|© Jean Bennett
Date of picture: October 02, 2004
This is the 1909 Mangels-Illions Carousel at Six Flags New England in Agawam, Massachusetts. It’s simply beautiful and charming in it’s antique glory. It’s well-kept and the rides are almost always full. Carousels have a special place in my heart and they always have. I love the art on them and their history.
My youngest daughter shares my love of carousels. When we go to Six Flags, this Carousel is the first ride that you see as you walk through the entrance. She has a special horse on the carousel that she likes in particular that is extra pretty, extra shiny, and extra special just for her. She manages to get Charlie-short-for-Charlotte almost every time we go on the ride. Charlie is a moving horse. She’s bright white with a pretty mouth and a golden mane and tail. She’s been maintained very nicely. My eldest daughter isn’t quite as dazzled by the ride but she enjoys it nonetheless, as long as the horses move up and down. She does seem to have a fondness for the older horses that have the real hair for tails. My middle daughter will tolerate the ride, but prefers the “couch chair” as she calls it.
So on Saturday we took the girls to Six Flags on a royal outing, and the Carousel was the first ride we went on. It was beautiful weather, approaching dusk, with a light breeze. The park was busy and the ride was full. Mr. His Highness took my eldest and youngest to one side of the carousel to where Charlie the horse was waiting, and I got to ride with Princess #2 in the “couch chair.” We just enjoyed each other’s company and chatted in her way about what a nice evening it was and how nice it was to ride together. The ride was a little faster than usual, which startled her and showed on her face. She pleaded with me with her eyes, but knew that getting off wasn’t an option so she settled in and held my hand. She decided to look at the lights as they came on (the sun was starting to set) and people-watched.
Suddenly, with the dimming of the sun and darkening of the inside of the ride then the tinny lighting of the ride’s yellowish and colored lights, and the colors didn’t look so vibrant any more… they didn’t look quite right. The music started to sound hollow. The people noises and children shouting sounded like they were magnified yet coming out of a really large tin can and I could feel every sound that was made in my chest and in my head. I could feel the vibrations in the carousel that I never noticed before. I realized that the two of us sitting there went completely unnoticed by everyone around us except for the woman and her sons who sat with us on the chair. It was an eerie feeling that I can’t describe, but when I looked into my daughter’s eyes I realized that maybe that’s a little bit of what she was experiencing. As soon as I made that realization I felt chilled and the feeling went away.
So I’m left wondering if Autism feels like that, ever. It was a little dizzying and very disconcerting. I felt like I was being shown something, like on a film reel. But I’m not quite sure what to do with it.