austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Door hanging off the hinges

Our bittersweet Conneaut Lake Park revisit would have to start a little later, though. We had to go to the bathroom. The park's main bathroom wasn't open and we kept walking towards the beach where we found some port-a-potties and the Hotel Conneaut. I hoped that there'd be a bathroom in the hotel lobby because, after all, it's a hotel. Presumably there is, but there's also a sign at the door warning the bathrooms are for hotel guests only. The Hotel and the Park have been at odds for years over, well, everything, and it's not hard to suppose bathroom rules are a side effect of that argument.

I did get a little squirt bottle of isopropyl alcohol before we left on the trip. bunny_hugger had joked about my obsessive-compulsive disorder showing in that way, but I said, honestly, that I got it because I thought it rather plausible that Conneaut Lake Park wouldn't have soap in the bathrooms. It turned out they did, but the port-a-potties didn't have soap or iso sprays, so, who feels like they're marginally cleaning their hands now?

At this end of the park, by the lake, we could see not just the hotel, which we hadn't gotten up to before, but also the pavilion where the Journey/John Cougar Mellencamp tribute band had performed to a flock of bikers last year in an event that I swear happened. We also got to see a lake boat which, unfortunately, only ran on the weekends. If we'd scheduled things differently ...

Also sitting out in the open is one of Conneaut Lake Park's standing-but-not-operating rides, a Toboggan. This is a fairground-type roller coaster that brings the rider up vertically in a tiny cage, then to a spiral back down and roll around the track a little. It's small and good for fairs, although surprisingly few of them were ever made, and we'd ridden one at Lakemont Park in Altoona last year. The ride had an inspection sticker as recent as 2006, but was obviously in no shape to run now. It was also just sitting there, out in the open, unfenced and unguarded, suggesting that Conneaut Lake Park is unafraid of setting bold new frontiers in Attractive Nuisance lawsuits. Heck, I was tempted to climb up onto the tracks, but refrained. bunny_hugger constrained herself to explaining to some people who were passing by how the ride worked, because they were debating how the roller coaster car could possibly move, and whether it ascended the long vertical tunnel or descended it.

Also serving as an attractive nuisance was the mechanism, though not the circular platform, for a Round-Up, one of my favorite types of rides. That is, they had the station and the machinery and the central post, but not the wheel to spin around. It too had a 2006 inspection sticker.

On the lake's shoreline were the ruined remains of the beachhouse, and a construction shack and signs of rebuilding. There was also the boardwalk and a number of benches, with planks bought by or in the names of locals, many of whom expressed their love for the beach. We walked the length of that, to the end of the boardwalk and to where we could see the part of the Hotel Conneaut that hadn't been recently painted. While walking we also overheard a woman being told by an elder man what the area used to be like and what his memories of it were. bunny_hugger quipped sotto voce, ``Good luck getting out of that conversation''. I pointed out she probably didn't want to be out of it: she had a pretty serious camera, and was taking notes on a reporter's notepad. Later in the day we would pass her again, talking with more people. At one point we heard her explain that she wasn't writing the article herself, she was just taking notes for the person who would, and was taking photographs for it.

Clearly news about Conneaut Lake Park had just broken, but, what? Were the Trustees yielding to the inevitable and accepting the park was going to close? Had something bizarre happened? Was there a settlement with the county about its taxes? Could the park have somehow been saved again? We didn't know, and didn't ask, caught in that strange state where good news would make us overjoyed but bad news would kill us. But something was happening.

Good, bad, or ambiguous, we'd do our part to support the park by going to the ticket booth --- underneath a fresh new sign marked Ride Pricing --- and buying day passes good for unlimited rides, including on the roller coaster, and the miniature golf. I wasn't sure if that was good for one miniature golf game or unlimited games, but, what would be the odds we'd have time for multiple miniature golf games? (In fact, we'd get no golfing in that day, or this trip.)

But the Blue Streak roller coaster was running, and running fine. We'd take the first ride of many on the day on it. They had their running train, and an antique train kept under a tarp, though goodness knows what kind of spare parts they have anymore. The seats on the front car were labelled ``John'' and ``Lee'', and there was a plaque memorializing some people who were apparently dear friends to the park. Near the train ride's entrance is a house, marked as Private Property, that's also got labels in the window of it being the home of the ``Blue Streak Boys'', a group of significance opaque to us.

Trivia: The oldest known recorded instance of the hidden-ball trick in a game of baseball dates to the 7th inning of an 18 October 1859 game between two Brooklyn clubs. George Flanley of the Stars ``was put out on the second base by a dodge on the part of [ Atlantics second baseman Joh ] Oliver, who made a feint to throw the ball, and had it hid under his arm, by which he caught Flannelly [sic]''. Source: A Game Of Inches: The Story Behind The Innovations That Shaped Baseball, Peter Morris.

Currently Reading: Madame Blavatsky: The Woman Behind The Myth, Marion Meade.

PS: Reading the Comics, July 3, 2014: Wulff and Morgenthaler Edition, as there's some more of those mathematics comics going on.

Tags: amusement parks, conneaut lake park revisited, west pennsylvania parks tour

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