Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: THE UGLY TOURIST (07/09/15)
- TITLE: Land of the Brave?
By Marilyn K. Smith
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As a child, one of my favorite activities was taking the train ride on the railway for which the park is named. The conductor would yell, “All aboard” and we would scramble up and climb onto a real train with seats in open boxcars that took us several miles around the mountain. The loud train-whistle would blow and off we would go! During the trip, actors would present a skit with “a band of wild Indians” running through the boxcars causing havoc and making us scream in delight. To add to the suspense, several “bad guys,” brandishing guns and deemed as possible “robbers” by the conductor, would conspicuously ride along with us as well as some pretty “saloon girls.” All the while the conductor would warn us over the loud-speaker that things looked suspicious. At some time during the trip we would experience a “shoot-out” where the “bad guys” would attempt to rob the train and the “Marshall,” would jump off, chasing them to a staged “Old West town” on the side of the hill where there would be a shoot-out complete with smoking pistols and the “bad guys” lying dead in the dust. The ones of us on the train would yell “Yippee!” and “Yey!” as the “good guys” won. It was so exciting for me as a child and for my children as they enjoyed the same skit years later.
However, when I took my grandchildren, expecting to enjoy the train ride with them, I was very disappointed. Much to my dismay, there was no “wild Indians” or “bad guys” running through the train. The total skit took place off the train on the hillside. It was pretty pitiful. I talked to one of the employees of the park and asked why they did not have the “Indians” and the “bad guys” running through the train in an up-front and personal interaction with the passengers. His reply startled me. He replied that one season after the skit a female tourist had issued a serious complaint stating that the noise and the shooting guns, as well as the “bad guys,” running through the train, had frightened her children and the park decided to eliminate the train robbery and the actors being on the train. I was stunned. The thing that so entertained and mesmerized people for years was halted due to this lady’s complaint. What have we come to?
The whole intent of the actions of the “bad guys” and the “wild Indians” was to show how wrong actions can cause disruption when law-abiding folks are trying to travel in a peaceful and orderly fashion and that the “bad guys” are wrong and would pay for their crime. The lesson is that we have “good guys” who are available to step in and keep us safe and that the “good guys” win. Are all things that scare us to be abolished just because of fear? What happened to teaching children (and adults) that fear can be overcome and that we can get through it and not be permanently harmed?
I so disagree with the lady who complained and spoiled the fun for the rest of us. Perhaps her children were too young to be able to enjoy the thrill of this particular train ride and she should have used more common sense before allowing them to participate. Or maybe, as a tourist who might not be familiar with the ride, she was not even aware of the intensity of the skit. Perhaps, however, it may have sadly been something else altogether. Decidedly bravery is a character trait that should be cultivated and celebrated in these times in which we live. Are we doing that? Giving our children the tools to face their fears and giving them a reassuring word, when they are afraid, is one of the best ways to help our children to adapt to a world who will not always change to keep them comfortable.
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