I first arrived at Coney Island via the back seat of a late model, four door Pontiac Bonneville. Roll down windows, no a/c, no seat belts. Just the 3 of us kids carsick on a naugahyde bench seat, cloud of smoke generously provided by my parents: Marlboro reds for my mom, Newport menthols by dad. My latest visit occurred last weekend, compliments of my beloved 1980s Raleigh 10-speed. I have not lost my sense of nostalgia.
I am happy to report, neither has Coney Island. The rides are the same. Nathan's is still doling out well-done hot dogs and tangy lemonade. The boardwalk planks knock under your feet and the air is pungent with cotton candy, sea salt and sweat.
I spent two hours. I could have spent ten. I was mesmerized as a child. And there's still something magical about the milling crowds, the sound of samba, and the lone fishermen casting for dinner off the end of a pier.