Thursday, July 21, 2005

OKIE BOYHOOD MUSINGS PART 2

The other night when I posted about pro wrestlers and TV personalities from my childhood in Oklahoma City, I should have included a couple of amusement parks that were a huge part of my childhood.

There was Wedgewood Village, which was owned and operated by Maurice Woods, who was the father of my friend Bobby Woods. (I heard from Bobby a couple of years ago. He's a lawyer in Los Angeles now.)

Take a look at this photo of the park's grand opening in 1958. I think I was there that day. (I would have been four or five.) Notice the robot looking over the crowd in the top right corner? That's Bazark, a character on the 3-D Danny show.

One of my earliest memories is going to Wedgewood with my mother and grandmother (and I assume my little brother) to see the 3-D Danny show live. The day before on the show the announcer said that if you're at Wedgewood and see 3-D and Foreman Scotty in danger, you should warn them.

At Wedgewood I saw my heroes and a huge robot was sneaking up on them. I ran onto the set screaming and crying, warning them about the robot behind them. I wish there was a videotape of that show. I remember 3-D and Scotty (the late Steve Powell, who later married my brother's kindergarten teacher) being very nice to me, trying to calm me down -- despite the fact I'd ruined their scene.

Then there was Springlake Amusement Park, an older, funkier park on the city's northeast side. Springlake originaly was built in the 1920s.

Both parks hosted concerts that make up some of my earliest musical memories.

At Wedgewood, I saw Herman's Hermits , Johnny Rivers and Gary Lewis & The Playboys. (The Web site says the Yardbirds and the Who also played there. I don't know how I could have missed those.)

At Springlake I saw The Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers, Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs, and most importantly, The Everly Brothers. My grandfather went to that concert with us and loved the Everlys because they, like he, was from Kentucky. Shortly after my grandfather died in 1967, the Everly Brothers had a modest hit with "Bowling Green," which has the refrain, "A man from Kentucky sure is lucky ..."

Both Wedgewood and Springlake have been gone for years. Ironically, the only amusement park left from my youth is Frontier City, which used to be pretty crappy, though it's now a Six Flags operation.

At least the Oklahoma City Zoo is still up and running.

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