Letters to the Editor
The Lost World
The ride of her life: I lost my virginity in the park (June 19, 1989 -- during the fireworks show) in an abandoned concession stand ["RIP, AstroWorld," Hair Balls, by Richard Connelly, October 6]. Now there isn't much left to do but find a frame for the Polaroid of me with a fresh Dorothy Hamill haircut, sitting on Marvel McFey's knee.
Name withheld by request
Wrong turn: Well, I guess, like they say, "It's the thought that counts." But to have the closing of a Houston attraction that for years has given parents a quiet Saturday afternoon to relax without any children around as your cover story, and only have everything that was wrong with it? Come on, I know it was great in its time, but you could have done better.
The good old daze: I'm so depressed! AstroWorld is closing. I worked the rides from 1971 to 1973 and cast control in 1974 (pre-Six Flags ownership). It was the end of my senior year when I started. Everything in life was ahead of me, and nothing significant was in my past. It was the best job I have ever had. The work was low-paid but so much fun, and the almost nightly employee parties were the best. The highlight of the year was the Swamp Buggy party. The Swamp Buggy turned riders almost upside down and emptied their pockets of change. That change was transformed into lots of cheap beer and loose women at least twice a season.
I returned to AstroWorld once in 1999 after my employment and found a totally different park as to the features, employees and guests. The park was trashy, and the new structures looked like an unplanned disaster. The rides were better, the employees looked bored, and the guests looked like thugs. Where were the families? Too many cheap season passes.
Even though my fellow former employees and I are getting old, when we meet, we're kids again and relive the times. Thank you, AstroWorld, for the opportunity to work at the park and for the great memories. Please use my name in this letter. Perhaps AstroWorld management will call me and allow me to reopen the park and operate it successfully.
It was all yellow: As Webmaster and co-owner of sixflagshouston.com, I felt compelled to write based on what you printed in your October 6 article concerning the closing of AstroWorld.
Last year, your "reporter" Josh Harkinson approached one of our members to do a story about "roller coaster enthusiasts," saying he wanted to tie it to a story about the history of AstroWorld. Said member asked if this was going to be an anti-roller-coaster story and was told no. Satisfied, our member gave an interview to your newspaper.
When the article was published, it was a complete 180. It was filled with errors that simple fact-checking could have rectified (many of these facts could have been checked on our own Web site).
So yes, based on this experience with your newspaper as they say, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Trust is hard-earned, and I'm afraid that Houston Press lost ours. Just more sensational yellow journalism.
Harkinson responds: I never said it would not be a negative story, I said I was still researching the story and had not decided on the course it was taking. I did say that I was interested in talking about the history of AstroWorld, and that is what was discussed in the interview. The Houston Press printed corrections for the story's errors, none of which had anything to do with the cause of any of the injuries that occurred at the parks.
A dark day: Thanks for being one of the only Houston media outlets giving the impending doom of AstroWorld the coverage it needs and deserves. For a while it seemed like nobody really cared that AstroWorld was being run into the ground by inept Six Flags management and has now become the sacrificial lamb for their debt reduction.
I can understand your catty attitude toward the folks at sixflagshouston.com. I post regularly to their message board. We're just a bunch of people who truly care about our beloved theme park, and how it's portrayed in the media no hard feelings, at least where I personally am concerned.
One of the regulars on the forums there wrote to Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, and he replied that they've known about Six Flags' intentions to sell AstroWorld since June. Talk about adding insult to injury. Six Flags and Harris County have kept quiet about this for three months, which could have been spent rallying protesters to picket Six Flags, asking other amusement-park operators to buy AstroWorld and save it from oblivion, or voicing their support for Dan Snyder and Red Zone LLC to take over Six Flags, call off the AstroWorld sale and clean house.
It's obvious that Six Flags doesn't really care about the children of the Houston area, whose parents/schools/churches plan AstroWorld trips for them every year and can't afford to bus them to Arlington or San Antonio, much less put them up at a hotel for the night. I also pin blame on the Harris County Sports Authority for playing hardball with Six Flags over parking for AstroWorld and its interfering with Texans games. Shame on the both of you.
At the very least, I really hope some rich Houstonian has enough heart and common sense to buy the Texas Cyclone and save that legendary coaster from being inevitably bulldozed. Then again, Houston is famous for devouring its own history, so sadly, I won't hold my breath. This is a dark day for all of us, young and old, who still cherish AstroWorld and the fun times the place gave us.
Lenders beware: I shared many happy times in AstroWorld with my kids. Having grown up in Florida and seen the best to date (Walt Disney World), I still have a good feeling about the rides and times at AstroWorld. It had its own feel, and I will miss it. God help us all if what replaces it is another strip center full of "branded" crap. I'll have no reason to go to that side of town anymore Developers, put that in your market study. Lenders beware! We don't need another Starbucks!
He Had It Comin'
Almighty vs. predator: With all due respect to your abilities as a writer and the desire to tell a compelling story, you can find better ones than this ["No Redemption," by Margaret Downing, October 6]. I was both appalled and disgusted by the attempt at compassion for this predator. Anyone who would prey on the innocence of a child simply cannot be redeemed. Sexual predators are being ostracized across the country, as well they should be. Some crimes are completely unforgivable. This is one of them.
Had this animal committed the savage rape of an adult, this article would never have been written, although the press has written articles in the past about death row inmates in an attempt to put a positive spin on them.
He cannot find a home, is borderline homeless? Umm, good! We no longer use the scarlet letter, but that's just semantics. A criminal record for sexual assault of a child will hang around this man's neck until Judgment Day, as well it should! Truthfully, let God give him his redemption. He's going to have a long, hard life suffering for his crime against a child on Earth.
Shame on the woman with five children who married him. Obviously the lure of being with a man means more to her than the welfare of her children.
Oh, cry me a river: This pedophile is getting the least of what he deserves. What about the life sentence he imposed on the little girl he violated? That child will spend the rest of her life struggling with what he did to her. There is no excusing what he did, and at the very least he should be kept away from other children. If he ends up living in a car, too bad. He should have kept his filthy hands to himself. Too many pedophiles slip through the cracks and destroy more lives. This article shows that the system is working to keep at least one child predator away.
Inconceivable: The Houston Press giving a movie (Capote) a good review! Even using words like "masterpiece" ["Writes and Wrongs," by Robert Wilonsky, October 6]. I guess if you live long enough, you see it all.
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