The Slide Years: Storybook Land

By Eilene Lyon

The Slide Years is a series in which I select an image my dad took from 1957-1982 with Kodachrome slide film, then I write a stream-of-consciousness essay – a sort of mini-memoir.


My first amusement park experience was at Storybook Land, near Woodbridge, Virginia. In some respects it was a glorified playground in the woods filled with queer little buildings based on nursery rhymes, like “The Old Woman in the Shoe” and “Humpty Dumpty.”

My beautiful picture

But they also had some more elaborate activities, including these gas-powered cars. Amazingly, Dad captured me somewhere in the middle of the road, as if I were driving in a straight line. That’s not how I recall it at all. These cars were the real deal – not like many amusement-park autos with contraptions that force you to stay close to a central rail.

I remember turning the steering wheel and driving into the guard rail on one side of the road, turning again until I hit the guardrail on the other side, back and forth, all the way around the track. More like training for bumper-car rides than for driving the family station wagon. Of course, both those activities were many years in the future.

I’m pretty sure this was about the only time Steve ever sat on a horse, or rather a pony in this case. It’s amusing that the lane the ponies have to walk in is much more confined than the car track. And they also are being carefully watched by an employee. Damn those dangerous beasts. Can’t be trusted! Much more dangerous than a car!!

Steve Halse on pony ride

29 thoughts on “The Slide Years: Storybook Land

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  1. Oh, these are cute and bring back the memories. I posted one of these yesterday on The Family Kalamazoo. Deer Forest in Coloma, Michigan. Part petting zoo, part amusement park.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a cute photo. I have some pictures of us a little older at a petting zoo in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I remember a roaming goat eating a map out of my dad’s back pocket. Thank goodness it wasn’t his wallet – that could have gotten ugly!!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This looks very much like Storybook Forest inside Idlewild Park in Pennsylvania, which also had a trolley you could ride through Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make Believe. We went a couple times when I was a kid and I absolutely loved it (though not so much when we went back when my brother was little and I was a teenager!). Those gas powered cars look like a blast!

    Liked by 1 person

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