My father worked in the B.F. Goodrich tire factory in Akron as an inspector. My mom stayed home and took care of her three children. Summers, we would rent a cottage on Chippewa Lake, about 10 miles from Medina. It was the one “extravagance” we indulged in all year.
There was an amusement park (closed in 1978 finally) that had a roller coaster called The Big Dipper. My two brothers, two cousins and I loved to ride it, even though it wasn’t really very big, or high or fast. Daddy could afford maybe two or three 20-cent tickets for the roller coaster for the whole vacation for each of us and then we were on our own. “Enjoy the fresh air and water,” was the usual refrain when we started pushing and whining for more rides on the Dipper and other attractions.
We resorted to collecting deposit bottles. Quart-sized bottles brought 4 cents, regular-sized ones brought 2. We would fan out with little burlap sacks, or cardboard cartons and gather, gather, gather.
The crazy thing was that we wouldn’t collect enough for three or four rides, even though there were more than enough bottles strewn around to do so. We’d collect enough bottles then cash them in for just enough for one ride on The Dipper. The thrill over, we’d ride our bikes back outside the park to the cottage lanes and in back of stores and start all over.
Our family would arrive on Monday morning and stay for two weeks. On the Saturday before the Sunday when we were to return to Medina, my dad and uncle, seeing how hard we had been working to earn our daily rides, would spring for a few extra tickets for us.
Thinking back, the deposits were a lot of money in relation to what 2 or 4 cents could buy. I think the actual sodas were 10, then maybe 15 cents.
I went back to Chippewa Lake when I was in Medina for my 40th high school reunion. The cottages seem nicer, much improved. The amusement park was in ruins. Eerie, haunted by old happy times that only live on in memories now. We sure did love all that running around. Free as birds and happier than we knew.