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6 March 2011 - 7:55pm
Using this blog for little slice-of-life stories has been fun over the years.
Here's a memory from 2002 I'd like to share. It involves Mrs. Koch and a very special coaster enthusiast.
Matthew Sullivan's name may not be immediately recognized among coaster enthusiasts, because everyone called him Mamoosh.
Or simply Moosh.
I got up the nerve to ask him once where that silly name came from, hoping the explanation wasn't too blue. Indeed, it was darling, just like Moosh. A young nephew had trouble pronouncing Matthew, and instead managed "Mamoosh."
Moosh was iconic in coaster-enthusiast circles. And it wasn't because of how many coasters he'd ridden (although the number was quite high) or how many parks he'd visited (ditto). Moosh was special because he was so incredibly friendly and fun.
Matthew loved nothing more than to introduce friends who hadn't yet met. He was a modern-day Coaster Yenta.
Moosh always worked the room, er, park during our enthusiast events ... just having fun. Yes, he rode the coasters (and famously coined the term "Mooshed" for when a lateral force on a ride (most notably on The Legend) caused him to lean on (and squoosh) any ride partner lucky enough to be along for the fun.
Back in 2002, Mrs. Koch was finishing up her Masters Degree in Pastoral Ministry. During a meeting over the winter months she joked about never getting to go to a prom, no matter how many times she graduated.
An idea was born.
A quick phone call to Los Angeles later and Mamoosh got to work, quietly contacting enthusiasts who were planning to attend our Stark Raven Mad event to let them in on the secret. All told, during the event, Graduate Koch was showered with hundreds of graduation cards and countless hugs and good wishes. It was wonderful.
That evening at dinner, we even had a little dance (as all good proms do). There was a last-minute surprise guest that year -- professional wrestler Mick Foley (aka Mankind, Dude Love and several other monikers) visited with two Wish Upon A Star children.
When the music started, Mick asked Mrs. Koch to dance. (She loves to dance, by the way.)
After a minute or so, I caught Mamoosh's attention across the room and mouthed encouragingly, "Cut in!"
Moosh's brown eyes widened and he shook his head slowly, sizing up the immensity of the legendary wrestler.
"No way!" he mouthed back.
Apparently, though, I was a bit more intimidating than the Hardcore Champion. It took three more "Get up there and cut in!" mouthings on my part and Moosh slowly stepped forward and tapped Mick lightly on the shoulder.
Of course, Mick was a gentleman and Moosh got his dance.
Mrs. Koch was delighted.
This memory is especially sweet in that the angels took Moosh to heaven today.
Rest in peace, good and kind friend. Heaven just got a little bit more fun.
1 March 2011 - 6:56pm
We've known the day was coming since last year.
Should have been plenty of time to accept and prepare.
But still, it's a shock.
Our friend Rich Davis from the Evansville Courier & Press is putting down his pen.
And his laptop.
Surely there was a typo in Rich's column in the Sunday paper. It said he was 62.
Rich, indeed, was "old school"; but never old.
"Old school" in that he believed in face-to-face, take-your-time interviews. He'd sit down for a chat, smiling that almost-shy, sweet smile. He'd really listen. And then he'd craft a story. Not an article, but a story.
I first met Rich in 1992, when he came to Holiday World to cover our bungee jumping show. We did "the bungee thing" for just one season and Rich was fascinated.
At least once a season, sometimes more, for the next two decades we looked forward to seeing Rich in person at the park. And he always rode what the new ride was -- from The Raven in 1995 to Wildebeest just last May.
There were phone calls, too. He got to teasing me late each season: "Hey, Paula -- I'm reading online you're getting a new coaster. What can you tell me?" Oh, Rich ... you know I can't tell you anything yet...
Over the last five years or so, Rich has had to push beyond old-school duties. Suddenly he was also photographer and videographer.
"Paula ... do you know how to work this thing? They showed me right before I left to come up here, but I'm not sure which button..."
Here's Rich back in 2008, interviewing Will the morning we announced Pilgrims Plunge. Rich took notes, recorded audio, plus shot photos and video.
That next spring, we planned a tweet-up for the first rides on Pilgrims Plunge. Rich wanted to follow the contest to choose the first riders, but called me in a near-frantic state, hoping I remembered his Twitter handle.
Old-school came in handy with his pal Frieda. Rich interviewed our perennial "flower lady" several times over the decades. Whenever Rich and I spoke, he'd always ask, "How's Frieda?"
When Frieda retired two years ago, we didn't want to turn her party into a media event, but still we invited two journalist friends, including Rich. Last year, he was even invited to her 100th birthday celebration.
Hmmm. Rich is retiring at 62 and Frieda retired at 99.
Rich -- if you're looking to start a second career, we're still hiring in Rides...