John Cawley

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Frames of Time...

002_05 - Forgotten Fun...
Every so often I will read about someone trying to locate a historical structure that has been lost to the faded memories of time. For example film historians are often looking to find locations from silent films. In fact, a local historian in the mountain has written a book about films that used the San Bernardino mountains as movie locations. These locations have filled in for any number of sites around the world. On occasion, a shack, a foundation, or a left over piece of equipment might still remain at the old set. Considering some of the sites are nearly 100 years old, it is not surprising few remember where they are.

A while back, I wrote how I enjoyed finding sites more recently forgotten, like this abandoned movie theater. There is not much mystery about such a site. All know why it was closed down. And the folks who lived in the town remembered the closure. However, knowing the history does not decrease my fascination.

For mystery, I offer this amusement park. Back in the early 1980s, my folks lived in Hawaii. On each visit, they would always try to show me something different beside the key cities and beaches. (I was never a big beach person.) At the time, there was not a complete freeway system on the island, so one would drive to and from different ends of the island via small roads.

On one such visit, we passed the remnants of an amusement park. The first time by, I noticed a carousel and some other structures. After twenty minutes more of driving, we arrived at the point my folks actually wanted me to see. I spent most of my time asking about the closed amusement part we had passed. To my, and my parents' surprise, no one knew anything about it. I could not even find anyone who remembered passing it on the road.

After our visit, we drove back the same road. This time, I asked my parents to stop at the park. I got out and found a collapsed fence at the road with a 'closed' sign. I easily stepped over it into 'the park'. It was an eerie visit. Though small in size, the park had a variety of attractions. Along with the carousel frame and top (no horses were present), there was a miniature train track that ran around the perimeter with a few remaining cars, a base for a ferris wheel, several flat bases that obviously held some sort of spinning rides and a variety of piles of rusted metal from various attractions and vendors. There was also a Coca Cola machine with aged pricing that indicated it had sold sodas back in the 1970s.

Once back in Honolulu, I again found folks totally unaware of this attraction. My parents had friends at the military bases as well as friends in local civic groups. No one had heard of the park. Considering the park could not have been closed more than 10 years, I was stumped as to who had built the park and for what reason. Could it have been a strictly private entertainment for one of the wealthier residents? Had it been thrown together for the filming of a TV show or movie? Was it simply a business venture that failed so badly that no one even knew it had existed?

Obviously, I never found out. I also was never able to get back to the location. My folks soon moved from the Islands. My next visit would not be until around 2002. By then, even my folks had forgotten our brief stop on the road, as well as the road. Oahu had changed greatly in the almost 20 years between visits. It had freeways as well as new malls and houses everywhere. I wonder if any of the ghost park still remains... or if it has become buried under a new housing development or mall.

text, photo and format John Cawley


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