Into the Land of Oz

The Yellow Brick Road at Cincinnati’s Coney Island in the 1960s
Little resembled the book or movie;
it was the kiddie part of an amusement park,
and although there was plenty of enchantment
with duck boats, a windmill, a miniature kingdom,
and a talking giant (you could walk through his legs),
Dorothy wouldn’t have recognized it
as any spot she’d visited over the rainbow.
There was a yellow brick road, though; you found it
if you parked down by the river picnic grounds
and climbed the hill to the backside of the park.
There were no yellow bricks, but a painted trail
traced swerves and roundabouts all the way to the rides.
We made ourselves dizzy following the layout exactly, revived
by the roar of the Shooting Star cars rattling past on the right.
On the left, horses and riders cantered on a dirt path
within a white frame fence, a bucolic contrast
with the wheels-on-rails commotion
 of the roller coaster. Signposts along the road
showed depictions of the Oz characters, but we were
never disappointed not to meet those friends in the flesh.
The yellow brick road opened out
into a wonderment of light, motion, and bell-chiming sound
under well-endowed picnic grove trees, thick leaves
fluttering in a cooling breeze from the river.


Nudge: Write about an amusement park as you experienced it as a child. If all you’ve ever known are theme parks, focus on some small corner or detail rather than the park at large. If you’re old enough to remember the kind of intimate amusement parks they don’t make any longer, write about your favorite aspect of the one you knew best to capture the experience for younger readers.

P.S. If you have your own memories of Cincinnati’s Coney Island, please share them in the comments.

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