Riverview will always remain my all-time favorite amusement park! Of course, nostalgia has a lot to do with it. Everytime I recall Riverview, I always remember the best days of my childhood.
This was an amusement park right in the city of Chicago and it was easily accessible by car or public transportation. What I remember most about it is the circus atmosphere about it, something today’s modern theme parks seem to lack. They had a tattooed lady, a bearded lady, world’s smallest man. But we never actually went in there because my father said that we couldn’t afford the tickets. There was Aladdin’s Castle fun house with its distortion mirrors and the maze that scared the heck out of me when I was six. And half the fun was getting there. My father usually drove us to Riverview, but occasionally, we would take the bus and El to get there. When I was older, I realized that my father took us way out of the way just so we could ride the El, but we always had fun. Of course, my mother never went when we took public transportation. I think my father had the most fun on these trips.
My little brother Dicky was about four the first time he went to Riverview. He got scared when we rode the El and realized we were about two stories off the ground. We thought he wouldn’t have fun at Riverview because he would be too scared for all the fun rides. We took him on the age-appropriate Merry-Go-Round, but he cried. Then we took him on the Caterpillar, which was basically like train on the Tilt-a-Whirl tracks. During the middle of the ride, a canopy covered all the cars. Dicky started screaming and kicking when we were under the canopy. I tried to calm him down, but he didn’t stop screaming until the ride was over. I thought we wouldn’t have any fun at Riverview.
I tried to think of rides that he would like, but I was sure they would all scare him. Back then, there were no size restrictions, such as having to be a minimum height to get on a ride. So even though Dicky was only four, he was able to ride the Silver Flash roller coaster that went around the amusement park. I thought for sure that Dicky would start crying immediately, but no, he loved the ride and laughed his head off the entire ride. So we rode roller coaster the rest of day, even though I would have liked to ride the Caterpillar a few more times. I never could figure out Dicky. On the way home, he was no longer afraid to ride the El.
I have reached that age where everything reminds me of the past. Listening to the radio, I remember what I was doing when I heard the song the first time years ago. It reminds me of how I used to be and who I wanted to be, but somehow I realize that I haven’t changed all that much, and in some ways, I’m still the same boy deep down inside. When I hear an old song on the radio again, I still like (or hate) the song as much as I did back then. I recognize some songs after only three or four notes.
My sons are amazed that I recognize those old songs on the radio. I told them, “You know how you listen to some songs over and over again? Well, I used to do the same thing when I was your age!” And that’s why the songs remind me of my youth. And that reminds me of a Led Zeppelin song whose title I can’t recall: “In the days of my youth, / I was taught what it means to be a man,” which in turn reminds me of my first car and my first “real” girlfriend of that time period and how I almost lost my virginity while listening to Led Zeppelin. But that’s a blog post for another day.
My present didn’t quite turn out the way I expected. Perhaps, I should start creating some good memories now so that I may have some good nostalgia in the future. When I recall my past memories of how I expected I would be now, my nostalgia sure hasn’t lived up to my expectations, in the past or now. I should have thought of my past for the future in the past and not now in the present where I regret not having created better memories for my future in the past. I wish I could go back in time and do things focusing more on the future. But that’s all water under the bridge now. There’s no use crying over spilled milk.
Sometimes when I wax nostalgic, I wonder why no one uses the word “wax” (as in “to increase in size, numbers, strength, prosperity, or intensity”) anymore. I also wonder why when I refer to the waxing and waning of the moon, I get some strange stares. In fact, the other day I was waiting in line at the supermarket when I was thinking about the cycles of the moon and I accidentally uttered, “I enjoy the waxing and waning of the moon” out loud. Suddenly, I was all alone in the front of the line facing a nervous cashier! They probably didn’t know what I meant by “wax.” I should be more careful when and where I wax nostalgic.
In the future, I would like to recall the past with fond memories of my present “present.” In the future, no more regretting the past and loathing the present. Because today is the first day of the rest of my life!