Saturday, March 12, 2005

The day the carnies came to town

There's an old-school Eagles Lodge on North Lombard in North Portland. It looks like it might have been a grocery store or a library or something else a long time ago. It has a big parking lot, and it's pretty worn down, no trees, and in the summertime, the asphalt bakes and the cracks grow weeds.In late June, the parking lot usually has a fireworks stand, with a great selection of Climbing Pandas, Spinning Pagodas, and tank-inspired pyrotechnics. It's the kind of place that gentrification slowly gobbles up. Maybe someday it will be a Trader Joe's, and we'll talk about when it was the Eagles Lodge. The signs at the Eagles Lodge were painted by hand or stencil, advertising Bingo, and Saturday night dinner and dancing, with T-Up at 6:00pm. I have this image in my head of yellow fluroescent lighting and 50 years of smoke inside that building.

But two weeks ago something strange was afoot. In the parking lot, it seemed like over night, an entire carnival midway popped up, complete with a Zipper, spinning rides, games, and a trailer selling corndogs and cotton candy. The theme? Mardi Gras. I have no idea how they fit all of these rides and attractions into the parking lot, but they did. I couldn't believe all of this excitement was only several blocks away. We could hear the squeals of kids on the rides from our yard, and even had a boy stop us in the garden to ask us if we needed any help--he wanted to go on the rides and hoped to make some quick money. Aaah, the magnetism of the carnival. We couldn't resist.

The Eagles Lodge parking lot was now an entertainment venue for young couples and families. Parents with their children, climbing the 100 stairs to fly down the slides, teenage couples dressed up and just hanging out. The lights of the Dragon Wagon, Sizzler and Zipper illuminated that old crappy parking lot, making it seem magical and awfully exciting if you're 10 years old. AdRi played a game, and won me a stuffed animal. Actually, it was a mushroom with a frog on top. The worker--who was really nice though tooth challenged--said as he handed it to me, "You can kiss this frog and lick this mushroom all day long but it ain't gonna produce a prince". The perfect end to a romantic evening at the midway.

(photos from the carnival can be seen by clicking over there on my FlickR photos)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, it used to be a grocery store. Back in 1982 I used to walk to it with my sister.