A View From the North Shore by Erno Rossi - Ed Mills, Survivor of the Cyclone at Crystal Beach Amusement Park

A View From the North Shore by Erno Rossi - Ed Mills, Survivor of the Cyclone at Crystal Beach Amusement Park

Ed Mills, Survivor of the Cyclone at Crystal Beach Amusement Park

"My most memorable ride in an amusement park occurred in July 1945, when I was on military leave in St. Catharines, Ontario. I had just turned 18 and had been in the Canadian Army for about 8 months. My two buddies and I spent a part of our leave in Crystal Beach, Ontario, which at that time was considered to be one of the greatest places for servicemen to have a good time. Besides, Crystal Beach was famous for having the most thrilling roller coaster ride in the Western Hemisphere. Being soldiers of course, and having been trained for all kinds of warfare, we had "no fear" of anything, except perhaps Military Police, and since we were on a legal pass, there was "nothing to fear". As soon as we entered the park one evening, we headed straight for the roller coaster, which was identified with a huge sign announcing "The Cyclone--Thrill of a Lifetime". After listening to the loud screams coming from the roller coaster, we decided that we must go on it right away, and promptly bought our tickets, which were I think about 15 cents or maybe 20 cents. We then stood in the line-up near the entrance gate, which happened to be very close to where the previous passengers got off. It was then that I first noticed the distinctive smell of vomit which was stronger as we got closer to the loading point. It was a bit disconcerting, but I was then immediately distracted by getting a whack in the face from something kind of leathery. It turned out to be a wallet which had fallen from the ride, and we opened it and it had a US Navy ID Card in it. As soon as the ride stopped, we saw the US sailor getting off the ride and called to him. He looked a bit dazed, and did not realize what had happened to his wallet.

It was then our turn to ride, and we ran to the coaster cars. Up the steep ramp we went, up, up and then up some more until we could see the entire amusement park. Just as I was enjoying the view, the car lurched forward and I looked in front of me down a steep incline that looked to me to be about an 89 degree slope. The cars then headed down the incline at warp speed, and all I could see in front of us was Lake Erie. I was sure there must have been a part of the tracks missing, and I then uttered my only two words during the entire ride... "Jesus Christ!" ...as we plunged down towards the Lake, I then saw a steep bank to the right of the incline and we changed directions in a split second, turning violently on our side as the car careened around a hairpin turn. I looked sideways and saw the earth spinning by, and from that point on, most of the ride was pretty much of a blur. The only other memorable part was as we reached a high horizontal point again, we were racing around a curve at such speed that it seemed certain that we would fly off into thin air. Very frankly, I was quite relieved to see the cars finally slowing down...even then, they approached the unloading platform at such a speed that that they would overshoot and go right into the spectators.

When I walked off the unloading platform, I smelled the vomit again, and in fact, walked away from the area fairly promptly in order to resettle my own stomach."

Erno Rossi is a bestselling JUNO nominated author. He is the author of White Death-The Blizzard of '77 book/DVD and Crystal Beach-The Good Old Days, book/DVD. Visit him at www.whitedeath.com or on You Tube, type in ernoinferno77 and there ride the front seat of the Comet and the old Giant roller coaster at Crystal Beach Amusement Park. His books are available or can be ordered through Coles, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and buffalobooks.com. He now accepts talks for his future speaking schedule. Call him at 905-835-8051, or email him at erossi@cogeco.ca Think gift books for Mother and Fathers’ Day, birthdays, the holiday seasons and other special occasions. Give Erno a call or email to book a visit to the Port Colborne lighthouses.

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