Q: How old were you when you worked at the local amusement park?
A: 15 years old.
Q: What made you apply?
A: I don’t remember. I was 15 and I couldn’t drive, so I went with some friends who could drive. You really didn’t apply, you just showed up and you were hired. It was more like a gathering of people. This was 20 years ago and I don’t remember things that happened 20 minutes ago!
Q: Was it far from your house?
A: Pretty far for someone who doesn’t drive.
Q: What was the name of the park?
A: Angela Park.
Q: And you ran the Scrambler?
A: Yes, I ran the Scrambler. I loved running the Scrambler. It was exciting. When you’re 15 and in charge of 20 people on a ride, that’s powerful stuff! I couldn’t drive a car but I could sling people around.
Q: Did you receive any safety training?
A: No. It was very unsafe. Anybody off the street could walk up and run the Scrambler. Somebody just showed me how to turn it on and off.
Q: Was it all controlled by the one long handle?
A: There is nothing interesting or complex about running the Scrambler. You turn it on, get it up to speed, let it run for a while, and then turn it off.
Q: Were you ever tempted to go full throttle right away, just to try it?
A: That would probably break it and I’d lose my job.
Q: How long did you let the ride go? Was there a timer?
A: I just stopped it when I thought it was time to stop. If I didn’t like someone, they got a little ride.
Q: Are you serious?
A: No, but you can say that if you want.
Q: Did you ever give your friends a long ride?
A: No. I just knew how long to let it go, like if the line started getting long.
Q: Were there ever any injuries?
A: No, I didn’t kill anyone.
Q: How much money did you make?
A: Less than $2 per hour. Maybe $1.85 an hour. It was less than minimum wage.
Q: Can they get away with that?
A: They chose to pay the fine for not paying minimum wage. It was cheaper for them to pay the fine than it was to pay minimum wage. I think that you only have to pay the fine if someone turns you in, and they were taking the risk.
Q: Did you get a paycheck?
A: Yes, and they even took taxes out! I remember you had to buy a shirt that said Angela Park on it so you could wear it to work. That really bugged me. I think we had to pay for food, too. No perks.
Q: Did anyone ever throw up on the Scrambler?
A: No, thank God. That would’ve been disgusting. I probably would’ve just left it there if they did.
Q: So you just did the job for the summer?
A: Yes. When I turned 16 I got a good job at McDonald’s making minimum wage. I doubled my salary!
Q: Was your primary job to run the Scrambler?
A: I was a backup operator, actually. I worked the concession stand, too. I wanted to drive the train, but you had to be a certain age. I spent most of my time in the booth with air guns. There were bottles lined up with pingpong balls on top and you had to shoot with a cork gun to get the balls to fall off the bottles.
Q: It sounds easy. Was it?
Q: Did you give away prizes?
Q: Were they good prizes?
Q: Is Angela Park still open?
A: It’s gone. It’s a deserted thing, but the swimming pool remains as a safety hazard. It’s an empty desolate parking lot.