Saturday, September 29, 2007

Of fairy tales, nursery rhymes and times gone by

I grew up being fed a steady diet of fairy tales and nursery rhymes. My little imagination would take flight as I was transported into the world of make-believe as the stories were read by my Mother. Do children today even know the basic fairy tales and nursery rhymes? Or do parents avoid them because they think them “violent” and “too scary,” not suitable at all for young children? What a shame. I can’t see where they did me any harm.

I’m sure that’s why this quirky little piece of history nearby in Oak Ridge is now sitting lonely and abandoned. It’s a relic from a simpler time, when children could be easily amused. It’s the Fairy Tale Forest and Storyland which first opened its gates in 1957 and closed in 2005.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Driving by you can’t miss the signature shoe from the nursery rhyme There was Old Woman who lived in a Shoe. You know that one, don’t you?

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,
She had so many children she didn’t know what to do!
So she gave them some broth without any bread,
And she whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed!

Hmm…my guess is that in today’s society she would be arrested on child abuse, but they probably deserved it for messing up the shoe from toe to heel. If you are curious as to the origins of the rhyme, click here. I even found one site where someone had written a ‘kinder, gentler” version of their own—ugh. Nothing is sacred.

The shoe is huge. This is the view as I stand next to it:
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

I love how it even has big wooden bobbles for buttons, although a few seem to have gone missing.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

There isn’t much left to see except for the facade. It’s really sad.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Through this window I could see a knight in not-so-shining armor.
Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

This happy mushroom greets people out by the road. Are you feeling transported back in time yet?

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

There was an article in our local newspaper about a month or so ago about the Fairy Tale Forest. It was the brainchild of a German immigrant, Paul Woehle, who wanted to keep alive the stories from his native Germany to share with his new country. Woehle made most of the life-size figures that are said to exist in the forest from a plaster, burlap and sawdust mix in a workroom on the grounds. How did he make the shoe I have to wonder? Oh how I wanted to creep around the back and steal away into the childhood realm that lurked behind the locked gate! There are no No Trespassing signs posted, but the article talked of how it was frowned upon to enter the closed site. Next time I think I might get the courage up to ask if I can go in to take some photos. Maybe under the guise of doing a story, after all, it wouldn’t be a lie now, would it? You all would like to see more I’m sure!

I did peek through the gate underneath the shoe, but was disappointed with the view. Nothing to be seen!

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

I connected strongly with the Fairy Tale Forest. How I wish it was still in operation so I could go through it and relive a part of childhood! You see, when I was a child we visited Storytown U.S.A. in Lake George, New York several times. I remember going in and out of the miniature houses and posing with the statues. If you look closely in the first photo below you can see me and my sister posing amongst the characters. There I am by the skunk and my sister is by the elephant.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Here we are with Paul Bunyan.

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Lynne Robinson, Hewitt, New Jersey

Obviously these photos were taken a few years apart since we are both a few years older in the last photo (taken in 1960). Storytown opened in 1954. It still exists today, but was swallowed up and incorporated into a Six Flags theme park called the Great Escape. At least it’s still there.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our little escape back in time. I wish I could end with “and they all lived happily ever after,” but unfortunately for the Fairy Tale Forest in Oak Ridge, New Jersey that is not the case.




Wow another fantastic post!! You are on a roll, Lynne.

I LOVE the pics of you and your sister. Awesome.

My favorite fairy tales are by Hans Christien Andersen, especially the Snow Queen. I can read it agian and again - I always learn something new.

Thank you.

How fun to see those old pics.  (Not to imply that you and your sister are old, or anything like that…)

There is a very similar Paul Bunyon (with his pal Babe) in the Redwoods. That’s where your photos brought me back to. 

Of course, we went to Disneyland as we lived so close to it, but there is something about these smaller, more homey places that have a special place in my heart.

look at little lynnie!
i would love to grab your hand and run into the forest to find some magic again!
and how much would we give to be read a fairytale by our moms again?

a little tear

If any of your readers were raised in the Northeast then they may be familiar with another amusement park that unfortunately met it’s demise as well. I discovered it by accident via a web search for abandoned structure sites which I use for inspiration in my 3D art. It was called Rocky Point Park and was located in Rhode Island. This particular tribute site - - saddens me to see the good times, evidenced by it’s numerous photos, so many families experienced there and to know it’s been left to simply decay. I’ve never, ever been there but don’t have to feel that way. What a waste…

P.S. - Those B & W pics are priceless! You two were so cute - especially the taller one! lol

Reya: thanks, glad you enjoyed it! The Snow Queen is one of my favs too. Did you see the movie they made about six or so years back?

Susan: yes, Disneyland is a bit different since they have rides and other things to tempt kids. And don’t feel bad, they ARE OLD PICS. lol

Pod: grab my hand anytime and we’ll go there. Maybe both our Moms will be waiting to read to us. xx

WOW! My brother-in-law commented on my blog! Welcome, Warren! Of course you would prefer the tall brunette by my side since she lives with you! smile

I did enjoy your escape back in time. I imagine places like these might have had a struggle competing with the more modern theme parks.

I remember my father reading me fairy tales as a young girl.

what a wonderful place - and great pix.

i love the family pics - your sweet little straight straight fringe and cardis.  :o)

i’d be soooo tempted to sneak in and have a roam.

What a wonderful place. I hope someone will revive it what a shame to lose such a treasure.
It would make a great themed birthday location…if I lived there…
Fairy Tales were originally written for adults in the 19 century most were ‘bowdlerized’** for children and then in the 20 century right up to today many were further changed and Disney-ized.
**Thomas Bowdler

Wonderful piece about the storyland park.  If I am not mistaken, there is one in New Hampshire as well, that I visited with my children (and my sister and her kids) about 6 years ago.  I do not know if it is still in operation.

I, too, was raised on fairy tales.  And books in general!  I am attempting to do the same with my four kids—with pretty good success so far.  In any event, I share your nostalgia, and your desire to escape into the past, via the ‘come-to-life’ scenes represented in this fairy tale world!  What a true shame that this place is falling into disrepair. 

When operating, it would have been a dream come true for my younger self, oh so many years ago! 

Thanks for this—thoroughly enjoyed reading it (and seeing the photos).

I came across this blog in my search for more pictures of “Fairy Tale Forest”.

I grew up down the road from this place, and I have some pictures of it on my myspace. (

These pictures are from after the park shut down.

Im not looking for any feedback, I just wanted to post it because (seemingly) from your pictures, you didnt go inside. I, however, couldnt help myself, and enlisted my sister to take pictures.

If you want more, I have a few friends who have also taken their own pictures of the interior of the park after its closure.

Your pictures are beautiful by the way =]

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