Sylvan Beach, NY-3

This the third and last in the Sylvan Beach, NY series.  If this is your 1st time at the site or if it’s been a while since you were here last, it might be best for you to scroll down to Sylvan Beach, NY-1, read that, then Sylvan Beach, NY-2 then come back to this installment–the commentary will make more sense. Hope you enjoyed this series–a  new series will start shortly.

But the thing I remember most about Sylvan Beach was “Laffland.“

Laffland was what’s called a “dark ride.” (last I heard it’s still there and operating today by the way) You’d get into a little car pulled by a cable along a set of tracks in a halting, bumping, jerking, circuitous route in the dark while skeletons and demons jumped out of the dark in your face—at least that was what I was told. It astonished me that you could buy a ticket and be plunged into the darkness where evil things waited but be safely returned to the light and safety of the normal, adult-controlled world—unlike the darkness and evil lurking in the canal where there was no return. Just buy your ticket and get on board—if you have the guts.

I think the first time I seriously considered riding it I was in elementary school—ten or eleven. I remember standing there in front of the building one evening as the sun set over the smelly lake while bathers frolicked in the shallow water—watching cars go in & out of the underworld darkness, trying to get up the nerve to take the ride.

As the cars entered the building they’d hit and knock open the big double doors with the huge, scary clown face with a big “boomp.” Standing there on the electric colored midway munching popcorn I could hear girls screaming inside the dark building. In particular I remember watching this one car as it “Boomped” out of the big double exit doors. There was this guy that looked white as a sheet with a girl in her late teens and another little girl about 8. The little girl was crying and screaming, the older girl was smacking the guy in the head with a closed fist yelling stuff at him like, “You stupid asshole—I’ll never go anywhere with you again.”

I didn’t ride it that night.

In fact it was years before I actually did ride it—a few times during my high school years—but I always kept my eyes closed.

It wasn’t until I was in my forties and visiting family sometime back in the 80s I rode it with eyes open and found it to be a silly, tacky-camp experience—plastic Halloween skeletons, papier-mâché ghouls and witches lit by flashing lights, a cheesy scary-sounds tape with evil laughter, shrieks and moaning wind, creaking doors etc. Probably some things had changed since the 50s but the bottom line was it was all a sham and a humbug—it always had been—all magnified and distorted by impressions and memories that cannot be trusted.

It’s just a matter of opening your eyes.

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3 Responses to “Sylvan Beach, NY-3”

  1. Lois V. Lane Says:

    I really enjoyed your story on Sylvan Beach. You really hit the nail on the head with your description. {I do think it looks less lonely when its open. but I think to a boater coming up the canal and docking there would have some of your same thoughts on the place. I have enjoyed many of your pictures. The one you are using as your header {A quiet place for thought & reflection.} is beautiful. A friend told me about your web sight, I happy to have found it. Thank you for the enjoyment of looking at your work. Lois

  2. orion Says:

    Hi Lois Lane–I’ll bet the Superman jokes have been a life-long irritation.

    Thanks for visiting the site–I’ll be posting new stuff at least once a week. You can subscribe to the site–I’m new to this but I think if you look in the lower right corner you’ll see “Entries RSS.” Just click on that and check “yes” to subscribe and I think you’ll get a notice in your email when new stuff is added. Your comments are always welcome–I want this to be a place people can go and find quiet thought and reflection and I welcome your suggestions.

    You must be from (or living in) Upstate. I grew up in Rome–where are or were you?

    Peace, Orion Holen

  3. orion Says:

    Hi Lois–I have a new post up if you have a few minutes. Thanks, Orion

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