Oaks Park

Is it me or does Oaks Park, the country’s oldest amusement park, employ the creepiest ride-operators in the whole carni business?  One would think they’re experts by now.  Not so.  A police-officer-friend of a friend once warned that it attracts a lot of pedophiles.  In spite of this, I take the kids, and always keep them within arm’s reach.  The first worker to give me pause was at the Frog Hopper.  He was a pear-shaped twenty-something man in overalls with a dirty blonde mop-top.  For balance sake, he tried to separate my girls, but he did so silently, reaching for Z without explanation.  They were both too horrified to speak up.  When I protested from the sidelines he released Z and plucked some other child with his giant hands, lifting her to a new seat without a sound.  Freak.  A few rides later I spotted a disturbed young man smoking a cigarette on a bench.  His icy blue eyes shifted this way and that.  It looked as if he’d up and left his house in the middle of working on his car, an old nova on cinder-blocks in the front yard.  I wouldn’t have noticed this man had it not been for how loudly he spat across the walking path as we passed.  I hoped he was merely there to make a quick drug transaction and would soon be on his way.  But when my girls skipped toward the motorcycle ride he let out an exasperated sigh and returned to his post.  The girls whirled round and round, beeping and waving, but I could look only to the disturbed young man and wonder who could have hired this boy?  He’d be perfectly cast in the role of a serial killer.  An hour later I was in a deep debate with myself over whether or not the employees were deserving of my intense scrutiny or if perhaps I was actually bored and my imagination was at play.  It was a relief to find nothing remarkable about the car-ride operator.  She may have wanted for a little cosmetic dentistry, and maybe a hair brush, but that benefits most of us.  When she began chatting I thought, finally someone who enjoys working here.  But then she leaned down, much too close to Z’s face, and croaked, “You can’t come in!  Haaahaaahaa!”  And if that weren’t funny enough, she paused long enough to utterly confuse the girls.  I informed them it was a joke.  They didn’t get it.  None of us did.  As the kids went round and round, she persisted with her monologue no matter how many steps backward I took.  Her three-year-old niece gets spanked with the belt regularly, her sister should know better since their mother beat them all their lives, she hopes the niece will grow up to retaliate against her sister, she’d like to have kids one day but works at Oaks Park in the meantime as a form of birth control, on the weekends she’s a nanny.

I don’t look for these people.  They find me. 

That’s all I’ve got.


5 responses to “Oaks Park

  1. Oaks Park is no place for children….


  2. i have stayed away from oaks park. the idea of a park with rides is alluring and yet, i remember the freaky carnie people. this story is gross and your cop friend is right, by the way. thank you for this story – it renews my feeling that i dont want to go there. to the park. with the kids. have you been to the roller skating? i’m interested in this – it seems family friendly. anybody?

  3. Now that was fun to read!!!!

    Now… who too is judging people by there looks? My previous statement about our shared teacher and her teeth made this all the more funny for me to read after my previous e-mail to you. hee…… hee

    By the way, I like Oaks park, not the best and brightest people will you find working there… but think on this…. many are just not able to function at any other job. Let’s hope they at least perform a background check. The story was great to read… keep at it!

  4. I LOVE oaks park!
    If you have not brought your children there, shame on you. They are missing out on one of Portland’s great treasures. I mean, aren’t we all just two paychecks from being carnies, anyway?
    I got married there. Well, we got married at a nice church, but had our reception there. One day while riding the campiest haunted house rides in the nation, my future husband looked at me and said, “I think we should have our reception here.” The rest is history. From the endless picnic tables next to the beautiful white table cloths and silver and china, to the skirts I made them hang around the drippy sinkis in the bathroom. Everyone who attended our wedding said it was the BEST wedding they ever went to! Old neighbors ramming each other on the bumper cars, flying down The Big Pink in my wedding dress….
    As I mounted the spider ride, I heard one carnie say to another, “watch this, I am going to make the bride puke.”
    You can never take that away from me! (I did not puke until much later that night)
    I think we have all gotten to old and to serious if we can no longer see Oaks Park through the eyes of a kid.
    Keep taking the kids. It just might keep them out of the business…

  5. oh Jr. who are you??? i love the stories from you wedding, you make me wish i had been there. what a way to start a marriage – fun and quirky and free and happy!

    i have found her! my fantasy persona!

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