As I am a Brighton Beach native, I spent more time in Coney Island perhaps than most. Even so, I never went for a ride on the Cyclone, or the Parachute Jump. It’s just not my style. Even my few times on the Wonder Wheel were safely spent in a stationary car rather than one of those crazy roller-coaster wannabe cars that went sliding across the wheel suddenly giving people like me heart attacks.
Nevertheless, there was plenty for a placid, non-excitement starved child like me. My absolute favorite game was the “water pistol in the mouth of a plastic fish” game in which the one who was able to shoot the most water and fill up the elongated plastic container first actually won a goldfish. Having great aim, I won a goldfish more than once. A few of those fish even stayed alive until I got him home.
Of course we used to get hot dogs at ‘Nathan’s Famous’, before it was so famous that they even opened a branch in Jerusalem in the 1990’s. When I went there, I had to scream my order to the guy behind the counter, who was several feet above my head and in the great beyond which was the inside of this hyper fast-food joint.
The late 60’s and 70’s were not considered a good time to go to Coney Island, at least as far as my parents were concerned. The neighborhood had become riddled with crime and drugs, and was not considered a safe destiny for a white Jewish girl from Brighton.
The last time I was there I viewed Coney Island from the boardwalk. It seemed deserted and lonely, begging for a renaissance that seems to have happened in many other neighborhoods in New York City. But from what I hear it will most likely be torn down to make way for another massive condominium project to house the people that want the cool sea breezes in summer, a great view of the majestic Atlantic Ocean and easy access to the subway all year round. Too bad they will not experience the character and joy that I associate with growing up near one of the funnest amusement parks ever, (even if I didn’t actually do anything there more fun than squirt water into a plastic fish’s mouth.)