When I was a kid, during those freewheeling ’70s, our family — mom, dad and younger brother — would spend at least one summer day at a local amusement park, called Geauga Lake. The park began as a quaint picnic spot and swimming hole in the late 1800s and slowly grew into a full-fledged amusement park. In its later years, Geauga Lake changed hands several times, and its future appeared uncertain, until it closed, sadly, a decade ago.
Going to Geauga Lake was a treat, the highlight of the summer. My favorite rides weren’t the roller coasters (though I liked them well enough), but rather the antique motorcars, Ferris wheel at night and, always, the carousel and its old-timey organ music. I loved the history of the park and imagined myself there at the turn of the century, flitting about in a lavish skirt, frilly blouse and Gibson-girl hairdo.
Geauga Lake was relatively close, about a 45-minute trip from our house, so we could decide spontaneously to spend the day there, which is precisely what happened one summer morning when I was about 8. I recall that my brother, who was about 5 at the time, and I were playing outside (as usual) when Mom called us to get ready because we were going to … Geauga Lake! Woo hoo! While Mom packed a picnic basket — way too expensive to buy food at the park — my brother and I packed ourselves into the family sedan, a goldenrod Pontiac Catalina. Continue reading