This past Sunday I hopped a subway train to the end of Brooklyn and walked through the history that is Coney Island. As my feet stepped off of the F and onto the platform, I could feel the warmth of the sun and I could see the Wonder Wheel in the distance. As my friends and I walked the streets, I was immediately hit with the aroma of Nathan’s Orginial Hotdog stand and my eyes were immediately drawn to an appropriately named candy store called “It’s Sugar”. This place was a carnie’s dream come true.
I had my reservations about this place, as most people I had talked to about Coney Island seemed to revert back to times when the beach was ridden with used needles and endless trash. Of course, being a New York City enthusiast and a product of the South I was both intrigued by the grittiness, because I loved the 1970’s movies about the “dirty” city, yet I kept a watchful eye on the sand beneath my feet. Beaches back home are just clean and surrene and you usually don’t leave and have to go get a tetanus shot. I’m happy to report that I saw no needles and it was quite lovely to put down a towel, take in the ocean, know that the beating city was only miles away, and have a little feeling of home.
As the day went on, the people watching got better and better. Dogs with sunglasses paraded up and down the boardwalk with their muscle head Italian owners on the other end of the leash. Teenagers decided that the “work-out” bars were a place where they should instead show off their Olympic skills, except I’m not sure any of them would qualify. Many girls made the decision that their bras would work fine as a bikini top and I felt as though I was watching a women’s lib movement in the making. As an avid people watcher, it was overwhelming and awesome. It was like going to Wal-Mart on a Sunday but better and it trumped any county fair I’ve ever been to.
Then came the rides. Well one ride…The Cyclone. The Cyclone, along with the Wonder Wheel, are the only 2 historical rides that are still running at Coney Island today. As we sat on the beach we could hear screams echo from the Cyclone. I thought “It’s a wooden rollercoaster that was made in the 1920’s, how bad can it be?” Now mind you, I’ve ridden a wooden roller coaster, Dollywood’s Tennessee Torando is no joke, so I should have known what was coming. First, I had to take my Rose Du Witt Bukater from Titanic photo in front of the Cyclone. Priorities. Next came the historical part. We bought our tickets and as I was tagging along for the day with my friend and her boyfriend, I took a seat in this wooden, probably not inspected in 19 years, car. I wasn’t scared…and then the damn thing took off. I can honestly say that in 25 years of riding rides, I have never experienced a rougher ride than the Cyclone. I’m pretty sure there are statitcs of Flappers in the 1920’s either dying or having serious head injuries…I did not see a historical landmark sign with this information. As my body flung from one side of the car to the other, I spent my time on this ride trying not to get a concusion, trying to take it in and think to myself “This is History! Enjoy It?” and the other part I spent thinking that this ride must be 10 minutes long. After I gathered myself, we passed the giftshop with $5 commemorative tees…not one of them said “I survived The Cyclone”…so I did not get a tee. Thank God I didn’t eat Nathan’s before I tackled this moment and I decided to save Wonder Wheel for when Lee is with me just because now I’m wary of any ride built before Busch Gardens came to be.
As we piled on to the train at the end of the day, I realized that there’s beauty and terrible in most things and it all comes down to how we want to see things. I enjoyed my time at Coney and next time I won’t look down for the needles so much.