Time: August 1960
Place: Coney Island, Ohio
Peeking through my bangs in my first grade school picture is a bandage that doesn’t look like it’s hiding any serious injury. But behind the bandage is a battle wound. Before school began I had a row of fairly fresh stitches across my forehead from one of my several bike collisions with our stone bridge. The bridge was a crossing for the meandering creek that ran in our front yard.
For an end of the summer fling, our family visited Coney Island near Cincinnati, Ohio. I was only five, almost 6 and my brother was two. Apparently my father wanted the thrill of a roller coaster ride and the only viable option for a passenger to go along with him…was I. Was there any discussion or did my father just ask me, “Would you like to ride the roller coaster?” Or did I request to ride the roller coaster as we passed by? Or did my dad ask my mother if she would ride with him while I watched my two-year old brother? I can imagine protests from my mother on all the above ideas. I don’t think she much liked roller coasters. I am certain she wasn’t comfortable leaving a two year old with a very shy five year old in the middle of an amusement park. I wonder what made her give in to my dad? Did I beg to go? And didn’t they have height requirements? The fact is that she caved in to my dad.
The thrill begins……
Before I know it I am at the queue line to ride this towering wooden roller coaster that seemed to reach the sky. It is hurry, hurry to get into our car. The seconds feel like several minutes as we wait for the ride to begin. The car begins to move on the track. Stomach butterflies flutter as the roller coaster click clacks up to the cloudless sky. Head and body are pushed back against the red covering of the seat while white knuckled hands clutch the safety bar. Excitement builds along with a sprinkling of fear, as the car edges closer to the top. I become aware of the thump thump of my heart because the click clacking noise is now silent. I are at the top of the hill. For a few seconds I feel suspended in air. It’s coming! Some people dare to put their hands in the air but I hang on for dear life. The car thunders down. My body jerks from side to side as the car rapidly whips around sharp curves with my hair blowing in the wind. The car travels up another hill and down and around and yet another hill. Tightly I hang on but all of a sudden my head jerks forward and cracks into the safety bar. Ouch….blood drips as my dad realizes that I have broken open the row of stitches in my forehead. As soon as the car comes to a stop I carefully get out of the car with dad holding my head. You know how head wounds are. We rush to the first aid station that is nearby where they stop the bleeding. Homeward bound. The end of a summer fling trip now cut short. Wonder what the ride home was like between my parents?
I am assuming that it is the following day when we go to our family doctor, Dr. Brown, for damage assessment. This battle wound requires metal clamps to pull the skin together. I do remember that Dr. Brown said I was very brave as she put the clamps in…not a tear. It must not have been too much of a family trauma as we continued to attend fairs and visit amusement parks. On the other hand, I don’t remember riding another roller coaster with my dad. ??? Come to think of it I don’t often do roller coasters…even now.
I’ve used Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee for Reading Workshop Lesson to model making connections. Most kids have all kind of connections to roller coasters or that tingling butterfly feeling in their stomachs! Marla Frazee has other great titles for Making Connections focus lessons: Fast Food and Birthday Presents.