Monday, July 30, 2012

Once A Year Ain't Bad

Ever since my girls were very little, I’d take them up for a weekend trip to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio each summer. We’d stay at the Breakers Hotel, we’d see Snoopy, we’d play on the beach, and we’d ride ourselves silly on rides.

My girls are growing up these days, and are both in High School now -- Heather’s going to be a senior and Hannah will be a sophomore. When I tell a corny joke these days, they roll their eyes instead of giggling – and that’s only if they weren’t texting or listening to an iPod and heard me. And, since they live with their mother, I see them less and less each year. This year they were both so busy that I wasn’t sure they’d want to go at all – in fact, we had to cancel our trip up there last month when one of their schedules unexpectedly changed.

But both of them reassured me that they really wanted to go, so we rescheduled – for this last weekend, in fact. We picked them up Thursday night and, bright and early Friday morning, we loaded up the car and off we went.

For something a little different this time, Janet suggested that we stop off on the way up and check out an antique mall on the main drag in Norwalk, Ohio. Norwalk is one county seat shy of Sandusky on our way up Route 250, and it’s a really nice, well put-together town with a downtown packed with beautifully restored Victorian storefronts. Of course, I’m always game for a stop at an antiques place, but this time I thought a stop would be a good chance for Janet to get to do something she’s interested in, since she doesn’t like roller coasters and – as she patiently does every year – she was going to spend a lot of time in souvenir shops and people watching while the girls and I rode the coasters.

The girls were bored. OK, they were boh - oh- oh- ored. Usually a stop in Norwalk means a round of mini-golf and some Ice Cream at Vargo’s, not a tour of some dusty old antique store! Heather doesn’t mind them as much, but she’d seen it all in ten minutes and was sitting on the curb next to the car in no time. Hannah occupied herself for a while with a vintage pinball machine, but after I pointed at the price tag and suggested that she probably didn’t want to blow her Cedar Point budget buying that if she broke it, she contented herself strolling up and down the street outside, peering in occasionally to see if we were done yet.

Janet found a nice sterling ring that made her very happy. As for me, I did find something I’d been scouting around for:

This is another of the Eagle "giant" Automatics, akin to the Christmas and Popeye examples I’ve blogged about here in the past. This example is a souvenir of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933 (which apparently carried over to 1934):

Note that the barrel, unlike the other giant Automatics I’ve shown here, is faceted rather than round, and also unlike the other giant Automatics, this one has an Eagle imprint on the reverse side:

And there’s a curious bit on the right side of that imprint:

"Pat. Pend." As mentioned earlier, the patents for the original Automatic were issued in 1932 and 1934, which would at first seem to make sense. However, the giant Automatics were Automatics in name only –rather than a rear drive spiral pencil, these were conventional nose-drive pencils and did not share the patented 1932 or 1934 design. Hmm.

None of which could have interested my girls less, who were eager to get to the Point, so to speak. So Janet with her ring, I with my pencil and the two girls got on our way. And as every year, we rode the roller coasters, ate the ice cream, indulged in a few too many chili cheese fries and closed the evening with a nice ride on the vintage Cadillac cars that go just a couple miles an hour around a track, just as all the rides were shutting down. We milked every moment we could out of the day at the park.

This morning (it’s Sunday as I write this), we did head out to the beach, but just for a little wading and strolling up and down the beach, looking for the little twisty shells and getting grossed out by the occasional dead fish that washed ashore.

That’s the Breakers Hotel, with the Dragster roller coaster in the background. The younger one had fun writing "Hannah is awesome" with her toe in the sand, while the older one (Heather) had fun following behind her and writing "(not)" just after it. A corny joke or two actually got a giggle here and there, and the girls really got a kick out of me trying to take a picture of them with my new smart phone, only to discover that I’d accidentally taken a movie of me trying to take a picture, complete with my fat fingers over the lens for most of it. A significantly younger Cedar Point employee finally helped me get it right.

We got home a few hours ago – relaxed and napped for a bit before their mother came to pick them up. Heather starts band camp tomorrow (today now), and Hannah starts practice for Cross Country next week, so I doubt we’ll get much time together in the coming months as they start gearing up for another busy school year.

But I always know that for at least one weekend a year I get my little girls back, and next summer, come hell or high water, somehow we’ll find the time to do it all over again.

And I’m good with that.

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