I met Bill Ward at Raedeker Park around seven. The Creature from the Black Lagoon started at eight, so we bought some hotdogs from the concession stand and walked through the zoo, because they always offered free admission an hour before the weekly movie. Raedeker Recreational Park wasn’t just an athletic field and a playground. It was a collection of various attractions on the west end of town. Down Barstow Road past the New York State Electric and Gas Payment Center, left onto Samara Hill and about two miles up on the right sprawled Raedeker Recreational Park. Upon entering, if you went straight, you’d take a winding road descending to Raedeker Park Zoo.

The zoo wasn’t that impressive. It offered only a moderate collection of animals, always permeated by a mild air of dilapidation, constantly under a renovation that never seemed to end. According to Dad, it started to go downhill years ago after it suffered a rash of weird accidents. First, a train ride derailed, resulting in m
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