His daughter-in-law told Charlie Bates she thought his six-year-old granddaughter, Charlotte, might be too young, too frightened, to take her first ride on the Rainbow Fun Park’s famous Ferris wheel, though Charlie was adamant.
“I had my first ride on The Rainbow when I was Charl’s age,” Charlie said. “You just make sure you get a picture or two of us on it with your phone, okay?”
When Charlie arrived home that evening, he found six photos of Charlotte and him beaming as they whirled above the soon-to-close-forever amusement park attached to an email that read in part: “Rode nearly every ride at the Fun Park, and all she could talk about on the way home was riding with you on that Ferris wheel, Dad.”
Charlie breathed a whistle and clicked SAVE on each colorful shot, while with his left hand he clicked the shiny serrated edge of an old black and white photo of an old man and a boy, on the back of which was written in his Mom’s hand: “Dad and Charlie, age 6, ride The Rainbow, 1958.”
When I saw Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction prompt word WHEELS this week, I knew I wanted to twist that tale just a little. Luckily (or maybe not so luckily), the storied Hoffman’s Playland, an Albany area institution for more than 60 years, closed last week to much fanfare and sadness. As a kid who had his first amusement park rides at Hoffman’s, and as a new granddad, I knew I had to write something like this story.