Saturday, May 27, 2017

Palisades Amusement Park…by Kait Carson

Oh no, I’m not stepping on any copyright, but I bet you’re humming!

I really wanted to post something serious and writerly this month. Something worthy of Writers Who Kill. I tried, I started at least ten wonderful posts. They died. Hum, does that fit with the Writers Who Kill theme? Nah. Not really, the deaths were neither mysterious nor unexplained. They died, you see, of boredom.

This is Memorial Day weekend. A serious and hopeful double-header for my friends and family during my school years that still permeates my senses. Serious because the weekend commemorates the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of men and women across the decades in the service of their country. Fun because it’s the start of the crazy, lazy, long, dreamy, days of summer!

The halcyon days of pools, beaches, and amusement parks opening are long gone. My brother and I no longer argue over who controls the radio knob. Me listening to WABC (Cousin Brucie!) in the brief time between parade and fireworks, or him, listening to the roar of race cars at the Indy 500. I can still smell the fried chicken competing with the scent of fresh cut grass and the excitement of waiting for the fireworks to begin. If we were lucky, we had places on the hill where we could see into the stadium. As dark fell, the floor of the local high school stadium became a fairyland of sparkling lights telling the story of the revolution, as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the White House swirled in colors that seemed to ignite one from the other. As they faded to darkness, Old Glory sprang to life in front of the scoreboard and the first of the skyward explosions took off. The show never varied, and it never ceased to awe.

Memorial Day was almost as much fun as Christmas. It marked, after all, the end of a school year. A far more important year to a kid then the turn of a calendar year. Nothing would ever be the same. You were going to the next grade. Huge questions loomed for the fall about teachers and classmates. That was the future. Summer was the present. It was the perfect time to make changes, reinvent yourself, rededicate yourself, make new habits, learn something new and exciting, and move ahead and figure out what to do over.

As Memorial Day approaches I still have that same feeling of pent up excitement building. Anything is possible, and frankly, 2017 so far, well, it’s been pretty harsh. I could use a do over. How about you? Nothing done will change, but maybe, just maybe 2017 redux will get better, and better, and better.

See you at Palisades! I’m riding the coaster again this year, but this time—up front!


  1. I grew up in New Jersey, the land of WABC and Cousin Brucie. We had a parade, the town pool opened, the tall rhododendrons sported their big purple blooms. But we still had three weeks of school left!

    In Cincinnati, school is out, graduation parties are everywhere, and the pools are open. And I'm going to accomplish two months worth of weeding in three days.

  2. Palisades Park closed in 1971, shortly before I moved to Bergen County in March 1972. As a kid I marched in many Memorial Day parades – first as a scout and later as a member of a fireman’s band. Schools didn’t end for another two or three weeks, so it marked the last break before the crunch of finals. While we could count on snow no longer being a concern, beach weather didn’t generally appear until July 4th!

    ~ Jim

  3. Here's hoping for an improving 2017


  4. I'm with you, Kait. I still feel the same sense of promise at the beginning of summer, and I set more goals at this time of year than I do at New Year's. I'll eat right, fresh from the garden. I'll sleep more. Spend more time with friends. Get outside. I'll write more. I will DO ALL THE THINGS.

  5. In Pennsylvania, I used to hear the song about Palisades Park and so wanted to go there. It's funny how a song will invoke a memory of a time and place (whether you've been there or not). That's probably why so many TV commercials have old songs in the background--to invoke that sense of nostalgia that advertisers hope will prompt you to buy their product.

  6. @ Margaret - Oh, those last three weeks of school, Margaret. They were killers! Ever go to Freedomland? One of my favorites! Good luck with that weeding thing. Gardens always look so wonderful when the weeds are gone, and so inviting to the next crop.

    @Jim, upstate NY, right? Yep, beach weather around July 4th. Those lakes were cold! Even in mid-August. Good training to stay upright on water skis. I'm sorry you missed the Park. We took it for granted having it in our backyard, but it always surprises me that even today, people ask about it and cite Palisades as a place they always wanted to visit. (Even if they are too young for it to have ever been a reality for them!)

    @Warren - Amen, brother!

    @Julie - I am so glad there is someone else who feels that way, Julie. Most folks give me the head scratcher look - you know the one the one I mean, I'm sure. It's exciting, this new beginning. What a great sense of anticipation.

    @Grace - Totally agree. Advertisers discovered that a long time ago. I remember reading a study when I was in school that claimed that hearing and smell are actually more powerful senses to evoke emotions and memories than sight. The study also claimed that if one loses either after birth recovery and adaptative skills are more difficult to acquire than from the loss of sight because of the emotional and memory ties. Advertisers can't do much with the sense of smell (remember talk of smell-o-vision?), but they have taken full advantage of hearing.

  7. Here in CT, weekenders are pouring into the beach, the lines are starting to grow at the ice cream shops and lobster shacks, and the traffic - whoa! Everything is so green and there's already so much to do in the yard. Summer has sprung!

  8. LOL - Indeed - Bring it on - Lobster shacks, sounds wonderful. nothing better than a fresh lobster roll!

  9. My family always went on a picnic when I was growing up, and in later years someone would have a picnic for everyone at their home. This year my son is having a large picnic and barbecue with lots of family members and friends coming tomorrow. Another tradition I've carried on is putting flowers on the graves of family members who died. Friday I put planters on my parents' grave, my son's and my granddaughter's grave. I use to plant flowers there, but now I take long planters filled with flowers. The cemetery is always filled with flags put on graves.

  10. Those are lovely traditions, Gloria. You jogged a memory of my time in the north were cemeteries are visible from the road. They were always well decorated with flowers and flags on Memorial day. If memory serves, Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and when I was a child, the names were used interchangeably in my family.