Rickter Scale: Memorable moments on the midway

The Rickter Scale is a regular column

Rick Stiebel/Columnist

Sue and I knew something special was up when mom told us we better behave lest we spoil a surprise. We are separated by a mere 15 months that invariably had us with our arms wrapped together in a hug or our hands in a death grip on each other’s throats. Mom played her classic risk reward gambit mom to perfection with the patience of a chess master, deftly dangling the carat in front of us repeatedly throughout the seemingly endless day. Despite a few minor skirmishes, we managed to stick to the terms of the treaty until dad came home from work early, an occurrence as rare as Trump telling the truth. We knew somehow that something very special was in store when he loaded us into the car for a road trip without our older brothers.

Montreal’s only amusement park at the time was only about 20 minutes away, but it felt like another galaxy the moment dad purchased tickets and ushered us through the gate into Belmont Park for the first time in our six and seven odd years or so of existence. There was so much to take in that it felt like our senses would explode; the squeals of laughter and terror from the coaster that rolled high in the sky above us, the endless flicker of neon lights on rides we never imagined existed stretching in all directions as far as we could see.

Dad guided us over to a machine shaped like a giant wash basin spinning pink clouds of cotton candy, the sweet smell an appetizer before the sticky pulls melted into something that danced on our tongues.

READ MORE: Rickter Scale

The little Toy Story-like cars snaking around wooden tracks, boats moving in circles around the murky green moat we dipped our hands into when dad wasn’t looking remain ingrained. Each ride seemed to top the one before in a way that raised our excitement in a rising tide of wonder.

After as much excitement as our little legs could handle, dad had one last surprise tucked in his sleeve. Instead of heading home for supper, he sat us down on red leather stools that surrounded a huge outdoor grill covered by a tent-like tarp. We spun around in dizzying circles, shielded from the warm, gentle summer rain that began to fall.

We watched in wonder as the vendor arranged the hotdogs in rows that looked like the rollers at Steinberg’s that guided your groceries to the boy dad would tip with some loose change once the purchases were packed in large paper bags. Next to the wieners steamed a heap of onions cooked to transparency, except for the brown and black edges poking from the pile. A flock of buns, the kind I’ve never been able to find in B.C., filled the rest of the grille. They resembled folded slices of bread, the crusts facing outward while the white sides browned in a splash of simmering butter.

I don’t remember the drive home, but the grins remained fastened to our faces long after we finally fell asleep.

I wish I could watch my father read this, but he died on July 31, 2008. I miss him, and the furrows that creased his forehead whenever he held a newspaper in his hands.

The Rickter Scale is back after a short summer vacation. Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired local journalist.

Just Posted

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Greater Victoria high school students head to Honduran jungles, reefs for science

Students from St. Andrew’s High School spent the summer surveying the tropics

PHOTOS: Vancouver Canucks gear up for 50th season with Training Camp in Victoria

‘We have some great guys coming in,’ said player Elias Pettersson

Pacific FC to face off against FC Edmonton Saturday at Westhills Stadium

Visit the Goldstream News Gazette’s tent for your chance to win a prize pack

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Newcomer Ferland lines up with sniper Pettersson as Vancouver Canucks camp opens

Ferland provides more depth and a scoring threat up front, Pettersson says

Intelligence official charged seemed to be ‘exemplar of discretion’: UBC professor

Professor Paul Evans says he served on Cameron Ortis’s doctoral dissertation committee

B.C. police watchdog to investigate man’s head injury during RCMP arrest

Suspect fled on a bicycle and fell off when an officer attempted to stop him

Nanaimo company gets licence to test psychedelic drugs for therapy treatment

Salvation Botanicals interested in manufacturing, testing and research and development

‘A real shame’: B.C. MLA says factors behind Tolko mill closing should have been caught

Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson said the industry is in bad shape across the province

VIDEO: Seniors at B.C. assisted living facility shocked by Oct. 1 eviction notice

Building owners terminate lease for McGuire Lake Congregate Living in Salmon Arm

‘How does it even happen?’: Bear locks itself inside vehicle in Port Moody

It was apparent the suspect had gained entry with his ‘bear’ hands

Most Read