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Friday Slide Show: Dodgem Bumper Car Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

16 November 2018

Playland at the Beach was our local amusement park when we were a kid. Birthday parties, slow Saturdays, special events often included a trip to Playland. And a trip to Playland, after reaching a certain age, meant you could drive a bumper car.

A few years ago we were wandering down a side street when we ran across an old bumper car. We couldn't believe our eyes.

We didn't have a camera with us so we couldn't prove we'd seen it. But the next time we walked down to that street, we brought along a camera and took a few snapshots of the relic from our youth.

Good thing because a few weeks later it was out of sight behind a new fence.

Our vintage model leaves a bit too much to the imagination.

The bumper car ride was an open-air ballroom full of Dodgem electric cars that, if we recall correctly, drew power from a conductive floor and ceiling, each with a separate power polarity.

That made them safe from shock unless you were somehow tall enough to reach the ceiling with your hands while remaining flatfooted on the floor. And no one was.

Of course, they weren't otherwise very safe. You'd bump and get bumped as you tried to navigate the crowded floor using the notoriously ineffective steering and the accelerator (which did work).

And that was, it turned out, fun. Up to a point.

Our vintage model leaves a bit too much to the imagination. To see what the cars looked like, try this Google image search.

And just to relive the thrill, we found this representative video:

We don't recall anyone getting hurt but it was hard for little ones to imagine those bumps weren't intentional or even fun. Tears were shed. Revenge sought. And no doubt some pent-up aggressive behavior found an outlet for the duration of the ride.

But thinking back on it, the metaphor was apt. Life is a series of collisions, some intentional, most not.

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