Today I am going to the home of two of my closest friends for dinner this Memorial Day Weekend. Yesterday I went to Coney Island with girlfriend Deb to catch some sun and to get frog's legs!!! YUMMY!!!! For those of you that AREN'T NYC Natives....Coney Island is the last old time amusement park left in New York City. It's roots stretch back to the early 1900's....Coney Island was just purchased by a private developer and is set to be shut down after this summer to undergo a massive renovation. Of course for us old timers....GASP!!!! DID I JUST SAY THAT????? This is the end of an magical era for us! When I was a teenager the big thing after church was to change out of your "Easter Clothes" and put on your fresh new Easter Kicks to venture way out to Brooklyn to go to Coney Island!!!!
You could hang out (or under) the boardwalk, ride the world famous Cyclone Rollercoaster (The last wooden roller coaster in America...I think)...lol...(my mom tells a great story about how when she was much younger she and her friends would hang out at Coney Island and get drunk and ride the Cyclone...one of her friends would snatch her wig of and wave it in the air at the top of the first drop!!!) or ride the slightly less scary Thunderbolt Rollercoaster (before it burned down). An early favorite of mine and my best buddy Tommy Brock, was a ride called the "Hell Hole" it was a big, tall, cylinder and the riders lined up against the wall, then the room began to spin and we found ourselves pinned to the wall ala centrifugal force! My more creative friends (Tommy) were able to find a way to scale themselves up to the top of the cylinder and as the ride slowed to a stop...they would just slide down the wall!!! It always made me feel weird...like my heart was gonna jump out of my chest...but we were totally addicted to it. You could ride the HUGE Wonder Wheel...(it was a ferris wheel and you were a TOTAL punk if you didn't ride in one of the "swinging" cars (I was terrified of heights so this was always a problem for me!). And if you were one of the "cool people" you had to ride the Himalaya (with the live deejay! spinning the most popular tunes during the ride!) and then YOU ABSOLUTELY LOST YOUR MIND WHEN THE RIDE WENT BACKWARDS!!!!! Actually GOING on the beach was not an option on Easter (No one wanted to mess up their new kicks!) but I loved playing the water gun games or a little Skee-Ball (Remember THAT?) to try and win a stuffed animal. We always had to finish the day by stopping by the Eldorado and riding the Bumper Cars. We filled up on Cotton Candy (Yuck! Never a favorite of mine), fresh corn on the cob dripping with butter, Grilled Italian Sausages with onions & peppers, Italian Ices.....and for me...the whole point of my visit was to stop off at Nathan's and get me an order of fried frog's legs to eat on the long train ride home.
Coney Island, even at the peak of it's "seediness"...lol has always been a special treat for me, my family and most of my friends growing up. I know this for a fact because as I was exiting the station to head to the boardwalk....I ran into my mom and dad as they were entering the station to head back home...the beautiful weather brought up the same urgings in them!
We stayed for about 3 hours and hung out on the boardwalk trying to get a lil tan, the weather was a glorious 80 degrees at the shore. My friend and I walked along the boardwalk and then through Astroland Park to head back to the train station. I reminisced about and era that I could just feel coming to a close. I am sure the new Coney Island will be fantastic....probably with more glitz and glamour than Vegas and just as highly priced full of expensive condos & probably a casino or two....but I wonder where that will leave all of the "little people" like myself who enjoy the memories of childhood that a trip to Coney Island stirs up for me. Will the low and middle income folks still be able to come out and enjoy a day at the beach and the amusement park & (which is currently affordable to most...but probably will NOT be after the renovation).
Guess I'll just have to wait and see. I will admit it....I AM excited though!
How are YOU spending your Memorial Day Weekend?
Peace & Blessings Ya'll
"The litmus test of a man's character is praise."