In the mid-eighties my best friend and I were young single moms with a total of four kids; I one, her three, and we had a few years left before either of us knew that our mix was going to welcome three new members to usher in the next generation. Our families blended nicely — so nicely, that we are convinced that our kids probably grew up believing that they were cousins.
Our best times were mostly spur of the moment ideas, like the time when we found ourselves at the annual “Lions Club” Carnival that had set up in the parking lot at the mall on a gloriously sunny afternoon in May, when we spontaneously piled into her 84 Delta 88 and set out to have some fun. The two of us were standing at the carousel watching as the ride went round and round; as our kids went up and down on their painted pony of choice. The moment was as magical as the music, and thoughts of holding on to a fleeting moment in time didn’t occur.
The idea came to me that this place was costing us too much money, so we decided to leave, and in about a half an hour we were pulling into an empty parking lot at the virtually forgotten Eagle Park in Cache, Oklahoma. Eagle Park was once the epicenter of fun for those living in southwest Oklahoma. Now, in the eighties, the momentum was already fading — so for this old amusement park to revive itself for what may have been its very last time ( for all I know), was truly spectacular. Our kids were full of enthusiasm and excitement because we were an adventurous bunch, so while they never knew what to expect from “us moms,” they did know that whatever we were going to do was going to be packed with treasured moments that would linger in their memories for a life time.
The five of them were curious and I, self-assured, as we seemed to cross an invisible bridge, into a place that was made just for us to enjoy on that day, in that moment. We were in the midst of shut down old wooden food stands with faded red and blue paint, that offered food for our spirits and not for our bodies. There were rides standing still and the children gazed. So did we.
An older man (perhaps in his fifties or sixties) with gray hair, and wearing blue jeans,a western shirt, and cowboy boots came out of the office of the old place. He seemed to be expecting us. The park came alive, one ride at a time. The kids were overjoyed as they ran from the swings, to the twist-a-whirl as one lone operator and six park guests chattered and laughed in a truly golden moment that must have always been planned for us to be there — on that day, in that time, when a treasure simply presented itself to us and we took it.
Eagle Park is an Oklahoma Ghost town now. The first bunch of kids, and the second are all grown and making their own memories with their own families and best friends. One left us early, when he was twenty. Until today, in this moment, I hadn’t thought a lot about that moment. The time when we had our own private amusement park; and we made a memory.
- Our Own Private Amusement Park (beholdatinyhum.wordpress.com)