Sweet memories of roller-coasters past
Even decades after its tilt-a-whirl stopped twirling and its carousel had fallen still, Pam Turlow of Elmhurst had fond and frequent memories of Fairyland.
“I loved that park,” said Turlow, remembering the amusement park in Lyons that she loved to visit as a child.
She suspected, and rightly so, that others had similar emotions toward America’s parks, and three years ago she set out to collect those memories and emotions in a book.
Her book, The Cotton Candy Road Trip, is a compilation of stories and memories collected during Turlow’s trips to more than 40 vintage parks across the country. Turlow considers vintage to be 40 years or older.
Turlow rode the rides, savored the funnel cakes and talked to the workers and guests at each park, from big parks like Disneyland, to small parks like Knoebels in eastern Pennsylvania.
Her research started close to home, on the day that Kiddieland in Melrose Park closed its gates for the final time.
“The emotions were running so high on that day,” Turlow said.
“It was like an Irish wake,” she said, with people sharing joyful stories while mourning the loss of something dear.
The book, written in the style of a travel diary, includes stories of the people Turlow met — like the woman in her 80s who for decades spent her days painting china for park visitors, and the man who was married on the carousel that he ran for more than 40 years.
“Each of these parks has its own spirit, its own soul,” Turlow said.
The book also includes stories of what was taking place in Turlow’s personal life as she continued her tour of America’s vintage parks.
“It was a great journey,” she said.
Turlow works mainly as voice-over artist, and The Cotton Candy Road Trip is her first outing as an author.
“It’s like Eat, Pray, Love, but with rollercoasters,” she said.
Turlow hopes to sell her self-published book at the parks she visited, and also through her website, cottoncandyroadtrip.com.