Two Places to Remember

There have been more than a couple of columns highlighting the good memories from my childhood… & here is another one. I’m sure many Ohio-born children can relate & remember the hot afternoons, and hot & humid nights of the State’s summers. And how some of those days & muggy nights were spent at two places called Sea World, and Geauga Lake.

One: a labyrinth of mass aquariums, creating habits for many creatures of the sea to be viewed, both in natural habitats, exhibits, and even live performances by Shamu, a large orca that would shoot himself out of the deep aquarium, and snag a fish from a trainer’s hands. Mamu was also an orca part of the act; however, I don’t know much about her. – Shamu was the star, character performer. In fact, several orcas have played Shamu. The original Shamu died in 1971.

This was SeaWorld. The theme park/marine zoological park – still with several of the parks in operation in Orlando, San Diego, and San Antonio – experience, for me, was in Aurora, Ohio.

(I think I was first there on a school field trip. My most memorable time there, though, was when my mother took me & my two siblings there as a surprise one summer. Spending the night in a hotel, even.)

For me, SeaWorld was a place to be merry & enjoy when I was little. Maybe I was 11 when I went on that last visit to the park with my family. It was the park across the river I had my eyes set on: Geauga Lake!

That was the theme park dedicated to the teenager in me. Going all around, no adults, roller coasters to get the adrenalin pumping, causing mischief. Yes, yes. From summer vacation after my eighth-grade year, up till I was 16, I went to Geauga Lake several times a summer. My first time, though, that I can remember, my Grandpa Locke took me. I don’t have much a memory of that even. I just remember he was there with me, and wed rode the Raging Wolf Bobs – an old, wooden roller coaster erected in 1988, permentaly closed in 2007, which led to the deconstruction & sale of the famous ride. It was put up for auction, sold for $2,500, June 17, 2008. For six years, the dismantaling – as you can imagine – was slow; the completion of the project was in 2014.

There were many other rides at Geauga Lake that grasp that nostalic, warm & yet distant part my brain – that part of the brain where things are never REALLY forgotten… it just takes a little jump-start of a reminder, and then – BOOM! You can remember smells & colors & days never before you thought you could remember. Or, more accurately, ever NEED to remember.

While writing on this subject, just a moment ago, I remember a television commercial which aired regularly one summer for Geauga Lake’s newest attraction: the Texas Twister. A commercial depicting a poor farmer, in a shock-like transe driving his tractor in the field, ploughing a large concentric circle.

It was the first ride of its kind in North America. And it was one wonderful s.o.b ., spinning large spins in the air, rolling over & over, back & forth.

The Big Dipper, the Double Loop: all these were big-name, must ride roller coasters at Geauga Lake. It is all gone now. The park is a ghost-like piece of property at the corner of the city. Like some shooting location for The Walkiing Dead.

It’s sad. It was such a Land Mark for Northeast Ohio.

I’m not sure if there are any plans to restore it.

If it can be restored, that is. It’s just the brittle skeleton & cracked concrete reminder of what once was. Fortunetly, I have the memories… maybe that has some things should remain: just a memory.


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