Christmas of 1974 was the beginning of a series firsts for me, and a Christmas I actually remember the gifts I received. Some of these gifts I still own, though they are located at my parents' house. I opened (the ugliest) gold suitcase and overnight case, but along with the luggage came a plane ticket. I was going to Florida with my grandparents then flying home BY MYSELF...my first time to Florida and my first plane ride. The thought of going on this trip was exciting, but I had never been away from home for such a long period of time.
Santa brought me another gift for my trip, and probably one of my favorite gifts of all time -- my very own camera. Up until then, I took photos with a box camera my parents let me use. Now I had my own 110 camera, and I got to choose a sticker from a sheet to personalize it as MINE. I chose the lion sticker, which my dad put on for me.
After the first of the year, mom and dad drove me to my grandparents' house across the state, where I was packed in the back of their car with my aunt. I don't remember much of the car trip down, except I have the vivid memory of my grandpa lifting me upside down and teasing me about throwing me in the alligator pit. It was one of those roadside tourist places that was also a gas station. It was the first time I had seen an alligator up close and personal (and hopefully the last).
Oh, I do remember other firsts from this trip....my first time having to share a bed and having the covers taken from me (thank you Aunt Donna).....my first time picking oranges and grapefruit right from a tree....my first (and last) sip of beer (yes, Aunt Donna again)...my first trip to Busch Gardens.....my first time riding an elephant.....my first time seeing and talking to a WWII vet that lost limbs in the war (one neighbor of my grandparents had no arms at all...and one was in a wheelchair with no legs)....and the highlight of the trip: My FIRST trip to Disney World.
Disney World was much different then, as you had to have tickets for all the individual rides. The tickets were different colors based on the excitement of the ride, maybe? I remember having a ticket book with many green tickets and few red and yellow ones (with letters on them?). I could be wrong, as this was many years ago...way before Epcot and the other parks. I remember a few rides from my Disney Experience: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the witch from Snow White popping out at every turn, going over a waterfall in Pirates of the Caribbean, the ghosts following me home at the Haunted Mansion (another story for another time), and of coarse Small World. My grandparents and aunt went on all of these rides with me.
The ride that I wanted to go on the most took a coveted yellow E ticket....and my grandparents would NOT ride it with me. The ride had just opened up at Disney World on January 15th, and I was JUST barely tall enough to ride. My aunt said she'd ride with me. I bet we stood in line for over an hour, maybe longer, but I don't remember that part. I do remember the darkness...and the falling stars....and the excitement. I remember being measured to make sure I was tall enough, and the employee making my aunt take off her glasses. It was probably the most exciting 2 1/2 minutes of my young life, and the moment I fell in love with roller coasters.
If you haven't guessed yet, the ride was Space Mountain and my FIRST roller coaster ride. I got to be one of the first kids to ride it (That was just luck!)....and I was 5 years old. (You can skip the math on how old I am...thank you).
I've ridden many, many roller coasters over the years, but nothing is like the thrill of that first one. My daughter has the same love of roller coasters (my son does NOT!), so we spend most of our amusement park days on coasters of all types.
1. Put the following prompt at the beginning or end of your submission, so readers will know what you’re supposed to do.
Wednesday’s Prompt: Select a topic from the list of firsts and write about it. Post poetry, prose, a memoir, nonfiction, or an essay.
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