(Vista Shores, Michigan, March 4, 1954) If the remnants were any indication, it must have been spectacular. The horses weren’t spared; they were trapped in the big storage shed that could keep out the ravages of weather but not the fury of the fire. The walls burned away, replaced by walls of flame, and the horses would be ridden no more. And the music that moved them would play no more. The Ferris wheel resembled a slowly spinning pinwheel ablaze until it groaned, strayed from its course, spun off-kilter, and crashed to the ground where the inferno raced around it in a game of roulette. The Tilt-a-Whirl had its paint peeled and its vinyl cushions ignited. The clown’s face that had looked over the ride for decades began to melt in a final lament, painted paper tears dropping, ashes scattering. Wooden concession barracks fizzed out of existence like the folly of an ignited matchbook. Saved for last in death as it had been in life, the roller coaster took the conflagration along its serpentine path until its support structures tumbled like houses of cards.
The wind and the fire had competed to see which played the loudest, and in so doing spread their roaring sounds throughout the park until they came across propane. The explosions were magnificent, shaking enough windows to cause sleepy faces to appear in them and witness the orange glow off the icy lake’s mirror, reflecting beauty in the midst of disaster. This was the Big Bang for tiny, humble, and simple Vista Shores. It created new life where none had been before and kept the secrets of its universe carefully tucked away.