She’s really sad ’cause her mama died,” said Robert, picking at the short rope tied around Marley’s neck. Johnathan put his hand gently under the dog’s jowl, lifted her head and searched for something in her black eyes.

Had the severity of grief sapped all her strength, preventing her from walking on all fours? Or was it that a ride in a shopping cart was just the thing to cheer her up?

We were on the far north end of the Lakewood Shopping Center, surrounded by a vast and mostly empty parking lot. Once, long ago, we would be standing in the shadow of a wooden roller coaster, the destination at the end of Richard Wright’s trolley line, Lakewood Amusement Park boasted a massive rolling skating rink, shooting gallery and a raucous casino to entertain folks flush with tobacco boom town coin.

After climbing 65 feet in the air, almost over the top of surrounding trees, the wooden coaster’s chain would disconnect and send a carload of children careening down the tracks with a thrilling scream as Joe King’s orchestra played beneath the dance hall. The only clue to the ceaseless summer fun once had there is a fading mural on the face of this sad strip of a mall.

It depicts another high-flying spectacle of the summer pleasure park; a bride and groom atop a horse, diving 40 feet off a platform into a pool of water. Marley might do better with the shopping cart.