Thursday, August 4, 2011

Riding the Roller Coaster

The summer I graduated from high school, I applied at Jantzen Beach Amusement Park for a job in the concessions (game booths).  What a blast!  It was a perfect summer job. The concessions didn't open until noon during the week, unless there was a planned event, and closed at 10:00 PM, plenty of time to have fun and even get a decent night's sleep!  The booths also closed everyday for a two hour dinner break, which allowed us to go someplace to eat and then walk around the park and ride the many rides, usually for free.  

The ride operators and the game concessions were owned and operated by two different companies, and over the course of the summer, there was considerable "fraternizing" between the two.  We got to know each other well, and as they were paid by the hour, they didn't mind if we rode the rides.  (Concessionaires were paid on commission, which was a very different situation.  Now that I look back, I am sort of surprised that the ride operators didn't demand some "free games" from us, but I don't recall that ever happening.  We earned 25% of what we brought in and were paid in cash, every Friday, based on what was turned in each evening in our apron.  I was stationed in the "balloon game" which cost 25 cents for three darts. I made about $50 per week, a reasonable wage for a kid in 1969!!)

Jantzen Amusement Park had this incredible, world famous wooden roller coaster, and I probably rode it at least once nearly every day that summer.  The eighteen year old me was fearless, and loved that old roller coaster with a passion, especially if I was riding with my favorite beau that summer (another concession worker, of course!) 

With two hour dinner breaks, we had plenty of time to visit the rides, and still eat something, before we had to return to work.  

The photo to above is of the first big "dip" and when I found this online, it brought back vivid memories of more than 40 years ago, and the feeling in the pit of my stomach when we crested the top before the descent.

Which all brings me back to the reason for this ramble down memory lane this morning.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my recovery being like a roller coaster.  At that time, I was seemingly stuck in the ascent portion of the journey, slowly heading up the hill, with the thrilling downhill ride few and far between.  It felt like each day was a continual struggle, and it was all uphill!

I was reminded by a fellow blogger a couple days ago about the difference in the past week, and it brought back for me the roller coaster image.  These days, the ride is up and down, with some definite struggles, but many more "whee" moments when I'm feeling like I'm flying downhill.  I'm smiling more and I'm feeling like my old self again more often than not.  I saw both of my regular physical therapists this week, and both of them commented on how much better I look, as in I have this happy countenance that is shining through.  

Am I walking normally yet?  Nope.  Still slow and careful; still using a cane for short jaunts or the walker for longer ones.  Am I pain free?  Definite nope!  Both PT's really worked my knee over this week, as I am still struggling to straighten it out.  But, my bend is now 118 degrees!  Last night I told Mindy, "No! I don't want to get to 120, because then I won't get to come to Physical Therapy!"  

She laughed and said, "Well, we'll just change your goal to 133, OK?"

I know it seems strange to want to go to PT and be in pain, but I have had the absolute best experience and I appreciate how hard they make me work. While I am faithful to do the exercises at home, it isn't the same as when someone is watching me, checking my form, and encouraging me to push just a little harder, and increase my range of motion.  

This morning, I timed myself doing the "laying down" exercises, and discovered it takes a little over 30 minutes.  I needed to know, as I am pretty sure I'll still be needing to do those exercises when I'm back to work and no longer "on vacation", in order to not lose the range I've gained.  When I'm finished here, I'll hop on the stationary bike and ride the 17 minutes I've worked myself up to, and complete the various "standing/upright" exercises.  The cool thing about all these routines I've developed is that it's a habit now; just a regular part of my day. Wow, back in the habit of daily exercise.  That's a bonus for me!  
Photos found at:


  1. Whee-eee! The joy of that summer! And the recuperation of this one. The two summers remind me of the last two lines of an Archibald MacLeish poem: "A poem should not mean/But be." The two summers you unite in today's blog have a being that enriches your life. Blessings on you.

  2. Glad to hear you are doing so well. I had such a nice smile from Jessica on Wednesday, and today we ate the brownies from GHBC. Love the image of you on the roller coaster. I think they are cool, too! :-)

  3. Great news. Those peaks and valleys that are so fun on a ride can be a real challenge in real life.

  4. I loved accompanying you on your nostalgic trip to the amusement park and watching you bring us back to the present so dexterously. So glad to know you're feeling so much more upbeat and that progress is beginning to speed up a bit!

  5. I understand this so well!!! I love going to pt too even though it is hard. When I go regularly the therapists and other patients become my community. I'm home alone so much of the time...this is my big outing! Also I enjoy the company of the kind people who give me rides. I was so sad at the end of winter when I hit my insurance limit and had to stop going. I've been reinstated so as soon as my breathing is better I'll start going again...and my body is so out of shape I really need the exercise...but my spirit needs it too. It gets lonely at home all day.

    I love your photos...they truly express your experience well. Thank you so much for all of your kind comments and encouragement. It means a great deal to me. May you continue to heal well and then you will be able to be out and about more and not going to pt won't feel like such a great loss.

  6. Hi Sandi, I forgot who directed me to your blog but here I am. I used to work a concession stand at a carnival. It was an independent stand so we went to different carnivals around the Chicago area. This was many years ago (over 20) and it's where I met my husband.
    On August 16th I am having both of my knees replaced. Reading your experiences has been very interesting. I hope that you will visit me and follow my experience as well!! It should be an interesting ride! Love Di ♥

  7. What a positive attitude you have and I loved the association with the roller coaster along with the photos. Many years ago I was paralysed for some time and recovery was painful and slow. The 'whee' days became more frequent though and now I can enjoy life again. I am sure you too will enjoy many more 'whee' moments and I look forward to sharing them with you. (I'm your latest follower)
    Fond wishes

  8. Hi Sandi!
    Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today. I am trying to be very positive about the whole experience. The Bilateral knee replacement is both knees completely replaced at the same time.
    I didn't want to go back in a few months or whenever to get the second one done. I guess my doctor thinks I'm o.k. to handle it as do I. I know I am in for a lot of rehab but just being able to walk like I used to will be a blessing. I am glad that I found you and I will email you if I need some support (which I am sure that I will!). Thanks again for stopping by. I will be checking your blog until surgery time. After that it may take awhile for me to get back on track! Love Di ♥

  9. Things can only get better. Keep on keeping on!

  10. One of the things I love about this post (beyond your clearly renewed spirits) is the quality of your writing and storytelling. The way you used your history to get to the roller coaster analogy was really powerful. And it was so much fun to get to know the 18 year old you a bit - she sounds like she had a great summer!

  11. Life is so like a roller coaster all round isn't it. Take care and speedy recovery to you.

  12. Wow - I had no idea there was an amusement park in Jantzen Beach! When I think of that area, I only conjure up pictures of the twin hotels on either side of I-5. I wish I had the roller coaster image in my head, instead.

    I'll bet you have some crazy stories from that summer job!


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