Having a brother with a disability was not so bad. One of my favorite memories is going to Rocky Point on “Handicapped Children’s Day,” an outing sponsored by the Warwick Elks. We would start the day off at the massive Chowder Hall, and fill ourselves to the brim with chowder and clamcakes. Normally, when we purchased clamcakes to eat at home, we would each get three, but on this day, there was no end in sight! And they were so good!
After eating, we would go over to the park and Mom would sit on a comfy bench in the shade reading a favorite book while we went around to the rides. Curtis was very easy to please and eager to go on any ride, the faster the better. We loved zipping through the curves and dips on the Wild Cat even before the other, more daring roller coasters were added to the park. The Tilt O’Whirl was a favorite of Curtis’, but I suspect this particular ride fed into his need to spin around and around. His most favorite ride was the Turnpike where he would pretend to drive just like our dad drove, drove, drove us cross country. He actually giggled as we drove down the hill, probably reminiscing about all of the mountain passes we drove through with Dad.
I loved to go in the Haunted House. Because of Curtis’ vision and hearing impairments, he would think we were just riding along in a car, not being able to hear the screams and screeches, nor see the woman being sliced in half by the chain saw, so we were both happy.
The chair lift provided some peaceful reminiscence, as a favorite travel activity was to go on chair lifts at ski resorts around the country, albeit in non-ski weather. There is just something about the heart pounding while quickly jumping on the lift and then slowly going up the mountain, (or hill, in the case of Rocky Point.) Looking down, one could always spot a flip flop or sneaker on the ground below and picture the owner walking around the park with only one foot covered. At the top, when the chair would twirl around quickly to go in the other direction, and a warm, tingly moment would invade the pit of my stomach, the awe-inspiring downhill scenery would come into view. Whether it was a mountain valley, or the ocean shore at Rocky Point, the wonderment was always the same.
The Carousel animals were ornate and inviting, obviously designed with a lot of care. It would always take me a while to choose the perfect one; did I want the giraffe? The tiger? The Ostrich? Of course, it had to be one that went up and down, not the boring ones that just stood in place on the outer layer. Curtis, however, preferred to sit on the bench and just ride around and around. Of course, he was buckled in safely so as not to spin off in the opposite direction.
The train was another of Curtis’ favorite rides, although it was a little tame for me. However, seeing as I dragged him on my favorite rides, the least I could do was humor him while he sat on the seat and moved his arm up and down to simulate the train whistle with a big smile on his face.
I not only had happy memories of time spent with my brother on “Handicapped Children’s Day at Rocky Point”, but was also later able to include my own children on this special day because they also have disabilities. One picture that has stuck in my mind is of Francis, at the age of four, wearing his dark sunglasses, and pretending to drive a little automobile on the kiddie car ride, also with a big grin on his face. Like my brother, he envisioned himself driving even though visually that would never be an activity he could do.
This event was the highlight of my summers for many, many years and it is only fitting to thank the members of the Warwick Elks Club for their efforts to make this day special. Although Rocky Point has been closed for years, and I no longer have a brother or children to appreciate the rides, the happy memory lives on, as I am sure it does in the hearts of thousands of children with disabilities. Thank you, Warwick Elks Club!
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