Carpe Diem

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Sometimes you come across a picture that's fairly beautiful, and though I'm tempted to post one of Clemson University, this is actually what I have in mind:


Breathtaking...and, thought provoking, as it turns out. In Atlanta, amusement parks are significant options for entertainment bringing tourists and income to the City. Stone Mountain, Six Flags Over Georgia, and White Water are cultural fixtures not only for the Atlanta area, but for much of the Southeast.

When I was growing up in South Carolina, to go to Atlanta for a day at Six Flags was a big deal. By comparison to the local Greenwood County Fair, The Great American Scream Machine was the pinnacle of thrill rides. Today, it still rumbles along still, even as more dynamically involved rides like Batman and Goliath have marked the passing of the "old coaster" generation.

I'm not sure, though, that the County Fair wasn't more enjoyable than the big city fare. It was local, so more friends would go, and as it came annually, it was a fairly big deal. You had to go for the week or so while it was in town. Added to that the anticipation created when the school bus passed the fairgrounds as the rides were assembled, and it was a major event.

And not just for the kids. My mom carried a winning tradition in the annual judging of this and that, regularly bringing home first or second place ribbons for things sewn or cooked. There was a lot of family pride in the station wagon when these were picked up at the end of the week.

The Fair was best at night. With the sounds of the rides ratcheting and rolling, squeals throughout bottlethe park, and the pitch of Carnies trying to get your attention, it was a happening place. Shooting water guns to fill balloons, throwing rings around stretched neck cola bottles, and tossing ping pong balls into gold fish bowls, and one had a memorable time.


Add to that the smell of popcorn, hotdogs, corndogs, burgers, fried fritters and other foods on a stick, as well as the visual stimulation of the flashing bulbs and neon lights, this was a burst of energy for a small town.

The Fair didn't have "major" rides, but it had enough. There was always the large Ferris wheel, the Tilt-a-Whirl, and smaller rides or attractions to round things out. The relativeferris safety of these was not a pertinent question for a pre-teen, though it was for the parents. Memorably, the Double-Ferris wheel, parentally labeled as "maybe when you're older," was officially off limits. Or, when free to run off with your buddies... seize the day.

Well, sure, that's the memories. It wasn't the best thing ever, but it was a very good thing. Fairs were built to come and go; amusement parks, though, are expected to stay. So, it's a surprise then, when something iconic is no longer.

Following are the remaining pictures from the Japanese amusement park. On the simplest level, it can be processed as a business failure. But observing this particular form of loss in terms of today's economy, it's disconcerting. Perhaps it's the recurring movie theme of the future gone awry (Planet of the Apes, The Day After, Wall-E). Maybe it's growing older and experiencing a more personal and tangible sense of change than that preoccupying our public discourse. And, maybe it's that dreaded entropy again.

japan1 japan2


japan5 japan7


I wonder how the adults who once enjoyed this park reflect on these images. Memories matter. We shouldn't live within them, but they can remind us to live meaningfully, today.

1 comment :

  1. These pictures are beautiful, as are your memories. Abandoned amusement parks fascinate me and your post brought back my own county fair days. I used to have a few of those stretched neck bottles. Though I usually chose feathered roach clips for prizes (I thought they were hair clips).