26 June 2013

Roller Coasters

Loop-the-Loops roller coaster at Coney Island, NY, c. 1903

Heights have always bothered me. I've never liked going over bridges, or standing by the window in a tall building, or even walking by the railed open-to-below spaces on the second floor of our local mall. As a small child, I was even afraid of riding carousel horses because I didn't like how they would rise off the ground. I preferred to sit on the stationary carousel bench, and confined my other amusement park activities to things like the antique cars or cups and saucers.

As I got older, my fear of heights relaxed somewhat, and I became slightly more adventurous in my choices of amusement park rides. Eventually, I tried riding a very small roller coaster at a local boardwalk amusement pier. It was designed for children younger than I was at the time, but I liked it anyway--I was content to enjoy the speed and small dips at a height of no more than six feet off the ground.

In my early teens, I actually braved a full-sized roller coaster. It was just a simple track that had a few hills, with no terrifying stretches that turned the rider sideways or upside-down. At its tallest peak it was perhaps as high as a two-story building, and that was tall enough for me. I completed the ride without fear, but only the once--my interest in amusement park rides was waning by that time, and during later visits I was more interested in visiting the boardwalk's bargain bookstore than the amusement pier.

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