Palisades Amusement Park was across the Hudson River and a bit further West than the opposite bank from where I would gaze. I was devastated when they closed it down. As it was, the Amusement Park was a downsized Seven Flags Great Adventure before there was a Great Adventure Amusement Park.
It had kiddie rides and big thrill rides. Naturally, the big thrill rides were mild when compared to what they now offer in the extravagant Parks of today. The Roller Coasters didn’t turn you upside down or go backwards. They also didn’t do loop de loops. But you still screamed your bloody head off when you plunged down that first big hill. They had a ferris wheel, not as big as Coney Island, but big enough for someone who has a dread of heights to start praying when it stopped your gondola at the tippy top. Half the time I had my eyes closed when I rode those things. I have no idea why I did that to myself, but I smartened up in time and stopped going on them.
Over the George Washington Bridge and then not too far South in New Jersey was this wonder of wonders, Palisades. What made it so fabulous for me was not the rides, which I just tolerated, nor the warm lemonade with the back stroking fly taking a swim. It was neither of those two things. The thrill for me were the games of chance.
Those games gave you a fairer shake than the come hither wheels of fortune that you find at three-day carnivals which pop up on every open expanse bordering the highways of Long Island. Thirty numbers on the wheel, each number divided by three or four nails, only the center one painted with a white line got you the super prize. You would put one dime down on a number. The game Barker would spin the wheel and there you have it. Winner or Not.
I was still living at home when I won and brought home a doll. My prize was beautiful. A chubby faced doll with a buster brown hair cut including the full set of bangs. At about 28 inches tall she was clad in a party dress, anklets, and black patent leather shoes. What made her really so special was I had chosen a doll with sparkly, blue hair. It matched her eyes and dress perfectly.
Oh, they had realistic looking dolls with brown, black or blonde hair, but as is my bent I just had to have the whimsical blue haired baby doll. All for one thin dime I had won a fantasy. Even as old as I was she drew me as if she had called my name. I didn’t realize I wasn’t the only one in my family who would fall in love with her.
My Grandmother could not keep her hands off that doll from the first moment I brought her home. I was about seventeen at the time and Grandma was in her late sixties. There was just something about that doll that made you feel happy when you looked at her and I can only attribute it to the beautiful blue hair. We almost had a tug of war over that doll, but my Mother intervened and convinced my Grandmother that it was my doll and she should stop being silly about it.
I decided that my doll would live in the room with my sister, Christine, and me. (That room is a story for another day). I sat doll on the dresser where I assumed she would stay. However, every evening when I came home from work (Trade Bank and Trust Company) the doll would be sitting in the middle of my Grandmother’s bed. Without a word I would retrieve her and put her back on the dresser. The next evening when I returned from work the doll would be back on her bed. Once again I would retrieve it.
This went on for about a month. Finally, I asked Grandma, why she kept taking my doll. The look in her eyes when she said in her beautiful broken english, “I don’t know, I just like her so much. She is simpatico.”
From that day forward the doll with the blue hair sat in the middle of my Grandmother’s bed. She sat there until the sun finally faded her beautiful hair and party dress to shades of gray. But even then her sweet face could make you smile.
Even now I adore any sort of doll with a look of whimsy. They make me smile.