A PIECE OF THE DRAGON
by Tom Burhyte
have e-mailed me to ask whatever happened to Jasper, the Dragon Boat.
Maybe this will clear the air on Jasper, but first a little bit about
along with his wife, Ruth, owned Jasper and the cotton candy and custard
stands. Ralph would come up to the park about the middle of March
each year and get under Jasper and caulk the underside. This would
take about four weeks or better, depending on the weather.
days before we opened for the summer we would roll old Jasper out
of the building on pipe rollers, which were placed under the skids
that Jasper sat on all winter. The last year Jasper was in the water
Ralph noticed that the ribs that entered the main keel, which was
14" wide and about 30' long, had begun to rot and come apart.
Sadly, that meant Jasper's days were growing short.
The Fall of
that year (this was somewhere in the early Sixties) the boat was placed
between the Shooting Gallery and the SpooksHouse, and Jasper sat there
for a year. In that year's time Ralph, his brother Herb and I stripped
Jasper, removing the motor and drive shaft and taking them to the
Now for the
sad part of this story. One Fall day at the end of the season that
year, Herb Randall and I towed Jasper to the tennis court where we
dumped some twenty gallons of gasoline and fuel oil all over Jasper.
Herb told me to go get his brother and tell him that he wanted to
see him right away.
I went to
get Ralph, but he didn't want to come. But with a little arm help,
I got him over there. I'm quite sure he knew what his brother wanted.
As we rounded the corner of the Merry-Go-Round building he could see
Herb at the tennis court, and there was no doubt what was about to
Ralph a twenty-minute railroad flare all lit and ready to throw. But
Ralph just stood there. You could tell he was going back thru time
with his beloved Jasper - all the days they'd had together on Eldridge
think he would ever throw the flare, and it was getting very short.
Herb yelled, "Ralph! Throw it or you're going to set yourself
tossed it onto the dragon boat. Old Jasper lifted about two feet up
in the air and then came back to the ground. It just fell into pieces.
The old dragon burned with it's head inside. Along with the rest of
the boat, the dragon head was beyond repair, too.
later Jasper had completely burned up and Ralph was nowhere to be
seen. I guess he just couldn't bear to watch old Jasper, a big part
of his life, go up in flames. We never saw Ralph again until next
good thing about this is that I got the radiator hose off Jasper and
made myself a welding rod holder, which I still have to this day.
I remember when I took the rod holder down to The Park to show Ralph
what I had, his eyes got real watery and I know why.
This was one
of my many memories of Eldridge Park and the great people that worked
and ran this place. I guess if you've lost something that was so much
a part of you, like old Jasper was to Ralph and his wife, Ruth, then
maybe you know what I'm talking about!
about you? Do you remember Eldridge Park?
What was it like for you? Any favorite memories?
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