Live (almost) from Coney Island—PART FOUR: WHEEL OF WONDER

Photo: Jim Blythe

Photo: Jim Blythe

 

As Marilyn, Jim, and I headed back to Jones Walk I was still wondering if Jim would get on the Wonder Wheel with me.

 

Here's the THRILLS arrow in 1998. It's been there all my life and is still there. Photo: Jim Blythe

Here’s the THRILLS arrow in 1998. It’s the same today. Photo: Jim Blythe

 

To me the Wonder Wheel feels as if it’s always been here, part of my childhood, like the Parachute Jump, the Cyclone, and the Statue of Liberty.

 

It was built in 1920, is 150 feet tall, and some of the cars slide on rails, almost like a roller coaster, while at the same time swing, for a duel terror experience.

 

I was oddly sanguine considering I hadn’t been on this ride since I was kid.

 

Oh, this doesn't bode well. Photo: Jim Blythe

Oh, this doesn’t bode well. Photo: Jim Blythe

 

Photo: Jim Blythe

Photo: Jim Blythe

 

So Jim decided to come and we got in one of the non-swinging cars. The car, which is basically a cage, felt very rickety. Then I remembered it was almost 100 years old! It had been painted so many times the doors wouldn’t completely slide shut, but it was too late for second thoughts because we were already rising. That’s when I found out that the “stationary” cars actually sway.

 

I felt a surprising infusion of fear and vertigo. Really, I didn’t know this would scare me. Fear is unpleasant, but, in this case at least, it was also interesting. It’s why people go on scary rides in the first place.

 

 

Photo: Jim Blythe

Photo: Jim Blythe

 

Photo: Jim Blythe

Photo: Jim Blythe

 

Photo: Jim Blythe

Photo: Jim Blythe

 

Photo: Jim Blythe

Photo: Jim Blythe

 

Photo: Jim Blythe

Photo: Jim Blythe

 

 

So there we were, swinging in the wind, rising in a century-old cage that doesn’t close. I wanted to hold on, but I had a camera in one hand and Jim kept shuttling me back and forth on the bench as he frantically took pictures. Turns out he was the fearless one—a side effect, he told me, of being behind a camera.

 

 

Photo: Jim Blythe

Photo: Jim Blythe

 

 

More thrills next time.

 

 

A real-time experience on the Wonder Wheel, filmed and edited by Robb Alvey.

 

Weird fact—There’s a Rottweiler who lives in his own car on the Wonder Wheel. At least according to this video.

Posted in: Blog & Stories

3 comments

  1. Allison says:

    I guess the dog has no fear of heights

  2. Jim Blythe says:

    Sheila’s right. It was only when I started taking photos seriously, relatively late in life, that I understood why so many war photographers were killed. Although I am far from brave, when I’m trying to get a photo I forget all about my usual fears.

  3. Marilyn Jones says:

    So interesting. I did not like the dog thing. That seems cruel. I just want to free that dog and bring him home and cuddle him. What Jim said about being behind the camera is interesting. It is a great feeling to be so involved in something that everything else falls to the side. I could never get on a ride again – it is all nausea for me, but I used to love these kinds of things when I was a kid. Thanks, Sheila.

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