When I think of an amusement park, my thoughts go to old Spokane when Natatorium Park was still in operation. A place where families picnicked and holidays were celebrated for 80 years or so. I am glad I did not miss it before it was closed down in the 1960s forever. Nat Park is a slice of Spokane’s history, and my own. I can remember early birthday parties in the spacious lawns. Nat Park offered much more than I’m offering here.
I loved the Looff Carrousel. Built by Charles I.D. Loof in 1909, as a wedding gift for his daughter, Emma Vogel, (http://www.spokanehistorical.org/items/show/183 ) it is unique to Spokane. It has been preserved and, at this writing, is being restored once again for service in the new temperature guided building in the remodeled Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane. Trying to catch that brass ring for a free ride is a HUGE goal. I am always surprised when I ride a carrousel in other city park that they don’t have the possibility of reaching for a brass ring. This is a MUST!
The Jack Rabbit gave us all a thrill a ride. What was it? Why, a roller coaster. As such rides go these days, the Jack Rabbit was probably not all that exciting. It had no loops or upside-down rails. It just chugged up a rail mountain and then careened down the other side and around a corner throwing us sideways. And we squealed in delight! And it did take us way out over the river where our wild imaginations wondered if we would plunge into it’s depths. The Jack Rabbit was the fastest thing going in it’s heyday.
Then we would visit the Nut House. As we strolled through, it’s floors tilted and walls skewed, we would stagger like drunken sailors and giggle. Mirrors distorted our appearances and we always had to stop to make faces so we could see our tall foreheads, chipmunk cheeks and oversized lips. More giggles. A silly experience, but never to be forgotten. Simple pleasures, perhaps, but much loved memories.
We can’t forget the Bumper Cars. We had a blast running into each other while driving—or misdriving those. The trick was to see how many wrecks you could rack up before the cars went dead. I think that must be true in the real world yet today. Winter slip n slides show the truth of this! Thrilling, indeed.
I didn’t like the Octopus, however. Those funny little airborne cars, attached to arms that only went up or down, could be controlled as to how fast or slow they whirled around in circles by the rider. I thought that was the height of crazy rides. But today’s rides go way beyond anything we saw at Nat Park and I value my stomach too much to ride them.
If you have any memories of Nat Park, send them to me. I will post them!