger and I came across one of those odd little quiet things that probably gets overlooked a lot by Cedar Point visitors but that, I think, lifts it above the usual amusement park. Near the Skyhawk swinging-swing ride we weren't going to attempt is the Town Hall Museum, containing miscellaneous artifacts of The Olden Days, some of it clearly amusement park-based, and some of it a little more obscure. There's the old General Store counter for example; I'm not sure if it's meant to showcase the sort of store which used to be around sometime between the 1870s and 1920s (if Harold Lloyd movies have taught me anything about what general stores looked like in the 1920s), and I couldn't guess whether it was something that had been at the point before the modern sorts of store took over or if there were areas of park given a Late Victoriana theme instead.

And under glass were models of many of the rides, some of them still existing like the Blue Streak roller coaster, some of them gone to where exhausted park rides go, such as a log flume where Maverick now stands. That one, for White Water Landing, had a charming sign by it advertising it was Cedar Point's New For 1982!, The Wildest River Ride Around, and if you can't envision just what it looks like from that information I regret you aren't so skilled in the history of graphic design as would make you most appreciate The Onion's Our Dumb Century, among other things. More prominently featured and captivating was ``The Automatic Wonder, Steinle's Sandusky Clock'', an 1897-dated clock as ebulliently 1897 as you can imagine; unfortunately it wasn't running and I can't find useful information about it online.

Some unmistakably amusement park-related instruments were those old-fashioned gadgets where you turn the crank and peek inside for the animated movie; those, regrettably, were no longer in service. Several antique carousel horses were on display too, with plaques dating at least one of them to the Denzel company in 1924; they were really elaborately decorated and had the shine of well-crafted work that's been kept away from the direct sunlight since the last restoration. Another gadget not in use any more offered for one thin quarter pages featuring ``Popular Comic Strip Characters - 32 Different Subjects To Color'', although since this was an antique what they meant by ``popular'' comic strip characters were Blondie and Bringing Up Father. There were also pages for Li'l Abner, Betty Boop, Superman, Casper, Mandrake the Magician, Nancy, Little Orphan Annie, The Yellow Kid, and Dick Tracy, so you get some sense of how long it's been that these are billed as a set of popular characters.

The Town Hall Museum is, I guess, one of those things parents bring clutches of children to for a moment of air-conditioned calm amidst the stimulation of the rest of the day. But I liked seeing it, and would like more, even if it's hard to fit such a low-excitement, low-intensity thing into the general fun.

Trivia: The only important (public) payload of Discoverer XIII, launched 10 August 1960, was a 50-star flag. After earlier failures this was flown without camera or film, but with diagonstic sensors instead. (The ``Discoverer'' project was a cover for Project Corona, building the first spy satellites.) Source: Animals In Space: From Research Rockets To The Space Shuttle, Colin Burgess, Chris Dubbs.

Currently Reading: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August/September 2009, Editor Gordon van Gelder.