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Friday, May 6, 2016

From the Midway: Do you think you could tell?

Monday, June 8, 2009

There have always been many unwritten codes of being a man that most guys would never talk about.

For example, we've always been taught that a real man figures things out, you don't ask for directions or let alone you never actually read any directions.

This is hard for me to admit, but once I really had to break down and ask for directions. It was during Christmas of 1995. At the time I was working for the amusement park at the Iowa Great Lakes.

My job was to take one of the three roller-coaster cars to Philadelphia. It was the first time that the old coaster at the park had received a set of new cars since before, well I really don't know when, but it had to have been a real long time.

I drove cross-country in a flatbed pick-up truck with a rollercoaster car on back. It was late December and I had to find a company call the Philadelphia Toboggan Company.

When I pulled into the out-skirts of the city I started to look for the suburb that I had to be in at about 10 in the morning.

My arrival was unfortunately much later than 10 a.m.

I could not find this town on any maps and the clock was ticking and I broke down and asked a kind lady at a gas station how to get to my destination. After a left here and a right there and another right at McDonalds, I ended up at Philadelphia Toboggan Company.

As luck would have it, the workers and management were in the midst of their Christmas Party and I came wandering in when the pizza was just about done.

If I'd had been just 10 minuets later I would be stuck in Philadelphia until after New Year's.

But everything turned out all right, we quickly got the coaster car unloaded and the people at the factory got to go home for Christmas and me, well. I got to go on a tour with the owner of the company through their factory. In a warehouse area there were dozens of old roller coaster cars just stacked up on top of one other. It was so cool to see.

My little tour got even better. I, like many folks, am a Skee-Ball junky and it turned out that this was the birthplace of Skee-Ball. Before the company of Skee-Ball was formed the machines were made at the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. In fact the Skee-Ball Company is currently located in the same town as the toboggan company.

During my tour I got to see some of the first Skee-Ball machines ever made. I was in carnie heaven.

So after that great tour I had to head back to Iowa, but still to this day I'm not proud of myself for having to ask for directions. But if I had not, I would not been able to experience everything that I saw while at the Philadelphia Toboggan Company.

So, next time you ride the roller-coaster at Arnolds Park be sure to check out the roller-coaster cars that were made in Philadelphia.

Mike Leckband
From the Midway