I never did make it to Coney Island. Shame on me.

Now it is too late for me to visit an American entertainment icon. The amusement park which entertained generations has closed its gates for the last time over the weekend.

Astroland theme park is no more.

This historic closing makes me nostalgically reflect on the theme parks of my youth which are largely a thing of memories as well.

My parents would take me to Frontier Village in San Jose, California. Now it's a housing development. But it was once a place of wonders and childhood adventures. Although the park closed when I was 9, I spent a good chunk of those first years with my parents and grandparents at this Bay Area attraction. Luckily many have worked on keeping the memory alive with the website www.frontiervillage.net.

Another staple of my childhood was Santa's Village in Scotts Valley, California. This was an even simpler concept than Frontier Village. Santa. Mrs. Claus. The elves. Some kiddie rides. A petting zoo. That's all a kid needed back then to be entertained at a "theme" park. You can share the memories at this heartfelt and dedicated site:
www.santasvillage.net/santas.village.scotts.valley.html.

I even have fond memories of the theme park formerly known as Marine World Africa U.S.A.--now known as Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. The original site in Redwood City was tiny in comparison to its new home in Vallejo, California. The biggest attractions then were the elephant rides and the giant ball pit. Here is a nostalgic review from a fellow fan of that theme park's glory days: www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/parenting/detail?blogid=29&entry_id=14180

How is it that kids were entertained without multi-million dollar roller coasters and $10 souvenir cups??

It wasn't that long ago in the whole scheme of things. But life did seem simpler then. Even as America recovered from Watergate and Vietnam and Jimmy Carter, it was fun being a kid.

Theme parks had true character then.

I can empathize with those East Coasters who are mourning the loss of Astroland.

May it rest in the peace and quiet and beauty of our memories.