As I write about my teen years, the end of school trip to Conneaut Lake Park, north of us, begs to be written. Ninth grade allowed us to ride the yellow school buses through the windy State Route 18 countryside to the small amusement park in Crawford County. Maybe it was small but it kept us occupied all day.
Set in the lush western Pennsylvania northwest, I remember the trees shading the midway. The elegant Conneaut Hotel at the end of a stretching green lawn bordering the lake. A sandy beach for swimmers, but we didn't swim on the school day.
The first year I had a boyfriend. We didn't date, as he didn't drive. Our only real date was the Sadie Hawkins Dance in the fall, when my friend encouraged me to ask him, as she needed a double date for her car date. Our first kiss was after we got "married" by Marryin' Sam.
He couldn't hide his excitement at the ride called the Hell Hole, with centrifugal force allowing some strange positions until it pinned you against the wall. He pointed out some of the guys turning upside down during this process. Of course, there was the Blue Streak, the creaky old wooden roller coaster that whipped us kids around. Someone always got a minor scrap or scrap on that trip. My shin received a gouge from a turn. At last, we rode the Ultimate Trip, a scrambler inside a building with a black light and wild rock music. We kissed on that ride. I couldn't at fourteen have felt better.
The long ride back on those straight seats provided some necking time as well. The rural roads dark until we hit Greenville, then a few "Ooh's" as the neckers were discovered if they didn't realize how close they were to the light. My boyfriend knew and we ceased through that borough.
In tenth grade, we had broken up about a month before school ended. Being a fickle girl, I ended it to go to prom with a senior. Maybe one of the stupidest mistakes I made relationship wise. He was a good boyfriend, but we could never get back together. I wanted to that summer when I realized how much I missed him, but it wasn't to happen, no matter how often I contrived. I rode back on the bus with his friend, commiserating. I'm sure that wasn't what he wanted on that dark ride with all the necking going on.
I'm not sure if I went my junior year. Driving for a while, we probably all thought we were too old to ride that bus anymore and found something else to do that day on our own. My senior year, I was working, grateful to have graduation day off.
I had other trips to Conneaut Lake Park with groups on buses, like with Degree of Honor Lodge and Rainbow Girls, when we had Grand Assembly at Edinboro College, then. I was more interested in the swimming that time in hot August. The bathhouse reminded me of the old beach movies.
A few trips with my nieces and the girls when they were small. The last time, Conneaut was just a shadow of itself. Maybe like that first boyfriend, never meant to be again and we grow up and on to different avenues.