I continue with twelve images from assorted New Jersey amusement parks over the years. The first two are bittersweet for me personally, as I visited this area, just 50 days before Hurricane Sandy demolished it in 2012. I can only imagine what it felt like for folks who had loved this area for years. For those of you interested, I have a mostly photographic remembrance from our trip to Casino Pier, in Seaside Heights, NJ, which includes a virtually complete documentation of the ghouls in Stillwalk Manor during a lights on walk through. It can be found at the following link. You have to cut and paste the link, I can’t get the program to let you click on it, sorry.

https://kimfair.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/casino-pier-seaside-heights-new-jersey-a-memory/

On to the postcards. In this busy first 1960’s view from Funtown USA, looking south along the boardwalk, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park, NJ, several classic kiddie rides, as well as a Jet Star roller coaster, and a small monorail type ride can be seen.

This next card from the 1960’s is from Casino Pier, and is a nice bird’s eye view of the park, showing a multitude of rides and attractions. Though it was substantially, if not completely different from this view when I visited in 2012, it seemed the same to me, with the rides crammed in everywhere, and everywhere something new to catch your eye.

Our next view is a linen postcard from the 1940’s. It shows the Giant roller coaster at Riverview Beach Park, in Pennsville, NJ. This ride is what is known as an out and back coaster, as you can see the hills receding into the distance.

Also from Riverview Beach in Pennsville NJ, comes this 1930’s white border view of the Lake Shore Line, which was probably an independent operator with a train ride that took passengers around the area since it is not titled Riverview Beach Park. The roller coaster from that park in the background also probably would have been mentioned had the park issued this card.

We move along to Wood Lynne Park, Camden, NJ for this view of the Scenic Railway, or Railroad, as this one is called. These early coasters debuted at the turn of the century, and were popular until advances in technology allowed for faster, more exciting rides. This card has a divided back. That, coupled with the style of printing dates this card to 1907-1918.

Next is a 1960’s chrome view of Bertrand Island Amusement Park, in Lake Hopatcong, NJ . The signs for the Aero Jet and Whip, and a fun house, a Laff In The Dark!, my second favorite amusement attraction after roller coasters. Speaking of coasters, a few good sized hills of the ride can be seen over the top of the Laff In The Dark!

In this linen 1940’s view of Jenkinson’s Kiddie Park, in Point Pleasant, NJ, the ability to use a small space is again to be admired. In this view alone there is a boat ride, carousel, Fire Truck ride, another flat ride of some sort, a circle swing type ride, and a miniature railroad.

The last five cards I’m presenting this volume are all from Palisade Park, Palisades, NJ. This beloved park, which began as a trolley park in 1898, closed it’s doors forever on the last day of operation, September 12th, 1971. Doomed by the increasing popularity, which spawned epic traffic jams, and the value of the land on which it stood, Developers and local citizens tired of living near a place that stood there before them rallied the local government to re-zone the area and drive the amusement park out. Palisades Park hung on for a final season, but closed forever in 1971, a victim of it’s own success.

This 1940’s linen card shows the Lake Placid Bobsled ride. This type of ride was popular for a brief time, in the 1930’s, but only eight of them were ever made from wood. The trains are on wheels, and rather than coast over track, these trains would slide and roll inside a wooden trough, that simulated bobsledding. This particular example ran from 1937-1946. A new wooden bobsled ride, The Flying Turns, opened at Knoebel’s Grove in Elysburg, PA in 2013 after many years of work.

This next view shows a great crowd of people in front of the roller coaster, and the Skooter ride, or bumper cars ride. I love the fashions and how well dressed everyone was for a day out of leisure. The card was sent by an Army Sgt, in 1944, and where the stamp went, it’s written in his hand, “Free”, apparently a perk for servicemen. I’m sure they pay for postage today. This card was mailed in 1944, but the white border shows that the card was printed in the 1930’s. This happens fairly frequently, as stores would buy huge numbers of postcards, and keep putting them out until they all sold, which may have taken years in some cases.

This next card is interesting as it is a drawing, the type most commonly seen on linen cards, yet the card is glossy, like 1960’s chrome cards, or modern cards. The chrome era started in the 1950’s, so this to me is an early chrome. I have not seen this card in a linen form, but I would not be surprised if it existed in that manner. The message on the back says they went to Palisades Park at 10pm, then got chop suey, and didn’t get home until 4 AM!

The next card is a chrome card from the 1960’s, and shows many rides including The Monster ride, a Circle Swing, a Ferris Wheel, and even a Rock-O-Plane in the middle rear.

Our last card this time, and our last Palisades Park card, shows the magnificent looking Cyclone Roller Coaster, it’s front edge dotted with game booths, and it’s midway crowded with happy people. This beautiful machine was razed with the rest of the park in 1971, and now only the memories of those who went there, and the ephemeral documents like postcards can recapture that time.

Join me next time, when I finish up New Jersey with Wildwood, NJ, and we hit some assorted parks in New York.

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. All 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.

 

After much delay, I return to this project. I have decided that since the next few states will encompass many great New Jersey parks as well as Coney Island, I am showcasing 12 cards instead of 10 for each installment, and omitting the sideshow performer section for now, though that will return later, perhaps as it’s own entity.

We pick up in New Hampshire, and it’s once and future main amusement park attraction, Canobie Lake Park. The coaster that can be seen in this aerial view, is the Yankee Cannonball, still going strong after 86 years. The coaster was built in 1930 for Lakewood Park in Waterbury Connecticut, and was relocated to Canobie Lake in 1936. It’s being re-tracked this off season, so 2016 should be a stellar year. The coaster makes an unusual dogleg around the still existing parking lot, though the rest of the park, the area between the parking lots and the lake, which was mostly trees in this 1960’s view, is far more developed now.

Canobie Lake Park Aerial View 1960's

This next card shows that racial insensitivity wasn’t limited to states south of the Mason-Dixon line, with this card showing the Little Black Sambo merry go round in Story Land in Glen, NH. I’ve been to Story Land, and the place is family run, and by really nice folks. In their defense, Little Black Sambo was a popular story from when it was first published in 1899 until the 1960’s, when it’s racial undertones were impossible to ignore any further. Obviously, the ride is no longer in the park.

Little Black Sambo Ride Story Land Glen, NH

We enter New Jersey through Asbury Park. This nice 1960’s chrome view shows many rides and attractions, including the small roller coaster in the foreground, with three small kiddie rides behind it. The red roofed building houses the carousel, and the white building down from the carousel contained the Skooter rides, more popularly known now as Dodgems or bumper cars. The track in the water to the left of the card marked the area where you could rent self propelled swan boats.

Overview of Kiddie Land Asbury Park, NJ

The majority of the first installment will take place in Atlantic City. Firstly is a great view entitled “There Is a Boy for Every Girl, Atlantic City, NJ”. It was mailed in 1911, and it is a great example of the swimwear worn at the beach at the time. Notice that none of the women are showing any skin except for their heads and hands.

Early 1900's bathing costumes in Atlantic City NJ

This next card show a sand sculptor working on a sculpture of a lion on the beach in front of George C. Tilyou’s Steeplechase Pier. Tilyou was also well known for his Steeplechase Park in Coney Island. This sign was also advertising The Funny Place, a funhouse. Note the Ferris Wheel in the back.

Sand sculptor working on a lion in front of Steeplechase Park

Next is a card from the 1930’s of the famous Elephant Hotel, Margate City, part of Atlantic City. Built in 1881 out of lumber covered in sheet metal, the elephant was used for many things, but not an actual hotel, that was in the building adjacent. It was moved in 1970, and still exists today, and is colloquially known as Lucy, which is the name given to her in 1902 by a member of the family that owned it.

The Elephant Hotel Margate City

This next card depicts a strange, generally no longer seen phenomenon, known as the Steel Pier diving horse show. These jockeys would go up the structure seen on the card, and then jump off of them into a pool. They were the most popular at the turn of the century, but began to lose popularity after World War II, due to concerns for the animals. Some of these attractions had the horses jumping close to sixty feet. This card was mailed in 1941, right when these shows were starting to die out almost everywhere.

Horse Diving at the Steel Pier Atlantic City NJ

But not apparently at The Steel Pier in Atlantic City, where this multi view card shows the Diving Horse, an assortment of rides, the popular rolling chairs ride, powered by this time, though human powered like a rickshaw, when first introduced in the 1800’s, and a billboard with ads for Zaberers, a restaurant, and Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. The publication date on this card is 1972, nearly the end of horse diving on the Steel Pier. The Steel Pier tried to re-introduce Diving Horses in 2012, but were quickly rebuffed by animal rights activists, and the general public, who’s taste for such spectacle has waned. The Magic Forest Theme Park in Lake George still has a diving horse, but he walks up the ramp, and dives nine feet into a pool 14 feet deep without a rider, or external encouragement.

Multi-Iamge view showing Diving Horse in 1972

These next three cards are my favorites from my Atlantic City collection. The first shows the Human Roulette Wheel, also known as a Joy Wheel in the UK. The person sitting on the absolute center of the device is the only one who is able to stay on the wheel as it starts to spin and gain speed. This shoots the people off the wheel, towards the rather ominous, and injury inducing short wall with metal fence, as well as previous riders. A sign in the center above the ride advertises ice cream cones for 5 cents.

Human Roulette Wheel at The Funny Place Steeplechase Pier Atlantic City NJ

Next is the Razzle Dazzle at The Funny Place, Steeplechase Park. This low tech ride used human power to get a large circular bench that people sat on, to rotate up, down and around a central pole. Oftentimes the folks who were providing the muscle would hang off the bench by their hands as it would go around. Click on the link below the picture to see a short 14 second video of one of these rides, known as The Hoop-La in Coney Island.

The Razzle Dazzle The Funny Place Steeplechase Pier Atlantic NJ

Hoop-La ride at Coney Island

Our last Atlantic City card is this great overview of Steeplechase Pier, showing a coffee shop front left, a frankfurter restaurant front right, which also made fruit smoothies, apparently, and the rides behind the sign, including the carousel, Whip ride, and Dodgem or bumper cars ride, as well as another circular flat ride.

Overview of the entrance to Steeplechase Pier, Atlantic City, NJ

Our last card this installment comes from Clementon Lake Park in Clementon NJ, near Camden. I have ridden this wooden coaster, known as The Jack Rabbit. It was a fun ride, though the hand stamp the park gave you was so thick, you had to be careful what you touched!

The Jack Rabbit roller coaster, coming down a hill at Clementon Park, Clementon, NJ

Come back next time for another installment on New jersey, including the late, lamented Palisades Park.

 

This month we finish our time in Massachusetts, and continue west to Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, and Nebraska. First in Massachusetts we stop in the mid-state industrial city of Worcester. Creating the eastern border between Worcester and Shrewsbury is Lake Quinsigamond. As with Whalom Park in Lunenberg, The White City in Worcester used the natural appeal of a large body of water to draw a crowd, and added amusements and other activities to get them to spend their money. Though all the postcards say the park is in Worcester, it actually was physically in the suburb of Shrewsbury. I’m certain this was to trade on the better known Worcester name. This first card is special as it was released prior to the parks opening in 1905. A note written on the front lets the recipient of the card know it will open in May. These pre-opening cards are nice examples of advertising for an upcoming attraction. At this point in history, you could only write an address on the back of the card, so it’s not unusual to see writing on the front of cards from this era.

White City Worcester Pre-Opening Card

This next view of The White City is a nice close up of riders enjoying their trip on the scenic railway. This type of card became popular during this era of the undivided back postcard. The space at the bottom took away from the image, but was popular anyway, as it gave senders a place to write a note without marring the view on the front of the card. The White City was another trolley park, and it suffered through the Great Depression, finally succumbing to economic realities in 1960. For those who know that area, The White City Shopping Center near the now defunct Spag’s was where this lost amusement park was located.

White City Worcester Scenic Railway

This next card is a wonderful view of riders enjoying a low energy ride on a figure eight roller coaster, circa 1910. This type of coaster is nearly extinct, only Leaps The Dips in Altoona, PA remains as an example. In this close view, you can see how there are wooden sides near the tracks. The ride is a series of figure eights, with small hills. Maximum speed on a ride like this was probably only about 10 MPH. It wasn’t until the underwheel, that locks the car to the track, was invented that coasters sped up to today’s extremes. When the car returns to the station, a brakeman in the station will pull a large lever, which squeezes the boards on the side against the car, slowing it to a stop. These are known as side friction roller coasters. Since these rides were so popular and so common, this exact card comes with different names of parks on it. This card is from Wenona Beach, Bay City, Michigan, but I have seen this same view with at least three other different park names displayed on it.


Side Friction Figure Eight Coaster @ Wenona Beach MI

This next view is from Electric City in Detroit, Michigan. Located adjacent to the bridge to Belle Isle, this trolley park was in operation from 1906 to 1928. This view shows an overview of the parks many rides, including the Trip Thru The Clouds roller coaster, a Traver circle swing, what looks like some sort of funhouse or other inside attraction, and behind that the top of the Ferris wheel. Also a drink stand can be seen.
Electric Park Detroit, MI
Electric Park Detroit, MI

This last view in Michigan is from the Ionia, Michigan Fair. This fair is one of the nation’s largest, and longest lasting. It started in 1856, and is going strong today in 2014. This view is from the 1960’s, and shows the plethora of rides offered. Starting in the front right, there is a Zipper, a ride I have never been able to go on, then a ride I’ve seen called the crazy buckets, basically a round car that you can rotate while going around in a circle. Urp! A Round-Up, Double Ferris Wheel, and other spin and pukes can also be seen. A line of tents probably held games of chance and human oddities displays.

Ionia Fair MI Not for the weak of stomach!

Not being an emetic fan, let’s move on from the Ionia Fair, and onto Minnesota. With many smaller states, I only have a few or even just one card. I have just a few Minnesota cards, and this one is the best, a great action view of the Cyclone roller coaster coming down a hill.

Excelsior Park Cyclone Roller Coaster Excelsior, MN

We move south to Missouri, and to Schifferdecker Electric Park. This short lived park was only in operation from 1909 through 1912. Many parks incorporated Electric into their name during this period to trade in on the new attraction of electricity. For many people an amusement park was the only place they had seen an incandescent light bulb! I have seen many of these cards for sale, so the park’s demise didn’t come around by lack of advertising materials. These rides must have been interesting. I would imagine they were a less than gentle ride through several switch backs, and curves.

Two Wacky Coasters at Schifferdecker Amusement Park Joplin, MO

This next view shows the extents that park operators went through to theme the entrances to their rides to entice those not yet on the ride, to pry a nickel or dime out of their pocket, and give this new mechanical marvel a go. This entrance is for the Scenic Railway roller coaster in Electric Park, Kansas City, Missouri, a short lived park open only from 1907 through 1925. I love the intricate lattice work, and beautiful architecture on these old rides, a far cry from the utilitarian nature of most queue lines today.

Scenic Railway Entrance at Electric Park, Kansas City, MO

Moving to Montana is a nice real photo view showing the roller coaster at Columbia Gardens in Butte, Montana. It is my only card from Montana, and I have not found a ton of information about the park’s past, short of it being a botanical attraction at points in its history.

Roller Coaster at Columbia Gardens, Butte, MT

Our last amusement card this month is a nice view of riders on a small roller coaster that overlooks the swimming area. They are enjoying their day at Peony Park in Omaha, Nebraska. Peony Park was a water attraction for most of its history, adding rides in the 1970’s. The park closed for good in 1994. This is also my only postcard from Nebraska.

On the Roller Coaster At Peony Park Omaha, NB

From the sideshow collection this month comes a self made freak. One who was born without deformity or other maladies. In today’s world of ubiquitous tattoos, it’s hard to believe an age when a heavily tattooed person was so unusual that you’d pay to see one. Certainly today there are many more people with facial tattoos, and many more with total body tattoos, but in the Great Omi’s day this was unheard of. Born in 1892, the Great Omi had several tattoos, but enlisted a tattoo artist to give him the distinctive zebra like black stripes on his face and upper body sometime between 1927 and 1934. He exhibited himself most of his life, until his death in 1969.

The Great Omi

Our last sideshow card is of Susi, the Alligator Skin girl. Susi was an unfortunate victim of an extreme case of psoriasis, which resulted in her skin having a scaly, lizard like appearance. There were several Alligator people throughout history. I have only seen this one view of Susi, and there is scant information on her available.

Susi The Alligator Skin Girl

 

Welcome back! It’s been quite a long time, but I’m back to discuss some more vintage postcards. In our alphabetical tour of the United States, we last stopped in Revere Beach Massachusetts. We pick up in the Bay State once again with this 1920-1930’s vintage white border postcard of the Greyhound roller coaster at Riverside Park in Agawam, MA, now known as Six Flags New England. Riverside Park had many coasters over the years, with The Greyhound being just one. It is no longer in operation at the park.
Greyhound Coaster At Riverside park, Agawam, MA
Greyhound Coaster At Riverside park, Agawam, MA

This second card from Riverside Park is a chrome view from the 1960’s. It shows the Thunderbolt roller coaster. While the entire area around the coaster has changed considerably, the Thunderbolt is still thrilling riders today at Six Flags.
Thunderbolt Coaster at Riverside Park, Agawam, MA
Thunderbolt Coaster at Riverside Park, Agawam, MA

We venture east, and then north to the seaside town of Salisbury, MA. There have been amusements here since the turn of the 20th century. This first view shows the Scenic Railway along the beach in Salisbury. The sandy beaches of Salisbury, have always drawn crowds, and amusements like this early roller coaster gave them something to spend money on when they were there. This card costs more than most roller coaster cards, as there are four separate signs advertising Moxie. Moxie collectors are willing to spend more than amusement park collectors, apparently.
Scenic Railway At Salisbury Beach, Salisbury, MA
Scenic Railway At Salisbury Beach, Salisbury, MA

This next view is one of my favorites. It shows the new roller coaster, The Skyrocket, as well as the Old Mill ride entrance. The coaster looks like the standard type seen at this time, in the early to mid 1920’s, just before ride designers began to design ever more wild and exciting rides. These were simpler times.
The Skyrocket Roller Coaster @ Salisbury Beach, Salisbury, MA
The Skyrocket Roller Coaster @ Salisbury Beach, Salisbury, MA

This next chrome view of Salisbury Beach shows the Fun-O-Rama amusement park that existed from the 1950’s until the late 1970’s. Today, small amusement areas within permanent buildings are the extent of the amusement industry in Salisbury Beach.
Fun-O-Rama Amusement Park Salisbury Beach, Salisbury, MA
Fun-O-Rama Amusement Park Salisbury Beach, Salisbury, MA

This last Salisbury card is one of the fantasy type cards. An artist’s rendition of what Salisbury Beach would look like in the future. One thing I find curious about in these views is the future’s reliance on flying machines, and monorail type public transport in the sky. Not once have a seen a scene of people walking around talking on cell phones!
Fantasy Card of Salisbury Beach in the Future
Fantasy Card of Salisbury Beach in the Future

We now travel west to a small lake in Lunenberg, MA. Lake Whalom has also been a tourist destination since the turn of the 20th century. Like many amusement areas of the era, these parks were built at the end of trolley lines, so that trolley operators would be profitable on the weekends. This first card shows the humble roots of many of these trolley parks, a nice wooded area, with picnic tables near an area of water, be it ocean or lake.
Picnic Groves at Whalom Park, Lunenberg, MA
Picnic Groves at Whalom Park, Lunenberg, MA

After a while, such simple amusements were not enough, and more elaborate measures were needed. This view shows an early figure eight roller coaster. Once ubiquitous, this humble ride is represented today by only one example, Leap The Dips in Altoona PA. This one at Whalom Park was gone by 1920, most probably, as that signifies the beginning of the golden age of coaster design.
Figure Eight Coaster At Whalom Park, Lunenberg, MA
Figure Eight Coaster At Whalom Park, Lunenberg, MA

The next view is a 1950-1960’s era chrome postcard of the popular Flyer Comet Roller Coaster, which thrilled riders from its building in 1940, until the park’s demise in 2006. In the 1990’s to make things interesting, a tunnel called the Black Hole was added to one of the back drops. It made things a bit more exciting, but ultimately, the Flyer Comet wasn’t a thrilling ride, but a fun zippy ride, that you could ride all day without feeling beaten up, a rare commodity in today’s world.
Flyer Comet Roller Coaster At Whalom Park Lunenberg, MA
Flyer Comet Roller Coaster At Whalom Park Lunenberg, MA

Finally we have a chrome aerial view of Whalom Park, showing the proximity of the Flyer Comet to Lake Whalom. I miss Whalom Park more for its walk through fun house than anything else. It had a barrel of fun, uneven stairs, a human roulette wheel, and many other attractions. It was exactly the type of place that lawyers have made it impossible to enjoy in the America of today.
Aerial View of Whalom Park Lunenberg, MA
Aerial View of Whalom Park Lunenberg, MA

For our sideshow cards this month, I have picked two very different performers. First up is Francesco Lentini, the three legged wonder. He actually had a fourth leg, growing out of the side of his third, but unlike the third, it was vestigial. He often used the third leg as a stool, and could kick a soccer ball with it. He had a long, fruitful career, and died in Florida in 1966 at the age of 85. I am showing the front and back of his card as he has valuable information about his life on the back. One nifty piece of information not included on the back of the card is the fact that Frank possessed two working sets of genitals.
Francesco Lentini The Three Legged Man
Francesco Lentini The Three Legged Man

Back of Francesco Lentini Pitch Card
Back of Francesco Lentini Pitch Card

Finally we have Mademoiselle Gabrielle, the half woman. This Swiss woman suffered from the same malady as the famous Johnny Eck, her body terminating at her hips. I have never seen any postcards of her presented any other way, except for having her sit on a small table or other flat surface. I’m sure it was the Swiss propriety that prevented any other poses.
Mademoiselle Gabrielle, The Swiss Half Woman
Mademoiselle Gabrielle, The French Half Woman

 

Even though Revere Beach wasn’t a self contained park, and there were quite a few roller coasters situated up and down Revere Beach Boulevard, it was an amusement area, and there was no paucity of familiar and unfamiliar ride options vying for the patrons coins. No great amusement park is complete without a carousel, and here is a prime example. This ride, while called just Merry Go Round on the card, was actually Hurley’s Hurdlers. The Hurley family owned many amusements along the beach from the early days until the bitter end in the late 1960′s. This carousel may seem familiar to some, as it was purchased and moved to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio, in 1946.

Hurley's Hurdlers Carousel Revere Beach MA


I can find no exact information on what this next ride, The Whirlpool, did, but it seems like some sort of motorized bumper car ride. The cars are obviously built for collisions! Did the cars move randomly on their own power? Were they steered by the riders at all? Did the floor move to allow for movement of the cars? So many questions.

The Whirlpool Ride Revere Beach, MA


Next are two views of another popular ride of the time called The Virginia Reel. Though one prominent online roller coaster resource considers the Virginia Reel a roller coaster, I’m not sure I do. It does have a lift hill, where a wooden tub on wheels is pulled by a chain up to the top of the ride. Note the somewhat evil looking smiling faces on the front of the ride where the cars enter the tunnels. They are very evocative of Tilly, the smiling face used to advertise amusement parks in both New Jersey, and Coney Island.

The Virginia Reel Revere Beach, MA


After the car is released on top, it makes it’s way downwards through switchbacks, all the time spinning. Sometimes gently, sometimes wildly depending on the weight distribution in the car. Towards the end, the switchbacks become swooping downward turns that end in a series of tunnels as you make your way back to the loading platform. Revere Beach had two reels, as a second was built after the fiery demise of the first. It thrilled riders until the mid sixties, before succumbing to fire itself. Is it a roller coaster? I guess you can make the argument that it is, especially if you consider modern spinning mad mouse type coasters, but I still don’t consider it a roller coaster.

Going Up The Virginia Reel Revere Beach, MA


In my estimation, no classic amusement park is complete without a fun house. Unfortunately, the walk through fun house , with it’s moving staircases, rolling barrels, drop seats, and other attractions are sadly a thing of the past. Now, one has to be content with the dark ride, another great attraction, but nothing like the walk through funhouse. Another common theme was to have a figural frontage for the ride. This 1940’s era linen card shows the amazing facade of the Bluebeard’s Castle walk through funhouse.

Bluebeard's Castle Fun House Revere Beach, MA


Amusement ride owners were too smart to let any amount of spare room go unused. Here is a card of Neptune’s Frolic, a dark ride located underneath the Virginia Reel. You can see the faux stalactites lining the ceiling of the ride’s loading platform. Theming the area to make it more attractive and enticing is not a new phenomenon. It was actually more important at the time this ride existed as patrons paid for each ride they took. You had to look/be spectacular to separate the patron from their cash, and to stand out from the other attractions.

Neptune's Frolic, located under The Virginia Reel Revere Beach, MA


This next card is an advertising card, and it is one of my favorites. Why the devil don’t you come and see me? The devil in fact was an attraction in the Darkness and Dawn attraction. By the ingenious use of still photos, flashing lights, smoke and mirrors effects and darkness, riders were transported to hell to witness what would be in store for them should they take the path of sin. According to one reference I have, riders entered the attraction and first entered the Cabaret Du Mort where refreshments were served. Next they took elevators to the depths of Hades, and were accosted by demons, and visions of hell, before riding a boat across the river Styx to meet the Devil himself! My only wish is that there would be no ink bleed on this great image, but I’ve never found another copy to upgrade to.

The Darkness And Dawn Attraction Advertising Card Revere Beach, MA


In talking to some folks in their 20’s recently I discovered that many of them had never heard of The Round-Up, a popular ride throughout the early 80’s, but most prevalent in the 60’s and 70’s. Much like the smaller vertical Rotor rides, this starts at parallel to the ground, but tilts up to almost 90 degrees before releasing you from it’s grip. The type of thing I could barely ever ride in my youth, forget about now.

The Round-Up Ride 1960's Revere Beach, MA


This next chrome card shows the famous Hot Rod Cars at Hurley’s Kiddie Park. We’ve all ridden those cars on track that can only go side to side a few inches, so how much fun must these have been, with the wide open track, and multiple cars? Also note the Ferris Wheel in back, and Bump A Cars on right.

Hurley's Famous Hot Rod Cars Revere Beach, MA


This next card is one of three I have on the particular subject of Diving Horse shows. This card shows either King or Queen diving from the raised platform into a pool from the Revere Beach Carnival of 1906. This was a popular attraction at the turn of the century. I have separate cards for both King and Queen as well. Since this was right on the beach apparently, I’m not 100% sure how a fee was collected from the abundant crowd. I do know that this is a fairly common card, so perhaps they survived on postcard sales.

Diving Horses Attraction Revere Beach Carnival 1906


Though there were many amusements on Revere Beach, it is important to remember it’s history as the first public beach in America. Incorporated as a public beach in 1895, Revere Beach is a crescent shaped beach nearly three miles long. At first the beach was used for walking and entertainment, as public bathing didn’t come into vogue until after the turn of the 20th century.

While there are many views of the beach and bathers from the early days through the 1960’s available, my favorites are the older views depicting the changing of beach wear, especially women’s beach wear. As mores and attitudes towards the public exhibition of one’s body changed over time, bathing suits became more and more revealing. One example is this hilarious view showing, as it states on the card, “One of the Beef Trust”, showing a somewhat manly looking young lass in her one piece bathing dress enjoying the cool Atlantic waters.

One Of The Beef Trust Revere Beach, MA


Making fun of women’s weight is not a modern phenomena, unfortunately, as this card showing a rather rotund woman in a full length bathing outfit attests. I have seen this same card used for several different beaches, only the name of the beach on the top of the card changes from place to place. Given her getup, one could see that this particular woman would never worry about getting a sunburn. She would, however need a dip in the ocean to cool off, since bathing suits of this vintage were often made from wool!

It Floats! Revere Beach, MA


This next view shows several comely lasses frolicking on the beach. Though this card is from the 1920’s, it’s obvious that the standards of what was acceptable beach wear had changed to allow shorter bathing suits with bare arms. I do like how the woman on the right has scandalously abandoned her hat, unlike the other ladies. Even in their enlightened day, these young women would be appalled to see the mini bikinis, thongs, and other revealing bathing suits of the modern age. I also love the comment printed on the card about skimming cash from the out of town visitors, a common theme on turn of the century beachfront postcards from all over the world.

Girls Playing Leap Frog on Revere Beach, MA 1920's


This last bathing card is my favorite one, because it perfectly illustrates the difference in morals from the time this card was posted in 1916 until today. It shows a police officer (or some other civil servant) actually measuring the length of the young ladies bathing outfit to ensure that it was long enough to comply with local obscenity laws. As the card states, this young woman’s suit was “Within The Law”.

Within The Law on the beach at Revere Beach, MA


The final card from Revere Beach is another of my favorites. It echoes a common theme in cards from the turn of the century. This card was posted in 1909, and it shows “Revere Beach In The Future”. As almost every forward looking card from this period, it shows personal flying machines, but since it was sent only 6 years after the Wright Brothers flight, it doesn’t show a plane or flying car, but rather a personal blimp. There are also two hot air balloons and another, larger dirigible. I also love the elevated subway train hanging below the tracks, the trolley car (which was contemporary to the time), and the automobile which looks exactly like cars did then. I also find it funny that the artist was forward thinking enough to include flying machines, but not enough to show fashion changing at all in the foreseeable future.

Revere Beach, MA in the future.


This concludes the four part series on Revere Beach, Massachusetts. Next time, I will return to presenting ten cards from different parks, and two sideshow performer cards. I hope that I’ve given you an adequate overview of the beauty and majesty of Revere Beach, MA what was known at the time as the Coney Island of New England, and the first public beach in America.

 

Back in 1980 in a backwater university known as Northeastern, a friendship began. It was forged over classes, and music, but mostly over movies. When it came to oddball cinema, Tigerpal and I were two peas in a pod. Over our years in college and after, we attended several 24 hour film festivals around the Boston area. These were comprised mostly of the classic and B-level horror, science fiction, and oddball action films that we both love. There were memorable nights at the Somerville theater where the men’s room became unusable after 6 hours or so, and at the Coolidge Corner Cinema, where we were given special passes to put on our windshields so that we could park overnight in the public lot. Of course, with in-between movie breaks and the desire to stay awake, many conversations were held over too many cups of coffee and too many snacks. A plan was decided upon, we would someday do this for our friends in our homes.

Several more years passed, and the idea stayed in the back of my mind. Tigerpal would bring it up when we would get together, and I would shrug it off and say someday. My apathy stemmed mostly from a belief that my apartments over the years were inadequate for what I envisioned. It was a change in apartments that precipitated a change in my attitude. In 1991 K and I moved into a new place. It was exactly what we wanted, in the neighborhood we wanted to live, and we’ve never left. We moved in officially on February 1st, 1991, and I started to think that this apartment could be better for a possible film fest. Since all the festivals we had attended were in the winter, and with New England winters having the propensity to be long, cold, and brutal, I figured that a fun mid-winter break would be an excellent idea.

Film Fest #1 Program cover


I decided upon the weekend of January 18th and 19th, 1992 to debut what has since become known as simply Fest, but then was known as “The First Quasi-Annual Bride of Terror On Murdock St”. I programmed the entire festival, asking Tigerpal to provide me with two movies to round out what I had. She supplied copies of Fearless Vampire Killers, and Rabid Grannies, as well as an extra VCR (yup all VHS tapes for Fest #1), but otherwise, I did everything else. The program was created on a typewriter, and I blocked off areas for the pictures to be inserted later for copying. The festivities commenced on Saturday at noon, when the first movie ever presented at Fest was started, 1935’s classic The Bride Of Frankenstein. The unwieldy title also referenced the three “Bride Of” movies I showed that first year, highlighting the brides of Frankenstein, Re-Animator, and the Monster.

FILM FEST #1 LINE-UP
Bride of Frankenstein
Bedazzled (1967)
Demon with a Glass Hand
Razorback
Creature from the Haunted Sea
Knightriders
Fiend without a Face
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932)
Evil Dead 2
Real Genius
Bride of Reanimator
Rabid Grannies
Fearless Vampire Killers
Bride of the Monster

The turnout was small, I don’t remember the actual number, but I’m sure it was less than 12 people total, including Tigerpal and myself. A friend who lived in the neighborhood brought his three connected wooden theater seats. There were 13 movies, and one episode of the television show The Outer Limits shown that first year. It was very tightly programmed, with relatively short breaks. A quick addition of the screen times of everything shown reveals 21.2 hours of programming, leaving only 2.8 hours for breaks, woefully insufficient. Another nearly fatal flaw of Fest #1 was the decision to have it run from noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday. Firstly, it meant devoting the whole weekend to it, and being strung out at work on Monday. Secondly, starting earlier in the day paradoxically meant people started falling asleep earlier in the process than currently. Finally, the amount of work I put into creating the experience, from programming, to the program, to the pot of five alarm chili I made for dinner, put the idea of a second fest far out of my mind.

1993 came and went without Fest, and K thought she had survived a one time thing. No fan of the idea of Fest, nor the thought of that many people, albeit friends, invading her space for 24 hours, K was glad to see Fest in the rearview mirror. 1993 did not come and go without any talk of Fest, however. Tigerpal and K and I would see each other socially, and the idea of a second one would come up, though it never seemed to take any traction. Then sometime in late 1993 Tigerpal had an idea. What if we did it slightly differently? What if she helped program the fest? With Tigerpal offering to shoulder more of the burden, Fest 2 was about to become a reality. Much to K’s chagrin.

Fest #2 saw several other basic changes besides Tigerpal’s increased involvement. The most important was moving the Fest from Saturday noon to Sunday noon, to its still current schedule of Friday 6pm until Saturday 6pm. This change allowed for folks to attend without having to commit to using up their entire weekend, and allowed those who attended the entire Fest to get some rest and relaxation on Sunday prior to returning to work on Monday. The program went to a more manageable format of one film/short per page rather than the newspaper -type format I had used for Fest #1. The second Fest was held at Tigerpal’s Gardner Street apartment, hence the title “The Second Quasi-Annual Howl At The Moon On Gardner St” title. As you can see, the “Quasi-Annual” title indicated that I still hadn’t signed on completely to a definite annual event. We also still hadn’t figured out that we should program less films, with 14 films and one Outer Limits episode on the docket. A glance at the program shows that Tigerpal provided 5 films, with 9 films and the Outer Limits episode being provided by me. Due to the shorter running times we actually had less time programmed, even with the 15 titles shown. Fest two is known primarily in Fest history as coldest Fest ever. The entire weekend fluctuated in temperature from a low of 4 below to a high of 7. Yeah, a high temp of 7. The kind of cold where the inside of your nose freezes a little bit when you breathe in. Over the years there has been snow, rain, cold and warm, but nothing that sticks in the memory weatherwise like that year. The programs for Fest #1 and #2 are in a limited edition of 20.

Fest #2 Program Cover

FILM FEST #2 LINE-UP
The Wolfman (1941)
The Guyver
Lobsterman from Mars
Sundown, The Vampire in Retreat
Venom
The Zanti Misfits (Outer Limits episode)
The Company of Wolves
Gruesome Twosome
Dead Alive (aka Braindead)
Parasite
Dead Man Walking (1987)
Q
Brain Damage
The Phantom Empire
The Howling

This history of Fest really is a history of Fest programs. Individual memories of conversations, and such blur with the passage of years, but the programs stand as concrete examples of that particular slice of time. For the years 1995-1998, I was lucky in that K worked at a place with a color copier I could use for free. Taking advantage of this, I set out to replicate the old EC comics of the 1950’s in my program design. For Fest #3, I stole a great Graham Ingalls illustration from The Haunt of Fear, as well as the general layout of an EC comic book. The two horror hosts seen on the cover are Doc Murdock, and The Gardner. These were named for the respective streets that Tigerpal, and I lived (live) on. Programs for Fest #3 and #4 are limited to 25 copies each. From Fest #3 onward Tigerpal and I have shared programming Fest on a fifty-fifty basis. Fest #3 also gave birth to the fest lasagna, supplanting my chili as the fest dinner meal. Even though my chili is beanless, it’s far better to make a lasagna than to spend 24 hours in a room with a bunch of people who ate any kind of chili. Also, as a plus you can feed more people with lasagna than chili.

Film Fest #3 Program Cover

FILM FEST #3 LINE-UP
A Chinese Ghost Story
Invasion Of The Saucermen
Wicked City
Fortress 1993
Tales From The Crypt 1972
Freaked
Tremors
Sonny Boy
Gamera Vs. Guiron
Wheels On Meals
Gorgo
The Gore Gore Girls
The Ambulance
Meet The Hollowheads

Film Fest #4 Program Cover

FILM FEST #4 LINE-UP
A Better Tomorrow II
Santa Sangre
Mant
Freaks
Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life
Re-Animator .
A Chinese Ghost Story II
Dragons Forever
Meet The Feebles
Bucket Of Blood
The Dark Crystal
Castle Freak
Blacula
Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers
Curse Of The Demon

I loved the idea and execution of the cover of the program for Fest #5. An homage to the great Roger Corman’s Little Shop Of Horrors. It was the first “big” year, the fifth film fest. It was also the first time that the term Film Fest was used on a program cover, and not just in the participants conversation. K was pretty much tired of people invading her home once a year, and started on the tactic of asking me to setting an end date for Fest. The first one I said I’d think about was #10. It was about this time as well that K started going away for Fest weekend, so she wouldn’t have to deal with us at all. Fest #6 was a rush job from start to finish, and it’s my least favorite program cover I’ve ever done. It is also one of the rarest, as I have only two copies myself, one of which is very beat up. If someone has one and doesn’t want it anymore, I’d be happy to take it back. I also forgot to put the Doc Murdock and The Gardner logos on the cover, making a pretty crappy cover, even crappier.

Film Fest #5 Program Cover

FILM FEST #5 LINE-UP
A Chinese Ghost Story III
The Thief Of Baghdad
Wild In The Streets
The Masque Of The Red Death
The Frighteners
Twin Dragons
Blood Harvest
Bad Taste
Frightmare
The X-Files Case #103, “Squeeze”
God Of Gamblers’ Return
Galactic Gigolo
Riders Of The Storm
Something Wicked This Way Comes

Film Fest #6 Program Cover

FILM FEST #6 LINE-UP
El Topo
Dellamorte Dellamore (aka Cemetery Man) s
Mr. Nice Guy
The Secret Adventures Of Tom Thumb
Accion Mutante
Jack Frost 1996
The Tingler
Perversions Of Science: The Exile
Spider Baby
Rollercoaster es
Tales From The Hood
The Untold Story
Children Of The Corn III: Urban Harvest

Fest #6 did mark an important turn of events for fest, piss poor as the program cover may be. It was the first time that we scheduled just 12 movies, with six each from Tigerpal and myself. It would also mark the last appearance of color on the program for a while, as K changed jobs, and the free color copying ability was lost to the winds. The nice comic book cover program covers were a thing of the past, but inside, I was still using the Doc Murdock and The Gardner characters as ersatz “hosts”. I also was searching for a theme for the program covers. Since the first fest, I’d been doing a random drawing for the cover that really had no relation to what we were watching. I knew I wanted more continuity, but I didn’t know how to achieve it. I would puzzle this out over the next 4 years.

Film Fest #7 Program Cover

FILM FEST #7 LINE-UP
The Bride With White Hair
Shivers
Tenebrae
Dark City
Monkey Shines
Love And A .45
Nice Girls Don’t Explode
Highway To Hell
Righting Wrongs (Aka Above The Law)
West Of Zanzibar
Space Truckers (Aka Star Truckers)
Tales From The Crypt: Bordello Of Blood

The program cover for Fest #7 was one of my favorites of these four, even though we’ve never shown the movie Killer Klowns From Outer Space at Fest. Fest #7 also marked the permanent change in the title of the program to “Film Fest # blank“. In the program for Fest #8 I introduced Herman, the hairy, single eyed ball with arms who consumed both Doc Murdock and The Gardner.

Film Fest #8 Program Cover


FILM FEST #8 LINE-UP
Cube 1997
La Belle Et La Bete 1946
The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension
The Unholy Three
The Iceman Cometh
The Beyond (Aka L’aldilá, The Seven Doors Of Death)
Forgotten Silver n
Mad Monster Party?
The Rainbow Thief
Terror At The Opera
Black Sunday (Aka The Mask Of Satan)

Tired of Herman after only one year, I had a big monster squish him on the cover for Fest #9. That put an end to a “host” of the program. Programs for Fests 5-9 were in a limited edition of 30. Fest 9 also holds a special place as the second of only two fests not held at my and K’s apartment. Fest #9 was at Tigerpal’s Watertown abode, but as I prefer having it here, it moved back for Fest #10 and beyond.

Film Fest #9 Program Cover


FILM FEST #9 LINE-UP
Maneater Of Hydra Aka Island Of The Doomed
Return To Oz
Idle Hands
Bad Girls Go To Hell
The Unknown
Porklips Now
From Beyond
The Day Of The Beast
The Innocents
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie
Flesh For Frankenstein
Cannibal! The Musical
Cat In The Brain 1990

In anticipation of a large crowd, the number of programs made for Fest #10 increased by 5 to 35. For our tenth anniversary, I decided to depict a basic version of my living room on the cover, with a demon eating my eyeball as a snack. The back cover shows me on the chair, eye and leg removed, and Tigerpal on the floor, her midsection savaged as if by some lion, tiger, or bear. I opted to show Tigerpal with her face away from the viewer, as I don’t draw women’s faces well in ink. There’s no sense in doing a poor job depicting my friend. When Tigerpal first saw the cover, she said two things. First she was amazed that I had included the pattern along the sides of her glasses, which I believe were fairly new at the time, and when I explained why you couldn’t see her face said “That’s okay, you’ve given me a much nicer ass than I actually have.” It was the first time that we showed a movie we has previously shown. At Fest #9 we took an informal poll, and the two movies that the most people wanted to see again were Re-Animator, and Meet The Feebles.

Film Fest #10 Program Cover

FILM FEST #10 LINE-UP
Ravenous
Cat People 1942
Zardoz
Viy (Or Spirit Of Evil)
Re-Animator
Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!
Shock Corridor
Meet The Feebles
Lady In White
Sane Man
The Wicker Man 1973
Naked Lunch

Film Fest #11 Program Cover


FILM FEST #11 LINE-UP
Thesis (Tesis)
Session 9
The Specials
Frailty
Dark Water (Honogurai Mizu No Soko Kara)
Blood Freak
Society
The Stuff
Ginger Snaps
Donnie Darko
Dagon
Dog Soldiers

The Fest #10 program had no hosts or other devices inside or out, but I was still unsatisfied by the lack of tying the artwork on the program to the film programming. With the second of the Lord of the Rings movies out in just a few short months, Fest #11’s program cover became an homage to Gollum, but was my least favorite of the last five black and white covers. It was, however, the last of it’s breed. Somewhere along the way towards drawing it, I arrived at the decision to change the way I did the program covers, starting with Fest #12. I was already fairly far along with the drawing of the Gollum cover for Fest #11, or I would have switched that year to the format that continues today. Finally, a way to tie the programming, and the fest itself, to the program cover. A drawn collage of images from each of the films we will be showing.

Film Fest #12 Program Cover

FILM FEST #12 LINE-UP
Happiness Of The Katakuris
Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter
Puss In Boots 1988
Inner Senses
May
Guest House Paradiso
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
Desperate Teenage Lovedolls
Ninja Bachelor Party
American Movie
Beyond Re-Animator
Squirm
Targets

I drew the covers with a combination of some reference materials and some artistic license, continuing in this way through Fest #16. Fest #15 was notable for the extra color cover. I opted to pay for 20 color covers for the first 20 out of a total of 30 programs. I took a copy of the original ink cover, hand colored that, then color copied the finished hand colored cover.

Film Fest #13 Program Cover


FILM FEST #13 LINE-UP
Drive
Oldboy
Bubba Ho-Tep
Haute Tension
King of the Ants
Chained for Life
The Bad Seed
Thunderpants
The Baby
Blue Sunshine
Jack Brown Genius
Battle Royale

Film Fest #14 Program Cover


FILM FEST #14 LINE-UP
Moon Child
I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
Survive Style 5+
The Freakmaker
Blood Diner
The Greenskeeper
Man with the Screaming Brain
Evil Cult
Atomik Circus
The Sentinel
Fire & Ice
Zebraman

Film Fest #15 Program Cover ( Color )

FILM FEST #15 LINE-UP
Banlieue 13
Scarecrow of Romney Marsh
The Host
Slither
Abominable
Mr. Sardonicus
Bedlam
Sheitan
The Descent
The Woods
The Penalty
Cromartie High School

Film Fest #16 Program Cover

FILM FEST #16 LINE-UP
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Black Sheep
Evil Aliens
Aachi & Ssipak
Fido
Food of the Gods
The Manitou
Night of the Living Dorks
Black Cat
El Crimen Ferpecto
The Dark Backward
Severance

My issue with my own artwork is that I have issues with perspective, and inking. My pencil work is my best work, but I’ve never had the patience to really translate how that looks to my eye to pen and ink illustration. I felt constrained, however, as usually pencil drawing does not photocopy well, and that was the only affordable way to achieve the programs. I also never liked the way I couldn’t quite capture the images from the films in a way that really pleased me. I came up with the trick of finding pictures that I wanted to use and printing them in the size I wished to use them. I then run a pencil over the back of the picture, completely covering it. I then trace the outline of the major features, and shaded areas. This gives me a very rough outline with which to pencil. After penciling the whole thing, I move on to inking. I liked the results I achieved with this method, and feel that I have gotten better with it every year since.

Film Fest #17 Program Cover


FILM FEST #17 LINE-UP
War of the Gargantuas
The Chaser
The Forbidden Zone
Executive Koala
Konga
Buttcrack
Mother of Tears
Stuck
Hansel and Gretel
My Name is Bruce
Tideland
Death Bed the Bed that Eats

Film Fest #18 Program Cover


FILM FEST #18 LINE-UP
Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed
Poultrygeist
Murderer
Azur et Asmar
Island of Terror
Evil Bong
The Cottage
Lisztomania
Sukiyaki Western Django
The Housemaid
Seconds
Detroit Metal City

Film Fest #19 Program Cover

FILM FEST #19 LINE-UP
Megashark Vs Giant Octopus
Castaway On The Moon
The Midnight Meat Train
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Easter Bunny Kill! Kill!
Spermula
The Giant Claw
Dead Snow
Night Of The Eagle (aka Burn, Witch, Burn!)
Suck
A Town Called Panic
Altered

The final change to the program was achieved this year, when I decided I would try to photocopy a completely penciled version instead of inking the near final pencil artwork as I had always done. Normally I do not try to pencil the cover nearly as extensively as I did for Fest #20 as all that work just gets covered over in ink. Since I really feel that pencil is more my medium, and when I finish a drawing in pencil it has enough gradations of tone, I felt that the newer photocopier machines would be able to copy the artwork better than in the past. I was very pleased with the results, and will continue to draw and copy the covers this way from now on. I hope I can continue to improve the cover artwork every year. Fest #20 was a retrospective of eleven of the more than 240 films we had shown over the previous 19 years. The final spot in the line up was a filmed we entitled Memories of Fest. This was a compilation of 92 clips from other movies we showed over the years, but which didn’t make the cut this time, for reasons various.

Film Fest #20 Program Cover

FILM FEST #20 LINE-UP
The Bride Of Frankenstein
Memories Of Fest
Sonny Boy
Dragons Forever
Evil Cult
Puss IN Boots
Dead Alive (aka Braindead)
Cannibal! The Musical!
Survive Style 5+
Thunderpants
From Beyond
Evil Dead 2

Every Fest program has a thanks section inside, and there are always plenty to go around, but the one that I mean the most (after K and Tigerpal, of course), is the thanks to those “idiots” as K calls us, who have made a decision to come to Boston in the mid winter, from near and from far, all to sit in a cramped, uncomfortable space, watching strange and unusual movies with like minded individuals. For those who come, it’s become a community, with so many people seeing other Fest goers only that 24 hours a year. There are people who have come to part of one Fest, there are many who have come to part, or most, or all of many Fests. Only Tigerpal, myself, and our good friend D have attended all 20, though D has slept through more than he’s seen. You either get Fest, or you don’t. It’s just that simple. And sorry K, I really have no idea when it will end.

 

If there is one amusement park attraction that enthuses and is as attractive to me as roller coasters, it is the funhouse. I even have a Funhouse sign hanging above the entrance to my home. Sadly, the old fashioned walk-through funhouse is a thing of the past. I was lucky enough to experience four full sized antique funhouses. The first was at the park of my youth, the late Lincoln Park, North Dartmouth, MA. The defunct Whalom Park, Lunenberg, MA had an excellent one as well. Just a few years back, I went through one in the now closed Williams Grove Park in Mechanicsburg, PA. Finally, I have also walked through Kennywood’s Noah’s Ark, the only one on my list still standing. Very few funhouses have been portrayed on postcards. Most of them that are, are photos of the external structure, especially if it were highly and imaginatively decorated as many were. Only a handful depict what’s going on inside the structure.

The Pit from the outside

Herbert Ridgeway was an inventor. An inventor of amusements. He opened his piece de resistance, The Pit on Revere Beach in 1908. A huge structure along the beach, The Pit inside was an amalgamation of many small sized amusement devices, all patented by Ridgeway, which could be experienced as you walked through. When the idea of writing a postcard column came to me, it was this series of cards that made me want to do it. They are wonderfully wacky, and hearken back to a time when the feelings of personal responsibility were strong enough to allow amusements that couldn’t possible be replicated in the litigious society of today. They also are indoor close-ups of people which was quite unusual for their period (1908-1918). Of all the cards I own, these views are my favorites.

Firstly we have this nice overview of the building that really gives it some scale with the patrons (mostly men) were lined up along the walkways and seated around what is known as The Wheel of Fortune. Notice the padding around the support columns behind the wheel, and right in front, left and right.

Overview of the interior of The Pit

This next view is almost the same, except some women have been drawn in on the right on both levels, and the shot is a bit tighter. You can barely read “Ride at Your Own Risk” on the central wheel with a loupe.

Alternate view with painted-in ladies at The Pit

This next view is The Wheel Of Fortune in action. As you can see from the overview, this shot was taken standing to the right of the ride (in the overview), and the door that can be seen here upper right, is the door that can be seen far left in the overview (easier to see in the first overview). There is another Ride At Your Own Risk sigh on the wall upper left. Basically the patrons would sit on the wheel, and it would begin to spin, shooting patrons outwards towards the wooden walls and support columns (with padding). I have seen this card used, with a message about how the Governor’s son had died on the ride, but I was unable to verify that fact.

The Wheel Of Fortune in action

Next up is the Barrel of Fun, also known as The Barrel of Laughs. On this device you were to walk across a barrel that was slowly rolling. Having seen my wife spend sometime trying to maneuver in the one at Whalom Park, I guess it’s not as easy as I find it. Also, slipping and falling might put you in close contact to members of the opposite sex, certainly a plus of enduring some small amount of public ridicule.

The Barrel of Fun

We navigate the Barrel of Fun only to find ourselves at the Switch Back Chute, basically a wooden slide. All of the sliding surfaces made from laminated wood would have been highly waxed both to be as slippery as possible, and to help minimize splintering. I love the men in their hats, and women in their furs in this view. Also try to notice that all the close-ups in the set of views were shot using the same people.

Switchback Chute attraction at The Pit

Next we swing by the Leap Chutes, where we slide down a large wooden slide, and are ejected onto a sheet of canvas stretched tight, for a landing zone. You can see from this view that you come out with quite some force, and that you don’t have a tremendous amount of time to get off the canvas before more people are hurtling towards you, feet first.

Leap Chutes at The Pit


This next view of the Leap Chutes finish, gives a better idea of how there is at least room for someone to help you get out of the way of the oncoming sliders. Again this affords you the opportunity for close personal contact with members of the opposite sex, as well as chances to see knickers and other garments not normally shown off. Also note the viewing area to the right, and the meager padding on the pole front left.

Landing at the Leap Chutes


Next up is the Broncho Bridge, where one end of this bridge would move rapidly up and down, swinging up and down violently!

Broncho Bridge at The Pit


As we leave the Broncho Bridge, we walk down a set of stairs to an uneven surface below, we grab unsuspectingly to the metal rails on our right, much like the others we’ve used to steady ourselves through the funhouse, but these instead have a low level of electricity running through them. That’s right, we’ve encountered the Electrified Hand Rails!

Electrified Handrails at The PIt

Next is another attraction that probably broke more than a few bones in it’s day, The Incline Wheel. Ostensibly it is just a spinning wooden disc set inside a highly waxed inclined floor. It’s impossible to stay upright for long, just watch out for the flying limbs, and wooden walls! This was the first of these cards I found.

Incline Wheel at The Pit

Next we approach The Moving Staircase. It’s exactly was it purports to be, a set of moving steps. Most go up and down as you try to climb them, though some moved side to side instead. I believe just the section at the top was the moving part, not the seemingly more stable steps below.

Moving Staircase at The PIt

Next is a diabolical little number known as the Drop Seat. The rarest card in this series, the Drop Seat view captures the moment after the Drop Seat has been engaged. A high backed church pew type seat with a lever controlled seat that collapses, sending the person sitting in it to the floor. This one seems to have either independently collapsing seats, or collapsing seats on only one side . At Lincoln Park, their Drop Seat plunked you down onto a sheet of canvas where you slid down to the first floor, and the ride exit. Quite an exit, I’d say!

Drop Seat at The Pit


Another of the rarer cards in the series, is this one of the Tread Mill. I believe this to have been some sort of steps, or canvas roll, where getting one’s purchase and making it up the small incline was quite difficult. You can see the woman on top reaching out a hand to a fellow rider still entrapped by The Tread Mill.

Tread Mill at The Pit

Next up we see The Shaker Bridge with air jets. The Shaker Bridge was a small bridge one walked on, that would shake and shimmy violently from side to side and up and down as you walked across it. Since ladies (who all had skirts on) were holding on for dear life with both hands on the non-electrified handrails, a well placed air jet would blow up their skirts, showing the slips, knickers, bloomers, or lack thereof to all onlookers. Note where the young lady whose skirt is being blown up is about to step…

Shaker Bridge and Air Jets at The Pit


That’s right, she’s stepping right onto the Tricky Roller! Either the Shaker Bridge photo or this one has been reversed, as it is plain to see that where the young lady was stepping to our right, is the railings we see to our right in this photo. Perhaps there was a Tricky Roller on either end of the Shaker Bridge. In any case, you can see how it would be nearly impossible to get across the Tricky Roller without sliding down to the other level.

The Tricky Roller at The Pit

That is the last card in this 15 card series. I have seen one other view in another collection that was obviously of the era, and marked as being from The Pit in Revere Beach, but didn’t seem to be from the same photo shoot, or photographer. I have never seen it except in that gentleman’s collection.

Finally we have this unique card that someone has written on to give you a sense of The Pit. I’ll let you look at the front and back, and will list below it everything that’s written on it.

Front of interesting Pit postcard

Front
Oh Mother May I Go Out to Swim – Yes My Darling Daughter, but Don’t Go Near The Water

The Pit where you see the sights and also limbs.

Ladies please put weights in your skirt pockets – some breeze

Back of interesting Pit postcard. Mailed July 19th, 1915


Back
Boston’s choice fruit – Baked Beans

Jonah Was short so look out for the whale kid.

Bunker Hill Monument is a memorial and not souvenir so don’t try to slip it in your stocking

You Bum Barber at the foot of the class please

Rome Wasn’t Built in a ay, but Lizzie’s bathing suit was.

Oh You Mermaid

Life is too short to be guessing

Who’s who and why? Just because his hair was kordy (sp?)

Barber Barber Shave a Pig.

And in pencil beneath
“This will probably keep you guessing for a while. One fair guess”

Wow, wouldn’t you like to know what that was all about! Anyway, we have one more column on Revere Beach coming up next, and then we will continue on further with other parks in Massachusetts and beyond. Also the sideshow cards will return either next time or the column after. Until then, I’ll see you in the queue line.

 

This month, we will again be strolling along the shores of the first public bathing beach in the United States, Revere Beach, Revere, MA. We will start at the southern end of Revere Beach Boulevard, and walk north. I will describe what we would see along the way, and when we’d have had to have been there in order to see it. Our first order of business will be taking the narrow gauge railway from Boston a few miles to the shores of Revere Beach. Upon exiting the train station, we walk east towards the beach and boulevard.

Our first stop along the way is just south of Shirley Avenue to ride The Jack Rabbit roller coaster. This coaster was built in 1916, and survived until 1924. Remember in this age, each ride was individually owned and operated, unlike modern amusement parks. Rides came and went, sometimes very quickly, entirely dependent upon how much money they made. A ride which wasn’t profitable was a ride which wouldn’t be in operation for too long before being razed and replaced with a (hopefully) more profitable endeavor. Little has been written about the Jack Rabbit coaster, and this view of the ride is the only view I have ever seen.

As is obvious from the view, The Jack Rabbit was much like it’s contemporaries, a tame ride with gentle drops and curves. Under wheels, the wheels that grip the track from underneath, were not invented until the early 1920’s, so most coasters prior to that time were more gentle rides. It wasn’t until the under wheel system was invented that coasters were able to have sharp turns, and deep drops, as without them, such elements could potentially cause the trains to derail during the ride. Even then, no ride operator wanted his patrons to die onboard!

After getting off the Jack Rabbit, we walk just slightly north, and get in line to ride The Dragon Gorge, a scenic railway. Scenic railways were the predecessors of modern roller coasters, and had trains that would traverse gentle slopes (usually with an onboard brakeman), past murals of various scenic vistas (hence the name). Many amusement parks, including Coney Island, had scenic railways named the Dragon Gorge, and generally the entranceways of these rides were decorated with large, imposing dragons, made from wood, chicken wire, plaster, and paint. This view shows the one of the dragons, up close and personal.

Dragon Gorge Scenic Railway

This view, which shows the entrance, and tracks of the ride to the entrance’s left, is not marked Dragon Gorge, but rather Thompson’s Scenic Railway. This is the only card I have that doesn’t call it the Dragon Gorge, obviously an error, since, as we’ll see on our walk up the boulevard, there is already a coaster on the beach called Thompson’s Scenic Railway. Also this Dragon Gorge was built by John Miller, and not by LaMarcus Thompson, inventor of the scenic railway. You can’t really see the dragons in this view, except for the tips of their wings, but a quick glance at the structure makes it obvious it is the same ride.

Dragon Gorge Scenic Railway


This ride was built in 1916, and closed in 1926. By 1926 several more daring rides had been built along the beach, and the Dragon Gorge’s gentle hills and sights were no longer enough to draw the crowds. The Dragon Gorge was razed in 1926, and a new coaster was built on the same spot which it once occupied. If the public had felt the Dragon Gorge was too tame an experience, nothing could possibly have readied them for what was to come on July 9, 1927.

Noted roller coaster designer Harry Traver had built one coaster on Revere Beach (The Cyclone, about which we’ll talk about later), and wanted to build another. When the lot that Dragon Gorge sat on became available, he pounced, and began work on what was to be one of the wildest, most extreme roller coasters the world had ever seen. It was one of what was to become known as Traver’s Terrible Triplets, three almost duplicate roller coasters that opened in either 1927 (Revere Beach Lightning, Crystal Beach Ontario Cyclone), or 1928 (Palisades Park, NJ Cyclone). The Lightning closed in 1933, the Palisades Park Cyclone in 1934, and the longest lived of the triplets, the Crystal Beach Cyclone was razed in 1946. What made these rides, which only lasted 40 seconds after being released by the chain lift, so terrifying were the extreme angles, massive g-forces, steep grades, and sharp turns that these wood and steel monsters inflicted on their riders. Because there are more views available of The Crystal Beach Cyclone, and it is pretty much the same ride, I am including this view of that ride to illustrate the ridiculous first drop on these coasters.

Crystal Beach, ON Cyclone a twin of the Revere Beach Lightning

As you can see on the above view, the first drop curves sharply to the right, traveling all the way to ground level, where the track is nearly perpendicular to the ground. The track then swings upwards to the right again, while quickly shifting for a very fast left hand turn downwards. The S-shaped track you see next to the tree in this view happens later on the ride. The only piece of straight track on any of these rides was the loading platform. Even the return run to the station had undulating track so the coaster train would shift side to side as it approached the end of the ride. This view also illustrates well how Traver could accomplish these angles and turns. By using a steel superstructure under the wood track. Like all roller coasters of it’s day, The Lightning was a wooden coaster, meaning that it’s track is made of seven layers of laminated wood with a thin steel plate laid over which the wheels would roll. Generally then, as today, wooden coasters have wooden superstructures, but Traver’s triplets used steel superstructures due to the incredible forces that the trains exerted on the structure. A wooden superstructure would have been torn apart by such forces.

Revere Beach Lightning

This view of the Lightning (notice the misspelling on the card) shows that the rest of the ride was nearly as perilous to one’s health as the first drop. So perilous was the Lightning, that a young woman died on it’s opening day in 1927. According to eye witness reports, she either jumped in fright from the train, or hit her head on a support while leaning out of the train (which would have been unlikely). After 20 minutes to remove the body, and determine that the safety lap bars were working, the ride was reopened. Imagine that happening today! Because of it’s reputation it was said that when a young woman found herself in an unwanted family way outside of marriage, people would remark “Take her on the Lightning!”.

Revere Beach Lightning

This last view of the Lightning is my favorite, as it illustrates perfectly just how extreme all the elements and transitions on this (and her sister rides) really were. As seemingly dangerous as it was, The Lightning was a very popular ride at the beach, though it drew more non-paying crowds to watch it, than it did paying customers to ride it. The 1931, and 1932 seasons were especially non-profitable, and the ride was dismantled in March of 1933 so that it would not be assessed any tax for that year.

So we now find ourselves stumbling in delirium after exiting the Lightning, and we walk across Shirley Avenue, continuing north along the boulevard to stop at a far more restrained ride The Over the Top, or Giant Coaster. Owned by the Hurley family, who owned amusements along the boulevard from the turn of the century into the 1970’s, the Giant Coaster was built in 1917, and was dismantled sometime in the 1930’s, though I cannot find an exact date. It was probably a victim of the Great Depression when spending money on such frivolous pursuits as roller coasters was out of the question for many folks. This first view shows the ride during the daytime. You can see the “Over The Top” name along it’s front, even though the card indicates it is the Giant Coaster.

Giant Coaster or Over the Top

This next view is the Giant Coaster at night, and illustrates how the clever post card salesman could, with a bit of artistic license, use one view to create a second view of the same ride at night time. I especially like how the headlights of the car have been added in, and how both the woman in front, and man standing near the car across the street have had their clothing color changed from white to red.

Giant Coaster or Over the Top at Night


After an easygoing ride on the Giant Coaster, we stroll further north on Revere Beach Boulevard to ride the Derby Racer. The Derby Racer was a racing coaster, where two cars full of passengers would race each other along side by side tracks. There are still many racing coasters in existence. The first Derby Racer was built in 1911, and was dismantled sometime in the early 1930’s. Like the Dragon Coaster, the original Revere Derby Racer had an elaborate entrance with a smiling, almost evil looking figure looking down upon potential riders, as seen in this view.

Facade of Derby Racer entrance


This second view shows the ride in action with two trains racing along the dual tracks.

The Derby Racer in action


In 1937, a second version of the Derby Racer was built on the same lot. This linen view from the 1940’s shows the second ride. Note the different entrance (where the Racer sign is on the right). I also like the notation on the bottom, many years before that sentence would take on a whole new meaning.

The second Derby Racer

After traveling through time to ride two different sets of Derby racers, we continue up the boulevard to ride the politically incorrectly named Oriental Ride. This scenic railway was built by LaMarcus Thompson, and was his second scenic railway on the beach (we’ve yet to ride his first). It was a bigger, more elaborate ride than the first, and obviously took riders past scenes from various Asian countries. It was located next to the Metropolitan Police Station (seen in this first view) which still stands on the beach. Below the postcard view is a recent picture I took of the Police Station.

Oriental Ride next to Metropolitan Police Station


Metropolitan Police Station in 2011


The third view shows the Oriental Ride in more detail. I couldn’t find a notation of when the Oriental Ride was built, but I know (from another card) that it was in existence prior to 1921. It too, probably fell victim to the Great Depression in the 1930’s.

A few steps north of the Oriental Ride was the first Thompson’s Scenic Railway, built in 1910. I like how the ride was designed to traverse into the “mountains”, where various scenes would be depicted in murals n the wall. The second view shows the elaborate trains of the scenic railway, as well as the proper dress worn by park patrons in those early days.

Thompson's Scenic Railway


Thompson's Scenic Railway close up of loading station


A few short steps to the north we stand in front of the imposing structure of Harry Traver’s first Revere Beach masterpiece, The Cyclone. Built in 1925, the Cyclone was considered one of the worlds greatest coasters when it was built, rivaling the Coney Island Cyclone for East Coast supremacy. Full of Traver’s trademark swooping turns, this first view of the Cyclone shows most of the ride in all it’s glory.

Revere Beach Cyclone

The Cyclone was the last existing roller coaster on Revere Beach, giving riders their last thrills in the summer of 1969. The beach had become a rather frightening place by those years, with gangs of hoodlums, and other nefarious characters making the boulevard less of a place for families to enjoy a day at the beach and on the rides. Several smaller rides existed throughout the early 1970’s, but by the time the Cyclone, partially burned, was razed in 1974, the reign of Revere Beach as the Coney Island of New England was over. Curiously, this last chrome view of the Cyclone, published sometime in the 1960’s is a far rarer card than the first view, which was published some time in the 1930’s.

Revere Beach Cyclone 1960's

With sadness in our hearts we walk the final stretch of the boulevard to ride the last coaster on our trip, the furthest from our starting point, the Thunderbolt. Built by Dragon Gorge builder John Miller in 1920, the Thunderbolt lasted only 10 years, being torn down in 1930. It looks imposing, but was a fairly gentle ride compared to the Cyclone, and it’s placement so far down the beach, also helped to make it’s existence a short one. Here is a view of the ride, and a second view showing the inclines on the ride from the inside. Note the airplane ride that can be seen in the first view is more prominently featured in the second.

John Miller's Thunderbolt Roller Coaster


Big Inclines on the Thunderbolt Roller Coaster

Our trip is completed, and we’ve ridden ten different coasters that existed on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean on Revere Beach. There were three other coasters that existed on the beach as well, but I don’t have any postcards of them, nor have I seen many images of them. They were all located in the same vicinity of the Oriental Ride. They were known as the Musical Railway, opened in 1906, closed ?, and the Pell Mell Coaster, open only for a year from 1915 to 1916. The final coaster that appeared on Revere Beach was an exception to the rule that early coasters were all gentle rides. This ride was known as the Loop the Loop coaster, built in 1900, and removed probably no later than 1905. I have several views of this type of ride at Coney Island but not of this ride at Revere. The reason why these rides were so short lived (the Coney Island rides were also gone by 1905 or so), was that designers used a perfect circle for the loop. On modern looping coasters, the loops are clothoid or tear drop shaped. This is because the forces on the necks of riders in a perfect circle loop are very great, and many riders experienced whiplash. Though I don’t own (nor have I seen) any postcards of this short-lived ride, I was lucky enough to purchase a admission ticket for it on eBay, back when things like this could still be had for a modest sum. This beautiful ticket shows the rides cars (each car was individual) with riders having a great time on the front. The back of the ticket shows the cars going through the circular loop. The string attached would be wound about a button to show the ride attendant you had paid your fare, and provided you with a nice souvenir. Very few of these tickets exist, as most were thrown away after a while. I have only seen one other example of this ticket in my years of collecting.

Front of Revere Beach Loop the Loop Coaster Ticket


Back of Revere Beach Loop the Loop Coaster ticket


That concludes this column on the roller coasters of Revere Beach, MA. Join me again soon for a trip through The Pit, Revere Beach’s masterful walk through fun house attraction illustrated by my favorite postcards in my collection. Until then, I’ll see you in the queue line!

 

It was Memorial Day May 30th, 1906 that an amazing place opened to the public for the first time. A mystic city by the sea, Wonderland Park in Revere, MA. The brainchild of business men John Higgins and Floyd Thompson, Wonderland was to be the biggest, grandest amusement resort the world had ever seen. It had spectacle, entertainment, shows and rides, and it cost it’s investors over one million dollars to open. It was situated a mere two city blocks from Revere Beach, the country’s first public beach which was then a pristine stretch of sand and surf, featuring amusements of it‘s own.

Let’s take a journey into Wonderland, shall we? Using photographs and postcards as reference, I have created a schematic of how the park was laid out. We’ll be entering via the Beaver Street entrance, since we, like many patrons have strolled up from the beachfront to enter the park. There are several nice bird’s eye views of the park, but all of them are drawings, and none are accurate. Several different ones even contradict each other. Take the two examples here. The first seems much more accurate, as the Chutes ride (flume-like ride center left) and Fire and Flames exhibit (the smoke rising middle right), are correct , but the area at the foot of the Chutes ride is indistinct, and not indicative of how it actually looked.

Artists Rendering Birds Eye View of Wonderland

Artists Rendering Birds Eye View of Wonderland

In the second, the Fire and Flames is erroneously placed behind the Chutes ride, and the circle of buildings (center front) never materialized.

Artists Rendering of Birds Eye View of Wonderland #2

The map I’ve drawn is not to scale, and is as accurate as the information I had available to me allows it to be. There are several acts and attractions that I have seen advertisements for that I have no idea where they’d be located in the park. Also several attractions were changed or modified in the time the park was open for business. It is an approximation of what a trip through Wonderland might have been. The bold letters represent where we are on the map at any given time. I hope you enjoy your journey.

Schematic of Wonderland

A We start at the upper right corner of the schematic at the Beaver Street entrance on the map. Note the ornate entrance gate and added glitter to the card.

Beaver Street Entrance of Wonderland

B As we enter the park, we curl left onto the midway. On our immediate left is the circus tent which holds the Ferari Trained animal exhibit, extolled on the card as “The Largest, Grandest, Most Complete Show Of It’s Kind in This Or Any Other Country”.

Animal Show Tent Front

In this next view, Ferari’s animal show can be seen on the left, with the turnaround of the scenic railway behind it. To the right of the tent is a souvenir photograph building, then there is Princess Trixie Queen of the Educated Horses. The crowd gathers around to watch the airships ride.

Airships Ride with attractions in background

C A better view of the Princess Trixie show front, and the front of the funhouse called the Third Degree. This funhouse contained wooden slides, uneven floors, moving stairs, and other attractions that would make a modern day ambulance chaser drool.

Princess Trixie and The Third Degree

D This view shows the Airship ride, touted as being the largest in the world. Behind is the Third Degree and Princess Trixie exhibits.

Airships Ride

E To the left of the airships was the Arcus ring, where circus artists like acrobats and trapeze artists would stage several shows daily. From left in this view can be seen, the scenic railway building entrance the airships, the Third Degree, a Palmistry shop, The tower of the Nautical gardens (not in Wonderland, but on the beach), and the beginning of the Japanese exhibit.

Arcus Ring Wonderland

F Next on our tour is the Japanese Village, complete with it’s own Mount Fuji replica, made from the soil that was removed to create the central lagoon and basin of the Shoot the Chutes ride.. At this time in history, exhibits like these, which depicted different cultures and different peoples from around the world were common.

Japanese Village Entrance

Here also patrons are seen climbing on the Royal Arch.

Royal Arch Japanese Village

I am also including a non-postcard piece of ephemera, called a cabinet photo. This would have been taken by a photographer in the park, to be picked up (and paid for) by the subjects at a later time. It shows a dandy family dressed to the nines, in front of the Japanese village with Mount Fuji in the background.

Cabinet Photo taken in Front of Japanese Village dated 1906

G After touring Japan, we take our best girl (or boy’s) hand in ours and we take a ride on Love’s Journey, New England’s first tunnel of love, where the cars would wind slowly through a maze that was sometimes light, sometimes dark, and an ending where the riders were showered with confetti. Remember, many early amusement devices were designed to put men and women in closer physical contact than they’d be able to usually in public. There is a card of just Love’s Journey, but I have not found one to add to my collection. Also visible in this card is the Fatal Wedding, and Children’s theatre which entertained the little ones with clowns and acts like Gillet’s Dog and Monkey Circus. In 1908 the Children’s Theatre was replaced by Pilgrim’s Progress a walk through fun house attraction featuring clowns, tilted floor rooms, barrels of fun and such.

Love's Journey, Fatal Wedding, and Children's Theatre

H A close up view of the Fatal Wedding attraction. This was a show which used mechanical and electrical illusions to transform volunteer couples from the audience into skeletons and back. The faux wedding ceremony was based on an ancient Egyptian legend.

Fatal Wedding Attraction

I Here we have circled around the park to the main entrance and administration building. Note how much larger and more ornate this main entrance facing Walnut Street is compared to the Beaver Street entrance we came in.

Wonderland Main Entrance Walnut Street

J Next to the administration building is the Infant Incubators. These were exactly what they sound like they are. Because incubators were unproven, and expensive, hospitals didn’t jump on the bandwagon right away. Ingenious park owners decided to buy incubators, hire medical staff to man them, and helped prove that incubators were a valid method of caring for premature infants. Curious onlookers paid a fee to peer at the tiny babies, families were always allowed in for free.

Infant Incubators and Pop Korn stand

K After we stop in for some popcorn at the stand next to the Infant Incubators we eat it as we stroll by the roller skating rink, and stare at Wonderland’s biggest thrill ride, the Shoot the Chutes. Much like a modern flume ride, you would get into a boat at the bottom, it would lift you to the top with a roller coaster style lift hill, and then you would plunge down the slide towards the water, where you’d skip along the surface (not getting wet, patrons then didn’t want to be soaked), and finally end at the end of the lagoon for debarking. Unlike modern rides, the flat bottomed boats did not ride on any kind of rail or track, but rather just slid down the slide into the water.

Much like the bird-eye view, some early cards are artists renderings and aren’t accurate. In the first Chutes view, note the red building on the right. This is the Hell Gate attraction, but since the artist didn’t know what it would look like, he drew a sculpture of a kneeling devil on the front, which was common at the time.

Artists Rendering of Shoot the Chutes Ride Wonderland

In the second photographic view, the building at right is the carousel, also marked K on the map.

Photo of Shoot the Chutes Wonderland

L These next two views are overviews of the park from the top of the Chutes, first a printed card, and then a real photo postcard. Notice Mount Fuji in the center background of each. We entered the park to the left of Mt Fuji walked by the end of the lagoon, and down what is the right side of the card seeing the park’s attractions. After a quick run down the Shoot the Chutes ride, we’ll hit the carousel, and then the next big attraction…

Printed photo of Wonderland from the top of the Chutes

 

Real Photo Postcard of Wonderland from the top of the Chutes

M Hell Gate. Hell Gate was one of the main attractions at Wonderland, and was revolutionary for it’s time. As you can see by this view, the really cool figural devil found in the artists view of the Chutes is nowhere to be found here. The ride was a dark boat ride, where your boat would enter the building (a large octagonal structure), and be sucked into a whirlpool, which was actually a chute that would drop you down into the underworld. There the boat would pass several eerie, hellish displays of static and moving figures, until you would finally have an interaction with the devil himself before escaping unharmed back outside. It must have been quite thrilling in 1906, though probably quite tame by today’s standards.

Hell Gate Wonderland

N Next to Hell Gate was the amazing Wonderland Ballroom and restaurant. This huge building offered elegant dining on the first floor, and dancing to live music on the second.

Wonderland Ballroom and Restaurant

O In between the Ballroom and the Thompson’s Scenic Railway was the Bewitching Orient. Advertised on it’s front, below the four minarets as “A Congress of Strange Oriental People”, it was an exhibit exploring the East, including caravans, bazaars, and dancing girls.

The Bewitching Orient

P Our final ride at Wonderland will be on the Thompson’s Scenic Railway. Precursors to the modern railways, scenic railways were much like roller coasters, except they had much slower speeds and smaller drops. They also usually employed an on-ride brakeman, and went in and out of buildings past murals of interest. The scenic railway probably did not exist as I have drawn it. I know that it went outside, then through a building, which I placed where it is placed in both artists birds-eye views. However, neither of those views shows coaster track near the animal exhibit, which is clearly there in the view showing the airship ride in action near where the Princess Trixie and Third Degree are. I also know that it was advertised (probably an exaggeration) as being three miles long. I wanted to include the known portion of the ride in my schematic, and that’s how I decided to incorporate it. The Palmistry building can be seen in the background more clearly than in the previous Third Degree card.

Thompson's Scenic Railway

Q After an exhilarating ride on the scenic railway, we come around the corner to Wonderland’s premier attraction, The Fire and Flames. Originally displayed at the St Louis Exposition of 1904, the promoters decided to spare no expense in bringing the same spectacle to Wonderland. After paying your admission you entered a town square filled with modern multi-story buildings. There was a grandstand that seated 3500 people who watched as performers at first moved about as if everything was normal.

Then as fire breaks out in one of the buildings, all 350-400 actors, stunt people and firefighters would spring into action.

Fire and Flames Wonderland

Horse drawn fire trucks, armed by actual firefighters rush into the scene, running into burning buildings to save people and to valiantly put out the scorching, multi-building blaze. Twice a day this spectacle took place to enormous crowds. Unfortunately, the massive expense of the show, some $75,000 to operate for the 1906 season alone, doomed it to be a one season wonder, operating only for the 1906 season.

Fire and Flames Wonderland

After two great seasons in 1906 and 1907, with more than 2 million visitors each year, 1908 saw attendance drop in half due to a poor economy. Wonderland still spent lavishly on top notch performers and free entertainment, but it became obvious that the average person could no longer afford to spend money on such frivolous entertainment. More and more, lower level performers and acts were booked, and the cleanliness of the park, once it’s hallmark, began to decline. It became obvious by the middle of the 1911 season that Wonderland would shutter it’s doors forever. It’s last day was Labor Day, 1911. As a final piece of ephemera, I have an admission ticket for Wonderland. I believe it was given in exchange for putting up posters with ads for Wonderland. I have two of the same but different colors.

Admission Ticket Wonderland

Several rides continued to operate at Wonderland for a few more years, and eventually it was converted into a dog racing facility which it continued to be until dog racing was banned in Massachusetts. At that point it became a satellite horse racing venue, which it still reamins as today. A sad end for a once proud mystic city by the sea.

 

This article is the first of four installments on Revere Beach, Massachusetts, the focus of my collection. Though I collect amusement park rides views from places around the US and the world, my primary focus is on the cards of Revere Beach, the Coney Island of New England. We will next be exploring the roller coasters of Revere Beach, followed by an installment that is the reason I decided to write this series. I won’t spoil the surprise! Finally there will be a catch- all column at the end. The sideshow cards will return with the final catch-all Revere column. None of these Revere Beach columns would be possible without the use of the following references.

Revere Beach’s Wonderland: The Mystic City By The Sea by Edward & Frederick Nazarro 1983 self published
Revere Beach Chips by Peter McCauley 1996 self published by the Revere Historical Society
Memories of Revere Beach by Peter McCauley 1989 self-published
Pictorial History of Revere Beach Volume One by Peter McCauley 1980 self-published
Images of America Revere Beach by Leah A. Schmidt 2002 Arcadia Publishing

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

 

Submitted by Manphibian

The ever-present stamp of the Comics Code Authority.

William Gaines must be rolling in his grave — with laughter.

To be fair, the late publisher of EC Comics has probably been tumbling in his tomb for some time. It’s been decades since the once reviled output of EC has become revered as some of the best comic books ever produced. Now the thing that killed the entire EC line — with the exception of MAD — has joined Gaines in the great beyond.

The Comics Code Authority is no more.

With the decision of Archie Comics, the last line to carry to the familiar stamp, to drop the Code as of February, the Comics Magazine Association of America has nothing to do. Marvel dropped the Code in 2001. Bongo dropped out last year, and in January, DC dropped the seal from the few books that still carried it.

When I first started reading comics in the 1970s, I took the seal of the Code, the big “A” designed to look like a stamp, as part of the cover design of all comics. It was just there; by then, it meant little or nothing to the reader, although, as I later discovered, publishers still subscribed to its tenets and continued to be hamstrung by its strictures. It wasn’t until I delved into the history of comics that I learned of the fear that had created the Code and the havoc it had wrought.

I’m not going to tell the whole story here; to learn the nitty gritty details, check out “Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code” by Amy Kriste Nyberg. After Dr. Fredric Wertham published “Seduction of the Innocents” in 1954, blaming comics for juvenile delinquency, and hearings were held by the U.S. Senate and other government agencies, comic publishers decided to forestall any sort of government censorship by forming the Comics Magazine Association of America in September 1954 and adopting a code — largely based on an earlier unenforced code — to reassure parents that comics were safe reading for kids. It was the Patriot Act of the comic book industry.

The initial Code criteria outlawed torture, gore and glorifying criminals; it banned the words “weird,” “horror” and “terror” from titles, killing two of EC’s best-selling books; and it prohibited zombies, vampires and werewolves, thus wiping out the best that EC and other publishers had to offer in what we now lovingly know as the “pre-Code” era of horror comics.

The Code was modified in 1971, which allowed the classic horror comics of my era, such as Tomb of Dracula, Werewolf By Night and Swamp Thing. Other changes at that time allowed the portrayal of drugs — only in a negative light, of course — after Marvel published a three-issue Spider-Man arc showing Harry Osborn on dope. It went on the stands without the seal and still sold well.

Changes to the comic book industry in the 1980s, including the explosion of the direct market and the gradual decline in importance of newsstands, made the Code largely irrelevant. Publishers like Dark Horse eschewed the Code. The major publishers launched imprints designed for adults, and then began using their own rating system for their regular lines. In the end, not even Archie was submitting its comics to the CMAA for review; they simply slapped the seal on the books. After all, Dell had never subscribed to the Code, and heck, what parent today would suspect anything inappropriate from an Archie comic? (Although I’m not so sure about those Archie gets married story arcs, and Betty and Veronica always seemed pretty “grown up” for teens, nudge nudge wink wink.)

Did the Comics Code Authority save America’s children from degenerate publishers like William Gaines? Probably. According to Nyberg, the other publishers insisted the horror comics had to be sacrificed “as proof the industry meant business.” Gaines didn’t see it that way and refused to join the association. He eventually caved, since distributors refused to carry non-Code approved comics. He tried a number of “New Direction” titles that failed to take hold before devoting all his resources to MAD, which converted to magazine format to avoid the Code.

Had the horror and crime trend that had taken over the industry after superheroes fell from grace after World War II continued, who knows where the industry might have ended up. More likely than not, another trend would have come along. One thing is certain: to work within the Code, comic book creators had two choices. They could pump out bland, inoffensive stories such like the late 1950s DC superheroes (ever try to really read an issue of Batman or Superman from 1956? Painful) or the Dell, Harvey and Archie kiddie stuff, or write the sort of silly monster comics that Stan Lee and his gang pumped out at Marvel, until they hit upon the formula that led to the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man and ushered in the Silver Age of comics (yes, I know the Silver Age actually began with Showcase #4, but the storytelling and art didn’t truly define a new “age” until the Marvel superheroes hit their stride; my opinion).

The Code will forever belong to a long era of comic book history, its stamp indelibly marking hundreds of thousands of covers, from the excruciatingly awful to the sublimely wonderful. It was a product of its time, like the movie rating system implemented a decade and a half later, but lacked the wherewithal and popular support — or recognition — to overcome industry changes. Maybe the changes the movie industry is going through now, with on-line distribution and instant streaming cutting out distributors and exhibitors, will eventually make the MPAA system moot as well.

The Code certainly won’t be missed; it hasn’t been for years. I doubt many parents after that first generation knew or cared about the code. Mine certainly didn’t. By the mid-1970s, it was largely irrelevant. But it will remain forever fixed in my mind as a part of the comic books I loved the most.

Not something William Gaines would ever say. But he’s too busy laughing anyway.

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