So Long, Pardners

I still have fond memories of a kiddie amusement park that my parents would take me to every year. It was called Frontier Village and was in San Jose, not far from where I grew up in San Francisco. It was a western themed park and I still have fond memories of catching fish with my dad in the large pond (as well as the bittersweet memory of when I found out it was a stocked pond and that they were practically putting the fish on the hooks for us).

Fred Flintstone, Quick Draw McGraw, Huckleberry Hound, and other cartoon characters walked the dusty trails along with stagecoaches and countless memories.

I still have the pictures from family visits of being locked up in the jail, shaking hands with Barney Rubble, and my maternal grandparents posing with cowboys and saloon girls.

Oh! And the gunfights! Let’s not forget the gunfights!

This past weekend I serendipitously took the kids for a Saturday adventure and we happened to drive by old Pollardville in Stockton, California ( It’s an old replica ghost town with many actual buildings that were brought there, like the Jamestown jail. Others were old western movie props that found a home, thus escaping the wrecking ball.

But the wrecking ball was inevitable. We pulled over when we saw the banner that announced Pollardville was closing forever on April 1. How could they do this?

A housing development project proved to be Pollardville’s last stand. The property was worth just too much money to keep the old fashioned attraction open any longer.

Frontier Village closed its doors in 1980 and is now a housing development as well. Pollardville will be no more within weeks, becoming the latest example of childhood nostalgia biting the big one.

One of the actors in the gunfight made an interesting and poignant comment. He said, “Look at all that graffiti out there. It’s because the kids have nothing to do anymore.” While I don’t think anyone would use that as an excuse for delinquency, it does make you lament the death of the more innocent entertainment of old for kids.

Maybe these days, the only place a kid can watch a gunfight is on the streets of America. Where are the Santa’s Villages and the Pollardvilles for the kids of today? Even the Ponderosa Ranch, home of the classic television show Bonanza, was sold to developers. It’s a sad shame. I hope my kids will have the same fond memories that many others and I had. A parent could only hope.