• Joe Pace

Granite State of Mind, #59: Canobie Lake Park, Salem


Six Flags on meth

I have such mixed feelings about New Hampshire's big old theme park. It's got everything you're looking for in these places, with rides and midway games and all the rest, but it's also got a lot of what makes tourist traps like these unbearable, with long lines and overpriced food. And the crowds! New Hampshire Republicans may buy into the whackadoodle conspiracy theory about buses of Massachusetts voters streaming across our southern border to commit voter fraud, but they're not headed to the polls. They're all at Canobie Lake Park, drinking lite beer and smoking unfiltered cigarettes and dragging their mannerless litters from one aging attraction to the next. I'll talk about the Stratham Fair another time, but it's the same kind of soulless atmosphere that has taken over that once-provincially awesome event. It doesn't help that Canobie is over a hundred years old and looks it.

All of that said, I somehow have fond memories of Canobie, from before I apparently became an old man yelling at the kids to get off my lawn. We used to schlep out there for high school field trips - in particular, I can recall a band trip, and a rite-of-passage physics class trip senior year where we were supposed to be doing calculations about the rides. Yeah, we got right on that. Aren and Whitney, do you still have that packet? Anyway, when you're 17 or 18 you're wired to put up with the bustling droves of unwashed humanity, armored with reserves of youth and optimism. Fun, it would seem, is for the young, or at least those with a young heart. Somewhere along the way I seem to have misplaced both.

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