Building Roller Coasters Is Thrill Enough for Him

Lynn Sarkisian admits he's afraid of riding in big roller coasters. But he's not afraid to build them, albeit on a miniature scale.

"I've been on a couple of real roller coasters," he said, while standing next to his miniature creation, "and I was scared to death."

His biggest fright occurred years ago on the old Long Beach roller coaster when he slid off the seat and had to hold on for dear life.

"I didn't enjoy the rides then, and I still don't enjoy them," he said. "Now I just get vicarious thrills"--by pretending to ride in miniature cars.

Sarkisian's wood roller coaster, which won the crafts division grand award at the recent Orange County Fair, is 4 feet wide, 8 feet long and 45 inches high, and has 84 feet of twisting and turning track.

"I named one of the turns 'Dead Man's Curve,' " said Sarkisian, 60, of Fullerton, who is also building a 4-foot-high Ferris wheel and has plans for a miniature carrousel with recorded sounds of the real-size counterparts.

"I've always been building things since I was a kid," he said, "and I like mechanical things." The roller coaster, which he designed because there are few plans available, is operated with two miniature electric motors.

He has never seen the Colossus roller coaster at Magic Mountain--"I think it would frighten me"--and originally worked up his own plans after seeing a picture of a roller coaster on a magazine cover.

The former Fullerton College biology and zoology instructor, who retired two years ago after 31 years of teaching, said he worked 3,000 hours over two years to complete the structure. He transports it on a pickup truck and stores it in his garage.

A member of the American Coasters Enthusiasts, Sarkisian said he's trying to name his coaster and is toying with "The Galloping Gopher."

"I'm just looking for a real descriptive name," he said.

Sarkisian said the Orange County Historical Society would like him to put the coaster on display, but he said he's not really sure what he wants to do with it now that he's working on other projects.

But he said he'd be willing to sell it.

"I figure it cost me $300 to build," he said, including the cost of 1 gallons of glue to hold the pine-wood structure together, since no nails were used. "I'd be willing to sell it for $10,000."

Considering the time it took him, "that's probably not what I'd get if I only charged minimum wage for my time," he said.

Sandy has been treating audiences to some fine acting at the Saddleback College production of "Annie," the stage version of "Little Orphan Annie" of the comic pages.

Well, the play ended last night and Sandy, a 4-year-old part-wolfhound, needs a home. She's been staying at the Laguna Hills home of Heather Redfern, who played "Annie."

But Redfern lives with her family, and they already have a dog.

"Sandy is looking for a good home and people to love her," said college spokesperson Anne Ambrose, who notes the dog has undergone three weeks of professional training to prepare for her acting role.

The dog was bought from a pound in North Hollywood for $12.25 by stage manager Mia Waller after Waller learned it could cost thousands of dollars to hire a dog that knows how to act.

She went with Sandy, the amateur who is now a professional, sort of.

In fact, Sandy got so good she ad-libbed a part by prancing out after the end of the first night's performance to "talk" with the audience. It was a nice touch and became a regular feature after each show.

Anyone who wants to adopt Sandy can call the college.

Still not convinced seat belts are worth wearing?

Read this report by California Highway Patrol Officer Jerry Graul about a recent accident in Laguna Niguel.

A teen-ager driving a new Honda automobile told the officer he swerved to avoid an animal, crossed over the curb, shot down an embankment, rolled over a number of times as he went along and landed upside down on two parked cars.

His car, with 1,100 miles on it, was ruined.

He suffered a bump on the head.

Acknowledgments--Mike Canales, 43, of Anaheim, two-term commander of Anaheim's American Legion Post 72, was elected state American Legion commander and will oversee 650 posts, 144,000 members and a $2-million annual budget. He is the first Latino state commander.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World