Saturday, March 28, 2009

#091-365 Fair or Amusment Park

You may see a slight si,ilarity to the shot Glenn posted on Luna Park. This shot is taken on my Ferry trip to Taronga Park Zoo and shows Luna Park located just to the west of the Northern End of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Milson's point. This is one of the places I could never get enough of as a kid, They had the Big Dipper, which if you were tough you used to ride standing up to slap the "Remain Seated" Signs as you passed them. This ride seemed passe by the time I was 13 and they introduced the Mighty Mouse, smaller and much faster with tighter turns and I know of no-one who stood up on that.

The Luna Park of today must be far different to the one I knew so I won't go back, it would be too disappointing. Back then we ran a real risk of being injured (that was the fun) getting airborne on the big slippery dip was a real achievement especially if you could get above the protective bags and hit the wooden barrier, you were a hero. (A Nut but a Hero) The operator of the Discus (a giant spinning plate) would take it up to maximum velocity to dislodge the kids that had locked arms to prevent being thrown off onto the padded bags, and boy did we travel as we were spun off. They would not be allowed to do that today, yet in our day that was why we went there, "Ya Could split ya skull" Mum used to scream, but we were tough.

I remember the "Wall of death" were you would put yourself in a giant drum which would slowly pick up speed until the bottom suddenly dropped, leaving you stuck with centrifugal force to the wall. This wasn't that cool except that one day the bloke next to me lost his breakfast, and it splattered everyone stuck to the wall EXCEPT for yours truely, I laughed for hours, (Nerves I guess he could have been on the other side) No-one (who was cool) went on the Ferris Wheel or the Merry-Go-Round that was for ankle biters (Little Kids) but last year at the Brisbane Exhibition (Our Big Fair) The Merry-Go-Round was closed as the council deemed that it was too dangerous despite it having been deemed safe by inspectors from WorkSafe Victoria and WorkCover NSW. the ride had operated without a major accident since 1951. But the stopped it. The World has Gone Crazy _ Stop The World I want to Get Off - it may be unsafe.

When I was about 15, I was dating a girl from Northbridge a sydney suburb and a friend was dating her girlfriend and we were going to go for the day at Luna Park, I had saved three pounds to pay for her and I all day. My mate and I were waiting near the bus stop for the girls, (For some reason their parents didn;t seem to like us - maybe tammy can explain that).
As we were waiting, A big Pink Thunderbird crested the rise and got a puncture - more prevelent then than today. and who should step out of the car but "Johnny O'Keefe" himself resplendent in his sequinned pink suit with stove pipe trousers and fake leopard skin lapels, He was on his way to the TV studio where he produced the weekly rock show "Six O'Clock Rock" which we would get to see the next night, He looked at the flat tyre amd cursed profusely.

For those not up with the Australian Rock scene of the sixties and seventies, JOK (Johnny O'Keefe) was our answer to Elvis. His voice didn't have the purity and smothness of Elvis, but his magnetism and performance energy may have been bigger. He had one go at the US failed and never went back. However he impressed a lot of big name US performers, and I heard the after playing on the same card with Ray Charles, Ray was so impressed he gave JOK the lyrics and music to "Shout" and stated that he (Ray) would wait three months before cutting his version. I say heard as I have never read this only heard the anecdote. But saw an interview that Casey Cassem had with Ray Charles where Ray mentioned johnny By Name and praised his version of Shout.

Anyway, JOK wasn't dressed to change tyres, so he looked at us and said "Hey boys can you change a tyre?" We responded in the affirmative calling him Mr O'Keefe, (Told you it was a different world!) we changed the tyre in about ten minutes and he gave us 10 pound each.
This was a fortune, my Dad was only earning about 12 pound a week at that time, so let me say we had a fantastic day at Luna Park, were late home as could be expected and the girls were forbidden from seeing us ever again and were grounded for life (It must have been a fortnight before we went out again).

As an aside another Girl I was dating years later, expressed a desire, to go to the Seven Hills Workers club to see JOK perform, I suggested somewhere else, but she insisted, stating if I wanted to keep on dating, we would see JOK. I went unenthusiastically, but came out of the show an absolute JOK Fan in a big way, his rendition of Mockingbird with Margaret MacLaren, although a bit raw is the best I have ever heard. The man was as electric as any performer I have ever heard.

As Julie so rightly pointed out I didn't do Honour by the Wild One (JOK) HERE is the website she most kindly provided, you can even hear his rendition of SHOUT, his Theme song.

25 comments:

Sherrie said...

Hi!
Looks like a great place to go! Although I not all that fond of roller coasters! Thanks for stopping by my place. Have a great evening!

Sherrie

365photosin2009 said...

It's a cool shot, Ron. I love old amusement parks but I agree they don't retain the same excitement they must have had in the old days. I loved reading your story but am dismayed that you didn't include a link to Johnny O'Keefe's official website where your readers can see and listen to videos of some of his hit songs:

http://www.johnnyokeefe.com.au/video.html

Fun stuff!

EstherF said...

That is a great story! Thanks for sharing.

Rachel said...

Looks like fun, although I think the giant face is kind of creepy!

mljrbg said...

Nostalgia...great story. The amusement park that we went to was called Riverview and I have many fond memories of going there. It was torn down many years and now is a shopping center.

barbs said...

Ron, that is a great picture but I love the story and your memories even better! You really have a knack for storytelling. I hope you are saving your stories - these would make a grat book. I needed a good fun memory today. Keep it up.

Chesney said...

Wonderful shot, especially across the water! Really loved your story though, memories, ahhhh......

DART said...

I think that giant face is kinda creepy too! LOL And I certainly would not pass up a Ferris Wheel ride! I've never been on one where the seats had a roof though! At that height one could definitely get some neat photos! : )

tterlyn said...

Great photo, and great memories too. I like the odd face and towers, just perfect for a park like this. your story is awsome too.

Iona said...

Truly, I believe when we relive such wonderful memories from childhood, it is because we have such vivid imaginations when we were kids. We were invincible. Nothing could hurt us. We would live forever and live our dreams. That is what this amusement park is built on, providing the dreams or making new ones . . . for when we grow older and have fond memories to look at! lol

Great shot, Ron. But I agree with some of the other comments. Didn't I see a boat at the dock? I'd rather go out on the boat for my photo op. lol

Linda said...

Although Rachel thinks the face is creepy. I love it. It brings so much pizazz to the photo.

Debra said...

Wonderful shot and a great story!

ellens365 said...

Fun shot and great story once again, I don't think I'd go back either, disappointment would be so likely.

Glenn's 365 Photoblog said...

Ron. Great shot. I've never been to Luna Park in Sydney. Gees, I've only been to melbourne Luna Park and didn't ride anything except take the 2 photos I've posted. Fantastic story. Well done and thanks for your continued comments. Very much appreciated.

klsbear said...

Now that is some story to go along with the shot! I can see why you don't want to go back again - it would be a shame to taint the memories.

Sunny said...

The Merry-Go-Round was TOO DANGEROUS? Good grief! Why do some people think kids must be protected from EVERYTHING? (Why do they think they CAN protect kids from everything?) Who are these nuts? Who let them out???

Kim said...

I agree! The face is creepy but the image is just so colorful, it fits! Great shot!

Tracy Lee said...

Fun photo, and great story behind it, too.

KimR. said...

Another colorful shot, it looks like a fun place to spend time!

Edmund said...

Great take on this theme.. Nicely done. Great story. When I get done reading all your stories I am going to write a book about your adventures.

shadowsandhighlights said...

Wow Ron, I don't know which I like better, the photo or the story!!!
They're BOTH outstanding!!!

Clara said...

Ron, I enjoy your stories so much. They always take me for a trip down memory lane. It was so nice to see another take on Luna Park, also. I feel like I am getting a free tour of Australia.

SysterLilli said...

I'm surprised! For me it seems very strange that the girls parents didn't like you? ;)
Love your story and the picture. :)

gregworld said...

Really great story Ron! I grew up in a very rural area where my father was a coal miner. Each year, as a treat for the kids, the miners' union would lease an amusement park for the day and we'd have the run of the place. No tickets, ride as much as you want! Love the photo.

~Val said...

Very cool! Love the face peeking out...