As time marched on, The Cedars became one of the housing dormitories for employees of Cedar Point. I was blessed to work at the Cedar Point during one summer at college. I can tell my age is getting to me because I can’t remember if it was 1997 or 1998 — not that it really matters.
My most vivid memory about The Cedars is that it cost $15 a week to live there and there was absolutely no one that lived there that honestly believed they were getting a good deal.
The Cedars was a sprawling wooden complex painted in an intense red color that had different corridors. Some parts of the facility had two floors, others just one. The rooms were borderline rustic. Each room was approximately 8 feet by 10 feet with three young men to a room. Each room had a single bed and bunk bed and each employee had access to a wooden dresser that no doubt came with the original hotel. The room was illuminated by one 60-watt light bulb and a nice rotary dial phone was on the wall.
If you were lucky, your window worked where you could stick in a nice window fan. Forget about modern mechanical systems at The Cedars — no air conditioning and I don’t think they even bothered to use the furnace. The showers always ran cold and I discovered the marina showers right across the parking lot were much, much better. For my summer at The Cedars, my room was right next to the building commissary, a sort of small-scale convenience store that never closed. The paper-thin walls made sleeping quite the challenge.
But this was a summer job. No one that worked at the park was there to sleep, they were there to work and make some money. It was nothing to work 70 hours a week. And while that might seem a like a lot, there was not a lot to do at an amusement park other than work. Trust me, you can only ride the Magnum XL-200 so many times before it gets routine.
My job at the park was working in the games department. I was the one that would guess your age, weight or birth month, or I would encourage you to spend money at the water race, or the “break a plate” or the quarter toss. My job was a bit of Bob Barker mixed in with a bit of a used car salesman. We tried to make people in the park have a good time playing these games and always feel good winning a $2 tchotchke when spending $3 to play the game.
But like any job, the parts you remember the most aren’t so much what you did, but who you did it with; the people that made that summer amazing is what I will always remember. It was a great job where I learned a lot about other people, but eventually learned more about myself.
I remember a roommate that, armed with a small 8-millimeter camera, loved making short films of the park. I remember another co-worker from West Virginia that was studying at Youngstown State. I remember the park staying open late some nights just for us employees to enjoy rides in the dark.
Sure, The Cedars were a far cry from the comforts of home, but it will always have a special place in my heart for the memories it provided.
William “Bill” Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.