Let it Thrill

Joseph Jantsch, Spokane, WA.
From Letters to the Editor, Spokesman Review around 1968
During the time when we were fighting to save our carousel.

More power to Harriette Gnagney in her public spirited offer to preserve the famous landmark of Natatorium Park, the old merry-go-round of German (sic) vintage. May I add my voice to the urgency of her plea.

Although 36 years have passed, (1932?) it seems only yesterday that my wife and I beheld the thrill of our three year old son as he was drawn irrestistibly, despite his timorous caution, from one tree to another, by the alluring music of the carousel with its galloping horses.

The old merry-go-round should be preserved, but not as a museum piece. It should be kept active somewhere, somehow, with its music to gladden the heart of childhood. Its powerful melodic strains can never be equaled in thrills by any blaring of the best radio over the loudspeaker.

Let me close by saying: Let the merry-go-round go on and on; Let its stirring music play until the laughter of children has forever passed away.


Remembrances

Ron, Spokane, WA
(Ron has some souvenir carousel rings from Nat Park that he sometimes sells on e-bay. He includes the following paragraphs with each ring.)
Posted September, 2004

I first remember the marry-go-round (I don't remember it being called a Carrousel then) as a young boy in the 1950's when it was at an amusement park here in Spokane called Natatorium Park. My family and I went to "Nat Park" often to ride it and the other rides. It was in a big wooden building with sawdust on the floor and loud organ music playing. It was very exciting to go in and ride the horses. There were usually a lot of kids waiting to "bust loose" from the waiting area for the next ride. I always liked the black horse on the outside, so I would watch where it stopped and run around the closest "arc" to get it. If some other kid beat me to it I had to look frantically for another outside horse because nobody wanted to get stuck riding the inside slow horses with the little kids, the "standing mothers" who held their babies on the horse, and the kids too slow to get an outside horse. Besides, there are no rings for the inside riders.

After a loud clang of the bell we started moving. It was a pretty fast marry-go-round and the horses bound up and down at a really rapid pace in time with the loud organ music. If you were on an "up-bound" at the ring dispenser you could easily get one. There was a big canvas clown with his mouth open on the opposite side and you were supposed to throw your ring in the clown's mouth, but sometimes I would put it in my pocket as a souvenir. Also I used to pick rings up from the ground around the merry-go-round before the attendant could pick them up with his long pole. (Those attendants were fun to watch as they would lay the bent end of their pole on a ring and flick their wrist so that the ring would jump up on the end of the pole). The enclosed ring is one of those "kept" or "picked up" rings.

In the 1960's Nat Park closed and the fate of the merry-go-round was up in the air. The city tried to raise money to buy it and restore it and put it downtown at the site of Spokane's EXPO '74. They were successful and sometime in the late 70s or early 80s it was put in what is now called Riverfront Park. Since the early 1980s they use colorful plastic rings rather than the metal ones. Anyway, today the Looff Carrousel is a big attraction for tourists and locals alike in Spokane's Riverfront Park.

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