Long ago and far away, when I was just a little girl every year my Father’s Union (the F.O.P. ; the Fraternal Order of Police) had two major get togethers a year for families and politicians. They had a Clambake at Thistledown in the fall for the older crowd right before elections and during the summer for the kids they had a huge free picnic at a local Amusement Park. It would either be at Chippewa Lake Park or Euclid Beach Park or Geauga Lake Park, but where ever it was it was sure to be a blast! Both for the kids and the adults, all the free hot dogs and beer and pop that you could handle. All the free Ice Cream you could eat…it was heaven on a stick. Then every possible type of tilt a whirl ride to top it all off. I could never understand just how my Mother could resist both the going out to the Picnic with us or the inevitable ride home. But she did, each year my sister Kate or Maureen or Margaret or Anne would ride shotgun while we attended these kids prayers answered filled summer fest parties. You were greeted at the entrance gates like little princes and princesses of the day. You would walk up to the table to register for all the free drawings for bikes and other great toys and into your hot little sweaty kid hands would be jammed a huge Cowboy hat filled with goodies and little toys for you to start your adventures with. Dad would inform you just where and when we’d meet up to eat and off you’d go for the time of your life. We went with our buddies to ride the rides and Dad went with his to the free beer tent to tell tall tales and roast those weenies. Oh, and I forgot all the peanuts you could ever want either. This was a Labor Day ritual, on or near that day the Union (F.O.P. ; The Fraternal Order of Police) would rent out a park and we’d have the run of it. Any ride…it was the best. The ones I really remember always happened at Chippewa Lake Park.
I can remember years later, July 20th, 1969 being my last visit to that park. My sister Kate and her friend the Widow Cox (not really a widow but a divorcee who delighted in the idea of being a widow to that particular man and insisted on being called “the Widow Cox”), rented a great little cabin on Chippewa Lake and took all us kids down there with them. It was also the date of my 1st date. My sister Margaret had a friend down to visit us at the park and he and I walked about the park just making small talk. The last hurrah was so different, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon that night and I walked about with my first date and later there were flying dressers and poker games to attend to. What a night. That last night at Chippewa was just that wild.