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    Looking Back at Sherman’s Amusement Park

    On Aug. 24 I went to the estate sale at Frank Sherman’s home across from Sherman’s Amusement Park here in Caroga Lake.

    I had the chance to talk with Janet (Sherman) Shepard, Frank’s daughter, who many from the area may remember as dispensing popcorn at the park in its heyday.

    Commonly known as “the popcorn lady,” she had striking platinum blonde hair and a big friendly smile for her customers.

    Herman remembers going there as a kid and what a busy place the park was.

    Janet had some wonderful memories of the park. She said her grandfather, Frank Sr., started the park about 1920 and it was sold 50 years later by her father.

    She had a wonderful, far-away smile in her eyes as she reminisced about the old days.

    She told me the park opened at 10 a.m. and didn’t close until midnight and it was packed the whole time weekends. They regularly had well-known dance bands and it was a real family affair, as her mother, Rise, ran the novelty shop and her sister Fay dispensed cotton candy and candy apples.

    She also said her father would lease space to the concessions for a percentage of the business so he didn’t have the responsibility of all those rides and concessions.

    When I asked if she was saddened that Sherman’s isn’t what it used to be, she just smiled and said, “Things never stay the same.”

    Herman tells me when he was a kid, he used to come by the beach and it was packed with swimmers and those renting rowboats. By comparison, the beach only sees much activity now with July 4 fireworks.

    Janet was instrumental in seeing many of her grandfather and father’s artifacts preserved at the Caroga Museum in a facsimile of the Penny Arcade with many of the original games and articles on display there.

    The only rides left on the premises are the carousel and Ferris wheel. Many of the rides like the Tilt-A-Whirl, bumper cars, and snap-the-whip only have photos and sample cars at the museum as a remembrance.

    Herman’s cousin tells me there were lines to get popcorn, ice cream and cotton candy. Lunch and dinner could be had at the pavilion and hot dogs, hamburgers and the Frostee soft ice cream were all busy with cash and carry customers.

    Many historic and scenic photos of Sherman’s can be seen at www.carogatimes.com  Web site put up by a good friend of mine Tony Ermie (Hi, Tony) who lives winters in California but comes back every summer with his wife Kathy because of his many memories of the place.

    I urge you to check out the Web site, which should give a good idea of what it once was.

    Sherman’s is now for sale, I am told, and I can only hope whoever buys it restores some of its glory and activity.

    Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com