Monday, September 24, 2007

Postcards from the Edge

The Park's gift shoppes used to sell a poster-sized map of the place. One of my favorite things about it was that it depicted attractions like the Tsunami- a more massive version of the Wave Pool which was never built. I've been searching online for an image, but all I can find is this postcard:

Which gives you an idea of the sheer size of the place, but no real detail. Water World's almost completely invisible. You can make out the Speed Boats and Super Lola tracks pretty clearly, and if you squint you can see the old 2-wing Bungee Tower, back when it was officially known as the Snapple Snap-Up Whipper Snapper. Catchy, huh?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Polka your eyes out

Have I mentioned the Spa at Great Gorge before? It was the Park's upscale cousin. The company that owned both held onto it when they sold the Park off to the Canadians. They've sinced re-christened it Minerals. I worked in Member Services for a summer. The bar at Kites, the club's restaurant, was a popular evening destination for many Park employees.

If you happen to be in Northwestern NJ this weekend, stop by their 21st annual Oktoberfest. It is an excellent opportunity to drink beer in a field and listen to polka. The Jimmy Sturr Orchestra always brings it.

History Lesson

I found this on Gothamist today. It has nothing to do with the Park, but it's kind of hilarious. Observe, if you will, a young Matt Dillon discussing the evolution of the amusement park. I shudder to think what the Park's version of the Human Pool Table or Human Roulette Wheel would have been:

And a bit of Matt Dillon trivia- his aunt was, and may still be, an English teacher at my high school. She is one of the nicest ladies I have ever met.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

And now for something completely different

Here's a poem written by our good friend Dellana. For those of you unfamiliar, the Internationale is a worker's anthem. No, it's THE worker's anthem. More versions than you could possibly imagine can be found here.

The First Time I Heard the Internationale

I was sixteen and drunk behind a motel
in Nowhere, New Jersey. Just another
summer working as a lifeguard at the local
water park-long hot days
in the cold chlorinated pools. Not bad,
except for the fumes from the motor
of the Colorado River Ride that made many
of the kids who worked there sick
and a few reported temporary blindness.
There was also the danger
of being pulled down the slide
by a bunch of drunk guys from the city,
the kind who thought the girls who worked there
were part of the package
included with the pricey wristbands.
Some days were harder than others
but most days we got out around eight,
stopped home for a shower, then out to the party—
someone's parents away on vacation or a field
with a keg in the back of a pickup truck
about twenty feet off of anything
that could be called a road. But
the night I'm talking about, the night behind the motel
where the foreign help stayed—young men
and women from Ireland, Mexico, England,
a guy from El Salvador, a couple from Hungary—
that night, from room to paint-chipped room the air
was thick with sweat and beer and clunky conversations.
It got to be late and someone had lost his keys,
thought they may have slipped from his pocket
when he was taking a piss out back,
such an easy thing to translate with hand signals
and laughter, soon the whole party
was bent down in the dirt or leaning
over the rickety back deck rails,
squinting and pointing. Anyway, I don't know
who started it, but slowly the voices gathered
and those of us who didn't know the words
were clumsily prompted by our neighbors who
were from everywhere and nowhere.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Minor Characters, Part 1: A Roundup

There were lots of weirdos on the periphery of my Park experience.

First, there was Lloyd. He hung out behind the bottom shack at the Alpine Slide, fixing broken carts. He spoke a weird blend of some Scandinavian language and... something else. I found him terrifying, so I never got close enough to figure it out.

Then there was Rob T. He was the guy who sat at the summit all day. Everyday. He always had a text book with him, but I have no idea what he actually studied. He called supervisor Nancy a despot the day I was scheduled for summit instead of him.

Or how about Ron F, who was arrested trying to steal beer from a delivery truck at Kites while wearing his Park uniform. That one made the paper!

More to come...