Summer Sounds: Thunk And Clang Of A Wooden Coaster

As part of our Summer Sounds series, we visit an old roller coaster in Santa Cruz, Calif.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host: And it's time now for another summer sound.




UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: It's summertime.


SARA SARASOHN: My name is Sara Sarasohn, and I'm an editor on NPR's Arts Desk. My summer sound is the Giant Dipper, not the Big Dipper, the Giant Dipper.

It's a roller coaster. It's been on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk since 1924, and it's been in my family since the 1950s. That's when my grandparents first brought my mother and my aunts and uncle to Santa Cruz in the summer. You don't take a family to Santa Cruz in the summer without going to the boardwalk, and I say you don't go to the boardwalk without riding the Giant Dipper...


SARASOHN: ...unless you're shorter than 50 inches tall. I'm hoping my daughter will make 50 inches next summer. It could be the year that the Giant Dipper is her first roller coaster. It was my first roller coaster back in the 1970s, and it was my mother's too. It's a great ride. But, to me, part of the magic of the Giant Dipper is the way it sounds.


SARASOHN: It was made in the golden era of wooden roller coasters, so it sounds like the 19th century - a machine of steel and wood, chains and gears and scaffoldings.


SARASOHN: When you go up that first incline, you could see the big beach houses and the cheap motels, the sand and the Pacific Ocean, the elements of a family summer vacation spread out below you. But sometimes when I ride the Giant Dipper, I close my eyes so I can hear it.


BLOCK: That summer sound from NPR's Sara Sarasohn.


MICHELE NORRIS, host: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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