The long drive to Nantasket from where we lived in Wilmington always seemed to take forever. Maybe because we couldn't wait to get there, or because my Dad hated that drive, he hated it both ways. Down and back. Going home was always a dreadful ride. We always had to sit through traffic and it was uncomfortable. After all, this was the seventies and air conditioning in the family car was not a luxury that most families could afford. Sitting in the traffic to go into the tunnel was never pleasant. Especially after spending the entire month of August at the beach every day. The sunburn factor was intense.

  Anyway, I left off earlier saying that we always anticipated that final approach to Nantasket and were always looking to make sure that old COMET roller coaster was still standing.
Another one of my favorite sights was that of the old MAYFLOWER. The Mayflower was an old wooden passenger boat. No, not the famous Pilgrim carrying vessel, this one was one used to carry passengers from Boston to Nantasket and  had long since been retired and was now used as a nightclub. It sat on land just to the left as you entered Hull. It was still an old wooden ship and looked very much like an old steamship. Seeing that as well as seeing the Comet with a fresh coat of paint signaled to me the beginning of another great summer.

  As we continue our approach to the King of France cottage we have to drive directly past Paragon Park on the right, and we always tried to see if we could see any new rides peeking over the tops of the old penny arcade buildings. The giant slide was there on the right, still standing under the clock tower. That was good.
On the left we drove past Jake's. A restaurant. I mentioned earlier that the onion rings from Carl's stand were a treat, well, the onion rings at Jake's were even better!

  Coming up we would go past Anastos' corner, turn left past Crusher Casey's liquor store. ( yes WRESTLING fans, Crusher Casey.) Then the final climb up that hill, Eastern Ave. Dad would whince and hope the old peanut butter car would make it up that hill..
We made the turn onto Hillside road and we all breathed a sigh. The car made it. Now Dad had the task of gently negotiating Hillside Road.
Hillside road was very narrow and always lined on both sides with cars. Parking was a challenge. The cars were always literally parked bumper to bumper. Dad would slowly let that old caddy crawl down the road. He'd be on the lookout for a parking spot, being careful not to encroach the "reserved space" of the EL DORADO and also to make sure he never, ever parked in front of old lady Gallagher's house.
The El Dorado was almost always there, on the rare occasion that it wasn't, in its place would be trash barrels. No one could park where the El Dorado was going to be.

My Grandmother never seemed to like old lady Gallagher. I'm not sure why. I can however, remember clearly, Nana saying " that damned Gallagher this" or " that old lady Gallagher that".

After dad pulled off the greatest parallel parking job ever, we all jumped out. Tired from the ride, yet energized to be there.

Often we were greeted on the front steps by my Aunt Peggy and Nana's toy poodle Pepe'
A wise crack greeting to my old man from Aunt Peggy and we were ready for the summer!

  Mandatory was the walk through.
I had to check out the old cottage.
Living room, ok. Yes! Nana brought the TV!!
The dining room was still the same, mis matched chairs and two old tables butted together covered by those awful vinyl tablecloths. Somehow, I always, always had the seat where the two tables met. Not only did I have to contend with the different heights of the tables but the legs of two tables as well.
The kitchen was ok too. The old hot water heater sat quietly in the corner.
Every overhead light in the cottage had a pull string, the kitchen still had that plastic mouse head attached. Most of its color long faded away from years of wear.
The stairway in the corner was always dark and kind of eerie. On the wall next to the stairs was a knick knack shelf shaped like stairs on a moon and a wooden star with a small shelf made up the set, there was nothing on it except a cardboard sign. One side read SMILE the other side it said SNARL.
Upstairs was the same. Our bedroom, the middle one, was still half finished. The ceiling wasn't complete and I spent many summer nights staring up and worrying that the silver foil backed insulation would come falling down on me in the middle of the night.
The two side bedrooms were OK too. These two were even less finished. Each had two full beds in them along with the extra mattresses for the additional guests. The mattresses were tucked up under the roof where it met the floor and who ever got to sleep on those got to look directly at the business ends of the roofing nails. The furniture in that old place is probably worth a fortune now, it was old then and that was some thirty years ago,
The chimney still had room on it to continue the "family tree" but on this day, there were no new names added.
Back downstairs and out to the back porch. The deck ran the entire length of the house.
Us kids loved it out there. We spent a lot of time out there, again probably to keep us out of the way. But we loved it anyway. The King of France cottage sat up on a hill as I mentioned, and we had the perfect view of the bay and beyond that, Paragon Park.
We sat out there for hours watching the boats come in and out. We waited to see which boat was coming in from Boston, the Nantascot, or the New Boston.
We would wait to see the lights come on at the amusement park and would stay quiet (although my aunts and Mom would probably disagree) to hear the music from the rides at the park. On a really quiet night, you could hear the clatter of the roller coaster chain pulling that old Comet up the first hill or the music coming from the Matterhorn.

  If we got to Nantasket early enough in the day, we would go directly to the beach. Walking down to the beach and carrying what seemed like forty pounds of toys, towels and beach chairs. (Well, actually I was probably only carrying a plastic pail and shovel while my Dad and brother Rick carried the chairs).
Nana would be sitting in her chair soaking up the sun. Either that or she would be out in the water floating on her back.( Anyone remember the scene in Jaws where the old lady is floating in the water wearing the white bathing cap? Well, that was exactly what Nana did. I even had heard once that nana was the one that they were thinking of using for that very scene.)
Once at the beach, get ready to run and jump right in. well, only if the tide was out. When the tide is in at Nantasket, THE TIDE IS IN, and there's not much room to move about.
Ok, so if the tide was out we'd run all the way down to the water. Some of us would jump right in. I can remember my cousin John talking all about how he was just going to jump right in only to get there an come to a halt once his toes hit the icy Atlantic.

We had several blankets spread out over that beach, five or six beach chairs, two umbrellas and many, many kids.
There was me, my brother Rick, sister Carol, my cousins John, and Theresa  and later Christopher, my cousin Paul and all of my Uncle Tommy's kids, Tommy, Christine, Kathy then Steven and Debbie.
Oh man, if Uncle Billy showed up he brought another six kids and uncle Jimmy would bring four more. My uncle Bobby was there too, and often so was Uncle Gerry.
Twenty two kids!!! The people around us must have thought they had just come across a band of sun worshipers.
All of us kids were young, most under twelve. What a time we had.

If we didn't bring lunch to the beach, which was very rare because there were so many of us, we would grab something to eat from Carl's or the Surfside restaurant ( now the RED PARROT )

Now you have to picture the task of rounding up these kids after spending most of the day baking in the sun and playing in the sand. Getting them all ready for the walk back up to the cottage
had to be quite a job, none of us  were ever quite ready to abandon our sand castles.

The walk back.
Uggghhhh! I hated the walk back. I don't know how many times I stubbed my toes dragging myself up that hill. Not to mention the forty pounds of toys, towels and chairs. Plus the added two pounds of beach sand embedded in my swimsuit!!
We got to the cottage. Kids had to ( you guessed it ) stay out of the way. We sat on the front porch. We couldn't go into the cottage. " You'll drag half the beach in with you" as Nana would say.
"Wait on the front steps. And don't go into the street! The Eldorado is due to come down that road!"

Bath time before dinner. I had to share the tub with my cousins John and Theresa. Enough said.

Dinner was  always fun, with lots of laughing and talking about the days events, Nana in her chair in the kitchen yelling out " that Damned Gallagher!!!"  Or yelling at Aunt Peggy for something she had done two nights before.

After dinner it was quiet time. And yes, back out to the porch to " stay out of the way".

  Dinner time at the old King of France was always fun as I said, we ate and talked and laughed. How my grandmother and mom and aunts were able to cook and serve us all without going bananas I'll never know. On any given night there could have been up to ten , fifteen or more people in that little house, mostly kids who all had their own different tastes and favorite meals. Occasionally after a good day of fishing on Bill's boat, we ate like kings, steamed clams, lobster and fresh caught flounder. That was really good.
  After dinner it was quiet time. Most of that time consisted of sitting out on the back porch watching the boats and waiting for the lights at Paragon to come on. We'd wait for that last blast from the New Boston, the final signal to anyone left on shore that their short bay cruise back to Boston was about to leave.
Many nights were spent playing POKENO with Nana, who always seemed to have a never ending supply of pennies. I can remember always having to save some room in my suitcase for the two Dixie cups full of pennies.
  We did have a television at the cottage but rarely watched it. Again, this was the late sixties and seventies, not much television to choose from anyway. For any younger readers, there was NO CABLE TELEVISION. You had a choice of THREE major network stations and possibly two smaller stations on what was known as UHF. ( today, WSBK38 & CW56 ) To view the UHF stations you pretty much needed an absolutley clear night, and quite possibly someone may or may not have had to spend most of the night adjusting the "rabbit ears" on the television to get a clear picture. 
  The nights were always quiet, especially since there was no telephone. Mom and my aunts always had to go down to Anastos' corner to use the pay phone to call home. Laundry was another trip down the hill. My aunts and mom would load up the wire wagon filled with laundry and spend several hours washing. Beach towels simply got hung each day on the railing on the back porch. Funny too, you could always tell which cottage was full of kids by how many towels hung from the rails. Sometimes we played out in front of the cottage in the street. But we were always warned to "watch out for the Eldorado". Us kids knew when to look out for cars, it was really only Mr. Marston that we were worried about. Mr. Marston owned the Marston Inn, it stood two doors down from the King of France. Nothing fancy, just a big old square beach house with more windows than anyone could ever need. Mr. Marston ddn't like it when we played in the street, he may have not liked it when our ball would go onto his well kept sea grass lawn ( sarcasm ) or when we drew in the street with chalk, he may have thought it might deter the many, many ( again sarcasm ) guests at the inn. We weren't worried about that, what really scared us about Marston was that he ONLY HAD ONE HAND! Hey, we were eight or ten years old!
Other summer nights included a five minute walk to the edges of Paragon for ice cream. Or if we were lucky enough, we'd get to play skee ball. Skee ball was great for us since there were usually several kids and it was fairly cheap to do. Ten cents for nine balls. In fact, skee ball was the only amusement park game we were ever really allowed to play. We were warned early of the trickery and deceit of the regular amusement games. The skee ball machines were so cool. The originals had flip over scorekeeping, unlike the digital scoring today. And the playing ramps were so much longer. The wooden balls were so smooth as if they had been sanded and polished every day just for us.  We were happy to play skee ball because we could actually win something, in the form of tickets, and we knew that if we played skee ball all summer and saved our tickets, at the end we could cash them in. All of us had the visions of Dad having to figure out a way to strap that shiny new three speed bike to the roof of the car for the ride home. The reality was, we were going home with nothing more than some plastic party favors and a Chinese finger trap. Playland was a true penny arcade, from the nickelodeons to the fortune teller machines. The rows and rows of pinball games and the occasional air hockey table. What, no video games you say? Oh hell, they weren't invented yet!  Pinball was as high tech as it got. But.. for a quarter you got five balls and a replay. We did get to go into Paragon Park and ride the rides, but I'll have more on that later.

  Bill Warwick was as close to being a grandfather as anyone could ever be. I never knew my real grandfather ( my Mom's father ) but all of us kids knew Bill. Bill was my grandmother's most constant companion. They lived together in the projects in Boston and shared the cottage all summer long. Bill drove the car, Nana kept the house. They were the first adults I ever knew who weren't married and lived together. They definitely acted as if they had been married and I'm sure that deep down they loved each other very much. Bill would often take us out on his boat, fishing or just cruising the bay. In fact it was Bill who first showed me how to bait a hook. He used to gross us out by pretending to bite the sea worm in half before he'd put it on the hook. He actually just snapped it in half very close to his mouth. We would spend all day on Bill's boat. Bill let us drive the boat many times and was sure to teach us all, that you need to steer the boat bow first into the wake of  the passing 200 passenger bay cruisers so that the 16 foot wooden cabin cruiser we were in didn't capsize and toss us all into the bay. Bill spent a lot of time down at the Nantasket Beach Salt Water Club, tending to his boat and doing whatever it was that they did.  Some nights, after a good day of fishing we'd all have the best dinners, Bill would bring home fresh flounder, lobster and steamers. Someone would have to run down to Anastos' store to actually borrow a steamer pot! The steamers were usually store bought, but hey, you can't have it all. Bill would walk Nana's dog Pepe' and he was always proud to show us kids whatever new trick he had taught the dog. Bill was also a great story teller and could squeeze your knee hard enough to tickle and make you giggle and your eyes tears up just a bit. I will always remember Bill Warwick.

The lifeguard chairs at Nantasket beach always seemed to change heights every year, or maybe it was the sand that changed. I'm not sure. Either way, my cousin John always had fun with the lifeguard chairs. After the guards went off duty and because we were still at the beach long past five o'clock, John  would go into his " I'm Superman" routine. He'd wrap his oversized beach towel around his neck using it as a cape, climb that chair and attempt to fly.( OK, maybe I tried it too once or twice but it's funnier if it was just John.) I can't remember how many times  I heard my aunt and Nana screaming at him and telling him he'll break his neck doing that.  Ironic that they would be telling him how dangerous what he was doing was, yet my aunt and my mom sat there and smoked like a chimney, and nana spent anywhere from eight to ten hours a day all summer long baking in the sun with only a dab of coppertone on her nose. We had fun, bottom line.

  Low tide at the beach brought out the real daytime fun. Four square was the usual game of choice. My dad and brother played a lot of that. We dug in the sand, made sandcastles and decorated them with seagull feathers and shells. We'd dig deep into the sand,for so long our fingernails would be worn down. I can still feel the sun bearing down on my back and those many sleepless nights due to the tremendous burn. I still have the permanent tan lines to this day. Frisbee, whiffle ball and kite flying kept us all busy and unknown to us, it also got us all so worn out that we'd easily go to sleep at night. I remember one day of kite flying when we put about ten rolls of string together, by the time we got that kite all the way up, it was time to pull it back in. Sand boats were also a big thing. We would dig out a full sized row boat in the sand, and all of us kids would sit in it and play for hours. Nana never wanted to leave the beach and digging out a full scale rowboat in the sand was a great way to kill the time and keep us all in one place.
I must have walked that three and a half mile beach a thousand times if not more. I still do too. I try to make at least one trip each summer and always walk that beach.
There is a lighthouse off to the right side of Nantasket beach, it blinks in a sequence of one, four, three. Nana told me that it meant I LOVE YOU.   It's MINOT'S LIGHT and was shut down for several years, it now shines bright again  and blinks 1-4-3.
Walking to the penny candy store was another of the best things to do. Imagine, candy for a penny. The penny candy store was a tiny little store, actually kid sized. It was painted orange and the front actually looked like a face.. The door was really small, again, kid sized. Once you were inside it was a kids dream. For a dollar you actually got one hundred pieces of candy. We would fill sand pails full to the top and we had enough candy to make sure we'd be seeing a dentist a few times a year for life!

I'll back up a little here and give you the full walk from the "King of France" cottage  (and later the Porazzo Road cottage), all the way down to Paragon.

Generally after another regular day at the beach, we would be treated to our weekly trip to Paragon Park. We all looked forward to this, myself and all my cousins as well as the grown ups. The grown ups just loved to people watch. My Mom and my Aunts always got a kick out seeing who was wearing what and who walked funny, who was there with their wife or with their girlfriend while the wife was at home.

Us kids just wanted to go on the rides. We'd get all cleaned up, had our dinner and then waited anxiously on the front porch. A quick game of four square in the street, then once my Mom and Aunts finally got their hair just right, it was time to go.

Walking from Hillside Rd, we headed east to Eastern Ave and down the hill. The whole time talking about which rides we were going to go on and in what order. My job was to convince my cousin John that it was safe to go into the Kooky Kastle alone, or to go on whatever  ride was a little wilder than the tea cups. John was never real big on the real thrill rides.
Apparently, the " I'm Superman" theory only applied when he had his beach towel wrapped around his neck.

Eastern Ave gave us a pretty decent view of the park. Looking off to the left we could see the beach and sometimes kind of wished we were still there building castles in the sand. Once at the bottom of Eastern Ave. we turned left onto Bay St.

The grassy area near Leonard Real Estate that had been filled with cars parking for the beach was now empty, giving us full view of the boats  that were returning to the dock after a full day out on the ocean and we watched as they pulled in.

We're walking past the old Theater building and now we're at the corner in front of Anastos' store, the sidewalk is sticky with melted gum and candy. Checking all the coin returns in the Coke machines was a must, you never knew when you'd score a nickel or better yet, a quarter, or even better a free Coke! ( this happened to me quite often, I would almost regularly hit on free soda ).

Crossing the street and passing alongside CASEY'S and THE SANDS, we'd hear the bar music and peek in the windows. Awfully dark in those bars, but they were always full.

As we walk down the boulevard passing the old bath house on the left.  It was open for a short time in the early years, closed down in the later years and I'm pleased to say that today in 2002 it is fully restored and is now once again open with all access, showers and facilities.
The MDC beach and highway department building is on the right, a red brick building which housed the trucks that swept the beach in the early morning hours. A little beyond that and we are approaching the TOTEM POLE.

The totem pole was a sign that we were just about there. At the top of the old wooden pole was a fish with tusk like teeth. We would dare each other to run up to the pole and touch it. Nana used to tell us that late at night, that fish would jump off the pole and swim in the ocean until dawn, then return to the pole during the day. Now you know damn well that we always checked to see if that fish was sitting on the top of the pole as we walked by on our way home from the park and the next day had to check to see if it was up there where it belonged!

The MDC police station was next on the right, and we could see the crowded sidewalk ahead. We'd cross the street and approach the first building. An old snack bar. the one with the clock tower. It closed down a few years before Paragon did, it stood empty and dark for a long time. Behind it was the Giant Slide, the kind you had to sit on old burlap bags to ride down on. We only rode that slide a few times, it wasn't in the park and nowhere as fun as it looked. I think its sheer size was it's most intimidating feature. The long walk up the stairs wasn't any fun either and that last bump you took at the end was no fun at all.

The final approach brought us to where there were once a few rides, later demolished to make room for an empty lot. Then during the early part of the 1980's a yellow water slide stood there, ( currently, in 2003, a miniature golf course stands there.)

The next building housed JOE NEMOS snack bar, FASCINATION and the first of the three big Penny Arcades. Sam the Tankard Man had a stand there too and then another arcade simply called PENNY ARCADE.

KOHR BROS ice cream was next, that was always a favorite stop.

We always got our cones at Kohr Bros. Most everyone else got soft serve. I hated soft serve ice cream and the Styrofoam like cup cones they had, I always held out for a sugar cone and hard ice cream.

A few more snack bars and next were the game booths

Whack the Cats and Shooting waters.Around the corner on the right, shoot the hoops. The basketball game where you try to put an oversized basketball into an undersized hoop!

Walk right past those because in about ten feet, we would be going through the gates and looking directly at the big hill of the COMET coaster.

The smell of French fries and cotton candy filled the air, if we walked straight ahead, we would have walked right into the BEEP BEEP CARS.

On the left side of the entrance was another food stand which is where the smell of cotton candy came from.

I almost forgot, somewhere between Fascination and the entrance to the park was the candy shop where we would watch as the machine twisted and turned the NANTASKET BEACH SALT WATER TAFFY.

( to this day, NO other saltwater taffy tastes as good as the stuff we got there).

We generally had a set pattern to tour the park, we'd almost always start at the left.

Behind the cotton candy stand was PLAYLAND.

Playland was Nana's favorite arcade, it had the best skeeball games and the best "prizes". The wooden floor of playland was so smooth and worn, from years and years of people walking in from the beach with sand on their feet, the finish was dull and flat with most of the finish worn away, I'm sure in its early years it must have been something to see. The arcade was always full of people trying their best at pinball and all of the electric games.

We moved on, just past Playland was a spot which housed for many years a GIANT ROUNDUP. In this spot the rides seemed to change every few years but I remember the Round Up the most. This space also housed for many years the HIMMALAYA, (several different rides rotated in this spot, all similar types, there was once a SWISS BOBS. as well as a MATTERHORN, each were a major music source for the park playing songs so loud we could hear it all the way back at the cottage.) And I'll always remember the guy in the booth asking " DO YOU WANT TO GO ....FASTER?!

Just a little before that and on the right almost in the center of the park was first the TILT O WHIRL, and occupying the neighboring space, a YO-YO
(one year there was a ride there called THE LOVE BUG, a small carnival type dark ride.)

Along the left side, bordering the park and the street, stood the great orange steel frame of the GALAXY coaster. This one we could ride. ( Nana never wanted us to go on the big coaster ) Nowhere near as big and thrilling as the Comet coaster, the Galaxy was a bit tamer in most senses although it did have its twists and turns and the two little dip hills. A very popular ride, always had long lines.

A few more steps past that and on the right was the CAROUSEL. Music was everywhere. We loved the carousel. I believe it is a 1928 Philadelphia Toboggan company version. ( it is the PTC # 85 ) The horses were beautiful, the carousel is one of the few I have ever seen that has a ceiling with painted images.

( Thankfully, that carousel still stands today,a little farther down the street from its original home, but its still running and enjoyed by many people today.)

Next was the KIDDIE COASTER also named the Comet, it was a favorite of ours for many years. The HELICOPTER  and the TEACUP rides were next and now we're at a corner of the park.

On the left corner was the ride that haunted me for years. THE SCOOTERS-or as most people know them, the DODGEM' CARS.  I say this ride haunted me because it had a height requirement which I could never seem to meet. It made me furious that almost every one else got to go while I watched through the steel mesh fence. Every year I tried and just couldn't make it. I finally gave up because it was just so disappointing to me. I always watched though, as it was a big part of the night because the whole gang always, always wanted to see my Dad go on and get creamed by every one!

A growth spurt finally set in for me and after almost ten years of trying I finally  could ride the Scooter. For some strange reason though, it didn't seem to meet up to the expectation I had for it. I guess I never really liked that ride after all. Across from the Scooter was the kiddie HELICOPTERS, cool ride if you're five, after that its a little lame.

The KOOKY KASTLE was next, we all went on that one, in the front of the castle, Frankenstein chased a girl around and around, the mechanical screams coming from the inside and the smell of the artificial smoke loomed in the air.

The ROARING TWENTIES arcade and dance bar were next in line, we skipped that one entirely to get around the third corner.- Straight ahead was a few more games and snack bars. Buried in the corner and sprawling out and under the last hill of the Comet coaster was the miniature golf course. You could stand around at about the fourteenth hole and hold on to the wooden supports as the comet raced by overhead. The wooden posts shook and rattled as the comet passed.

The CATARPILLAR ride that sat on the inside corner always was a favorite, the rattle and the spinning up and around the little hills was fun, and then the cover would come over you and you rode around and around for what seemed like an hour in the dark.

Opposite the Roaring Twenties and just before the Caterpillar, that little piece of real estate in the park seemed to always change too. One year a ride called the TIP TOP occupied the space, later and until the close of the park a SIZZLER stood there.

Behind these two rides and safely tucked away from the traffic of the midway there was a KIDDIE LAND, smaller rides for the little ones and a few places to sit.

When I was really young, there was a ride there called the PADDLE WAGONS- You sat on a little car almost like a tricycle and pumped the handles as you scooted up and around a little track.

I have very strong memories of this ride- I know somewhere, someone from my family had the old 8mm home movies of this, I'd love to see them today. (edit 2008- there is a photo of this ride in our Paragon Pictures page )

An OCTOPUS once took up residence in the next spot eventually giving way to the PARATROOPERS.

There was also a ski lift type ride known as , of course, the SKY RIDE. Stand on the little foot outlines and sit down as you were lifted way up and over the park for a birds eye view. Looking down you could see several shoes, hats and various other objects that fell away from their owners and landed on the rooftops of the rides and snack bars.

The MAN WHO GUESSES YOUR WEIGHT was next. My cousin Theresa once spit from the SkyRide and it is believed to have hit the bulls eye, or the weight guesser's head, I think Terry made a point to walk completely around the park to not have to go near that guy for the next two years.

A trash receptacle in the form of a giant pig was nearby too,  when you put your trash in his mouth, muffled garbled pig noises could be heard causing a chuckle from the little ones.

The MAGIC MINE TRAIN was next on the left, an old steam locomotive. Not a miniature, a full sized train with two or three cars. I think the same guy ran that train for years. It would take you into a long dark tunnel filled with "scary" scenes and out the other side, to the outside borders of the park. Alongside the tall white wooden frame of the giant coaster and around again. It went past the "old west" scenery to return you to the black tunnel. The bell clanging all the way.

Alongside that track was another ride that would haunt me and one that I never ever got to ride. The TURNPIKE CARS. My brother Rick rode it frequently. Miniature cars that rode along a center track down a tiny little street, complete with street lights that stood for many years after the park closed down. The roadway is still there today and the garage that housed the cars is still in use as a storage barn. That ride closed down with the invention of a better more efficient miniature engine and a new ride appeared across from the Mine Train called the INDY 500.

Nothing more than mini go cart that rode around a small oval track. The set up was impressive though, a fully covered race track complete with lights, a starting line and a track crew. This ride would become the source of a lot of fun for all of us. Until we actually became too big to fit into the cars. The Indy 500 also became Paragon's pop music source after the Hammalaya was gone.

After the Train and the Indy we approach the hill that takes the log boats of the BERMUDA TRIANGLE ( or Congo Cruise)  up just before the final splashdown.

I mentioned earlier that the Bermuda triangle was one of the first Tunnel Of Love rides, nothing more than a long slow cruise in a leaky boat through spider filled concrete block tunnels lined with more "scary" scenes. The Triangle was fun and if you were a teenager out and about with a date, it was the ride to ride.

The Triangle let you float through the old tunnels and finally out to where your leaky old log boat that was now half full of dirty salt water was lifted up a hill and when at the top you saw the guy sitting there with his foot on the wooden brake lever which tips your boat to one side you knew your ride was almost over.

The toothless bearded guy would always smile and in a sneaky creepy way eyeball your girlfriend,  and he'd say, "hope you had fun" and release your boat to fall some twenty five feet down that hill to splash into the water that was waiting at the bottom.
We'd get out of those old log boats, work our way down the walkway and around to the next stop.

We have now come almost a full circle around PARAGON PARK, just before we got to the Triangle we had to pass the vomit maker, the TRABANT. the ride that looks like a roulette wheel and has a nasty reputation for literally turning your stomach.

We ate tons of junk food along the way, maybe a greasy burger a caramel apple, popcorn and some soda. We stopped only a few times to catch our breath or to wait while someone else was on a ride. We had tons of fun and NEVER EVER wanted to leave. ( My mom would tell the story this way:  "Those kids never left that park without crying." )

As we come around the final corner of Paragon park there is but one more ride that has yet to be challenged.

Standing there looking down at us, almost daring us to try it, stood a monster. Looking like the skeleton of a huge dragon or dinosaur  a full 94 feet high and towering over everything there, stretching out  along one full side of the park from one end to the other. From the ground below, and when your a kid, it looked like it went up and up forever. The lights flashing at the top, the noise coming from its huge chain, all of the happy people lining up to go again and again.

It was the huge GIANT COASTER.

After so many  years of wanting to ride,we finally could do it. ( this was after my 8th grade field trip to Busch Gardens in Virginia and I had experienced the Loch  Ness Monster for my very first real roller coaster ride)

Waiting in that loading station there were butterflies in my stomach. I couldn't believe it was going to happen.

Getting into the seat and locking the lap bar,  waiting as the operator released the brake and letting the cars slowly roll out and down away from the station. Wave at everyone as you go by, you never know, by the time this one is over, you might not feel so good.

Around the corner  to the left and behind the station,  approaching the lift hill. Feeling the train as it chugs along the wooden track and finally hooks up with the lift chain. Clank clank clank, click click click. Slowly  the COMET climbs up the 94 foot hill. Looking back over your right shoulder you can see Boston way off in the distance. On a good clear July fourth, you could even see the fireworks display over Boston. Click click click, clang clang clang. Closer to the top. Get ready. One last quick look at all the neon and lights that make Paragon Park shine at night, a stray balloon floating in the air, the moon reflecting off the Atlantic Ocean off to the left.

The apex. 94 FEET IN THE AIR and almost  straight down and slightly to the right. WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your breath is taken from you for a brief minute. If you're a first time rider, you're thinking, what have I done? The downward descent lifts you slightly off your seat.

Down the hill, at the bottom, there is no time to catch your breath, you are pushed into the seat and then up again immediately into the second hill. Air time from the smallest bunny hill, down again, a little breather as you shoot up to the corner. A quick calm then around to the right and a slight dip and down again, up, down, quick lift, airtime up, and down, up and  weaving into the base of the big hill, the squeal of steel and wood , the sound of a whole lot of happy riders, and we're back in the loading house.

We made it.

For me and my family, PARAGON PARK meant alot. It was the best time of my life.

The fun, the food, even the crying all the way to the cottage. (or at least until I got my chocolate chip ice cream on a sugar cone from Kohr Bro's).

“Win one for the girl!” can be heard throughout the park. Kids are laughing, some are crying. Junior high school girls are running up to each other giggling and telling of how the cute guy just held their hand on the roller coaster. That same boy is huddled with his friends, making the story sound even better than it really was. There is a father trying to make the bell ring on the sledgehammer game, his young children looking on in amazement, while his wife seems just a little bit embarrassed. Maintenance crews walk slowly through the maze of steel, wooden fences and concrete sweeping up the fallen cones, candy wrappers and assorted clutter. Someone just ran by holding a giant pink teddy bear, probably just won after spending  their entire allowance.
The lights flicker on as the sun goes down over our shoulders, in the background there is music playing from various rides. A line has formed almost all the way down to the bottom of the ramp, as people young and old wait to get on the giant coaster. Some will be riding for the first time, others have done it so many times before.
There is beach sand swiftly blowing across the ground as the wind sweeps through the park, mixing the smells of popcorn, cotton candy and the sea together.
Through the gates there are families and friends strolling in, some children running right up to the little cars that go beep beep as they roll in the circles covered by a bright yellow, red and green canopy. Coming through the tunnel under the roller coaster, more people stroll in from the other parking lot. Children are wild eyed and so happy to be there. Some kids don’t know which way to turn, everything seems so big and bright, the clanging of a locomotives bell coming from somewhere, maybe a whistle too. Bells are ringing all over as the gamers are playing  shoot the waters, or  steeplechase racing. All around you people are just having fun, escaping from life even if its just for a few hours.

Seagulls hover in the air, hoping to spot some little bit of food that was left behind, they wait patiently as you finish your hot dog or burger, watching you and moving in closer, waiting for that piece of bun to drop to the ground.
Out in the street there are cars lining up, dropping people off at the gates, only to move on to find a parking spot a little down the road. Other cars are pulling up to take on passengers, often a mother carrying a fast asleep child, or trying to figure out how to fit the stroller plus the stuffed bear into the car.
The sidewalks are crowded with fun seekers, playing games, ordering a cone, or just watching the salt water taffy machine spinning and stretching that gooey candy.
The penny arcade is humming and the sounds of coins  being dropped into the slots come from every direction.
Skee ball machines light up when someone hit’s the 180 mark, earning a few tickets.
The doors to Fascination are still closed, keeping that precious air conditioning inside on this hot summer night..
Up and down the boulevard there are people everywhere, traffic stopping as people cross to the beach, the policemen guiding some across when it looks like they may be a little slower than the crossing signal.
On the beachside, couples are walking arm in arm. Other families still on the beach. There are a few kites flying high in the sky, and a few old timers walking down the beach with their metal detectors. Off on the horizon a white sail slowly crawls across your view and the lighthouse blinks to let you know its still there.
Waves come crashing in as the tide works its way back to the wall, swallowing the days sandcastles and washing away the footprints of all who were there.
A few surfers might be trying to catch a wave before the sky is totally dark.
The parking lot that was so full earlier in the day, now shows open spaces. Every big green steel trash barrel is overloaded, several may have abandoned coolers or beach chairs leaning on them. Again, the gulls and pigeons are looking everything over, almost as if it was them who organized the cleanup of the beach.
Walking north along the beach, the amusement park is in the background over my left shoulder, I hear its sounds, and the sounds of laughter and fun. Turning my head I can just see the top of the coaster and just in time to see that wooden coaster train crawl over the top, and then disappearing down the hill.

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