When I was a boy, for several years in a row, my family would vacation at LeSourdsville Lake. For those who do not know, Lesourdsville Lake was an amusement park near Hamilton, Ohio. The park had rustic cabins for rent, some fronting the lake and some with the river running behind them. Later, LeSourdsville later became Americana Amusement Park, but by that time the cabins had been torn down and replaced by other attractions.
We would pack everything into and on top of the old Plymouth Station Wagon and somehow still manage to fit Mom and Dad, my three sisters, myself, and our boxer/schnauzer mixed breed named Minnie into the car and off we went, heading north to the lake. I do not recall how long it took us to get there but it seemed like forever. There were no expressways then so the entire trip was on two lane highways and back roads. But eventually, we always got there.
My favorite cabins were those that were directly on the lake. They were closer to the action in the park and I could get there quickly via the rented row-boat. The cabins back by the river were probably more peaceful but it as either a long walk to the park, or you had to wait for the tram to come around and pick you up. Each day was spent swimming during the day and riding the rides during the evening. To those who were cabin renters, all the rides were free during your stay. I can’t count the times I rode the wooden coaster, “The Screeching Eagle”. The best part was, there was hardly ever a line so you could just stay on and ride again.
The cabins consisted of a screened in porch, two bedrooms, and a kitchen. My folks got one bedroom, my three sisters shared the other. I slept on a blow up plastic pool raft on the kitchen table, which was just a picnic table. It was an air mattress, but I didn’t get to pick my sleep number, and back then those things just could not stay inflated all night. Invariably I would wake up on the hard surface of the table, all cushioning provided by the air mattress gone.
The kitchen had an icebox, not a refrigerator. On a regular basis, the ice man would come around to replace the large block of ice in the icebox. I remember this guy, Mom called him Elvis. That probably had something to do with his greasy duck tail haircut and long sideburns. Dad constantly kept a suspicious eye on him, especially if he spoke to my older sister. It was fun chipping ice from the block with an ice pick to put in a cold drink. At least there was no electric hum or clanking from an automatic ice maker to keep me awake at night.
It seems as if we constantly had company during our week. I remember relatives, friends from the neighborhood, and my Dad’s co-workers and families coming to visit. I know that a few future police officers (and one future Police Chief) spent time at the lake with us. I used to think it was great fun hanging by Dad’s cop friends, watching them smoke, cuss, and talk “cop”.
The tradition of going to LeSourdsville Lake only lasted a couple of years, but the memories will live on. Times were simpler back then. This was before drugs,, the Cuban Missile crisis, Viet Nam and other things that changed our culture forever. It seems like my biggest worry was whether or not Mom would notice that her pack of Kools was a few cigs light.
Those were good times and good memories. The park has closed, Mom and Dad are gone. Most of the visitors are gone or lost. At least I have my sisters to share the memories with. Ready? The lap bar is locked in place, the cars lurch forward, the clicking of the ratchet chain as it pulls us up the hill, hands in the air and away we go……..
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?
I too have some wonderful memories of LeSourdesville Lake. I never stayed in the cabins, but I spent a lot of time there. First as a customer then as a ride operator for 3 seasons.
My favorite memories are from swimming in the lake. It had these big discs out in the swimming area. There was a pole in the middle with a steering wheel-like thing on top. We just grabbed the wheel and made the bottom platform spin. (Much like a cup & saucer ride). Once the speed was up, we would each lose our grasp and fly off into the water! The last one in, got to spin the next round. It was so much fun! Thanks for spurring the memories.
Denise (Puckett) Spencer
Worked there open to close for $1.50 an hour (in 1972-1974). Ran the Flying Coaster, also known as the Kangaroo.