My father took me on all of these rides and others and between them, along with the giggles, laughs, and hugs there were yummy corn-dogs on a stick with bright yellow dripping mustard, sky blue sticky cotton candy, and glistening red candy apples.
My dad especially liked playing the games of chance with me - the rubber ring toss on to a hundred up right coca cola bottles, throwing three baseball's for a quarter at the furry clowns, or taking a beady eyed aim in the shooting gallery trying to knock down an iron silhouette of a turkey or a grisly bear with an air powered pellet gun.
And just like the postman's famous motto, "through rain, sleet, or snow," nothing would stop my father from taking me to my all time favorite ride on the Santa Monica Pier - ridding on the back of one of the majestic gem-studded horses on the Pier's carousel!I even had a favorite horse, though most of the time his flaring nostrils and flying mane terrified me. My father always reminded me that if I gently patted the horse's neck and whispered in his ear how much I liked him he wouldn't buck me off of him during the ride.
My father's sage advice worked like a charm every time. Not once did "Fierce," the name I bestowed on the jet black horse, throw me off his back. Even today, forty five years later my own son "Will" whispers in Fierce's ear and gives him a little pat on the neck before I lift him into Fierce's worn saddle, a testament to the endearing wisdom of my father.
The ritual always took place sitting on the white sand several yards North of the pier. I'd stare at the crashing waves and the squawking sea gulls with my father's big hairy arms wrapped around me holding me tight.Most of the time I'd ask my dad about his time in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War. Even at four years old I was fascinated with what I knew about the war, especially the planes and ships my father had been stationed on.
I'd ask him endless questions about the strange looking P-38 lightning airplane with those protruding machine guns that magically somehow shot bullets right through their own spinning propellers!
I would never fail to ask him over and over again about the time he was shooting pictures from a plane one late evening miles and miles from any land in the middle of the Pacific ocean with his trustworthy Speed Graphic camera when the plane's engines started sputtering strangely. The pilot suddenly over my father’s headset radio blurted out they had run out of gas and nervously informed my father to get ready to bail out!
My father was a navel reconnaissance photographer during the war. He was part of the "Kamera Kazies" photographic team who ended up setting up all the cameras to record the infamous first Hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands called Operation Cross Roads. But I will save these stories and what I talked about with my father for another time.For now, just know that the Santa Monica Pier and its lovely magical carousel brought a father and son together for some very, very special times together.
If you have children or a loved one you'd like to share a fun special place with, I encourage you to visit the pier while in LA. And if you do, please give Fierce a little pat on the neck for me and tell him I said "Hi."
Also, if you'd like some insider information on what to do and what to see in Santa Monica from someone who actually lives here, feel free to write me by going to the Contact page of this site.
Additional Santa Monica Pier and carousel stories
will be added to this site over a period of time (none right now). Check
back from time to time and click on the Stories, Memories links
above. Also if you'd like to see a series of photos of the Santa Monica
Pier, the amusement part and of course the carousel, click on the Gallery
For a terrific 360 degree look at the Santa Monica Pier check out this very cool QuickTime VR (QTVR) Panorama format image of the Pier (panoramic images surround the viewer). You may need the latest version of QuickTime (free from Apple.com) to see the image. How's it work? Simply click and move your mouse around the image! Take me to the Panorama of the Pier!