Friday, May 30, 2008

Roller Coaster

The Sunday Scribblings prompt is curve or curves. And what has more curves than a roller coaster, not along one plane but on constantly shifting ones? The picture below is of a modern monster roller coaster. But the one below it is of the old wooden roller coaster, still in operation, which is scene for this memory that is deeply embedded in my psyche. If I remember rightly, the Santa Cruz Boardwalk roller coaster was (and probably still is) called “The Big Dipper.”

modern roller coaster

roller coaster on boardwalk at Santa Cruz

Until I was eight years old my family lived in Santa Cruz, California, a beautiful seaside town. We often visited the boardwalk along the beach. We were allowed to ride the merry-go-round and, with an adult to drive, the bump-’em cars. I’m not sure how old Allen and I were when this story took place, but he was only three years old when we moved to Stockton. I was five years older than Allen, my only sibling, so I would have been eight years old or younger.

Allen and I both loved playgrounds, especially the slides and swings. We both looked with yearning at the Big Dipper. It seemed obvious to us that it was a very superior form of slide and therefore would give us correspondingly greater pleasure. So we begged and begged (Allen learned the art of begging early with such an adept older sister) until Daddy finally consented to take us on our first roller coaster ride. The three of us crowded into one of the two person seats with little Allen in the middle. The cars climbed clickety-clack up the first steep grade then seemed to hang suspended at the apex of the curve while we stared down at a seemingly vertical drop.

Allen shouted, “I don’t want to go!”

What followed was sheer terror for Allen and me. We were alternately jammed into our seats or terrified of being lifted out of them. We were thrown from side to side. Our heads bobbled on our necks.

When our car finally coasted to a stop and we emerged on shaky legs, Mama asked, “Well, how did you like it?”

“Fine,” I said in a quavering voice. How could I admit otherwise after all that begging? Then Mama and Daddy got on the roller coaster and smiled happily as it began its dreadful circuits. Mother loved roller-coasters and would not be cheated of her ride.

It’s hard to believe, but Allen and I continued to accompany our parents on roller coaster rides with only slightly diminished terror on our part. I wouldn’t admit to being a coward. Maybe Allen had the same motivation.

Until one wonderful liberating day when I was already in college and Allen was in high school. A summer vacation found the family one evening at the Venice, California, boardwalk. “Oh, let’s go on the roller coaster,” Mama suggested, and Daddy agreed enthusiastically.

Allen and I looked at each other and wordlessly came to agreement. “No. You go ahead. We’ll just watch.” Nor could their coaxing change our minds. We stood contentedly as they went up, down and around, grinning maniacally and waving to us each time they passed to show us what we were missing.

I am not afraid of heights. I love airplanes. Otto’s brother Steven took me stunt flying in his plane and I thoroughly enjoyed barrel roll and loop-the-loop. I want to ride every Ferris wheel I come across. But my heart thumps and I get that sinking feeling if, on my TV screen, I see a roller coaster ride from the passenger’s perspective.


giggles said...

Oh my, this post does bring back memories! I am the opposite. No ferris Wheel for me thank you! A slow roller coaster is fun, when it includes water, even better. A cork screw, fast and whipping thanks! Fun post, thankfully you could decline as time went on! Your parents were real characters!

Hugs Sherrie

Shyam said...

I love roller coasters... but even then, when the car climbs to the top and hangs there for a few seconds before it swoops down, at that point my mind has only one thought filling it: "I wanna get offffff!" :D

But I still love all the rides - the scarier the better. I admit that I'm a maniacal screamer on all of them though.

Joy said...

I thought I used to love roller coaster till I went to one of those which turned me upside down. I have never stepped onto one since then. Your parents are courageous and brave. It was a fun read.

murat11 said...

I'm with you and Allen, Granny Smith: other folks can have those curves, thank you, I'm not much for wobbling at death-rattling speeds. What a hilarious story.

Greyscale Territory said...

To my shame, I have never been on a roller coaster. But I have been fascinated watching them at a safe distance.


Marianne said...

LOVES me a wild and crazy roller coaster ride!
Always have, from a very tender young age.
Children are oldest son loves them, as does my daughter but Avery? oh no, he was a much more cautious child.
I had the pleasure of taking GS Conor on his first big roller coaster ride a couple of years ago.. he's one of the cautious ones :^) I tend to laugh throughout the ride, I glanced over at him, his face.. an expression of pure frozen terror, but still, some bottom line in him did in fact love it.
Gracie... well, of course, she loves them :^D

Fun post, Phyllis!

anthonynorth said...

I used to love them in my youth. Don't think you'd get me on one now, though.

Liza's Eyeview said...

I used to love them in my youth too. But now ... nah - let others enjoy it. I'll watch :)

A delightful post to read, with fun photos too. Thanks Grannysmith :)

DJPare said...

Wow. Nice memories!

You couldn't get me on those coasters though!

Jay said...

I loathe roller coasters! Can't stand them! I don't like log flumes either - it's the sudden drop thing, I think. I was tricked into going on a huge log flume once and won't forget that sinking feeling, looking down at that huge drop... oh my ... ! I was in the front of the car too!

My younger son loooves roller coasters and always has done. His older brother, not so much. Older son used to go on them just because the younger wanted to and couldn't admit he didn't like them, but he had a similar epiphany to you and Allen. One day he just said 'No, I don't want too - you go!'

Robin said...

I loved rollercoasters, and all those awful spinning, dipping, flying rides as a child. Now? Not so much. The mere thought makes me go weak in the knees. I had to accompany my then 6-year-old son on a junior-sized coaster last summer and nearly fainted when we got to the top of that first dropoff. Him? Loved it, the little stinker. Wanted to ride again and again.

Frances D said...

I am so frightened of roller coasters and fast rides.
I remember my daughter wanted to ride The Pirate Ship at Coney Island. It's a big pirate ship that swings back and forth, and I mean it swings high and fast.
My husband insisted on going with her.
Three minutes later I had to have the operators stop the ride to let my now green faced loved ones off.
Thanks for stopping by!

Ratchet said...

This made me giggle, and I don't use the word giggle often. What a funny memory.

danni said...

i rode a monster thing in texas at the state fair thirty plus years ago - never wanted to get on it then and never will again - that was after i made it out of space mountain at disney alive --- how dumb was that? - you've had some wonderful experiences that make for great posts

paisley said...

i have not been on a roller coaster since i cannot remember when,, but i am sure a good 20 years... and oh how i love them... maybe i will have to make it my mission to get to an amusement park one of these days... what a delightful post!!

kiki. said...

your stories are always enjoyable! When I was a kid I did the same thing, begged my dad to take me on a roller coaster. He says I cried and screamed all the way through. Thanks for sharing!


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Aww, that's too bad; I love coasters. I love them so much, I thought about joining the American Coaster Enthusiasts.

But I understand where the dislike comes from. It's not for everyone.

Fun take on the prompt!

keith hillman said...

No no no! Just the mere thought of one of those winding twisting rattling monsters makes me quiver!
But a lovely read as ever!

Linda said...

You tell a funny story! Well-written!

SmallWorld Reads said...

Wonderful post. Incidentally, my father rode a rollercoaster for the first time ever last year, at age 82.

Patois said...

That Big Dipper is our favorite. We go to Santa Cruz several times a year. Season-pass holders, you know. My Youngest so wants to go on, but, alas, he is still too short. Maybe next year. Until then, the older ones and I ride for the sheer terror of it all!

Jennifer Hicks said...

great story. i used to really love roller coasters when I was younger, but now feel a wash of motion sickness come over me even if I see a roller coaster on TV. So I can identify with that association even just with the thought of it!

texasblu said...

Oh my - I AM afraid of heights (which explains my fear of curvy mtn roads) and those pics left me woozy! I don't know why though - I wasn't this way until my mid twenties. I used to love roller coasters!

Thank you for sharing your memories with us! :)

Mjinga said...

I haven't got enough faith to spare any for the structural integrity of wooden roller coasters. Even though logically I'm sure they're sound enough, I simply cannot believe that they are.

Your parents are like my grandmother and I aspire to be like you. I'm falling short though, and still won't admit I'm a coward. I'll get there eventually!

nonizamboni said...

What a fun post with a nice ending--you do get to choose what you want to do more when you grow up! They scare me but embarrassing as it is for my daughters, I have on occasion riden the kiddie one at Hershey Park.
Nice SS's--nothing more curvier than a roller coaster.
Have a lovely week!

OneMoreBeliever said...

thaz a great story granny... havent been to santa cruz in awhile... love the pier... rollar coasters no way... i get dizzy just gettin outta bed in the morning...


I love this story because I too hate roller coaster rides. It took me a long time to not be embarrassed to admit it. I'll be headed to Santa Cruz this summer - and I'll be steering clear of all roller coasters!

Lynn Falls said...

Dear Granny,

I was inspired by your reading yesterday at the writers' group and respond with my thoughts about the subject below. I'm trying to get them on Sunday scribblings, but encountering some difficulty. See you in September. Lynn


Curve lolls on the soft palate
sliding off the tongue in
round and rolling fluency;

Curve dances in fluid
movements—resilient, pliant, limber—but
forceful as the powerful ocean swell
shaping the shoreline.

Curve’s touch is the lover’s
stroke on the upraised
flesh of the beloved,
urging them both to unity.

Curve tastes of the earth’s
fruitfulness: of
lush purple
ripening yellow bananas,
sweet cantaloupes and
slow quaffs of mellow
vintage Barolo.

Curve’s fragrance is redolent of
rainy tropical mornings
steaming in the rising mist,
honeysuckle and nasturtiums
waiting for the bee’s whisper,
roses savoring the summer sun, and
night blooming jasmine
languishing in the evening breeze.

Here is a story best told in cursive
by a poet’s soft pencil on vellum,
by a calligrapher’s brushstrokes on rice paper
by an artist’s charcoal arabesques
drawn deftly across the canvas,

Coaxing the imagination to
venture forth beyond our
narrowly known world,
freeing our vision to see

Curve cradling us all in the
constant arc of earth
spinning in space.

b said...

This made me laugh. Be careful what you wish (or beg) might just get it.


alister said...

Hi Granny S! And you thought you were late! Like everyone else, I loved this, was like a kid agog before the artful storyteller. I loved the begging to go, the I don’t want to go!, the jamming, shifting, and head-bobbing terror of it! It was HD storytelling! Thanks much :-D