Goodbye Roseland Forever
By ice rivers
God, how I miss Roseland.
Starting with Galloping Gertie, through my first round of miniature golf, into the Penny Arcade across f from the changemakers where I got an authentic Tom Mix photograph, beyond the Wild Mouse, through the Bumper Cars next to the shooting gallery behind the Cotton Candy stand near the restaurant which eventually became a beer stop where one of my friends once asked what the penalty was for punching out a clown. Back to the hot dog stands beneath the swings and beyond the Skyliner with skeeball coupons in hand. Tee shirts, cut offs and a pair of thongs, for decades we'd been having fun all summer long.
I knew Roseland big time and the feeling was mutual.
I had to be present for her last night.
We all knew the date of the execution.
Lots of Landlovers showed up, most young only in heart.
We traded in all of our skee ball tickets which we had amassed over the last ten years and won a forty inch plaster statue of a bearded guy in a yellow raincoat holding on to a bunch of lobsters as if his plaster depended on it.
We posed for pictures in front of or onboard all of the rides.
When my mother died many years later, the picture of her riding the merry go round was the photo nearest her flowers.
We kept trying to pretend that the fun, the eternal summer was never going to end. We knew in our hearts that some point the cups would stop whirling.
During my last ride on the carousel, I began to wonder if, in fact, the rides would stop that night. The operators after all were mostly college kids on the last shift of their summer jobs, probably a week or two from the quad. What would stop them from keeping the rides going all, night, hell all weekend. What could happen to them if they did? They certainly didn't have to worry about getting fired.
But before that paradoxical showdown, the management would present one final fireworks show out over the pier on Canandaigua Lake. The fireworks would begin at eleven. We took our rides on everything as eleven approached.
It was a startlingly clear star spangled evening; a Roseland night.
At ten-thirty the announcement of the fireworks started to come over the p.a. system. Everybody in the park wanted to be in on this event, including the ride operators. So like some kind of blissful, mourning army, we all strode to the site of the fireworks.
At eleven o'clock, the main park was deserted. I distinctly remember looking at that deserted park. I don't remember Roseland ever looking brighter or more inviting, resonating not only the remnants of that night's crowd but also all of the crowds of all the decades past. Although Roseland trembled, it appeared alive and ready to get up on its feet and sprint all the way to Rochester, to Lake Ontario thirty miles South to say goodbye to Sea Breeze.
eternal Roseland over my shoulder.
And then the first fireworks exploded in breathtaking perfection over the lake. The crowd as one ooohed.
At that exact instant, I tore my eyes away from the miracle in the sky for one last peek and saw all of the lights in the main park slam off at once, never to come on again.
Total darkness. A silent sound as deafening as any I had ever not heard.
Most of the crowd
As if on cue
from the sky