Category Archives: The Cyclone

Summers with Daddy — Carnival Rides

Robbie & Me

One of our last, if not our last summer, with our dad (James Lawless).  I’m not sure where this rickety old ride is but I think maybe the Minnesota State Fair.  You can still find these old warhorses at county fair grounds and little mom-and-pop amusement parks all over the country.  They may not have the scientifically engineered spills and thrills of the giant rollercoasters at Six Flags or Cedar Point or Disney World but, like Coney Island’s famous Cyclone, they have their own special kind of terror: they may fall apart at any minute!  The old herky-jerky movements, loose nuts and bolts and shakey scaffolding seem to have been a part of rides like these since they were new.  There even used to be tiny ones driven around on flatbed trucks that would come to neighborhoods like an ice cream truck bringing little thrills for a quarter.  Our Mother (Georgann Rea) took us to Disneyland once on a trip to Beverly Hills–the Beverly Hills Hotel and its Polo Lounge being more her idea of amusement.  But as wonderful as Disneyland was, its calculated charm couldn’t quite match the grinding gears, sunburned shoulders and sticky days of fairs with our dad.  What are your memories of local amusement parks and fairs?  Let me know in the comments or email me at