Sunday, July 1, 2007

Another Happy Memory

“And when she was good, she was very, very good, and when she was bad she was horrid.” That’s the way I tend to think of my mother. There were times when she tried. And one of those involved when she took my brother and I to Hoffman’s Playland.

Everyone in our town went to Hoffman’s Playland, it was a little amusement park somewhere around Albany, NY. Inside the gates were roller coasters that went in circles over little bumps (but never upside down), a Ferris wheel, bumper cars, the ‘swing’ ride (where two of you are in a seat and the whole thing goes in a circle in the air), Teacups and the Scrambler. There were also these dinosaurs that went around a track and some ‘strawberry cars’ but those were the baby rides, and I was ten years old by the time my mom took us to Hoffman’s, so I wasn’t going on one of those. At least, not with my brother there. I wanted him to see I was as cool as he was.

I know it was hard. My brother and I had wanted to go for a long time and were envious of others in our schools who talked of their weekly excursions to Hoffman’s where they enjoyed sticking their tongue on cotton candy and watching the delicate strands of sugar melt and playing ski ball until they had enough tickets for a toy.

Our home was one of hand-me downs, but my mother saved enough that one day we could go to Hoffman’s Playland. There was a set limit – my brother and I each had to choose how to spend the money. We could go on rides, play games, or a little of both, but had to stay within the budget.

My mother was beautiful when she smiled. I always thought of her as beautiful. But when she surprised us by saying we were going to Hoffman’s, she was glowing.

Hoffman’s was a wonder. I decided I wanted to win a toy like others in my class, so only bought tickets for a few rides. My favorite was the scrambler. But, my brother wanted to go on the giant swings and I was just tall enough and honored to go up with him, so that is the ride I remember most for the following reason:

The swings were high and scary. I don’t remember the color of the one my brother and I sat in. They were all primary colors, and my favorite at the time was yellow. They put the bar down and I held on in glee and trepidation. As we went into the air I could see over all of Albany. I looked at my brother and he was grinning from ear to ear. As we started to go in circles we passed over some trees, maybe a grove. Then I saw my brother’s smile change – it became mischievous. He started kicking at his shoes.

“What are you doing?” I asked, “You can lose a shoe!”

“I know,” he grinned, “I want it to hit that tree!” He kicked and kicked while we were over the brush, but would stop as soon as we twirled over where all the parents smiled and waved.
Finally, he succeeded and his shoe went flying. What he wasn’t anticipating was centrifugal force.

When we exited the ride there was a lot of commotion. There was someone hovering around the teen that operated the ride, and our mother’s face was beat red. At first we thought anger, until we heard her boisterous laugh. That always meant that things were okay. She was holding up my brother’s shoe.

The centrifugal force had sent his shoe spiraling down and it slammed into the side of the operator’s face. She had 12-year-old boy sized tread on her cheek and was crying.

“You could have lost your shoe in the woods!” my mother exclaimed as my brother chuckled. “I can’t afford another pair for you.”

“It just fell off,” he lied, lowering his head but looking up at her with big fake-sad blue eyes.

The rest of the day wasn’t nearly as eventful. I did get to play ski ball and win enough tickets to get a pair of sunglasses that folded to resemble a cats face. The rims were red. We ate some junk food, and went home smiling and laughing over how my brother’s shoe knocked out the operator.

“You certainly left your mark,” my mother chuckled.

I got to wear my cool sunglasses to school and tell everyone that I, like them, could afford Hoffman’s and ride the rides.

I still laugh when I think about this. That poor operator.


Amel's Realm said...

He he he...poor operator indeed. :-))) THX for taking me back to your past, Vic. I LOVE the way you describe it. :-)))

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

These are the things to hold on to, and to try to remember (every last detail of) as far and few though they may have been. There were times she loved you enough, fleeting or not, it did happen.

Big hugs, sweet lady. x

Chewy said...


I was a ride operator at a fairly large amusement park. Lots of fond and fun memories. Sounds like that "poor operator" didn't get any sympathy from your Mom. Regardless of that what counts is you had a fun family day TOGETHER.

Amel's Realm said...

Hey, Vic, the tip on increasing traffic was just something I wrote to David in the Blogger Help Group. He was wondering what to do. Basically I just told him what I read here:

Shan said...

Sweet memories, treasure them well :)

Enjoy life and thanks for visiting my blog :)


Victorya said...

Ah man Chewy, I'm afraid I didn't come off as sympathetic either. It was just such an absurdist thing to happen! I felt bad for what happened but it made my mom smile, and to us at that time it was golden.

And no, she had sympathy for no one.