Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wolfman wanted

Every once in a while, I hear about a job and say to myself, ‘hmmmm, that might be interesting.’ And then I remind that same hmmmmm-ing self that, in all likelihood, I will never have another job in my life. Oh, I’ll keep doing the freelance thing as long as it keeps dropping in my lap. I’m sure I’ll do some regular volunteer thing, beyond the committee stuff I do now, and that might look like a job in that I go somewhere and do something on a regular basis. Every once in a while, I think it might be nice to get a “small” part time or seasonal job. Mostly accept that fact that I’ll never really hold a job-job again.

Even if I were on the job hunt, the position of Wolfman, even if I qualified for it and it was on the Esplanade rather than way up in New Hampshire, would not be one that I’d put my coonskin cap in the ring for.

But someone will no doubt jump at the opportunity to be the Wolfman at Clark’s Trading Post.

The family-friendly theme park in Lincoln, N.H., put a call out this month for a person to take over the role of the “Wolfman,” a character that has been used at Clark’s for decades to add an element of excitement to the company’s 2½-mile steam-powered train tours.

Clark’s will hold open auditions for the role on April 9, and anyone with acting chops and the right amount of facial hair is welcome to try out, said Anne Clark Englert, one of the park’s owners.

“A good Wolfman needs to be scruffy and unkempt on the outside, but also outgoing on the inside,” Englert said.

A working knowledge of vintage dirt track race cars, used to pursue the trains, and a valid driver’s license are also a must.

Smelling bad? That’s optional. (Source: Boston Globe)

It’s a full time Memorial Day through Columbus Day job, which leaves out college students or school teachers. But it would work for snow plow drivers or someone who works the lifts at a ski resort.And it would work for someone with at least a tiny bit of inner creep. Come on, you have to be willing to jump out of a wooded area and scare kids? Doesn’t that kind of say creep?

Anyway, it’s a wonder to me that places like Clark’s Trading Post – these small, mom-and-pop, somewhat seedy, incredibly odd-ball, throwback places – manage to survive. Although I’m not enamored of the idea that Clark’s has trained bear shows – no thanks –  I’m mostly happy that amusement parks like these are still around.

I grew up in the era when most amusement parks were on the crummy side. Generally tawdry (or at least tawdry-ish). Limited in what they offered. Nothing glam, nothing glitz, not that commercial. But FUN. As a kid, I would have been just as happy if we went to one of these dumps once a week rather than once or twice a summer.

Where did I park when I was getting amused? White City in Shrewsbury (where I once fell down in the quite misnamed Barrel of Fun, and had to be helped out by a nice “big boy,” my family apparently having abandoned me to my revolving fate. Whalom Lake in Lunenburg, a bus trip with the Junior Catholic Daughters of America. Paragon Park at Nantasket Beach, where the real attractions were the beach and LeHage’s salt water taffy – oh, so good , but where we always at least took a ride on the merry-go-round. Later on in my childhood, I went to Canobie Lake Park in NH, and was shocked to find that an amusement park could actually be clean and attractive. I had no idea.

On one family trip to Chicago, I may have gone to Riverview Park. I either have a memory of being there – or not. I do remember that my Uncle Bobby (who, at 10 years my senior, was more like a cousin than an uncle) bought or won me a plaster-of-Paris kewpie doll. I believe the plaster-of-Paris doll he bought or won for my sister Kath was a hula girl.

If I really did go to Riverview, the fact that I actually got something tangible to show for it – a prize, a gift, a thing – would elevate it to the finest amusement park I’d ever experienced in the whole-wide-world. Whether it was as clean as Canobie, I’ll have to ask my Chicagoland cousin Ellen to report back to me.

The other amusement park I remember going to was a truly crumb-bum roadside attraction, cowboy themed, somewhere outside of Chicago. There may not have been any rides there – I don’t recall any – but it was something out of the ordinary: a real fake Wester town with a real-fake saloon with real-fake swinging doors and a real-fake shoot out. It was almost like being on the set of Range Rider or Bronco Lane, minus the horses and cute guys.

But these were the days of black and white TV. Kids weren’t expecting much. We all watched the opening of Disneyland on those b&w TVs, but I didn’t know anyone who actually expected to get there. Just out of the realm of possibility.

But Disneyland (where I managed to get to as an adult) did start to set a new expectation about what an amusement park could be. And it pretty much sets the standard for what kids and parents can expect: clean, exciting, attractive, lots of stuff to buy.

I’m happy to see that, in this world, a place like Clark’s can still manage to stay alive, and that they’re looking for a full time wolfman.

No comments: