Juju was actually proud at the moment she puked the three Pink Things into the Six Flags trash can. She had just successfully completed her first ride on the Mine Train Roller Coaster. A tall kid, she could have accomplished the feat the summer before, but had balked just as she reached the point of no return on the long ride’s line. She had turned on her heels that day and ran as fast as she could to the Log Ride. Hearing the mocking laugh of her sister Junene in the background did not bother her at all, another day she had thought.
Little did Juju know, her time would come on a July day in the summer of 1970. Juju’s mother and sister had somehow convinced her in the darkness of that night that they were waiting online for the “Mini Mine Train.” The Mini Mine Train was the sedate little sister to the scary and unyielding regular version. The comparison of the amusement rides and the personalities of the two sisters would one day ring true to Juju’s adult memory. On this day however, Juju took her place in the seat next to her mother and the cross safety bar clanged to a locked position. As the train moved forward, out of the station, Juju looked overhead and read the sign as she flew underneath it…..what did that say??? Juju looked at her mother with all the disgust, fear, and betrayal an eight year old could muster. As the train zoomed into it’s first sharp turn, Juju could be heard screaming in the darkness, “YOU TRICKED ME!!!”
At the end of the ride, Juju was giggling and running ahead of her mother and sister…off to find her place in line to try it one more time. The second run took place about five minutes after the pink spewing….Juju was hooked on the speed and the funny feeling the coaster gave to her stomach. Six Flags would become a yearly stay-cation, adventure that she would enjoy up into college.
The park closed on that long ago night at 11pm. Juju and her mother ended up at the Race Car Track, her personal favorite.
Juju would push the pedal to the floor board and pretend she was Mario Andretti. Her mother, Jewel, always game, would play along with her imagination. Mother and daughter were both laughing so hard that tears were streaming down their faces as they approached the pimply, pit crew. There was 10 minutes left until the park closed. Jewel looked at the vacant line and back to the kid begging them to exit the hot rod. Jewel said, “Kid, I will buy you a Coke if you take your foot off that master brake and let her go around one more time.” One dollar exchanged hands and Juju was once again racing around her imaginary Indy track.
One dollar bought that summer memory, decades later it has become priceless. Juju can still remember the motor vibration on her hands as she gripped that steering wheel. Throwing her head back in laughter, laughing into that long ago night, hoping for one more Pink Thing on the way to the car.
Enjoy your summer.