Sunday, July 7, 2019

I'm No Chicken -- Okay... Yes I am...

I don't know why, but these posts lately all begin with an admission.  For this one, it's that I was a chicken when I was a kid.  Well, let me refine that a little.  After all, I had no problem jumping off the roof of our house (just to see if  it would break my legs) or attempting to jump a creek on my bike a la Evel Knievel (it ended like many of Evel's jumps -- badly).  No, I wasn't a coward.  But I was chicken of roller coasters.

In the 1970's, my family took an annual trip to Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri.  At the time, the only roller coaster there was the dark ride "Fire in the Hole".  Actually, "Fire in the Hole" can hardly be called a roller coaster with a top speed of 27 mph and the largest drop being 20 feet. But to me it felt like 100 mph with 60 foot drops. I'm sure the darkness added to the illusion. So I would stand outside the ride and wait for my family to ride. It probably wasn't until the 6th or 7th grade when I got the nerve to ride it again. I laugh now when I see 4-year-olds getting on the ride.

In 1976, America was abuzz with the Bicentennial.  Everything was patriotic, even roller coasters.  Six Flags over Mid-America announced it's latest ride attraction, "The Screamin' Eagle".  It was the last roller coaster designed by Golden Age roller coaster designer John C. Allen. At the time, it was the tallest (110 feet) and fastest (62 mph) roller coaster winning it a spot in the Guiness Book of World Records.

It was probably this fact that won my dad over in taking us there that summer of 1976.  I rode many of rides including the smaller "River King Mine Train" which was slightly faster and taller than "Fire in the Hole".  I hated it.  So there was no way I would attempt "The Screamin' Eagle".  But my sister was really excited about it and my dad accompanied her.  After completing the ride, riders received the following button.

I really envied my sister receiving that, but not enough to brave the coaster.

When I got older, I did ride "The Screamin' Eagle", but they were no longer handing out buttons.  I also became a roller coaster fan, although that was a fairly brief window before I aged out.  These days, my back and neck can't take them and the wilder ones induce vertigo and motion sickness. I guess I'm still a chicken at heart.


  1. i don't believe i ever knew this. any of it. we rode the Fire In The Hole PLENTY, too.

    1. Yes, Fire in the Hole became my favorite ride and probably still is, although it's a little worse for wear.

    2. i haven't been on a proper roller coaster in decades, but i still love them. i don't think i'd pass on the opportunity to ride one -- although, funnily enough, last week i was telling a friend that i would probably NOT ride the one on top of the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas:


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