ssǝɹddns ɹou ɹɐǝɟ ɹǝɥʇıǝu plnoʍ ʎʇǝıɔos ǝǝɹɟ ʎlnɹʇ ɐ ʇɐɥʇ ƃuıʇnɔolɯnɔɹıɔ suıɐʇuoɔ ǝʇıs sıɥʇ

Friday, June 24, 2011

Skrapits made me do it

Elizabeth Skrapits, a reporter for the Citizens' Voice, writes this weekly column by which she dredges up some of the long-forgotten history of the Back Mountain, and every now and again, the history of Harveys Lake.
Since I want my ashes to one day settle into the deepest, darkest, murkiest depths of Harveys Lake, I look forward to this feature every week.

For the purposes of reminiscing about the vibrant Harveys Lake of the 1960s, three areas will always come to mind: Sunset, Hanson's Amusement Park and Sandy Beach.

Sunset had the game rooms and whatnot, Hanson's was a full-blown amusement park at the time and Sandy Beach had drive-in movies, amusement rides, the bathhouse, the locker rooms, paddle boats, pontoon boats, the docks, the bingo parlor, the pinball hall, the upstairs dance hall featuring Eddie Day & The Nightimers on weekends and, for this struggling young sprat barely old enough to be trusted with one of those newfangled ink pens, Ben Rood.

6-yr-old Markie in Rood's Grove
Basically, Ben Rood owned all of the property just across the road from Sandy Beach. And his grove which sat behind the now shuttered Sandy Beach Inn, a tree-lined and grassy nook containing 16 or 18 one, two and three-room cabins assembled in a U-shape, was always sold-out when the temperatures started to soar.

Ben and his wife Barbara were tight with my grandparents. To this day, I don't know how or why, but they were and that resulted in Ben being like another grandfather to me. So much so, that he put me in charge of collecting the dollar bills from those who were enticed to park along the frontage of the shuttered inn by the sign that read: "All-day parking--1 dollar."

It was easy. I collected the bucks. I got a cut, the percentage of which escapes me now. And if anybody tried to walk away without paying, which they did on occasion, all I had to do was run up Ben-Bar Lane, tell Ben and he'd call the police chief and have the car towed. Most importantly, at the tender ages of  less than 10-years-old, I had a steady income while hanging out in the summer entertainment mecca of NEPA.

Somehow (don't ask me, man), my grandmother befriended the owner of the entire Sandy Beach complex, Sam Slomowitz, which resulted in two other regular cash-paying chores. When the beach was closed day-in and day-out, I earned a five-spot by removing what the beach goers had left behind. And after Eddie Day and the boys packed up their music-making equipment and headed on home, I would saunter on up there the next morning and sweep the entire expanse of the second-floor dance hall for yet another five-spot.

So, as an unremarkable sprat, my estimated income during the summers of the mid-to-late 60s was about $60 a week. Perhaps even more. All of which I quickly blew on food, food, more food, bait & tackle, pinball machines, trinkets for me, trinkets for my grandmother, trinkets for my mother, trinkets for my step-sister trapped back in Connecticut, amusement rides at two different locations, drive-in movies and the nightly bingo excursions at the far end of the main (cafeteria) building.

My mom, who always kept everything Gene J. Cour (my long-AWOL father) very, very, very close to the vest, once told me that she met my father at Sandy Beach. As the story went, she was sunning herself on the imported white sands of Sandy Beach while munching on something or other from the snack bar. And then he appeared and said, "Can I have a bite?"


Skrapits made me do it.

Part II will be forthcoming by popular request only.



Anonymous said...

Part II, please!

Anonymous said...

What recall. Bring on the rest of it.