Lest the reader get the impression that this article will be only about fiery destruction, I'll quickly confirm that Old Orchard Beach is neither gone nor forgotten. It is
still a thriving destination for fun-seeking vacationers. This is my tribute to Old Orchard, a place that was a very special part of my childhood in the fifties and sixties, including some background on earlier times, highlighting the amusements, funhouses and dark rides of those days.

Being a native New Englander, Old Orchard is the subject of some of my fondest childhood memories. My family made many trips there during the 1950s and 60s. It was a long drive before the interstate was built. My uncle worked for the Boston and Maine Railroad and had a pass that we sometimes used for train trips there. Of all the parks we went to in the area, Old Orchard was always the most special, the once-a-summer treat that could keep us awake the night before, anticipating its unique delights. The three funhouses and two Pretzel rides were my primary agenda, and it was here at Old Orchard Beach that I "grew up", where I first learned to walk a funhouse barrel without my father's help, and where I learned the perils of eating an orange snow cone and a slice of pizza followed by a ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl. Join me for a little history, nostalgia, and a very sentimental journey.
It's all pretty modern and up to date nowadays, but the thing about going there in the fifties was that it was really like being there in the twenties. Things like the rides, food stands and souvenir shops had been there, decade after decade, with not much more in the way of an update
than a new coat of paint. It was a place you thought would never change because it hadn't for almost as long as anybody remembered. The beach, the Ark, the pier. My parents would tell me how they'd danced in the Casino after my father came home from the war. We'd dream about it all year, knowing it would all be just the same when we came back next summer. Until it wasn't.
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