austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

In August it will be so hot

Wednesday morning we were able to get up and say hello more properly to my aunt, who was working on some writing project while watching The Price Is Right, so you know what my family is like. She encouraged us to have anything we wanted for breakfast, including some of the ham or (frozen) meatballs so I guess word of bunny_hugger's vegetarianism and my efforts to be more vegetarian hadn't reached her. A lot of stuff from my father --- my parents had stayed at her house for a couple months between the closing on their old and their moving down south --- was still there, including a lot of tools and some half-completed projects, including the putting of a closet and a laundry room door back on after painting.

But we had to hurry out, as the first thing we wanted to see was Soupy Island. This is actually a park, in Thorofare, New Jersey, basically part of Camden (though apparently it could also be considered part of the municipality of National Park, New Jersey, which is a name that makes me go ``huh''). It was established in the late 19th century by the Sanitarium Association of Philadelphia so that city kids could have some time in fresh, clean air, and it gets its name from the donated soup served to kids at lunchtime. It's got your normal park attractions --- swings and slides and the like, plus a swimming pool --- and is surprisingly cagey about just when it's open and when you can visit or whether they exist. Their Internet presence consists mostly of people saying there's this almost secret place near the municipality of National Park, New Jersey. It's only open a couple days of the week, for a few hours, and this fact set our schedule, or we'd have gone to Knoebels Park first and had a continuous stretch in New Jersey after that.

What attracted us to the park is that it's got an antique carousel, Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel number 93R. It wasn't built by Philadelphia Toboggan company, but by Frederick Heyn; PTC refurbished it in the 1920s, which is what the R designates, and it was the last of their numbered carousels. This is also probably why Soupy Island is cagey about their existence, since too many visitors might overwhelm their ability to keep the carousel in running order.

When we got to the park --- a little too late for the soup-serving --- we, well, overheard a family arguing about the things families argue about when there's a bunch of kids and it's midsummer and everybody's had a little too much family time. Also the carousel wasn't running, and was shuttered, which made us worry the thing just wasn't running today. We wandered around some, getting comments of ``hi, strangers'' from folks who either worked for the park or who just kind of sensed we were there as tourists, possibly because we were obviously not chaperones for what looked like several classes full of summer school kids.

And it's good we hung around as the carousel did open up about 1 pm, after some light drizzles. The horses and chariots and such are in the process of being repainted, so some rows are all crackly and dried out while others are fresh and new-looking. We were watching some when one of the park guys, the sort of grandfatherly type that's always there around antique rides, came up and talked to me (unprovoked) about how it was a lot of work to restore the horses like that. I agreed and that I was impressed by how well so many of the animals looked. The center of the carousel has some extremely faded nature scenes, possibly going back to the ride's original construction, though it's also got folk-art style paintings of Muppets and Disney cartoon characters on the scenery panels that rotate with the ride. Above the entrances and exits of the ride building are Peanuts</cite> figures --- Charlie Brown, Sally, Franklin, Lucy, and Linus in a rubber raft by a desert island, that sort of thing --- which I guess just shows how much of the park is decorated by the people who happen to work there.

They don't have a band organ, or if they do it's not working, as they just played some CDs over a portable player for our ride, such as one of the Ohana songs from Lilo and Stitch, or ``When Somebody Loved Me'' from Toy Story 2. The ride also goes at a pretty good speed, too; five rotations per minute, I believe I estimate it at. It's a pleasant spot and I felt bad I couldn't find I donation box or anything for them. The park is a bit mysterious in many ways.

Trivia: The first major English colonization effort in West New Jersey arrived aboard the Kent in August, 1677, landing somewhere near Raccoon Creek. They stayed for some weeks with the Swedish families already settled there to make final arrangements. Source: New Jersey From Colony To State, 1609 - 1789, Richard P McCormick.

Currently Reading: A Nation Of Deadbeats: An Uncommon History of America's Financial Disasters, Scott Reynolds Nelson.

PS: Reading the Comics, August 25, 2014: Summer Must Be Ending Edition, because the mathematics-themed comics have lost their focus.

Tags: amusement parks, casino pier farewell tour, soupy island

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