Sylvan Beach, NY-2

This is the second in the Sylvan Beach, NY series. If you’re just joining us scroll down to “Sylvan Beach NY-1″ below and read that first then return to this installment. Thanks.

And of course there were the requisite tourist restaurants—still there today—purveyors of artery-clogging, deep-fried cholesterol and pancreas-blasting, teeth-rotting confections ballyhooing themselves as the quintessential American cuisine and by implication, suggesting that eating a healthy diet is some sort of treasonous pinko-commie, tree-hugging betrayal of all that’s good and decent and American.

But most of all I remember Sylvan Beach for the cheesy little amusement park near where the New York State Barge Canal (which replaced the Erie Canal in 1918) joins Oneida Lake. I remember hearing they used to dump raw sewage in it when I was a kid.

If you walked all the way through the arcade where the rides and concessions were and out the other end—past the parking lot—you would arrive at the sea-walled canal’s junction with the lake after passing under a dark, ominous old truss bridge. As a kid I remember listening to cars hit the old truss bridge deck with a “clank-clank” while looking down into the murky brown waves slapping the stained, graffiti-covered concrete walls and shuddering to think of the slimy, eyes-glowing-evil-creatures lurking in the nasty darkness below. The thought of falling into that water where hideous things were waiting to pull you under, made me tremble and I would approach the edge cautiously all the time telling myself lies like “This isn’t that bad”—“I can do this”—“I’m not scared.” On one occasion my younger brother snuck up behind me and gave me a little shove (not enough to actually knock me off balance) and I nearly peed my pants.

The amusement park itself back in those days was a seedy mélange of garish electric lights and screaming, mis-matched bright colors—mostly reds & yellows, the air was thick with the smells of things being deep-fried—of buttered popcorn, hot caramel and candy apples. Trash littered the worn asphalt paving fronting games of chance that offered glittery, colorful, cheap prizes totally devoid of usefulness—a little monkey in a bright red costume dangling on the end of a stick, neon orange plush teddy-bears, stupid caps with beer-cans glued to them and felt pennants on little canes with “Sylvan Beach, NY” in glitter letters on a blue or bright green background. The guys running those games always looked like they had just been released on parole.

My personal-favorite novelty item was a popular tee-shirt with some grinning cartoon moron sticking his big ass toward the viewer and the phrase, “Blow It Out Your Butt” written across the available space and of course there was the obligatory big hole in the middle of his pants and some little old lady in a wheel chair being blown over backwards. For an extra 50 cents you could get a little “whoopee cushion” you carried in your pocket and whenever you saw someone reading the shirt you could provide the appropriate denouement to the experience.

We would ride the carousel, the tilt-a-whirl and the Ferris wheel and watch the guy in the dirty undershirt, with tattoos of naked girls with boobs the size of Volkswagens, hose the vomit out of the Scrambler—that was always a good time.

FacebookTwitterDeliciousGoogle GmailGoogle ReaderDiggShare

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge