Memory Monday-It’s a thing…
King’s Island in Cincinnati, OH opened for the season this past weekend and in honor of my love of roller coasters, I thought I’d share a little memory about our local theme park. We have a small amusement park called Camden Park here in West Virginia. Back in 1902, it started as a picnic spot where for railroaders. Later, upon acquiring a merry-go-round in 1903, it became an amusement park. It is still in operation today and will kick off their summer season soon.
The star attraction at the park since 1958: The Big Dipper. Here’s the details from Wikipedia:
Big Dipper – Camden Park’s most famous attraction, a traditional wooden roller coaster built by National Amusement Devices in 1958. The ride replaced an earlier roller coaster that had been built on the same site about 1912, and which was demolished in 1957. The Big Dipper features original Century Flyer cars with working headlights, and a classic figure-eight track design. The ride’s name refers to a big dip measuring almost the full height of the roller coaster after the first turn. A second, shallower dip leads into an unlit tunnel, from which the cars emerge shortly before returning to the pavilion to let off passengers. The Big Dipper is one of only three National Amusement Devices roller coasters still in operation; one of the other two is Camden Park’s miniature roller coaster, the Lil’ Dipper. American Coaster Enthusiasts lists the Big Dipper as an “ACE Coaster Classic.”
As a child growing up in this area, a trip to Camden Park was the highlight of the summer. If we were really lucky, we would get to go a few times. Back then, parking was free and an all day hand stamp to ride rides was relatively inexpensive. Adults who didn’t ride any of the rides could get in for a few dollars and then just buy tickets if they wanted to ride one or two attractions.
Somewhere in the mid-80s, I went with a group of kids to Camden Park. This trip was either a class field trip, a Girl Scout event, or a 4-H event; I don’t remember which. However, before leaving, I remember my mom giving me a lengthy lecture about how dangerous the Big Dipper was and then she forbade to ride it under any circumstances. She swore the boards on the coaster supports hadn’t been replaced or repaired since she was a child. I stood in my living room and promised my mother I wouldn’t ride the Big Dipper.
Can you guess where this is going? If you guessed I was an obedient child who always did as she was told and had a wonderful day NOT riding the Big Dipper…you’d be flat out wrong. I’m pretty sure it was the first thing I rode as soon as I got through the gate. It’s a ROLLER COASTER! How could I not ride it?
I got home that evening and gave my mom the “full” report of how much fun I had and how I didn’t ride the Big Dipper like she said. Little did I know, the local newspaper was there taking pictures and doing a story on the event (which makes me think it had to be Girl Scouts or 4-H related as a school field trip wouldn’t have warranted media coverage). The next day, I walk in the kitchen and Mom is reading the newspaper.
“Marsha, are you sure you didn’t ride the Big Dipper yesterday?”
“Yep, I’m sure. I didn’t ride it.”
“What do you make of this?” She shoves the paper toward me and there I was on the front page of the Life section on the Big Dipper.
“I’m not sure.”
“You didn’t ride the Big Dipper?”
“Nope. I can’t help it that girl looks like me.” I looked my mother dead, straight in the eyes and LIED.
I don’t remember getting in trouble for riding the Big Dipper or lying; although, I should have been in trouble for both. The only reason I could think of that I didn’t get in trouble is because Grandpa always said: “If you’re gonna lie, stick to your story. Don’t change it. That’s how you get caught.”