In a past column I talked about our town’s public pool, Rainbow Beach, usually a daytime destination. After supper, the place for the young crowd was Uncle John’s Kiddieland.
Located at the edge of town, it was owned and operated by a local family that once, according to rumor, owned a small carnival.
Since my nephew and I were only nine years apart, Mother would often take us both and let us ride together. The trick was how to motivate her to take us. And cute little Mikey had that one down pat. The dialogue went like this:
Mikey: “Hi, Grandma. It’s Mikey. Do you think Kiddieland is open tonight?”
Mom (smiling): “I imagine so, Mikey. Why do you ask? Are you wanting to go?”
Mikey: “Wellll, maybe . . .”
Mom: “OK, honey, you pack your overnight case and have your mommy bring you over and we’ll check to see if Uncle John’s is open. Afterward, you can stay all night.”
We liked the little train that circled the property, and a boat ride with a bell that we’d clang louder than any fire bell. I favored the roller coaster – too scary for Mikey.
The best ride in the place was the merry-go-round with rearing horses, flashing lights and fabulous calliope music. To this day, I’m a sucker for the sound. Dale Evens and Buttermilk never had it so good!
After we’d used up all our 10-cent tickets, we’d visit the baby goats and feed them pellets from a 10-cent cup. (I still have a black-and-white photo of my childhood friend and I feeding them, years before Mikey’s birth. Our mothers, long-time friends, had brought us when we were 4 and 5. I sent my friend a copy of the photo on her birthday one year.)
After the animals were properly fed, it was time for us. We hit the cotton-candy concession for some of that heavenly pink stuff. I swear it was like eating a cloud.
If we were in the mood for something cool, we chose Dairy Queen. I always ordered a 10-cent, chocolate-dipped vanilla cone. Mikey, on the other hand, got the smaller five-cent one. Is there anything better than ice cream on a warm summer evening? We thought not.
Sound tame? I guess it was, but we Old School types felt we were livin’ large.
Reach Carol McEwen at firstname.lastname@example.org.