Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Since I have home remodeling on the brain (in the aftermath of the rain on our plain)...

I simply must share this scrumptious photo of the bathroom tile in Room 3 at Kate's Lazy Meadow, the motel owned and operated by Kate Pierson of the B52s (we stayed here in early June, after Cotton Candying at Knoebel's but before Hoffman's Playland).

You won't find tile like this at HOBO's (as neat and, in our case, life-saving in a money-saving sense).

As Kate puts it in an interview on the motel's website, "My artist buddies, Phillip Maberry and Scott Walker, known as the groovy duo whose home was the "Love Shack" set for the B-52's video, designed and installed fab-u-lous tiles and ceramic bubble art for the cabins."

Embrace the playfulness, the color, the festive bubbles. It's a shame that people probably plop toothpaste on this floor on a semi-regular basis.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday on the Blog with no photos!! Because it's just too difficult for me to do One More Thing.

Hey! But at least I'm writing on the blog; at least it didn't get waterlogged or float away or become brown and green with mildew.

It's been a rough few days, but the basement is disinfected, mostly gutted, awaiting the new.

We're pouring through catalogues and websites, trying to figure out the best type of flooring (for a flood-prone area), different types of storage options (for a flood-prone area), and making sure this doesn't happen again (who says it's a flood-prone area??).

It's a cleansing process, a learning and re-defining process. Not a gentle one, but one that was apparently necessary.

My Cotton Candying will begin again very soon. I have much to tell about the fantastic Arnold's Park in Iowa.

But for now, I'm just making sure I eat enough, drink plenty of water, and find the time for extravagances - like bathing.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Things that matter...

Just two days ago I visited Arnold's Park, a park that survived two attempts at closing it AND a tornado. So when we returned home yesterday to a basement with at least six inches of water, it made me think about salvaging what matters.

i cleaned up around 300 45 records I had collected for ten years, starting when I was 8. My first single was "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" by Bette Midler. I bought it at Stewart's 5 & 10 for 79 cents. I amassed a huge collection of 45s which I bought with my allowance money, all meticulously catalogued and saved in groovy vintage 45 cases, five of them. When I found them in the basement, the boxes were the consistency of Cream of Wheat.

I numbly walked through the carnage, attempting to salvage this Fisher Price toy, that vintage game. What hurt and hit the most were the diaries, the two I held onto since 1981. In one, I wrote about the death of Jon Lennon, December 8, 1980. I was able to show this entry to Ben, its letters faded to powdery blue, before I threw it away.

But when you lose a photo of someone you lost int he flesh, it's like losing them all over again.

My mom's photo, a glamorous shot from the late 1940s, peeked out of one box. This became too much for me to handle. I pulled out my parents' candid wedding album and Ben helped me salvage the precious photos. I cried so hard, my shorts were wet, tears streaming and plopping onto my lap.

It's Friday morning now. I've gone through more waterlogged Christmas soft goods (tablecloths, tree skirt, stuffed toys - all salvageable) and found more paper ephemera, these items from my parents, probably form their honeymoon.

It's one thing to lose the childhood treasures. It's another thing to lose things that were treasured for decades before you were born.

I'm doing my best, Mom. I truly am.

And I get the feeling she's actually proud of my hard work. And she's relieved that, besides these material losses, Ben and I are fine.

I think when you become an angel, you get a better grip on what truly matters.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"Don't you MESS with my vintage park!"

Or at least that's how it seems the residents of Lake Okojobi, nearby environs, and fans of Arnold's Park kept it afloat.

Picture a small but charming park on the shores of the deep and vast Lake Okojobi. It survived downturns and upheavals, including a devastating tornado in 1968. Still, it remains and it thrives, thanks to the love and support of families and friends and benefactors and people who would NOT accept it being bulldozed to pave the way for condos.

Arnold's Park is park #22 on my Road Trip. Much more to report. But let's just say this: each and every person I spoke with was a fan, a heart-invested fan, and each one said, with pride and a bit of breathlessness, "I helped save this park!"

And that, my friends, is a legacy. A great legacy.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Three reasons why you should donate to my project on Kickstarter...

For a $100.00 donation (if my project is fully funded), you will receive a recording of me on an actual rollercoaster. For reals. This is a big deal for several reasons:

1. Think of the gentlest kiddie coaster you've ever seen. Think of me on that coaster, waving and smiling, happily posing for the camera. Now, erase that thought because at 5'8" and roughly 140 lbs. I would not be allowed on that tame little ride. Nope - I'll have to suffer through an actual coaster, swallowing down my anxiety at just the mere sight of the thing.

2. My last name is Turlow. Growing up, kids used to call me "turtle". Not just because it's a slant rhyme of "Turlow", but because I moved slowly. I enjoy taking things at a moderate gait. I don't rush. I seldom voom. Rollercoasters are the antithesis of my inborn inclination for cautious, calm, "slow and steady wins the race"ness.

3. Having been informed of my proclivities regarding fast,fast,zoom,zoom, you now know that a video of Pam on a Coaster is a rarity, a collectible, a valuable commodity. I don't do this for the grins and giggles. I'll be doing this to earn that $100 donation. However, you'll more than likely have a regular jamboree of grins and giggles while watching me white-knuckle it on the coaster.

For that $100 donation, I will be your monkey, strapped into the seat, shot into space, hoping Mission Control will allow me safe passage home.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday on the Blog with Photos!

Merry-go-rounds in motion mesmerize. Many a film has featured a dizzying encounter with a carousel, with someone evading a psycho, or someone in general not having a good day. But for every Hitchcockian display, there's footage that embraces the swirls of colors, the play of lights in motion.

Conneaut Lake Park carousel, August, 2009.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

It's official. I'm seeking funding. Learn how you can play a part in upcoming "Road Trips"!

With voice-over work being slower than molasses in February (the adage is "molasses in January" but February is much colder, the official Armpit of the Year, and, ironically, the month I'm born in), I've decided to set up not only a Cafe Press shop of nifty swag you can purchase with my Road Trip images emblazoned on the front (, but I've also registered with Kick Starter, a site which helps people fund their creative projects.

If you follow the link below, you'll be able to pledge toward my goal of $7,000, an amount which will aid me in finishing my Road Trips much sooner than the projected Summer, 2011.

Please donate, with the warm-fuzzy feeling of helping a vintage park live another day!

Friday, June 18, 2010

You could cook breakfast on the sidewalk

The mercury's rising into the low 90s today. It's the kind of day that Chicago is notorious for in the summer: hot, humid, sticky and crawling with people wearing baseball caps featuring the logo of their favorite team. I'm a Sox fan, but their caps are black, so I'd almost switch teams today, just so my brain doesn't melt from the super-heated sun-absorbing wool.

When we visited Dorney Park in Allentown, PA a few weeks back on a similarly steamy day, we truly considered attempting the flume ride: a guaranteed cool down from a bonafide super soaker descent into splashdom. However, since I didn't have a change of clothes (read: underwear. Mama doesn't "do" wet, craggy underwear) packed with me at the park, this was not to be.

I'll be a page from the Oprah magazine right now, where she beckons you to take in the inviting green freshness from a photo of a rainforest, the fragrance of field flowers in a meadow. Here's the Dorney Park flume ride in full sploosh.

Feel free to lose yourself in the sensation. The bonus: no craggy, wet underwear to deal with.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

My CafePress store, The Vintage Amusement Fun Shop, is up and open for business!

Who wouldn't want this cutie emblazoned on a t-shirt, a mug, a mousepad, even your underwear? Actually, if you purchase an item with the image of the Devil's Den devil on it, proceeds will go directly to the reconditioning of Conneaut Lake Park's Blue Streak rollercoaster!!

Items in the store presently are culled from images I've taken at Kennywood, Del Grosso's and Lakemont. And the Conneaut Lake beauty pictured above. I also have my book's title, "The Cotton Candy Road Trip" available on everything from sweatshirts to Sigg water bottles.

Check back often as I'll be adding more designs in the coming days:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


My husband's a brave man, as is witnessed in this photo, taken at Hoffman's Playland. A small park with an abundant heart, it boasts a variety of kiddie rides (similar to our dear Kiddieland) and some larger rides like the Tilt a Whirl and Scrambler.

Beware the hippos, who can sneak up on you when you least expect it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Okay. Taking a bold step!

Today's the day I start working on my Cafepress site with the Premium template. I have too many designs to just have some for shirts, some for mugs. I want shirts, mugs, bumper stickers for almost ALL my designs! So wish me luck on this endeavour.

Yeah, Cafepress requires you pay for the privilege of running a Premium shop, but I truly believe I have enough great photos to generate some great interest and sales. So buy my stuff! And if you have some ideas of how the shop can look better, or ideas for specific items, don't hesitate to tell me.

A link will be coming soon. Be ready! You may have all your Christmas, Hanukkah and Don Knott's Birthday (observed) gifts all taken care of!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Six Flags Closing??

No, it's not closing. But I had to check. My chiropractor, whom I refer to as Dr. CrackyBacky, said he heard it was closing. He said this while I was face-down on the table, getting my midback adjusted, so I had a hard time no wrenching myself up and saying, "Whaaaaa?". But I kept it internalized until I got here on the internet to look it up.

Six Flags declared bankruptcy last year, but it's not affected Six Flags in Gurnee, one of the larger parks the corporation owns. However, it does get one wondering what's going on when the price of admission dips down, there's waterpark admission included, season ticket prices are discounted. All those things made Dr. CrackyBacky go "Hmm". So I had to determine what was going on. Not just for my doc, but because Six Flags houses an old treasure.

Frankly, I'm mostly concerned about Gurnee's Six Flags doing well because they've given a home to Kiddieland's Little Dipper rollercoaster. If that poor sweet coaster had to be moved AGAIN, wow, that's asking a lot of it.

But all's well in Gurnee.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday on the Blog with Photos: New Leg of Road Trip, 2010 Edition!

I've always, always, always wanted a 50s-style swimsuit, a two-piecer with a bra top that actually DOES something, with a bottom that covers your tummy. Comfy, sexy, sporty: the 50s-style suit, the kind Marilyn Monroe wore.

As close as I've come so far: me posing against the vintagey photo of gals wearing such suits. Hershey Park, the waterpark, May 31, 2010.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I learned Reiki today.

Reiki uses God-energy or "the Source", and you learn to let this energy pour through you in order to heal yourself and others physically, emotionally, in all ways.

You work with the chakras, the seven main energy centers in the body. Chakras are characterized by the colors of the rainbow (among other things).

I've always connected with rainbows. Songs like "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "Rainbow Connection" have always left me in varying degrees of tearfulness.

Above, the wodnerful rainbow colors of the swing ride at Knoebel's, a park where happy little bluebirds fly...

Friday, June 11, 2010

grumble, grumble, grumble...

Right this minute, I can just slightly tolerate CafePress. But if you would've asked me this yesterday, I'd have told you the CafePress experience is similar to that of having gum surgery with a rusty butterknife.

Four hours. That's how long I spent setting up my shop, stocking my shop, replying to well-meaning friends on Facebook about how the items in the shop had images that were minuscule, fixing the sizes of said items, not being able to find all the items I had wanted in the shop, learning someone had bought an item (hooray) then learning that this particular type of CafePress shop would essentially not earn me one saw buck. Not a penny. Not a bean.

Sent an email to the CafePress "Let's Calm Down Our Customers" link and got a response. Apparently I had opened a beta site (she did not explain what a beta site was), that the items would not be in the Marketplace, that if I wanted to actually earn money I'd be best to open a Basic or Premiere shop.

None of these details were given, clear, or even hinted at when I opened my shop.

So, I deleted the beta (named after the fighting fish??) site and am now in the throes of using the Basic template, and it's working alright, but still I have no idea why CafePress didn't simply navigate me to the Basic site in the first place.

Anywho, what this means for you, Gentle Blog Reader and Vintage Amusement Park Enthusiast, is that a shop on CafePress WILL be opening soon, featuring items with designs that are tied in with the book. You'll be able to purchase t-shirts with "The Cotton Candy Road Trip" logo, a book bag with a photo of a vintage ride vehicle from Kiddieland, even an ornament with Conneaut Lake Park's "Devil's Den" devil, if that's your thing (proceeds from Conneaut Lake Park items will be donated to the refurbishment of the Blue Streak rollercoaster.)

So sit tight. Your shopping joys will soon come to pass. And you'll help me earn more moola for subsequent Road Trips!! How very cool is that?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What's up with the octopus?

One of the myriad reasons I just adore vintage parks are the quirky, out-of-the-ordinary, hidden-in-the-back oddities I often find. Case in point, Mr. Octopus. This ancient cephalopod can be found afloat on the tranquil lake at Darien Lake Park, a funky little sentry, guarding the fishes.

If you have some background info on this peculiar little dude, please elucidate me. Also, let me know what other vintage park oddities you know of and I may post them on my blog.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Really clear reminder as to why I'm writing my book

Visit this link but be forewarned: it's just about as depressing a series of photos as you'll ever see. A writer from the Nile Guide took a roadtrip to eight different abandoned amusement parks. I don't share her sentiments about some of the parks being more interesting now then they were while operating. Sorry -- I don't need that sort of cynicism. I posted a reply about the work I'm doing and why it's so vital. Hopefully I can keep things like this from happening.

Why bother visiting the broken, rotting carcasses of vintage parks when there are plenty of operational vintage parks out there?

Yes, my goat has officially been gotten.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Just like an old friend...

It took Ben a while for it to hit him. We spent several hours at Darien Lake park before this calm warmth covered is face, mixed with the intensity of a very serious ten-year-old.

"It's like Geauga Lake. Remember how I've mentioned that place, how sweet it was?"

Yes, I recalled him telling me that. And I had to agree; from what Ben had mentioned to me over the years, Darien Lake was quite similar in feel to the now-closed Geauga Lake. In fact, after we drove to our motel for the night, he looked up both parks online and found that they were owned by the same company for a time. Both had almost identical entrance gate structrtures and "emporiums" - places to buy t-shirts and stuffed animals.

What struck me most about Darien Lake was how it wears so many hats: rollercoasters this way, kiddie park that way. A batting cage area here, mini golf there. Two boys with fishing poles, wandering over from the cabins to the serene lake. We took in a sea lion show (featuring four comical mammals, each with a distinct personality and job to do; my favorite was Rose who could breakdance).

Darien Lake is a true resort, with lots of "new", including a brand spanking new water park. But they haven't forgotten about their history either. Opened in 1952, it boasts the only mid-century merry-go-'round I've rode (brought to the park in 1964) and a giant wheel from the 1959 World Exposition. At 51 years young, it still transports you at a rapid clip!

According to Ben, Darien Lake is the sister park to his beloved Geauga Lake. I feel honored to now see what I'd been missing, what, until now, I'd had no possible way of experiencing..

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"By the beautiful sea..."

Yesterday's bit of Cotton Candying took us to two very disparate parks, both brimming with history, fun, and a little wackiness. First off, Seabreeze, just off Lake Ontario. Oh, to sing the virtues! When the Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel perished in a fire, they could've done the obvious and purchased a newer carousel with fiberglass horses. But not this park. They took the bull by the horns (or the horses by the reins) and built a new carousel the old-fashioned way. The result? Astonishing. Hand-carved wooden horses, hand-painted decorations above. Matthew, the man who runs the carousel, is also the park's archivist. He let me INSIDE the carousel (childhood dreams realized!) to take a look at the paints he uses to do touch-ups.

I could've stayed inside that carousel for hours, watching all the gears work the giant wheel, smelling the wood and grease.

Oh -- I also rode the Jack Rabbit, the third oldest coaster in the nation. Oh, yes I did. And did I scream? And did I even cry, out of a strange potion of fear, ecstasy, exhilaration and the giddiness of a 7 year-old? See above "after" photo.

Then, when we thought we couldn't possibly pack even more fun into one day, off we went to Darien Lake.

But you'll have to wait until tomorrow for that update...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Mid-journey milestone!!

We're at the halfway point on the Cotton Candy RoadTrip, Park Number 20! Seabreeze is on Lake Ontario in Rochester, NY. They have their share of new coasters and such to keep the teens happy, and enough vintage charm to qualify as worthy in my book.

Hm. Seabreeze. Lake Ontario. Methinks I should pack my headband today, for keeping my wispy tresses out of my mouth. Nothing can wreck a day of Cotton Candying faster than pulling strands of hair out of your mouth while trying to sip from your Snoopy sippy.

Yes, I am a lady in her forties. Yes, I do own a Snoopy sippy cup. Pictured above (photo taken at Dorney Park, which is part of the Cedar Fair group that's taken on Peanuts as the company mascots), you'll see that his cap was a bit askew, in order to keep the drink inside from spilling out. Snoopy in da Hood. Snoopy gets Street.

Onward to Park 20, Parque Veinte, Parc Vingt, Park DvadsaƄ (that's Slovak).

Friday, June 4, 2010

Small packages...

Somtimes fun can be had in the smallest of spaces. Case in point: Hoffman's Playland near Albnay. 18 rides comprise the park, so it's fairly itty bitty, but packed with charm. Kiddie rides take up the lion's share of the space, with some classic "big kid" rides rounding it out, including a pristine Tilt A Whirl, one with clown faces on the backs of the ride vehicles.

Bonus at Hoffman's: that would be the train ride, where the engineeress (well, she's a girl, so what else would you call her?) rode us around the track TWICE.

Only drawback to a small park: not enough area to really stretch your legs, Especially when you've been cooped up in the car all day. After eating a stack of carrot cake pancakes earlier in the morning, a stack approximately 4" high. Kudos to Sweet Sue's in Phoenicia, NY, for making me rethink the humble pancake.

It was NOT a small package. And neither is my tummy these days...

The Mid-Century Modern Goddess of FUN!"

That's what I wrote in the guest book in Rm. 3 at Kate's Lazy Meadow, the motel/hotel/B&B/love shack owned by Kate Pierson of the B52s. We stayed here last night, and now I'm typing this while sitting on the 50s mini sofa in the living room of the Outer Space room. There are flying saucers on the walls, but they seem friendly. We played the game, "Alien Autopsy" (which is thoughtfully left in the room for guests to enjoy), but we tied since the kidney is missing. The game is very reminiscent of "Operation", but when you hit the sides with the tweezers, you hear a blood-curdling scream and the alien's green eyes light up. Anyway, the kidney is missing. I hope they find a donor.

I'm so at home here, in this Mid-Century bastion of all that is good. A stream runs nearby, a perfect place for sitting, cogitating, meditating. I plan to do all three before we leave.

Kudos Kate, for being just the coolest person in the world.... or maybe even perhaps elsewhere...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I'm at a loss for words... I grabbed the brass ring.

I usually take out my trusty mini-notebook and start scribbling away on my impressions when I first set foot in a park.

Not today. I was too busy being blown away by the uniqueness, the history, the heart - not to mention the cotton candy ice cream.

Seriously. It took me hours before I could stop gawking at the wonderfulness of Knoebel's in Elysburg, PA. My dear friend Ari recommended this park, sang its praises, waxed rhapsodic about the funnel cake.

Miss Ari, you were playing small. But that's okay because it's hard to sum up this park and any praises I can muster right now will seem wee in comparison to how the entire place made my heart ZING.

I'll start with two words: hand cars. I came upon the hand cars almost by accident, when I glanced over at a kid gripping the tiny handles and spinning them furiously to make the little car move along the track ahead of him. Ladies and gents - I do believe these were the very hand cars I used to ride at my dear Fairyland Park back in the day. Or at least these were made during the same time period, at the same factory even. However, I wouldn't be surprised though if they were the exact ones.

That's how things go at Knoebel's. They've acquired rides from other parks and given them a fresh start here. Like the aptly-named Phoenix rollercoaster, which was brought here to live another day, and went on to become the park's signature coaster.

There's, oh man, there's SO much more. The chapter on Knoebel's will be ginormous in my book because there's SO much to write about. So many things just reach out and touch you in a way that few other parks can do consistently -- and repeatedly. And I'm not just talking about the ghosties in the Haunted Mansion.

And any Chicagoan who's of a certain age will flip when I tell them this: the Flying Turns is being rebuilt right on the Knoebel's grounds.

The Flying Turns. You know - the one your parents told you about, that scared the puddin' outta them back in the '50s at Riverview. THAT Flying Turns.

Folks, I grabbed the brass ring, literally and figuratively, today at Knoebel's. My Cottoncandying is flying, turning, and deepening in meaning, by leaps, bounds, and an occasional funnel cake.

(SFX: thud, as Pam falls to floor due to sense memory of funnel cake)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

So little to say, so much time... strike that. Reverse it...

Cotton Candying in earnest. Yesterday was all the chocolatey goodness one could eat, smell, see, even listen to, over at Hershey Park. A lovely place just teeming with rides of all sorts, a monorail (which Ben felt was better than Disney's because it took in a lot more of the park, rather than just one "land"), and the chocolate. On ice cream, featured in a dark ride (which you go through in a "Doom Buggy"-style vehicle while learning how Hershey's chocolate is made), and walking through the park for photo-ops. You'll see that Ben and I ran into little Hershey Kiss. She was delightfully sweet and we made fast friends.

Then today: Dorney Park which, depending upon who you talk to, is the oldest park, the second oldest park, or just one of a number of great vintage parks which opened in the 1890s. Today was HIGH SCHOOL FIELD TRIP DAY! The amount of unruly hormones wafting through the park made me swagger! A waterpark is attached to the amusement park, which makes for scads of scantily-clad teen girls romping from ride to ride, with throngs of teen boys literally falling over themselves to keep in close proximity.

So much more to tell... guess you'll just have to stay tuned!