It’s hard not to be nostalgic for the summers of your childhood.
That endless summer feeling that June brings children, I just can’t capture as an adult. I’m a teacher, so you would think I would, but there’s just so much to do that we teachers put off until summer. And there’s plenty of freelance writing to be done, building up my coffers for a comic-con.
Tim, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have that problem. The routine of school fades almost instantly, and the lazy long weekend of summer vacation seems endless.
And it reminds me of my old summers. I used to mow lawns when I was a kid, but I didn’t mow too many, so I had a lot of time on my hands back then. I wandered for miles in the woods behind my parents’ house. I rode my bike all over Big Soldier, which really didn’t take that long. I sometimes meet up with friends, but I usually just tried to avoid my siblings. I was an asthmatic, boring child, so I often found a tree to climb and read a paperback novel for hours. I didn’t get into summer shenanigans that people wishfully tell me about. By the time I turned 16, I was working much of my summer away. My younger brother still got to enjoy those carefree summers for years after I started working, and I do remember envying him.
One of the clearest memories of summer that I wax nostalgic for was the summertime tradition of going to Bland’s Park.
Some of you young whippersnappers might know it as DelGrosso’s now.
(I just learned that “whippersnappers” is one word.)
Anyway, back in my day, it was Bland’s Park. It was one of the least expensive, smaller amusement parks out there, and a family of five or, when I was older, a kid working the sports beat at a small newspaper, could afford to spend a day riding rides and eating funnel cake.
Oh, the funnel cake! That had a gigantic presence in my memory of summer. No other funnel cake came close to Bland’s Park Funnel Cake. I’m sure they never wash the equipment or something to trap that much flavor, but I didn’t care.
When I moved back here, for some reason, I never went to DelGrosso’s. Summers wheeled by, and people talked about DelGrossoing – yes, my friends verbed it – but I never went. Finally, this year, I returned to DelGrosso’s for the first time in what might be close to 20 years. And it is one of those weird, fixed points in space and time that changes while staying the same.
The bumper cars? Tilt-a-Whirl? Scrambler? Crazy Mouse? All exactly the same. Just as I remember them.
Well, all except for the Scrambler. Somehow, it shrunk. I wasn’t quite able to get the bar to fit past my stomach. I assume they ran it through a dryer a few times.
Tim loved the bumper cars. I think we did that the most, like I did when I was a kid. Watching his face, I remembered how fast those cars seemed to go back when I was his age. Now, they’re pretty slow. He’s also braver than I am. He did Pharoah’s Fury twice. I barely managed to do it once! We did the Crazy Mouse – his first pseudo-roller-coaster – and, when it was over, he led us right back to the line to do it again.
While much of the main park has stayed the same, the biggest difference was the water park.
First, let me say that I’m not sure that lazy river likes me. I managed to flip out of the innertube three times! Tim never had a problem, and he made us do the lazy river a bunch of times. Then, we hit the wave pool.
Have you done the wave pool?
That thing is far more fun – and exhausting – than I expected. After a while, Tim swam back, got a life jacket, had me tighten it, and we went back into the waves. He can swim, so I asked if he felt unsafe in the waves.
“No,” he said. “It takes less energy when the life jacket keeps you floating.”
I considered going to get a life jacket, but I was afraid they’d have a Scrambler problem.
I spent a day that felt like one of those endless summer days as a kid. Tim lists it as his favorite part of this summer. I think it might end up being another summertime tradition.
And that funnel cake? Still superior to all other funnel cakes. And I’m an expert, which is probably why I can’t fit in the Scrambler.
Andrew Bundy is a husband, father, teacher, writer, and nerd. You can reach him at email@example.com.