Sunday, September 6, 2015




Terri DelCampo

Kid Joey couldn't figure out why everything was in black and white, but didn't really care, because with or without color, he stood before the biggest rollercoaster he'd ever seen. 
But where were Mom and Dad?  And Rosie?  He'd never been to an fun park by himself before.  Kindof scary, Kid Joey thought at first.  Then he smiled.  A big smile.
But also kindof cool! 

Until he got to the line in front of the rollercoaster and found out he wasn't tall enough to get on it. 
Dang it!

He walked on past it, disappointed, but this was a big place, so there must be something he could ride.  Something…
And then he saw it. 
Well, actually, he saw her.  A little girl who waved to him from the carousel.  She was kindof pretty, he thought, but she was dressed strangely for riding rides.  She had a dress on, for one thing, a dressy dress, the kind he'd seen little girls wear to birthday parties or to weddings. 
But she was having fun and waving to him, gesturing him to ride the merry-go-round along with her.  She rode a big white cat.  Beside her carousel cat there was a dark colored cat.  He couldn't tell the actual color, because everything was still in black and white. 
He started running toward the merry-go-round, and just before he leaped…

He woke up in a sweat in his bed.  It was still dark outside and he could hear Dad snoring from his parents' room.  Otherwise the house was silent.  No merry-go-round music, no little girl waving, no excited kids and grown-ups chattering as they ran to board various thrill rides.  Just Kid Joey, his bed, in his room. 
He thought about the little girl and her dark curls, and why everything might have been in black and white.  It was weird, but it had been a dream, after all. 
He turned over and went back to sleep…

And leapt up onto the merry-go-round with a thump, and circled around it until he came upon the little girl perched atop her cat.  "Hi!" he said, smiling at the little girl, and she smiled back.  She had a tooth missing, with the grown-up tooth about a third of the way grown in, which made her cuter to Kid Joey because he himself was going through all that right now too.  That made him less self-conscious when he gave her one of his own snaggletooth smiles while hopping onto the dark cat beside his new-found friend. 
"I knew you were coming," the little girl said, and Joey just looked at her, confused. 
"You mean because I woke up before?"
"Before that.  I've been waiting for you."
"But I dreamed you.  You are in my dreams.  How could you know anything about me?"
"Because I am in the library at your school."
"You go to my school?"
"No silly, I'm in the library there.  In a book.  A special book, called a scrapbook." 
About that time the merry-go-round lurched into its ride, and whirled the children about, with the little girl reaching out for the brass rings, leaning precariously from her mount, and coming up just short of her prize. 
"We should switch places next time.  I'm taller than you, my arms are a little longer than yours.  I'll bet I could get you a ring." 
"Okay.  That would be nice."
"But you have to answer a question first."
She smiled at him, already knowing the answer.  "Janie.  And you're Joey." 
Kid Joey's eyes widened.  "How do you already know my name?"
"The same way I knew you were coming here to ride the merry-go-round with me." 

Suddenly Joey was awake again, and had to pee.  He got up and used the bathroom, upset that his body had made demands upon him that pulled him away from his new friend, Janie.  But while he was awake, he thought about what she had said:  She was in a book in his school library.  It was Saturday night.  He would have to wait all the way until Monday morning to go to the library.  Well, actually, Monday at lunchtime if he could get permission to go to the library during recess. 
He hoped his teacher would allow him to go, because he really wanted to find out about Janie.  But what book would she be in?  There were lots of books in the school library.  He wondered if she would be in the story book section or in the reference section - the true books.  He wasn't sure which category a scrapbook fit into. 

He fell asleep pondering this questions, just in time to snatch one of the elusive brass rings from its dispenser at the outer edge of the merry-go-round.  He swung around on the white cat, with a dazzling smile for Janie as he handed her the reward for having longer arms. 
And he asked her, "What book are you in, Janie?"
"A scrapbook about this place," she answered, pumping herself up and down on her cat in a giddy-up motion, her skirt puffing up and sinking with her movements.

And after a circle around, the ride faded, and Joey came awake. 
He bounded from his bed, snatched on his clothes, darted into the bathroom to use the toilet, brush his teeth, and wash his face and hands, then raced to the kitchen to gulp down cereal and juice. 
He was the first one out the door and down to the bus stop, even ahead of his sister Rosie who was usually way ahead of him.  Mom came up to him, spun him around to face away from her, unzipped his backpack and tucked in his lunch, safely re-zipping it inside.  "What's the big hurry, dude?"
"Have to go to the library before the first bell."
"Did you forget to return a book?"
"No.  I have to ask the librarian a question." 
"About the Dewey Decimal System?"
"Huh?  No." 
"What about, then?"
"About a fun park." 
"What fun park?"
"A black and white fun park."
"You mean an amusement park, where they have rides?"
"Yeah.  Where there's a merry-go-round with a white cat and a black cat next to each other." 
"You mean around here?  There aren't any amusement parks around here," Mommy dashed his hopes.  He wanted to know all about Janie, and why she was in a scrapbook in his school library, and why she, and the fun park had no color, just black and white. 
"But she said…"
"Who said?" Mommy asked.
"BUS!!" Rosie and the other kids at the stop squealed the alarm. 
"Never mind, Mom. I'll tell you later," Kid Joey said, hugged his mom and jumped in line to get on the bus.  He smiled, thinking his school bus, today at least, was sort of like Scooby's Mystery Machine, taking him to the place where he could solve the mystery in his dream.  Good thing too, because it was starting to drive him nuts. 

By the time Kid Joey got his jacket on his hook in the coat room and his backpack unloaded into his desk, the bell had rung and Mrs. Krendel was clapping her hands and bringing the class to order for roll call. 
He whizzed through the math lesson and wrote out all the spelling sentences, and finished all the class work almost twenty minutes ahead of everyone else. 
He cleared his desk, took his papers up to Mrs. Krendel and waited for her to look up from her book and acknowledge him. 
"Need to go to the bathroom, Joey?"
"No, Mrs. Krendel, I need to go to the library."
"We don't go to the library until Thursday, Joey, you know that."
"Yes, I know, but this is something special.  I need to ask the librarian a question."
"Maybe I could answer your question."
"No, I don't think so.  I have a friend who told me that there's a book in the library I need to find.  It's a special book.  A scrapbook."
"I see," Mrs. Krendel said, looking up at the clock above the classroom door. "Okay, Joey.  Mrs. Lewandowski should still be in the library for another few minutes before lunch.  You can go.  Here, let me write you a little note so you don't get in trouble wandering the hall." 
"Thank you." 

Joey walked quickly, careful not to run in the hall, which was a big fat no in his school, and ducked into the library in under a minute after leaving his classroom.  He looked around, and saw Mrs. Lewandowski shelving books in the reference section.  He crossed the large room, skirting tables on his way.  There were no students in the library at the moment.  It was almost lunchtime. 
"Hello there, young man, what can I do for you?" Mrs. Lewandowski straightened, smiling her most helpful smile. 
"Are there any scrapbooks in the library, Mrs. Lewandowski?" Kid Joey asked, getting right down to business.
"Why kind of scrapbooks?"
"Scrapbooks about fun parks - um - amusement parks." (He used the official word for them his mom had used that morning.) 
Mrs. Lewandowski looked surprised at that, but shook her head yes.  "As a matter of fact…" she stopped.  "What's your name?" 
"As a matter of fact, Joey, there just so happens to be a scrapbook on my desk about an amusement park." 
"Could I look at it?  I want to see if there's a picture of someone inside it."
"Is it a member of your family, perhaps?"
"No.  A friend." 
"Any friend in that book would be pretty old, Joey."
"Could I look anyway?"
"Of course!  Books love to be looked at.  Let's go." 
Mrs. Lewandowski led Joey to the book-covering room behind the reference desk, a place where most students weren't allowed to go normally.  He smiled at his special status: a student with a special request. 
"Here we are," Mrs. Lewandowski said as Kid Joey stepped up beside her alongside a table.   She slid a large, green scrapbook sideways on the table until it lay in front of him.  "Go ahead, Joey.  Have your look." 
Joey opened the book, and carefully began turning the yellowed pages, looking through the three pictures per page.  Actually, they weren't all ordinary pictures, but some old-time post cards from the amusement park and the nearby hotel were mixed in as well.  All the pictures were in black and white.  Only the postcards had some color.
There was a sign that told about the amusement park: 

TOLCHESTER BEACH AMUSEMENT PARK - opened on this site in 1877 by the Tolchester Steamboat Company, in an era when the steamboat was a primary mode of social and commercial transportation in the Tidewater Region, and in response to the rising popularity of resorts and amusement parks.  Steamers ran daily between Baltimore and the park which grew to over 150 acres and included a hotel, pavilion, bathing beach and a variety of rides and attractions.  The park closed in 1962.  (Maryland Historical Trust / Maryland State Highway Administration)   

"It closed in 1962?  Maybe it's the wrong book," Joey said, gently turning a couple more pages filled with black and white pictures, and then he stopped, staring at the book.  "That's her!  That's Janie!  She's the girl I rode the merry-go-round with!" 
"Wait, Joey.  You couldn't have…" 
"I don't mean, a real merry-go-round.  I dreamed I rode it with her!  I got her the brass ring because my arms were longer!  When I first got there, she was riding the white cat and I was riding the darker one.  I couldn't tell what color it really was because everything was black and white.  Then we switched so I could reach the ring for her!  And I did!  I gave it to her!"
Mrs. Lewandowski sunk down onto the chair that she pulled out from the table, just staring at Joey's face to see if he was joking. 
"What's the matter, Mrs. Lewandowski?  You look sort of weird." 
"Joey, did you ever see this book before?  See these pictures, maybe online or something?"
"No.  That's why I needed to see you, to come to the library today.  Janie told me she was here.  She said she was in my school library.  In a special book.  In a scrapbook." 
Mrs. Lewandowski's face got very pale.  "You said her name was Janie, and you dreamed you rode a merry-go-round with her?"  Joey nodded.  "And this," (she pointed to the picture in the book) is definitely her?"
"Definitely," Joey said and nodded adamantly. 
"Oh my goodness," Mrs. Lewandowski said, looking back and forth between the book and Kid Joey. 
"What's the matter, Mrs. Lewandowski?"
"Joey, my first name is Jane.  When I was a little girl everyone called me Janie." 
"Oh, like my friend in my dream," Joey said.
"Joey," Mrs. Lewandowski said.  "I brought the scrapbook in because I was going to read some stories about amusement parks to the students, and wanted them to draw some pictures like the post cards to hang on the bulletin board in the hallway outside the library."
"That's nice, it's good you had the scrapbook here, since Janie told me to look here." 
"Joey, the little girl in the picture, your friend riding the carousel?  That's me, many years ago when I was just about your age," Mrs. Lewandowski said, her words surprising the daylights out of Kid Joey.
"How did you get inside my dreams, Mrs. Lewandowski?" Joey asked. 
Mrs. Lewandowski smiled.  "I don't know, Joey, but I think you have an amazing to story to tell to the library students this week.  I will talk to your teacher and see if you can come to the library for a special story hour where I talk about Tolchester Amusement Park, and you can tell everyone how we got to be friends." 
"Was I really there?"
To answer Kid Joey, Mrs. Lewandowski smiled again, flipped another page of the scrapbook over, and there, attached to the page was the shiny, brass merry-go-round ring that Kid Joey had gotten for her so many years ago, (from Mrs. Lewandowski's memory) or just Saturday night (in Kid Joey's dream). 

And that is how Kid Joey came to thrill his school friends with his story about his mysterious carousel friend, Janie, on one special day in school.  Even Mom and Dad and Rosie got to come to the library and hear his mysterious tale. 

The End

TD - 9/6/2015


  1. What a sweet, mysterious story, Terri! I really love the old parks. This brought back some happy memories.


  2. Aww! I'm glad to have stirred some fond memories. I have a few on wooden rollercoasters myself! :D I'm hoping Joey enjoys his stories too. I want him to know I think about him every day, and Rosie too. They are living near Chestertown now, and when I was researching the area (which I spent a lot of time in when I was a child) I found pictures and postcards online of Tolchester Amusement Park and thought it a shame that it faded out shortly after I was born. There was a little amusement pier at Betterton, when I was a little girl and teenager, but I doubt it's still there, so there's a whole slew of memories that I have of that area that my grandchildren won't know - unless of course I write them into stories and share them. This one is just one of many 'brass rings,' so to speak. I'm glad for the opportunity to share with them, even though I'm far away.

  3. Palisades Amusement Park is one I went to. It had a huge salt water swimming pool. I loved it. It too is closed now, not to mention many others. There were some in the Denver area even that closed down. We'll always have the memories.