austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

I go to Blackpool for my holidays

We woke up Saturday with no intention of using the day pass tickets. The reasoning was simple: we could use them Sunday instead, when very likely the crowds should be less. Saturday we could do something else until the evening and use Starlight tickets, good for the evening hours. And we had something else to do.

First, though, we had breakfast or arguably lunch to eat. The hotel had the right sort of place for us, a Perkins which was able and willing to sell omelettes and pancakes and French toast and the other kinds of things we're naturally drawn to. Also coffee, to which bunny_hugger is drawn; I'm not grown-up enough to drink it myself.

The Breakers hotel was, like the park, decorated for the Halloween theme, with cobwebs around the hallways and rubber spiders dangling and those double-image pictures where from certain angles it's a normal portrait and from another angle it's a skeleton, or the like. The restaurant was no exception to this. I might quirk my eyebrow a little at flocking the walls and ceiling with spiderwebs, which so imply dust and thus dirt and the like, not to mention fake spiders and their bug connections, but they went wholeheartedly for it. They also had some dangling figures meant to look like bodies bound up and dangling helplessly. We appreciated their getting in the spirit.

Also, they have a carousel horse near the front of the dining room. bunny_hugger claimed not to have noticed it before, although it fits nicely with the hotel being at the amusement park, of course, as well as most of the normal pictures on the walls being of carousel animals. They were paintings, as I recall, rather than pictures.

They also fit thematically nicely to what we expected to do that afternoon. Sandusky, whatever its other charms, is also the home to the Merry-Go-Round Museum, in a building which was formerly one of very few round-fronted post offices and now is ready to host a public party whenever the Post Office issues a new round of carousel stamps.

We entered just as they were ready to start the carousel round for the previous tour group, but chose to defer riding until after we'd had the chance to look around at the exhibits and maybe listen to the tour itself. They asked, I believe, two more times if we were sure before letting the earlier people ride.

The Museum has one full carousel, incidentally not inside the circular part of the former post office building, which is just circular up front, but rather in the back area which is larger and more rectangular. Up front in the circular part are the remaining window booths from the post office days, as well as miscellaneous figures on loan making up its figures. Some of them go back a full century, and one of them is the armored-horse model that appears in the carousel stamps booklet as well as the cover of every coffee table book about carousel animals. Up front also is a book from around 1670 which talks about amusement activities and rides of the time and which is apparently an early description of the carousel idea. Unfortunately, it's in French and I couldn't read it nearly well enough to parse a whole sentence at a time.

In back the exhibition was of unusual animals, so the walls were lined with figures, many on loan for renovation or repair, that get away from the horse theme. Lions and tigers are relatively common, of course; but they had several camels including early ones which the guide noted indicate that whoever carved it hadn't looked much at a camel tail. The most eye-catching, to me, were the giraffes, which got to be quite tall, and one of which included as a secondary figure a snake coiled around its neck, from shoulders up to its cheeks. The most amusing was a tiny, metal alligator which was apparently from a children's carousel in France: it had a lever in the seat which would make the mouth open and close. There was a similar adorably tiny hippopotamus. They also showed off some of the new projects from Carousel Works, the Ohio company that makes a lot of new-issue carousels, and figures like a seagull which ...

I don't want to sound too critical, but there were some issues. The main one with the seagull is it didn't look that good. Here I think the big problem is they put a saddle on the back, for the rider, and included a strap around the body so there was no suggestion of wing, at least on the outside half. I think they'd have gotten a more natural-looking exhibit if they just put the saddle on the seagull's back, not worried about the strap to make it connect, and let the wings be shown so as to suggest the gull was in flight.

Neatly, they had a couple horses from the former Euclid Beach amusement park's carousel. Apparently, the citizens of Cleveland have gotten organized enough to build a new house for this old carousel, and the museum is working on restoring the animals so this fragment of Euclid Beach Park could be restored.

On display were some of the instruments used to carve and finish carousels, as well as some of the new animals being built at the museum. There's a fine example also of one horse in the ``four stages'' of restoration, with original pre-restoration and often horrible paint, stripped to bare wood, primer-coated, and painted fully fresh.

And then there's the carousel, too. It turns out not only are they still recording new carousel music but there's different playlists and programs being made. For example, there's Halloween tracks, including the theme to Ghostbusters. That's not the tune playing when we rode, although later in the day as we examined the gift shop, another group rode to that. For our first ride, they were playing the Funeral March. It's not what comes to mind when I think of carousel music, I grant.

It's a splendid museum. It's small, and I can imagine it being trouble if you have a pack of kids needing entertainment since there's really just the one thing they can ride, and the band organ they can listen to, but if you can find it interesting to look at old French cow figures, there's something here. We wandered all over and I don't think we actually violated any signs warning some area was not open to the public. They do have a small room available for public functions, and I could imagine some which might be nicely done there.

After another ride and listening to other people taking the tour, we wandered onto the streets of Sandusky with vague notions of finding somewhere we might get a soft drink. Here bunny_hugger pointed out, based on past experience (and fears of where she might be able to pick up some motion sickness tablets --- she'd left hers at home, and amusement park prices sounded formidable, and she was pessimistic about finding anywhere in town at least around where we'd go), there was nothing in Sandusky. She was exaggerating. There isn't enough stuff to rise to the level of ``nothing''. Oh, there are buildings; we found quite a few, including a weird late 50s-style building with a compact circular driveway and overhanding rhomboid wings whose original purpose was a mystery. (Taxi station? Maybe?) It was now being used as storage, probably for the city.

With further walking we found the State Theater, which announced that early November they'd have a performance by The Amazing Kreskin. Also, apparently, The Amazing Kreskin is still alive and performing, so, good for him. But we weren't having much luck finding places for people to congregate, or for that matter people. We did run across a wedding party posing for photographs, near a park which delightfully has not just a large clock but also flowers spelling out the date. They had apparently rented out the Merry-Go-Round Museum, too, since we encountered them again as we returned to bunny_hugger's car and they got out of their van.

Now, in the afternoon-to-evening, we would surely be able to return to Cedar Point and enjoy hours in the park with average or even slight crowds, right?

Trivia: Kingsford's corn starch merged with Argo in 1899. Both brand labels are still in use (though Kingsford's is not national). Source: Twinkie, Deconstructed, Steve Ettlinger.

Currently Reading: The Magazine Of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September/October 2011, Editor Gordon van Gelder.

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