My mother celebrated her birthday this weekend the same way she has for most of the past 74 years, by running pell-mell through the nearest amusement park.
Born in the shadow of Coney Island my mom grew up loving roller coasters. Our summer trips to Cincinnati always included a swing through Kings Island, with my mom leading the charge.
After I accepted my first job, as a sports writer for the Streator Times-Press, my mom and I took a road trip to apartment hunt in Streator. We discovered the long state of Illinois’ split personality with its cosmopolitan Chicago and pastoral downstate.
“You’re going to be living pretty far away,” she said as we headed back home through Gurnee, Illinois.
Tired and a little sad at the prospect of a permanent 300 mile separation, we drove quietly for a mile or two.
“Let’s pull in here for a little while,” she said
We parked, jumped out of the car and spent the next several hours riding Great America’s roller coasters, two grown women marking a lifetime transition in a children’s playground.
We spent many summer evenings during my childhood at Bay Beach, a sweet though tame little amusement park in Green Bay.
When word that Brown County had approved the purchase of the Zippin Pippin, Elvis Presley’s favorite roller coaster, my mom called immediately to plan a trip back to our childhood stomping grounds and we were among the first to zip through that cool wooden ride.
We’ll pause here a moment to wish my mother a Happy Birthday from Molly and Me and we’ll hope she pauses as well, at least long enough to read it.
This is the message my 74-year old mother emailed her children this weekend.
“Hi Family, Kathy and I broke our existing Magic Kingdom record yesterday. We visited three parks, rode eight rides, took a boat, monorail and bus, ate two meals and topped it off with a glass of wine in the Grand Floridian lobby. All that and we were home (in Longboat Key) by 9 p.m. I have discovered a new way to avoid parking with the masses. I will share that information when I write my book.”