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Archive for July, 2010

I have been working on this post for months, writing and re-writing, tweaking, scrapping everything and starting from scratch. As a rule I don’t get emotionally involved in my blog posts, but this time…this time I am trying to convey a depth of emotion which is difficult through this sort of written media. Also, as a friendly warning; the following contains some pretty hard-core nostalgia. Some of it is deserved but most of it really is not.

I am sad, desperately sad. Over the past few months is has come to my attention that the remains of Chippewa Lake Park have been completely demolished to make room for new development. The site was sold* to developers last year and has since been clear-cut and demolished. Even writing that sentence makes the bottom drop out of my world. I can’t help it; I loved that place.

 According to This Website:

“Chippewa Partners, LLC, a group of developers from Arizona and California, have bought the 95-acre defunct Chippewa Lake Amusement Park and won zoning approval for a resort. They hope to build a wellness center, a 190-room Hilton hotel, a 1,000-person concert hall, a spa, a culinary institute, retail shops and more.”

I am not happy about this at all. I understand that such a resort will be a big boon for the surrounding communities and that a 95-acre empty lot covered with condemned buildings and fire hazards isn’t exactly the most practical use of this lakeside location, but how could they? How very, very could they?

So, as a farewell to this beloved landmark I am holding a wake in its honour. Sort of…I am doing the best I can. (It would help me out a LOT if you could all go ahead and listen to We Came to Dance by The Gaslight Anthem while reading this. Because it’s the perfect song. Just go ahead and put it on repeat.)

Chippewa Lake Park – The History

For those of you not from where I’m from, Chippewa Lake Park was an amusement park located on the shores of Chippewa Lake in Medina County, Ohio. Used historically for picnics and beach gatherings, Edwin Andrews opened a park on the location on July 4th 1875, but it was not officially considered an amusement resort until 1878. The fabulous Hotel Chippewa was opened in the 1880s. The park suffered a difficult first few decades as its status declined gradually due to the sale of alcohol on the site.

In 1900 the site was purchased by “Mac” Beach who banned the sale of alcohol at the park and dedicated himself to improving the resort. Which he did. Immensely. 

The park continued to grow in popularity, so much so that the old dancing pavilion was demolished in 1922 to make room for an expansive ballroom which featured a huge dance floor, ample seating and a refreshments bar. A new addition to the park in 1922 was also the Carousel on the midway. In 1923 a new Penny Arcade arrived on the midway as an addition to the smaller one located close to the shoreline. 

1924 welcomed the arrival of Chippewa’s only major roller coaster; The Big Dipper (known fondly as “The Coaster”) was designed by John A Miller and saw its first passengers in August of 1924. The coaster cost $53,000 to build.

The Coaster entrance, 1974

Throughout the Great Depression the park suffered greatly as the interurban rail service was discontinued and attendance fell drastically. Due to financial crisis the park was sold on to a few different owners in the 1930s however came back into the ownership of the Beach family when Mac’s son Parker purchased the park in 1937. 

Over the next 32 years the park thrived. The Big Band Era brought much-needed traffic to site as the ballroom and outdoor stage were booked with musicians and filled with dancers nearly every night. During these years the magnificent Starlight Ballroom was, by far, the centrepiece of the park’s operation although the midway and amusement rides flourished as well.

Popular rides included the Big Dipper, Flying Cages, The Bug, the carousel and a Ferris Wheel. There was a kid’s area called Kiddie Land with a funhouse, dodgem cars, a mini-coaster called the Little Dipper and also the Wild Mouse. There were arcades, waterfront picnic pavilions, pedal boats to take on the lake, and a mini-golf course. You could tour the lake as a passenger on Miss Chippewa, a boat which served 50 seasons at Chippewa Lake. 

In 1969 Parker Beach sold the resort to a Cleveland-based company, whose grand plans for the site were rejected by local residents, thereby sealing the park’s fate. Although park attendance continued to grow throughout the 1970’s, increasing operation costs drove the park into the ground and, sadly, at the end of the 1978 season the decision was made to close the park forever.

Celebrate a Century at Chippewa Lake

Celebrate a Century at Chippewa Lake

As can be seen in this photograph from Defunct Parks, Chippewa Lake celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1978. Unfortunately it never made it to 101.

The park has stood, decaying, on the shores of Chippewa Lake ever since. The historic Hotel Chippewa caught on fire (was lit on fire?) quite a few years after the park closed and in June of 2002 a little girl decided to play with fire while in the ballroom and burned the entire structure to the ground.

Hotel Chippewa - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

All that remains of the Hotel Chippewa - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

Chippewa Lake Park – My Story

As I was not born until a few years after the park closed I was never a guest there during its operation. However my growing love for the park and its history began in the late 90s and I eventually visited the ruins for the first time in 2001.

Four of us went down on an early summer afternoon; it wasn’t a long drive, and it seemed shorter for the company. We parked in the shade of some trees off the side of the road in what we assumed was an inconspicuous manner. Looking back, we were probably never in even the remotest danger of getting caught, but at the time I remember being nervous. I think, for myself at least, that I wanted to feel frightened – imagining being caught by the police and actually getting in Trouble was half of the fun.

The underbrush was heavy throughout the site and, in some places, had obscured the chain-link perimeter fence completely, but after a while we found our way into the park. Just on the park side where we crawled through was a rusting oil tank which had obviously been dumped there and was, probably, the reason for the hole in the fence.

Our first view of the park’s mysterious interior was of the ballroom, its white clapboard edge, once pristine, now sighing down on rotting supports. Being both overly romantic and imaginative I could practically hear the music playing as it would have done in the 60s and 70s, could imagine the young couples laughing, dancing close and falling in love.

The Bug track and the Ferris Wheel - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

The Bug track and the Ferris Wheel - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

When we entered the ballroom I was overcome by a strange feeling of abandonment which persisted throughout our entire visit. In the center of the floor stood an old electric floor polisher, its decaying electric cord still plugged into the wall. In the cafeteria-style eatery there were plastic trays still sitting on the metal runners as if patiently waiting their turn to order. At the ticket desk in the entry way there were still papers and flyers in the drawers. It was genuinely bizarre. It didn’t feel like the place had been abandoned for 23 years; it felt like everyone had just stepped out for a minute but would be back to start the show shortly.

This Armageddon film feeling continued over the entire visit. In the area where the hotel had stood lay a rusting old cash register. Near the outdoor stage we almost tripped over a grand piano which had been left to rot into the ground. An old yellow pickup truck was parked on the midway, driver’s door open, toolbox on the passenger seat and a half-empty oil can balanced on the edge of the truck bed. It felt to me like one day, all of a sudden, in the middle of working, everyone in the park just disappeared, leaving everything behind them and jobs unfinished in their hurry to escape. I know this was obviously not the case, but that’s how it felt; one day, thriving amusement park, the next day, abandoned.

After visiting the ballroom we continued to the Hamburger Factory, one of the larger refreshment stands on the site. The outdoor picnic canopy was adorned with white trellising which was a signature look for the park in its heyday.

The Coaster turn - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

The Coaster turn - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

The Coaster stood, quite imposing, among stands of trees at the edge of the park near the entrance turnstiles. It was, truly, one of the most memorable images I had ever seen. There were trees branching out between the wooden tracks, trees which did not exist when the park was in operation had grown unchecked for 23 years. It was breathtaking.

The Coaster boarding area - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

The Coaster boarding area - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

One of my friends thought it would be a good idea to walk out along the track to see how far he could get. I think he made it about fifteen yards before he realised he was quite a few feet above the ground walking on unsteady, rotting wood and panicked. He crawled his way back on all fours. I will never forget that; laughing at him but at the same time terrified that he would fall which, thankfully, he didn’t.
The Coaster tracks - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

The Coaster tracks - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

The kiddie coaster, The Little Dipper, was another coaster being consumed by the trees, the metal tracks being absorbed into the growing  trunks of the trees.

The Ferris Wheel - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

The Ferris Wheel - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

The Ferris Wheel stood in the centre of the midway and, like The Coaster, had become extremely overgrown. Nature was attempting to regain its territory, and with the Ferris Wheel it was winning. A very tall tree grew straight up through the center of the wheel, whose passenger cars had been removed years before. It was an absolutely stunning image; skeletal remains of the wheel shot through with branches and foliage; it was beautiful.

We spent hours breaking our way through the underbrush and crawling like spiders over the rotting wooden structures. We did our best not to disturb anything. I did my best not to get too frightened; after all, abandoned amusement parks are the stuff of nightmares!!

The Arcade, Midway - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

The Arcade, Midway - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

I could quite easily imagine the park on a hot summer night in the early 70s; the evening breeze blowing in from the water bringing with it the delicious smells of popcorn and candy, a concert at the outdoor stage with the sharp trill of a guitar doing its best to drown out the happy screams of riders descending The Coaster’s first hill.

We left the park through the front turnstiles and I swear to you I could almost hear the tinny voice of Parker Beach over the P.A. thanking us for visiting and hoping to see us again soon. It was an amazing afternoon and one I am likely to never forget.

The Caboose - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

The Caboose - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

The year after that I went back to the park once or twice, but never returned after the ballroom burned down. I couldn’t bear to. I have never been able to face the fact that there was no future for the park, that its closure in 1978 really was the end of such a wonderful, traditional amusement park and the destruction of the ballroom was too final for me.

The Lake and Bathouse - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

The Lake and Bathhouse - Digital Images by Ron Skinner

I have collected hundreds of photographs over the years from other visitors to the sight and I was hoping to return there this August with S, to show him this park that I’ve talked about so often since we met. Unfortunately that will never happen. The park is gone now. I’m not sure if every item has yet been removed; I have read rumours of restoration for The Bug and the Ferris Wheel, although I doubt them.

Chippewa Lake Park is a place I just assumed would always be there, almost like the house you grew up in. It would change and it would get older and more decrepit, but it would always be there. I never thought the day would come when someone would buy the site for development.

If you grew up with Chippewa Lake Park I would love to hear your stories. As you can tell I am in love with the place and I am devastated that it has been demolished, so please, share.

I did my best to draw up a “map” of how the site was when I went visiting in 2001. The base images are taken from Google Maps’ aerial view and the locations of rides and attractions are from memory. I apologize if I’ve gotten it all badly wrong!

Map of Chippewa Lake Park

Map of Chippewa Lake Park

(You can click on the image for a larger size!)

I would like to thank Ron Skinner for the generous use of his photographs – Ron belongs to the Cleveland Photographic Society who attended the site after most of the trees had been removed but before the park had been totally demolished. I chose to use these images because they are the most remarkable and unobstructed pictures of the park remains that I have ever seen. Ron’s album contains 64 fantastic images of Chippewa Lake Park and all of them are for sale. Go there and look at them all, take your time and savour them. Then buy a few. (For me!) Thanks again, Ron!

*According to This Website, the defunct park sold for $3,500,000. In my estimation it was worth much, much more.

xo
A

Some extremely useful links:

If you can find the books on Chippewa Lake written by Sharon L.D. Krayneck they are absolutely wonderful.

For a fantastic read and photographic journey through the parks’ history you should pick up “Chippewa Lake Park” by David W. Francis and Diane DeMali Francis. Much of the historical information in this post is taken from their book. You can purchase the book on Amazon or through the publisher’s own website.

Illicit Ohio (Standing but Not Operating)
Forgotten Ohio
Defunct Parks
Ohio Forgotten
Brad’s Defunct Parks (excellent drawing of The Coaster)
Historic Pictures at Internet Archive
Rollercoaster Database
Chippewa Lake: A Baby Boomer’s Paradise
And finally, for you heartless commercial types: Chippewa Landing

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wow

Bettye LaVette has been singing and recording soul music since 1962 when she was only 16. She has always been amazing, but the following video blew my mind.

In 2008, legendary British rock band The Who where selected to receive the Kennedy Center Honors and Bettye LaVette performed an absolutely heart-stopping version of their song “Love Reign O’er Me”.

The phenomenal reception her performance received led her to record an entire album of British Invasion covers including “Maybe I’m Amazed”, “Nights in White Satin” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me”. I have this album and I love this album. I can’t seem to stop listening to it and when I sometimes feel I should go back to the original versions of the tracks she covers I decide I’ve made a mistake and put Bettye LaVette back on.

She is amazing and this recording of “Love Reign O’er Me” makes me wonder whether I’ve ever heard any song by The Who properly before. It is, in a word, shattering.

Do yourself the biggest favour you’ll do this year and buy Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook.

In the meantime, watch this incredible video.

xo
A

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This week’s Tunesday is a double play because I just could not decide on which song to feature. To tell you the truth I could probably feature a new song every day and not get bored, but I think a lot of you would stop reading!

I suppose when I started this feature I only wanted to let you all know what I was listening to and perhaps encourage you to listen to it as well. I hope this has worked, especially for the two bands I am featuring today who are both Scottish and definitely bands I think you should wholly support.

The (first) Song: Things

The (first) Band: Frightened Rabbit

(pardon the non-video video, but I REALLY want you to hear this song!)

S is the one who introduced me to Frightened Rabbit, I think after reading a review in some newspaper or another. “Things” is the opening track of their third album, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, which I can confidently say will blow your mind. Every track on this album is equally amazing; I could have chosen “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”, the first single from the album, which is a shockingly fierce and emotional song. I could have chosen “Nothing Like You” which is threatening to be my favourite song of July, if not of the year.

Instead, I chose the opening track, “Things”, and once you listen to the song, and listen to the album, I think you will see why; because it is simply fantastic, because it is the first song of theirs I ever heard, and the one I keep coming back to over and over and over.

Anyone can tell you that I am a complete sucker for an audible accent in a rock song, especially a Scottish one, and lead singer Scott Hutchison’s voice completely floors me. He could say anything to me, from “hello” to “rubbish weather” and have me gibbering and nodding my head like an idiot. “Things” is deliciously upbeat, an anthem for sloughing off old skin and deserting useless reminders of the past.

Listen to it. Love it. Let me know what you think, and, of course, buy the album.

Things by Frightened Rabbit

Here is the evidence of human existence;
A splitting bin bag next to two damp boxes,
And I cannot find a name for them,
They hardly show that I have lived,
And the dust it settles on these things,
Displays my age again.
Like a new skin made from old skin
That had barely been lived in

I didn’t need these things; I didn’t need them,
Pointless artefacts of a mediocre past.
So I shed my clothes, I shed my flesh
Down to the bone and burned the rest

I didn’t need these things; I didn’t need them,
I took them all to bits, turned them outside-in
And I left them on the floor
And ran for dear life through the door.

Useless objects, a gathered storm of shit
A dim and silent shed filled of your life’s supplies
When all you need’s a coffin and your Sunday best
To smarten up in the end.
At the front gate what a reward awaits,
One bite of loaf from a Holy Ghost;
An eternity of suffering in the company of
All those Christian men.

I didn’t need these things; I didn’t need them,
Pointless artefacts of a mediocre past.
So I shed my clothes, I shed my flesh
Down to the bone and burned the rest

I didn’t need these things; I didn’t need them,
I took them all to bits, turned them outside-in
And I left them on the floor
And ran for dear life through the door.

I’ll never need these things; I’ll never need them,
It’s just you I need; you’re my human heat.
And the things are only things
And nothing brings me like you bring me.

I’ll never need these things; I’ll never need them,
Never going back, so we can drop the past
And we’ll leave it on the floor
And run for dear life through the door.

Once again, these lyrics are my own approximation and I apologize sincerely (mostly to the artist) if I have gotten something wrong.

On to the second tune!

The (second) Song: Home

The (second) Band: The Boy Who Trapped the Sun

The Boy Who Trapped the Sun is actually just Colin Macleod, one crazy talented Scot from the Isle of Lewis. When you listen to the album there is no way you will believe that this is just one guy intent on playing all the parts himself (except strings and female vocals). And yet here you have a debut album resplendent with gorgeous melodies and insightful lyrics which is refreshing and inviting and wonderful. He is beautiful, his voice is indescribable and this album is breathtaking.

I liked Fireplace from the get-go and wish I had a few days set aside to listen to nothing but this. The album places you smack dab in the middle of the isolated northern islands; the ocean, waves, loneliness and longing.

The opening track, “Golden” is melancholy and achingly beautiful, and is followed by the upbeat single “Katy” which is humorous and fun. I can’t decide on a favourite track between “Dreaming Like a Fool” which has an up-tempo waltz beat that echoes Elliott Smith, or the emotionally draining “Copper Down” which sounds painfully autobiographical. In fact, I can’t decide on my favourite track out of the whole album – it’s that good.

I have chosen “Home” as my song for Tunesday because, while I may not have gotten the lyrics down 100% (sorry, Colin!)[update – I have confirmation that these lyrics are, in fact, “spot on”], there is a video to go along with it and I wanted you all to see this remarkable talent in action.

Home by The Boy Who Trapped the Sun

Home is where you lay your head
My head lies between the cracks
Breadlines lead to wasted days
Maybe I’m better put to longer days

Oh, this city’s not a home
But it’s somewhere to get lost

Maybe I’m lying to myself
I’m not a grafter; I’m not a man of earth
I have a habit; it’s a full time occupation
‘Cause the grass is always greener
When you can see the garden

Oh, this city’s not a home
But it’s somewhere to get lost

I’ve spent my life
Watching other people
Have a life

I can guarantee you that there are many bigger and better things to come from this talented individual, and I can hardly wait to see what he comes up with next. In the meantime, listen to this album and love it like I do.

xo
A

p.s. Have I mentioned before how lucky I feel to be living in Scotland? I may complain about the weather sometimes, but I really to love it here.

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Warning – there are a LOT of images in this post!

This weekend was a very busy weekend, about which more later, but on Saturday morning I took a detour to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.

lovely place to keep the car park, don't you think?

It was phenomenal.  I did not take much time to learn about the history of the house, because I knew all I wanted to know before I even went.

forgive the blur - it's a flash issue

This magnificent mansion was used as the film location for Mr Darcy’s house, Pemberley, in the 2005 film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. This adaptation is my favourite, and the scenes with Elizabeth and Mr Darcy at Pemberley are some of my favourite.

ceiling detail as taken from the reflection in a magnifying mirror

The location did not disappoint.

the marble hall which features in the film

On of my favourite parts of the film is when they focus on Elizabeth admiring a beautifully rendered sculpture which, according to the fact sheet at the house is: “The sculpture of the Veiled Vestel Virgin was made in 1847 by Raffaelle Monti. It came from Chiswick House … in the late 1800s and has always attracted a lot of attention with its amazing, see-through, marble veil. As much as I admired it in the film it is fantastically amazing in person.

gorgeous

spectacular

Look how beautiful that is. Honestly, it’s breathtaking.

The house was absolutely packed with tourists. It was difficult to pause anywhere for longer than a few seconds without being interrupted. I would like to go mid-morning on a winter school-time Wednesday when it would, hopefully, be less busy.

the dining room - looks just like ours

There was so much to see, it would take hours and hours. I am going to go ahead and post a few more photographs. Please excuse the lack of detail and description, but I honestly don’t know what most of them are!

detail from a marble-topped table

figure in carved-wood walls

I just loved this expression

no detail overlooked

I can't even talk to you about the library!

how relaxed does he look?

lion statue

sleeping lion statue

One final bonus shot from the film; the staircase where Elizabeth runs away and Mr Darcy chases her. In a sweet way, not scary.

Elizabeth & Darcy's staircase!

So, yeah, it was an amazing morning. I am going to go back. I would like to go back weekly!  It was phenomenally beautiful. There was so much to see you really could go back weekly and still not see it all.  If you’re ever in the north of England with a few spare hours then do yourself a favour and visit this magnificent house.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m off to watch the film for the millionth time. Then re-read the novel again. Then maybe watch the film. 🙂

I promise details about the weekend, soon!

xo

A

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A Bloggable Life has started a new feature called Perspectives. The point of this feature is to showcase photographs taken with mobile devices such as phones rather than with fancy cameras. Often life presents you with great opportunities and you have to be pretty quick to capture them, so using your camera phone is easier even if you don’t end up with a pristine result.

For my entry to this feature I have chosen the following photograph:

I took this picture a few years ago when S and I were at Live@ Loch Lomond. It was muddy and some poor soul slipped on the mud and fell down. He was immediately set upon by everyone within reasonable distance.  If I had stopped and taken the time to get my camera out of my bag I would have missed it, because I barely got my phone out in time.

Thankfully the guy was not hurt, although I expect he had more than a few bruises the next day.

So, here’s to mobile photography (no, not a camera on wheels!), and here’s to A Bloggable Life for starting this fantastic feature.

Make sure you head over there and check it out

xo

A

p.s. Yay me! This is my 100th post on 3,444 Miles Per Hour! Fantastic!

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Covet is not a strong enough word.

My Scratch Map as seen on Apartment Therapy.

Love. It.

xo

A

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Today we had yet another horizonless day. You know, when the fog and rain and clouds obscure the entire world? Yeah, one of those.

So, to cheer myself up and bring back the summertime I spent the daydreaming about:

Watermelon:

Two Peas and Their Pod – Watermelon Feta Salad

Lemonade:

Life in the Fun Lane – Lemonade!

Heat:

Cookthink – Five Easy Recipes to Beat the Summer Heat

Swimming:

As the Farm Turns – Splash

Ice Cream:

The Sweet Spot -Buttered Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream

and Vacation:

David Lebovitz – le Week-end

Bring back the sunshine, please!

xo

A

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