White Zombie (1932)

199092_1020_A A young woman falls under the spell of an evil voodoo priest in this horror classic.

The Review:

Bela Lugosi
His beard in White Zombie rules!
I must grow one too!

 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
 

The Midway Postcard gallery Volume 8 March 2011

There was once a time that I didn’t particularly care for amusement parks. In fact I was downright frightened of even the idea of riding a roller coaster. In college when I started dating my wife, she insisted that I accompany her to a local amusement park called Paragon Park in Nantasket Beach, Nantasket, MA. After much cajoling, and questioning of my manhood, she finally got me on the big wooden coaster, known ominously as The Giant Coaster. It was a harrowing ride, but when the train slammed to a halt in the station after the seemingly endless two plus minutes were over, I breathlessly looked at her and said “Let’s ride it again!”.

Such was the beginning of my love affair with amusement parks. It all started at this traditional trolley park that opened in 1905, and closed in 1985, only one year after my love affair with it began. Thankfully the roller coaster was saved, purchased by a park near Washington DC, that has since been folded into the Six Flags chain. It was renamed The Wild One. I’ve been lucky enough to ride it in its current home, but nothing will replace the feelings I have for that ride when it resided in a sleepy seaside town a mere 30 minute drive south of Boston. Because Paragon Park was so long lived, there are many postcards available from there, spanning from the undivided back era to the modern chrome era. This months column will show examples of cards from Paragon Park throughout the years.

First up is an example of what many of the early amusement park cards showed, ride or show buildings. The view is of the Trip to the North Pole attraction, a ride through scenes of the North Pole and its fauna and denizens. Notice the faux icicles hanging from nearly every surface, and the igloo and ice bound boat visible on the roof of the loading platform. This attraction was located around a central lagoon, a common set up of parks of that time frame. To the left of the Trip to the North Pole ride, is the Johnstown Flood attraction. This was a common attraction in amusement parks at the turn of the century, and was a show which illustrated with models, lights, and special effects, the devastating flood which affected Johnstown Pennsylvania in 1889.

The Trip To The North Pole Ride Paragon Park Nantasket Beach

Our next view is a beautiful close up image of riders about to take off on the Traver Airship Swing. Manufactured by the Traver amusement company of Beaver falls, PA, the Airship Swing was another common ride of the time. Much like modern rocket or swing rides, the cars would spin around a central point, which started out low to the ground and gradually raised until it was higher up in the air. Cards like this are highly sought after as they show the ride in relative close up, and allows you to see the riders dress and park signage, like the Fish Pond sign just to the right of the main car center.

Traver Airship Swing Paragon Park Nantasket Beach

This next view is another close view showing a now defunct ride called The Witching Waves. A prototype of bumper cars, the Witching Waves ride would propel the cars forward in an aimless fashion with wooden or steel rollers installed under a rubber mat like floor. As the cars were propelled forward they would hit other cars on the ride. These rides were short lived, probably due to the invention of bumper cars, which allowed the rider the freedom of propelling their car towards another patron, preferably a member of the opposite sex. As you can see this ride was situated on the center island which was surrounded by the lagoon.

The Witching Waves Paragon Park

Though it wasn’t the first roller coaster at Paragon Park, The Giant Coaster was the biggest. After a fire nearly destroyed the park in 1916, the ownership invested over $100,000 in building the Giant Coaster in time for the opening of the 1917 season. It was this beautiful behemoth that I first rode some 67 years later for the first time. As you can see the coaster was very close to the beach.

The Giant Coaster in the 1930's Paragon park

This view shows you what I looked out upon as I crested the top of the lift hill for the first time 27 years ago. The turnaround in front of you in this card, is the same part of the ride closest to you in the previous view. Both cards are excellent examples of views which have a great deal of eye appeal. Neither is particularly rare, but because they are both such attractive views, they usually are priced at $10-15 each.

The Giant Coaster from the top of the lift hill

The next view is a linen view of the beach, with park in the background which was mailed in 1942, with World War II in full swing. I’m including this card more for the back than the front, however. Because postcards can have such attractive views on the front of them, and those views are the reason people collect them, it’s easy to forget that postcards were a means of communication. A way for a friend, or relative to send a few lines to a loved one about what they were doing, or feeling at a certain point in time. My wife loves reading the messages on postcards, even more than the view on the front sometimes, and is often disappointed when the cards are unused. Most messages are rather prosaic, telling the recipient they are enjoying themselves, or asking a mundane question. They generally have little to say about the subject of the card itself, but every once in a while the message is so interesting, touching, or funny, that one wonders why anyone would have let it out of their possession. This is my wife’s favorite message on any card I own. It’s legible, so I won’t type what is written here, but the last sentence gets her every time.

Paragon Park and Beach at Nantasket, MA

Message found on previous postcard

This next view from the 1940’s is also an interesting story. It shows the street that runs along the back of the rides, and illustrates the many arcades, and games of skill and chance that littered the boardwalk. Also, the top of the coaster can be seen as well as the Traver Airship Swing at far left. This card was given to me by a man who was a patient of mine many years ago. He was a contractor, and was demolishing a wall in a house to increase the size of someone’s kitchen, and it fell to the floor at his feet when the wall fell. Many times in older houses, newspaper or any other available paper was used in the walls as insulation. I was touched that he remembered the conversation we’d had a few months earlier about amusement parks, when I had told him I collected postcards. He passed away a few years later, but I’ll always have this card to remember him by.

Linen view of Paragon Park game and arcade buildings

The last three cards I’m presenting this month are all chrome cards from the 1960’s. These cards are the closest images I have to how I remember this classic amusement park. The first is a nice view showing the lift hill and first drop of The Giant Coaster in the background. In front of the coaster can be seen a classic rocket ride with the distinctive silver rocket cars. The domed building to the left is probably the carousel building, the only ride that still resides at Nantsaket Beach today, saved by locals who didn’t want the park to be erased forever. Finally up front, on the left can be seen a small roller coaster known as a Mad Mouse. These popular rides can still be found in many amusement parks, some newer versions spin as they descend the tracks. The shtick behind a Mad Mouse is that the front end of the car will seemingly go off the edge of the tracks when the car makes very sharp turns, usually on a gently sloping upper section. If you look at the red, white, and blue car on the tracks, you can see how set back the wheels are from the front of the car, increasing the illusion that the car is about to come off the tracks.

Chrome view of The Giant Coaster, Mad Mouse and other rides at Paragon Park

Our next view shows a few more of the rides at Paragon, including a sad looking miniature train ride (not much scenery to see on that ride!), a Flying Scooters ride center back, still commonly seen at parks today, and The Looper, center left. In this diabolical ride, the circular cars would travel in a circle like a carousel, but the riders could move bars inside each car to cause them to spin in a clockwise fashion, while the entire platform spun. Excuse me, I’ve got to go hurl!

Assorted rides at Paragon Park

In the last view the Giant Coaster dominates the background, while in the foreground a Caterpillar ride can be seen. This is a rare ride now, though common in the past. There are about 6 left in the world, and only three still have the fabric covering that slides over the heads of riders as it spins. One of the three can be found at Canobie Lake Park in Salem NH. Behind the Caterpillar is another rare ride today that was common in the past, The Tilt-A-Whirl. To the right of the Tilt-A-Whirl can be seen the carousel building and a different angle view of The Flying Scooters. It’s a shame that Paragon Park closed, especially since it was still a viable commercial enterprise at the end, unlike many of its contemporaries. Paragon Park fell victim to greed, as the land was sold off to build seaside condominiums, many of which sat unsold for many years, until the state purchased them to use for elderly and affordable housing.

Giant Coaster, Caterpillar, and Tilt-A-Whirl at Paragon Park

Our sideshow postcard section features two cards that feature Betty Williams, the girl with four legs and three arms. The first view shows Betty as a 15 month old baby on one side, and is if to balance the limb books, has limbless phenomenon Freda Pushnik on the other side of the card.

Betty Williams and Freda Pushnik sideshow performers

The second card of Betty Williams also shows her as a young girl. It more clearly illustrates her condition, which resulted from a twin which did not fully separate from her in utero, and protrudes from her abdomen.  Many times these growths are known as vestigial twins, and are almost always a combination of arms and legs, though occasionally heads or partial heads could be present as well.

Betty Williams the girl with four legs and three arms

GLOSSARY:
The type of card will often help one judge its age, as postcard manufacture went through several phases and changes over the years. The terms below will be what I use to describe cards, and will inform you what time frame those cards are from.
Private Mailing Card: 1850’s-1900 Marked on the back as such, only an address allowed on the back.

Undivided Back: 1900-1907 Most cards printed in Germany, address only on back of card, front may have space for message. All cards after 1907 are divided back, meaning both a message and an address may be written on the back

Early Chrome: Mostly German printed cards that have printing to the edges of a photographic image that’s been colored or a drawn image. 1900-1918.

White Border Cards: Mostly American printed starting 1918-1930’s. Generally inferiorly printed, especially the earlier ones, as American printing presses had not yet caught up with the superior German ones. Obviously World War 1 ended German dominance of the then very lucrative postcard printing market.

Linen Cards: These cards are characterized by a thin layer of linen that is glued over the paper prior to printing, giving them a non-smooth surface to the touch. 1940-s-early1950’s.

Chrome Cards: Postcards like you are used to today. Printed photographs on glossy stock. These date from the mid 1950’s until present, and are almost 100% of all new postcards made since the 1970’s. Chrome cards prior to the 1970’s are called Standard Size, which indicates the pre-1970’s postcard size of 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches. Almost all postcards printed since the 1970’s have been 4 inches by 6 inches or what is known as Continental Size. Since I do not actively collect continental sized postcards, all my images are of standard sized cards.

Real Photo Postcard RPPC: This is a card which is an actual photograph printed on actual photographic paper, generally made in limited numbers by small independent photographers. They may date from 1900 until present day, and can be dated approximately by the markings on the back. They are the rarest and most sought after postcards by collectors

 

The Midway Postcard Gallery Volume 7 February 2011

This month we move south from Maine, stop for a brief minute in Maryland, and move back north into Massachusetts. Since I live in Massachusetts, I have more cards from here than any other state. This first month, I’ll be presenting cards from smaller parks where I may only have a card or two. In the next 4-6 months I will be presenting cards from Massachusetts by specific park, including at least three months just on Revere Beach, MA. The sideshow cards are back this month as well. So without further ado we move onto Glen Echo Park, located in Glen Echo, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore. The first card here is an excellent example of a drawn linen card. It depicts the U-Run-’Em Motor Boats ride, and is obviously a drawn representation rather than a photograph. This was a ride where each rider would guide their boat around a course, much like the old fashioned car rides prevalent in modern amusement parks. Also note the airplane ride behind the buildings.

U-Run-'Em Boat Ride Glen Echo Park, MD

Next is another Glen Echo Park card. A gorgeous close-up linen view of riders enjoying the Coaster Dips roller coaster. Close-up views like this are always sought out by collectors. Postcard collecting, like all collectibles, is a game of supply and demand. Also like some collectibles, sheer attractiveness to the eye, also can raise a postcards value. This view is the epitome of a card with high eye appeal. Coupled with it’s relative rarity, this card usually retails for $20-25.

Glen Echo Park Giant Dips

With that we move onto to the smaller Massachusetts parks. With all the focus in recent years on building roller coasters across the country, many may think that we are living in high times for amusement parks. Before the Great Depression, however, there were thousands of trolley parks scattered around the country, many of which had a roller coaster or two among their cadre of rides. There are currently somewhere close to 500 roller coasters currently running in the US. At the height of amusement parks popularity there were over 2500 roller coasters in the US. A book I have on New England amusement parks lists over 60 parks that have existed in Massachusetts alone. Currently we have only Six Flags New England (once Riverside Park). The next four cards are from Highland Park in Brockton, MA. Brockton is a working class enclave about 30 miles south of Boston. Highland Park was around at the turn of the century, as is evident from the cars and dress of the people in the views, but I can’t find any information on when it exactly opened or closed. Since every card I’ve seen from there is pre 1910, I would assume it didn’t last much longer than that. Here you can see the entrance (a popular card subject), as well as the roller coaster at left, and a nice antique car. I have two other view of the entrance and coaster from a slightly different angle.

Highland Park Entrance showing Roller Coaster Brockton MA

This next view shows the entrance again. Notice the ladies at the left of the little girl in the white dress, as well as the detail of the shrubbery to the right of the front gate. Also notice the white area on the right of the card for a message. This is an undivided back postcard, so it was not allowed to have a message on the back. This card was mailed in 1908. The message at right reads “I Just heard about the Costume Party. I Suppose you are going. M.A.P.”

Entrance to Highland Park Brockton, MA

Next we have the same view, but instead of full color, this one is printed in a monochrome greenish tint. The limitations of this printing method are obvious, as the women to the left of the little girl have disappeared, as has the definition of the shrubs to the right of the gate. This card was not mailed, but someone has written in pencil in the white space right “B.M.D. Oct 11, 1906”

Highland Park Entrance Brockton MA

Finally we have one last variation of this view, which is the same as the previous card, except with the addition of edging glitter. If you look around the gate to the park, you will see that a thin line of glue was added to the card followed by dipping the card into glitter. There is also some glitter on the wall to the right of the entrance. This was a very common way of gussying up a card so that a premium price could be placed on it. Other than the glitter, this card is identical to the previous card. I bought both of them at a flea market for $1 each.

Highland Park Entrance with glitter

Next we move west to Mountain Park in Holyoke, MA. About 60 miles southwest of Boston, Mountain Park was situated at the base of Mount Tom and started as a trolley park in the late 1800’s. The roller coaster was installed in 1929. In this late 30’s, early 40’s card, the coaster can be seen curling it’s way around the park’s periphery, with a Traver Circle Swing seen in the back, as well as trolley tracks, and several amusement buildings along the midway.


The next card is another view from Mountain Park. This is a chrome card from the 60’s and it shows the Funhouse, which advertises a Magic Carpet on it’s side. The Magic Carpet was a sofa type seat on the second floor of a two story walk through funhouse. A lever is pulled, and patrons flop down onto a moving belt that transports them over bumps below to the first floor to exit. This was the next step from the Drop Seat which simply dropped your seat from under you and plopped you down on the floor. This card is hard to come by, as I’ve not seen another copy of it since I bought this one about 10 years ago. This card was mailed in 1968.

Mountain Park Holyoke, MA Funhouse

Further to the south in Fall River, MA, there was Sandy Beach., another late 1800’s to early 1900’s era trolley park. Trolley parks were so named because the owners of trolley lines would build parks at the end of trolley lines as a means to have people ride the trolleys on weekend as well as to commute. It was the prevalence of these small trolley parks that accounted for the vast number of roller coasters and other rides accessible to our forefathers. Some trolley parks, like Riverside in MA became larger, and lasted, most like Sandy Beach, succumbed to the automobile age, where one could travel to whatever place one wanted, and not be beholden to the trolley owners and their choice of destination. This is a really nice real photo card of the figure eight roller coaster. The figure eight roller coaster was the most common roller coaster found in parks in the teens and 20’s. Of the hundreds of them that were built, only one remains, Leap The Dips at Lakemont Park in Altoona, PA Notice the four person individual cars rather than a tradition train of connected cars. The A.V. Dubois Pro along the bottom is the publisher (and probably photographer). This card was mailed in 1910.

Sandy Hill Fall River, MA Figure Eight Roller Coaster RPPC

The next park was also a trolley park, Lakeview Park in Dracut, MA, near Lowell, about 30 miles northwest of Boston. It opened for business in 1889, and by the 1910’s had a merry go round and figure eight roller coaster. The Deep Dips roller coaster, seen here traveling over the entrance to the park, was built in the late 1920’s. This card, which is in near mint unused condition was published in the 1930’s. It is another card with a generous helping of eye appeal.

Deep Dips Roller Coaster and Entrance to Lakeview Park Dracut, MA

Finally I’ll close with two more sideshow performer cards. These are two more images of armless woman Frances O’Connor, the Living Venus De Milo. The first is a classic real photo card that was printed no later than 1942. Since Frances was born in 1914, this means she is in her 20’s in this card, no older than 28. As is all her cards, it is autographed on the back.

Frances O'Connor RPPC

The last Frances O’Connor card is a little later, as she appears to be in her 30’s. It is a printed photograph, not a real photo card. She retired at the end of the 40’s when her mother passed away, so this card probably comes from that era. I love the way she’s holding the drinking glass in her foot. Again it is autographed on the back. I have one more Frances O’Connor card from this same sitting (same outfit, different pose), but it is fairly rough condition compared to these.

Frances O'Connor The Living Venus De Milo

GLOSSARY:
The type of card will often help one judge its age, as postcard manufacture went through several phases and changes over the years. The terms below will be what I use to describe cards, and will inform you what time frame those cards are from.
Private Mailing Card: 1850’s-1900 Marked on the back as such, only an address allowed on the back.

Undivided Back: 1900-1907 Most cards printed in Germany, address only on back of card, front may have space for message. All cards after 1907 are divided back, meaning both a message and an address may be written on the back

Early Chrome: Mostly German printed cards that have printing to the edges of a photographic image that’s been colored or a drawn image. 1900-1918.

White Border Cards: Mostly American printed starting 1918-1930’s. Generally inferiorly printed, especially the earlier ones, as American printing presses had not yet caught up with the superior German ones. Obviously World War 1 ended German dominance of the then very lucrative postcard printing market.

Linen Cards: These cards are characterized by a thin layer of linen that is glued over the paper prior to printing, giving them a non-smooth surface to the touch. 1940-s-early1950’s.

Chrome Cards: Postcards like you are used to today. Printed photographs on glossy stock. These date from the mid 1950’s until present, and are almost 100% of all new postcards made since the 1970’s. Chrome cards prior to the 1970’s are called Standard Size, which indicates the pre-1970’s postcard size of 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches. Almost all postcards printed since the 1970’s have been 4 inches by 6 inches or what is known as Continental Size. Since I do not actively collect continental sized postcards, all my images are of standard sized cards.

Real Photo Postcard RPPC: This is a card which is an actual photograph printed on actual photographic paper, generally made in limited numbers by small independent photographers. They may date from 1900 until present day, and can be dated approximately by the markings on the back. They are the rarest and most sought after postcards by collectors

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