To the editor:
My parents, Harvey and Mary Cleckler, ran the amusement park in Riverside in the early 1950s. [It was a ] small operation in that my dad sold tickets for, ran the ferris wheel, conducted the train ride and entertained folks with his pet monkey.
My mom made the very syrupy snow cones and dipped into the pickle jar for the giant pickles in the concession stand. I helped inside the concession stand doing whatever was needed. As I remember, my big responsibility was keeping the snow cone syrup jars full. There was a gallon jar full of bubble gum sitting at the window. Bubble gum was supposed to be a penny a piece; however, since everyone left the window smiling, I think the gum must have been thrown into the deal.
The miniature golf course was a big draw. At the 18th hole, Dad rigged something that made an awful noise if a hole-in-one happened. I could hear my daddy holler wherever he happened to be. Everyone would rush to the excitement to help the winner celebrate as daddy made the official presentation of the coveted free golf game pass.
The clanging of the bell meant that the train was loading and that was high excitement. Daddy built some kind of tunnel out of a few boards and bended sheet metal. While in the dark tunnel, he loved to lean on the horn and shoot off the smoke from the train stack. As light dawned at the end of the tunnel, his passengers were covering their ears and rubbing their watery eyes, coughing all the way. Laughter could be heard all the way to the concession stand where my mom would smile and say, “your daddy did it again.” Some would stay put for another exciting trip through the tunnel.
As far as the price for all this entertainment, I don’t recall any of it being much being over a dime. My dad was the most optimistic, lighthearted person I have ever known. He loved to make people laugh. He would say “laughter is free, so let’s get some of it.”
At our family reunions, stories of Paw-paw’s antics at the “park in Riverside” are always remembered by his grandchildren.
I’m smiling as I write this, so I guess he was right.
Mary Sue Cleckler Brogdon