Friday, February 8, 2013

"On a Carousel" - The Hollies (1967)

While reading Glen Slater's blog “It’s Never Been Easy” the other day I got hung up on this song and a few memories; all of which can be blamed on Mr. Slater and his post about a Carousel, which can be viewed here;

I think it was around March of 1970, probably late in the month, when John and Jimmy and I went down to Coney Island. The amusement parks, like Luna and Astroland, didn't open until April, but some of the concession stands; most notably Nathan’s; were open year round. So, we spent our 20 cents each and got on the subway for the 15 minute trip to Coney Island. In nice weather it was about 20 minutes to ride a bicycle there, but it was March, so we took the train.

Unlike other neighborhoods; we never called the Merry Go Round a Carousel. That term was reserved for the ride in Central Park, which I only remember riding one time. With only a little man-made lake nearby; rather than the Atlantic Ocean; the Carousel just never held the allure of the Merry Go Round in Coney Island. The Merry Go Round seemed more proletariat to me, like something my Uncle Irving would have ridden as a kid. On the other hand, the Carousel seemed to be geared more toward the Manhattan crowd, and all  those gentried folk who live by the Park itself.

The big prize on the Merry Go Round was to grab the proverbial “brass ring” which hung precariously from a wooden board protruding from a vertical post,  and always seemed just out of reach until you were too old to ride the merry go round anymore.

There was also the Wonder Wheel, with  swinging gondola cars mounted on rails which made the gondolas glide precariously to the outer edges of the wheel itself, giving the impression that you were about to be hurled off of the wheel and into the ocean; or even into the crowds below.

When we got tired of being scared to death on that, there was always the confusion of riding the Tilt-A-Whirl. This was one of those rides which are based on the love of centrifugal force, with the spider like arms of the ride spinning faster and faster, almost as if they were about to become detached, once again launching the rider into orbit. When you’d get off of the Tilt-A-Whirl, the meaning behind the name of the ride became apparent. We walked like drunken sailors for a block or so as our equilibrium restored itself.

The crowning delight of a cold March day had to have been a hot dog at Nathan’s with a hot chocolate to wash it down. The combination would probably kill me today, but back then; to a 15 year old; it was a delicacy.

A few of the Roll-a-Ball places were open and so we lost a few bucks there, accumulating tickets towards prizes we would never get. I don’t recall whether or not the bumper cars were open at the time. But we did ride those at other times.

This is just one of those memories which came of reading Glen Slater’s post about the “Boy Who Ran the Carousel.”  That’s the best part of blogging; reading another person’s story can often jog your own memory with delightful results. 

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