Cyclone Racer 1
People on car 2
End of ride 3
AT THE PIKE
Short Stories 1
Pike Short Stories
(Excerpts from E-Mails)
Frank, Class of 1960, Jordan High School, Long Beach, California
of my earliest and happiest memories was when I was almost five
years old and my Dad would take me to the Pike to ride the Merry-go-Round
on Saturday morning. When he died six years ago, I realized that
the happy PIKE memory was a metaphor for our special connection.
ME, AND THE MERRY-GO-ROUND
It was early Saturday morning and I was a four year old merry-go-round
rider astride the horse that moved fastest on the outside row.
He had lifted me up and pulled the wide leather belt snug around
my waist to make sure I was secure, checking it again before
the repetitive equestrian cycle began. I held tightly to the
golden pole as the wild-eyed steed rose and dipped in time to
the brash mechanical orchestra of snare-drums, bells and calliope.
The slightly discordant music was so loud that I could barely
hear his familiar voice as he shouted my name and waved. Wooden
horses pranced in their precise up and down circuit. I barely
dared to take one hand away to wave briefly each time I passed...
but I HAD to wave....looking each time to make sure he was still
there. He was!..... smiling and raising his hand so that I would
see him .
It was a blaring, raucous, colorful ride of discovery on wild
bejeweled steeds frozen in their untamed poses --stiff manes
blustering in a stop-action match up with the unseen rush of
their static prancing legs. And once more I had come around looking
expectantly this time, smiling and daring to let go long enough
to wave. More confidently I traveled the next circles, knowing
he would always be there. Knowing... but still looking...going
around and around. Even if I forgot to look, lost in the dizzy
confusion, I knew he would be there watching me, and he would
be there when the music stopped and I needed help getting down.
How many times did
we go? How many times did we walk through the happy, noisy crowd
to that special place with me holding his hand and looking ahead
expectantly? How many times did he lift me onto a wooden horse,
pull the belt tight and make sure I was secure? After a while
I didn't hold the pole so tightly. I was ready to reach for the
ring. He encouraged me to lean out...to stretch...and then, in
a moment of great surprise, the shining ring fell onto my finger.
I had won a prize!
At some point I became too old for the merry-go-round, but there
were other round trips of discovery.... other special places,
other special times in my life... when I little realized that
he was still lifting me effortlessly, making sure I was secure,
waiting for me to come around...waving and smiling...and encouraging
me to reach out.
He taught me to drive a car, reminded me to use the seat belt
to make sure I was secure, and he was always there when I came
back. One day I held his arm and walked through a happy crowd
to another special place, looking ahead expectantly. Then, at
once, there was a shining ring on my finger and I had won a prize!
He waved and smiled as I left through a shower of rice to start
a new circuit of life.
Years have gone by, around and around as quickly and colorfully
as a few spins on the merry-go-round. As I regularly caught glimpses
of him...he was always there when I came around. He never seemed
to change, but suddenly I knew he must have....for he was the
rider this time, as I pushed his wheelchair up the walkway. A
neighbor smiled and waved. The morning sunlight made a shining
ring of his soft silver hair.... and almost 50 years later I
realized that he was the real prize... always there, lifting
me up, making sure I was secure.
When I finally
finish my series of circles, when all of life's noisy, exciting
confusion and loud discordant music stops... I will expect to
see him again, smiling and waving to me at the end of the ride.
(from Jan.1994) --Rochelle Barton Frank
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