Sunday, February 7, 2016

Mother Goose Land

You know how some memories fade from your conscious thought process over time?  You can go years without having that thing that was the source of ultimate elation or that caused you some childhood trauma cross your mind and then one day someone brings it up in casual conversation.  Or, more and more often with today's technology, they post about it on Facebook. And bam!!  You are a 5-year old quivering puddle of ook all over again.

Yeah.  That happened.

These are someone else's 1950/1960-era family pictures (quite possibly Patty Pickett, who posted them in the You Grew Up in Idaho Falls... Facebook group yesterday)  from a trip to Mother Goose Land in Island Park, Idaho.  Mother Goose land is gone today but was a popular stop for area families going to camp, fish and hunt in the Park until it was torn down sometime in the 1970s.

 I only vaguely remember this building.  My memory of most of this place is so vague I could probably talk myself into believing this house was from somewhere else and I've just jumbled the memories together in my mind but since they are someone else's pictures and they also identify it as Mother Goose Land...  This is one of the magical 'fairy' houses in this kiddie road side attraction.  For the day, it might have even been called an amusement park.  I'm pretty sure there was a carousel there at the very least...

One of the pint-sized houses that could be played in and around.  I think there were several of them scattered throughout the area.

It all seems pretty innocent so far, huh?

But the next picture is the part of the attraction that gave me nightmares!  This atrocity was so frightening to me as a small child!!  I had nightmares for weeks and would wake up shaking and sobbing about getting eaten by the giant bunny.  It probably didn't help that my family found my terror to be hysterically funny...

There was a motion sensor activated speaker in this bunny statue.  When you walked by it, it would start talking to you in a really rough gravely voice.  Scared the pee out of my 5-year old self!!  I don't remember if that's literally true or not... but oh my gosh!  Walking up to that thing scared me so bad.  I did not want to go near it.  I did not care to pass by it and see the rest of the attraction.  All I wanted was far far away from it!  And my Dad kept pushing me toward it despite me putting full force into not taking a step and twisting out of his grip and screaming like a banshee while my mom, aunt, uncle and a couple of cousins laughed so hard they were holding their sides and had to wipe away tears.

Just the picture creeps me out.  Still!!  Which is weird because I actually enjoy exploring road side oddities and random attractions.  I'm even geek enough to stop and read historical markers.  Now...  But at 5, a giant talking rabbit was just not cool!

Edit:  Mother Goose Land was designed and built by Fontella Nickle Pederson in 1956.  Here is her obituary from the Idaho Falls Post Register April 2009:

"Fontella Nickle Pedersen, 78, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, passed away on April 19, 2009. She was under the care of Good Samaritan Care Facility. She was born April 20, 1930, in Springfield, Missouri, to Clayton Nickle and Luzernia Jackson Nickle. She married Ronald Hugh Pedersen on November 19, 1949. Their marriage was later solemnized in the Idaho Falls Temple.

In 1956, she created, wrote and starred in a children's television show "Fon's Fairyland" on KID-TV. Fon designed and built Mother Goose Land in Island Park, Idaho, with her friend Margaret Munk. Her artistic vision and abilities were enjoyed by children and adults for many years in this nursery rhyme theme park. She was a gifted artist and expressed this talent through painting, writing poetry and short stories, sewing and sculpting. She taught art classes and loved to travel.

Fon was a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served in many various callings throughout the years. She touched many lives by her kind, generous and loving nature, and was loved by all who knew her.

She is survived by her husband, Ronald; children, Rhonda (Troy) Belka, Deborah (Clark) Vanderniet, Kris (Colleen) Pedersen, Richard (Deanna) Pedersen, Jana (Tony) Malovich, Lisa (Joe) Cawley and Ryan (Tammy) Pedersen; sister, Mignon Johnson; brother, Jerry Nickle; brother, Monty Nickle; 27 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Fontella was preceded in death by her parents and her brother, Jack.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 23, at Buck-Miller-Hann Funeral Home, located at 825 E. 17th St. in Idaho Falls. The family will receive friends from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight and at 10 a.m. Thursday prior to the services. Interment will be in Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park, located at 3401 Highland Drive in Salt Lake City, Utah. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Buck Miller Hann Funeral Home. Condolences may be sent to the family."

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