Myself at Grandma's House in Coney Island
Grandma and Me
The Magic of growing up in Brooklyn NY on 19th Street
So where does one start in sharing their most magical years of their life.Hymn! with the one who made it all come to life, my Grandmother Lee who had spent most of her precious years living in Brooklyn, Coney Island. A large community where you found lots of gypsies, Carnies and Business minded individuals who seemed devoted in creating one of the world’s largest Amusement Parks in this part of the country. Most anyone that visited or stayed there for a while would tell youConey had a Magic of its own that still boils in their memories today. Well that’s as good a place as any to start with a walk together threw these magical memories of mine and many, many others, such as my Grandmother all those she dearly loved.
My Grandmother parents Migrated from Italy and basically lived in Brooklyn,New York. She meet and married Eddie Balestrine, my Grandfather, He owned his first Dry Cleaners back when a Boilers were $ 250,000, which you had to have at least one to meet the demands of the population of that era., My grandmother told me that the populations growth from Europe demanded him to build one with two Boilers, She explained how they were used to generate steam for the many press machines which cleaned and pressed clothes In Downtown Manhattan and most of upper Brooklyn. Well here we go, first I want to kind of lay it all out for you, so yo kind of get a feeling of actually feeling Coney as I did. I just know your going to enjoy this brief magical tour through these memory stored in my mind as much as I did and still do, ok this is the Surf Ave's Beach around Coney Islands Amusement Park.
My Grandmother had just moved away from Surf Ave across from Steeplechase to 19th Street to a large House which actually sat on a large Double Lot, Where She live on the upper Floors and leased out two apartments she had reconstructed below, I came to live with a few years later and snuggling in with ease, because she always made you feels as if you so special and the center of her life. I started the 4th Grade at PS 190 on12th St, which was a City Public School and sense many went to Religious schools there, those of us attending Public School were considered the unruly European children.There were about 144 Families on our block, I was luckier than most their, because My Grandmother owned those 2 Lots on the Right hand side coming off Mermaid, turning her house into three apartments, so having those two apartments on the bottom floor and us living entirely on the entire top floor was neat, one thing I loved back then, was that they delivered everything to our Home, she would call the garage, they would bring the car pick us up (of course if I didn't have school that day), then the driver would drive us back to the garage so she could drop him off, then we were off shopping at allot of the shops where she knew everyone, She would go to the dry good store first, then the Meat Market finishing with the Vegetable Stands, sometimes she'd take me to the supplies Stores(like a to days Walgreen's).
When I arrived it took me a bit to fit in, these were Street Kids and they were stuff and most had heart, which meant they could fight or for the most part weren't afraid to try. I was young and well fed so I learned fast how to stand my own, or when it was smart to avoid the really tuff area's, so it wasn't long before I was in the middle of it all and soon made friends with everyone, we played allot of street football, stick ball and handball off the steps going into all the matching units on the street, and as the calendars pages fell, my grandmothers heart softened to them, and we played stickball in her empty lot, she didn't seem to mind, except that they had to come in her front gate to get into the empty lot, since there were no gates ro the streets on it.. and if we left the gate open the Stray Dogs would wonder in and she'd shut us down for the rest of the day.. Just to share how close the beach was from my house. We were at the tip of long Island, which is 118 miles long, and 15miles wide at the widest part, it was shaped kind of like a long fish, we were close to the mouth. Mermaid Ave only went to 37th Street, and then you headed into Seagate where the real money lived, along the beach fronts. So Seagate to our street was like the lower jaw of the big fish, and if you walk in the opposite direct of Mermaid Ave on 19th Street, you end up on Neptune Ave, which would be right under the fishes eye, if it was a fish of course, where you could see Lower New York Bay, if you walked down my street past Mermaid Ave, to the next and Last Ave which was Surf Ave, and if I walk two blocks to my left which was 16th street and turned right and walk about 1200 Ft I'd be at the Famous Riegelmann Boardwalk and under it was the start of the beach, and if I walked another 500 ft I'd be in the Raritan Bay which for all practical purpose is the Atlantic Ocean waters.
Ok! I just want it So you could see thing a bit easier as I did back then. This should kind of map it out for you. Now if we was to turn back around and face the boardwalk, we can see Washington's Baths, then the Giant See Saw ride, it had two small Ferris wheels one on each side with just a few seats then there is the 125 foot Ferris wheel which was about 200 ft from the The Famous Parachute Jump which is actually in the Steeplechase Park alongside the Boardwalk, (but don't worry well ride it later). and once we move another bit down towards the Thunderbolt we begin to collectable hear a bit louder the magical sounds of everything you begin to see. Of course the Nights shared far more magic than the days for the eyes ,
As we move towards the 16th. Street boardwalk ramps we begin to hear the Screams from all the younger children riding Steeple Chases Bumper cars, and from above the clattering chains pulling eight Magnificent Horse that are safely locked on mounted on these 8 tracks which surround the entire Steeplechase Park except for the pool area.These horse came from Germany and were handed carved and painted as to appeared as real Horse with all the trimmings, like the Harness, and saddle. It took 12 minutes to circle the Steeplechase Park, and who ever won the race would be offered the Opportunity to ride again. Don't worry as soon as we get there I'll show you which horse is the fastest, and well pick straws to see who gets to ride him. as you can see the Park has allot of Walkways all around the park, this a great area for any Senior Citizens with us that want to walk through and sit on benches, under beautiful Structures and Trees, and you can bring your Grandchildren to walk through the turning barrels and look at themselves in all the mirrors scattered throughout the park that would distort the bodies reflection, each in a different manor. But sadly we'll not be able to return in the future because Steeplechase closed and it wasn't long after most of dreamland followed by the mid to late 60's.Hey don't be sad, its all coming back bigger and better than before.
But at the moment were seeing Coney Island through my eyes in 1957. As a young Boy in the later 1950s where everything was at it's Peak with in the two remaining parks during the late 40's to the Mid 1960s, Ok here comes Playland, where I loved to go allot, because it has all the Arcades and Games one could Imagine, especially the 5 cent mechanical Fortune tellers in a glass case on a framed bottom, where you can inserted your nickel right here, and get back the Gypsy’s thoughts,( what did yours say) and look at all the all the love machine, which for a nickel also will demonstrate your status on what kind of lover you'd be. or measure how strong you are. The one thing I liked is over here, these small toy like cranes in these beautiful hand crafted cases in great detail, that you operated by turning these fancy knobs. ok! lets all try to drop the buck and try to pick up one of all the items below, Ya I believe I won them all sense I've been coming here, silver dollars, watches, Fancy Lighters, and Bracelets, and 25 cents isn't that bad, Ok, lets try the scooter Balls, we can all combine our tickets for a nice prize for who ever birthday is the closest , mine is July 4th, then will go to the Pinball machines, and one shouldn't bypass the small mechanical games with metal figures to hit or kick ball across the table as you challenge someone, Oh yeah this is called Play Land it goes all the way back to the Midway, running parallel between surf Side Ave and and the midway.
My Grandmothers Spaghetti & Meatballs Reciept
I loved her spaghetti and meat balls, she would first make her Meatballs, by mixing her Fresh Ground Chuck with Saved Breads like Italian Loaves and Dried Regular Rainbow Bread with two Eggs and some Parsley,Salt and Freshley Pepper, oh yeah the real finely chopped barley Leaves and Finely chopped onions. Then she put on some plastic gloves and squeeze it all through her fingers as she added about a tablespoon on bacon drips and a small amount of oregano(powder),[ then added a bit more, when she added the Garlic power into the Sauce, sense she crushed a few cloves of fresh Garlic into Olive oil in the center of her cooking pan where she intended to browned all the meats]. and as u most likely already knew the meatball were first.
After she rolled all the meat balls, she then placed them in the pan only long enough to brown them, then she'd remove them into a large bowl, and lightly season them with a small amount of Thyme [Tomillo https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/carina-nebula-jet-theme/npebkpkiddfadallfhefpiphaagcfjdo?utm_source=gmail ]. When she was ready she was done she would place a low flame under her Cast Iron frying pan.then added a small amount of oil Olive in the center of pan, then she added two Crushed Garlic cloves( Two Pieces of a Whole Garlic bulb.) in the center of the Olive Oil and let it simmer a minute, then with a wooden spoon, spread it about the pan, Then she carefully added one meatball at a time, then as they were browning she took a piece of cheese clothe and dipped it in a small premixed bowl of a light steak sauce with a dash of Worcestershire Sauce and a small amount of melted lightly salted butter and dabbed the browning meatballs as she slowly turned them so not to break them, and once they were brown and 2/3rds cooked, she removed them and set them aside so ever gently, if she had bought some Italian sausage, she added them and cooked them allot longer to be sure they were well cooked., usually she added two precooked chicken breast we had earlier in the week. as well as some pieces of streak or roast if she had any left over cooked. she brown them just a bit , just to get the juices flowing. Now that the browning of the meat was complete. She opened and added two small cans of Progresso Tomato Paste in the big frying pan with dripping of the meat she brown, while it simmered she added a small cap full of Vanilla Flavoring to cut the acidity of the sauces. Once it was all adsorbed into the paste, she then add it to her larger pot of Screened Whole Stewed Tomatoes, (to save time use Progresso stewed tomato sauce, for us she added 4 cans about a gallon into a 6 Quart pan, you can add your Parmesan or Romano, sense it it slowly cooked in a medium heat about 1 1/2 hrs with the lid on and then for the next 30 minutes she gradually added the other meats she selected from earlier cooked meals and the Italian Sausages into the large Saucepan increasing the heat a bit after all those meats are in the pot then lower the heat back to a medium heat and start placing the meatballs in gently one at a time, cook for about 20 minute more. Then turn the stove off and let the sauce settle about 5 minutes, then spoon off about 2/3rd of the oil that is floating on the top of the sauces. Then came the 2 Spaghetti noodles she like most the large shells, and the small flat tube. Personally I liked the String Spaghetti. Boy when she poured that sauce over your Speghetti and place two big meatballs in the middle , My eyes and Nose bring my mouth to watering, and my appreciation for my grandmothers tender loving care moves up another notice. Hopefully you'll try it, if you have never cooked it before now! This hopefully will be a rewarding experience to you and all those you love..
The Famous Boardwalk and Beach
I personally liked the Boardwalk and Beach areas, where one could walk for miles along the shoreline or on the boadwalk from one end of coney Island to the other. I must of walked its distance hundreds of times while I shined shoes. Now my first job was shining shoes on the boardwalk, I usually did it at first when my grandparents and Joe's Brother and his Wife would meet them their to enjoy the cool breeze on hot nights. Which during the summer was often? I got pretty good at Spit Shins and the Sailors were my best customers. They always gave me a good tip. after awhile I was allowed to go by my self if it was still day light, so I'd go to allot of the business, around the Surf Ave and Stillwell Ave. Actually the Subway terminal was a good spot for shining shoes, but it wasn't long they put in a regular Shoe Shine Stand. Then I moved to the Business Area on Mermaid Ave, Everyone knew me there so I get some customers. But it wasn't long my grandmother took me to a Grocery store and got me a delivery job on a bike for just in our area Then on mondays and Tuesdays I hang on the beach where my grandmother would rent a spot on the beach where they had these large unbrellas to sit under, so she could enjoy the morning breeze, that about the only time the beachs wasn't like a giant sardine can, with at time over a million people on the beach, thart of course was what my grandmothers told me and see really seemed to know all about brooklyn and everyone that had a front their, which was what they called their small business. Of course while my grand mother sat under her umbrella, I built large elavorate sand castles along with other friends who as myself came along with their parents or grandparents, so we all joined in to see who could build the neatest one. Now let me tell you I could make SandCastles and many would come and tell me how nice they looked; I had gotten pretty clever on how to built each part. The trick was getting the proper water mix, and not making the top to heavy. Unless you have a Box underneath. I also used Gallon cans to form my round walls, I had one can my Grandfather had fixed where I could pull it open on the seam part. Then the trick was to fill in the Ripples from the can. I used a straw to cut my tower Openings on the top. I used my pocket Knife to do the rest. Then I leave it forever one to look at. Now my first job was shining shoes on the boardwalk, I usually did it at first when my grandparents and Joe's Brother and his Wife would meet them their to enjoy the cool breeze on hot nights. Which during the summer was often? I got pretty good at Spit Shins and the Sailors were my best customers. They always gave me a good tip. after awhile I was allowed to go by my self if it was still day light, so I'd go to allot of the business, around the Surf Ave and Stillwell Ave. Actually the Subway terminal was a good spot for shining shoes, but it wasn't long they put in a regular Shoe Shine Stand. Then I moved to the Business Area on Mermaid Ave, Everyone knew me there so I get some customers. But it wasn't long my grandmother took me to a Grocery store and got me a delivery job on a bike, for our area. Well it was time to move on down the road, my Grandmother was going to move to Florida to one of those retirement homes where they all looked alike, only thing was different was their colors, and I was going to have to go live with my Aunt Gloria, and uncle Tom, there was also my two cousins Kathleen and Thomas Fitzgerald. So Vallystream New York became my new home, and believe me that was a story in it self.
Coney Island Midway
The Midway was very similar to going through a caravel, with Concession stands, Games and Side shows, where you'd hear some guy bark things like Step Right up and see the big show, we have the bearded lady, and the man that eats glass, ect. The main portion of Coney Island's amusement park was between 16th and 8th Street. Back in the earlier 1900s it went to 21st to 5th Street. That’s when all three Parks were at their peeks. LunaPark, AstroPark and Dreamland, which closed for the most part in 1911. Leaving just two MainParks and New York aquarium, which now stands where DreamPark was. between 10th Street and 8th Street., and where Steeplechase stood is now the home of the Brooklyn minor league baseball team the Cyclones, Then came another dark day for Coney’s in 1968, the Parachute Jump closed, I only went on it a few times when I first moved there, lines were always to long, and I just didn't seem to get all that excited about riding it back when I was a younger, but as I started Mark Twain Jr. High, on Neptune in Coney Island Near 24th Street. Then I meet a girl in 8th grade, she loved riding the Parachute Jump. We also walked to Nathan’s allot, Which I will tell you more about both place later as I build those modules with some pictures. We both also liked the Wax Museum, which was really so life like to us, basically the theme was all the big Murders around the world, and all the Tortures that were use as capital punishment around the world also. It's still there to day. We both Enjoyed riding on the Subway, even though we weren't allow to go anywhere, just was fun riding, and looking out the window. It ran down Stillwell Ave and turned at Surf Ave towards Brighten Beach Area, and if we got of at the brighten beach station, we could walk over to the Famous Cyclone Rollercoaster which was on the corner of West 10th Street and Surf Ave.
Nathan's In Coney Island NY
The Worlds Famous Nathan's
Now Nathan's is something else, 24 hrs a day 7 days a week since 1916 they have severed their famous Hot Dogs, and French Fries, greasy as they may be, taste great. and since the have become so famous, that you can come any day from 10am to 10pm and the Surf Ave Street side is packed from curb to the Front Counters and around the corner going down Stillwell Ave. Now I remember well allot of the foods they served, since I had eaten there allot of time during the 50's and early 60's, I wouldn't even try to say I could remember them all. But to just give you a slight feeling your walking down along side one of its two long sides, you'd usually start smelling each of the separate Food in partitioned Severing Areas side by side, very similar to some of our modern Carnivals, so say we were passing the Fried Knishes. we get hit with the aroma with in a couple of feet before we even got to it, so here we are passing , Steamed Corn on the cob, buttered or grilled, then they'd roll the cob in all kinds of seasoning or they'd use a device to save the kernels off the cob and put it in a cup. Then came all the different fried Dough covered with, cinnamon, Perfection Sugar, Syrups, and crushed Candies., Ah were now passing the Shish Kasbahs, Sausage links and Sauerkraut, Oh you might like the next one, Breaded and Seasoned then fried and if you'd rather have Fried Oysters or Half Shell Oysters on Ice. Hey here’s Cotton Candy, and Candy apples or if you had a taste for one of those Big Candy lollypops, and I mean big. Oh we can really smell the Peanuts Roasting now and were still a section away, but first let’s try some Sliced Watermelon, cantaloupe, Honey Melon, and Pineapples. I loved the sliced Watermelon. Ah Mid way and the Drinks, Remember this is New York in the 50's, they used seltzer Water, with Chocolate and a bit of milk to make a fountain drink like today Yahoo, but they called them a Chocolate egg Cream soda, or a strawberry egg Cream, then there were all the Shakes & Malt Drinks, Root Beer Floats and Sundays. Then there were the typical Bottle drinks. Oh course they would pop the caps and pure it into a cup for you. Then we were once again continuing our walk past all the concessions Nathan's had, So Here's Fried Fish of all types, Scallops, Oysters again, and right next door was Crabs of all types, boiled , stuffed and Gumbo's and I’ve only hit one side, Now there were some of the more popular open both sides, for customer convince. On the back part which was actually on the Boardwalk were the Bars, where usely a single Singer would sit on a stool and sing during weekends and Special Occasions once in a while maybe there would be two singing together.
Well now that I've made you hungery, why don't round up the family and to head to Brooklyn, New York to try a Real Nathan’s Snack attack and maybe take in some of the other Famous places, New built Ride, with more being added each season. Which also are easy to get to if you follow just a few simple rules, use the subway, travel only during the day, Use a Cab at night, and map your sites and locations in a notebook, before leaving, using Map Quest. The Subway in and out of Coney Island is the Brighten Beach train or better know by natives as the "D" train, well we be here for hours if I told all their was to see, and you'd need a month , to take it all in. But the I say if I only had a few days, take in Central Park, where all the Museums are and Times Square, and be sure to travel down 5th Ave, Greenwich Village, and Time Square off 42nd St. Well maybe I do a Hub On a weekend in NYC.
The Famus Wonder Wheel 1960's
The Famous Wonder Wheel
The WONDER WHEEL stands 150 feet tall in Brooklyn, NY in Coney Islands Astroland Amusement area, the neatest thing about this ride is it has a bunch of swinging passenger cars and about 10 on the outside, as shown in my picture. Another nice feature is had a great view of a large portion of the astro park area, and the Ocean and beach, Also top portion of the NYC. Over 100 people can ride on the Wonder Wheel at a time, It was said to be the largest in the World, I’m not sure if that’s the case today. My grandfather told me it was built in the 20’s. Today it’s an Official Landmark in NYC.
And is owned by Constantinos Dionysios Vourderis .who came to the United States when he was 14, He Joined the Army during World War II, like my dad in 1945. He worked a push cart in Manhattan, and over the next few decades expanded his business
To where he was able to move up to the Restaurant business, till he was operating one on the board walk in the 60’s while he helped managed a kiddies park, until 1983, when he bought it during Coney Islands hard times. Denos Vourderis was offered the opportunity to preserve this legacy by the Owners, the Garms family. Since he had convinced the Park's Association and many others that had large Investment there, that he would restore the Kiddy park and The Famous Wonder Wheel which was in it back to being one of Coney Island's main attractions
The Deno’s worked hard to turn their KiddiePark into one of the ConeyIslands top attraction, and in doing so brought about the Wonder Wheel becoming a NYC Landmark in 1989, in New York City and the rest of the World. Each year allot of new attractions are being added, like the New Baseball stadium, Arcades, Concessions and Rides, and because of the Vourderis family and many others, Coney Island is slowly returning to the magic wonderland that started in 1897 with Sea Lion Park, which a few years later became Luna Park. Here's an excellent picture of the Wonder Wheel,
Here is what Deno's looks like today:
The Famous Steeplechase
Steeplechase Park, was also opened up, by George Tilyou in 1897, by a man who had lived in Coney Island all his life, It was Magnificent Park with a 12 minute Horse race around the entire Steeplechase Park except for the Pool Area, because the Ferris Wheel and the Giant See Saw Ride, The Ride had eight Beautifully Hand Carved Horse’s which came from Germany and with their life size design drew both the young and old to ride them. What made it even more popular; who ever won the race would get to ride again. I can’t even count how many times I rode on those Horses, Sometimes me and my friends would ride them for hours, on weekdays when the PS school were out in Brooklyn, as well as run around the park along all the path ways passing all the hand carved Displays and Characters and going Through all the varying length turning Barrel and stopping to look at our funny body shapes when we came to the special mirrors that would distort your appearance. I actually had it made with getting in exhibits or parks, or even rides for that matter, because my Grandmother was well known in Coney Island, because during the War she sang Opera on the Radio, and had Two Tea Rooms with Fortune Tellers in Coney. They would read tea your fortune and serve you all these special teas with Social Tea cookies or biscuits, which were popular back in the 50’, 60 and early 70’ When I first went to Steeplechase with my Grandmother, she would drop me off in this area for kids only, where they had some really strange rides, like the Whirl, it was built like an sombrero, where they lower a small bridge so you could walk on to the center part, which was made of this wooden top that was sand smooth and then varnished, after all those of us that were going to attempt to stay on the top of this ride as it spun around real fast so that we'd get pulled off by the sheer centrifugal force or push by someone, and to make it even harder they had us take off our shoes so we couldn't use or rubber soles on our shoes. When we all got on the attendant would have us all sit with our backs to each other, so we'd end up pushing our back against each other so to push one another them off, so that possible one of us would be the king of the whirl when you got pushed off you slide down its polished wood sides and hit a padded wall, and be penned there till the ride stopped, and we knew for sure after riding it the first time, never, never eat or drink within 20 minutes of getting on this ride.
Now My grandmother gave the attendant instructions to keep an eye on me, and off she'd go to the Pool and Baths area so she could swim a bit then head for the Sun Deck, and soon as she was out of site I headed to the real rides as soon as the attendant got busy, So I head to the next one in the area for Children over 5ft, was a tree like tower, that you had to walk up this spiral staircase, and then as you came to the line at the top, they would be passing back some 50lb empty potato sack, which we would sit on as we went down this wide wooden slide, which was a good ways down, and you were flying more than sliding as you got to the ground level, where, you flew out on to a large wooden platform, that was a precision sanded so that there was no place to get hurt, and there were all these disk spinning within the platform, in all different directions, so to throw us in any which direct, till we eventually got flung into a padded wall that surrounded the platform, even though it seemed as it was over in a flash the whole ride was about 4 minutes, well if the lines were longer getting to the top , it could last 20 to 25 minutes. Except weekends, just add another hour on that. Then there was this weird Carousel, where it went up to threw two other floors, so it was a Triple Decker Carousel which kept changing speeds on each floor, and like in some sequence, it was really a beautiful Carousel and had fine Carved Horse and things to sit on even these royal type benches. But I never really stayed on that very long, because my target was the electronic penny pitch, where when your penny landed on a buzzer you got a ticket, like in the scooter ball, but this tickets would win you some really well made Copper Horses, that you could keep trading up to get bigger ones, until you got to the really fancy ones with clocks built in them. Then if the lines weren’t to long, I'd be waiting to ride the Steeplechases Horse race next, which once I got on, I'd be on them for a while, because I knew which ones had the best bearing on them and I had allot of the workers who knew me from coming there so much over the years that they taught me how to ride so to get the maximum my speed on the Horses, especially on the turns. So I was usually there a while, till my grandmother had me get off, sense it was really noise in this part of Steeplechase park.
The Famous Cyclone in Coney Island NY
Three Famous Roller Coasters in Coney Island
Now one of the Rides that very popular in Coney Island during the 50 and 60's was the Cyclone, which lucky for me was right across the street from one of my Grandmothers Tea Rooms, I took everyone I ever befriend while living in coney on that ride, to see if they'd be afraid as I was the first time. I still here the clicking of the gears against the lifting chains as you was lifted to the first and hightest drop. I soon found a love for the front car, It was a great place to show off to the girls by sticking your hands & arms high in the sky as we dropped on that first slope, and there were a few good twisting turn and one excellent whip of a turn that made all the girls scream, and some would grab hold of arms with a vise grip lock as it went click, clack, click, clack all the way up that first incline, and thats when I'd hate it if I forgot to bring some cotton to put in my my ears, because those girls would sure scream all the way down. Most of us would run to get in line to enter the Famus Wax museum which was right next to the Cyclone. There were so many Famous Moment in the World History Displayer in Wax to view as you walked along the winding walkway where the Displays were protected with heavy duty Chicken Wire. Each display was an actual reanactments of any thing from Famous Persons & Events, Murders and Tortures(which were either committed or practiced around the world, they looked so life like), I especially liked all the ones of Gansters during 30's and 40's. As a young boy. I don't know how many times I revisted that exhabit. http://www.westland.net/coneyisland/mapsdocs/images/con-cyclone.jpg
The Hurricane was another famous Roller Coaster.
The Famous Parachute Jump
The Parachute Jump was bought to Coney Island around 1940, from the New York Worlds Fair by Edward Tilyou. The ride was but in the Lifesavers exhibit about a year later. It was two hundred and sixty two feet tall and there were twelve chutes, which allowed two to ride together, and if there was ever a ride to get your girl to sit close this was it I still remember my first date with Maria a pretty Italian girl, who was just struggling with her English, so we were getting off to a slow start the only time I even got to hold her hand was at the school when the class all danced to some dances are teacher insisted on for a school Play. Well I somehow she talked me into taking her on the ride, I have to admit she was kind of a Tom Boy, and was good at basketball, Well I had already rode it a few times before and really wasn’t that thrilled about it, give me the Cyclone any day for a thrill ride, well we climbed the detached Steps and slide into the swing like seat which actual just had a Square tube frame which was built into the Seat and made a large square around its passengers with cables attached to each corner and the back of the Seat which had a harness that rapped around to the front, Now that we were ready the attendant to launch our lift, So as we started on our slow climb of 250 ft she grabbed my hand and gave me the sweetest smile as if saying without words, don’t let nothing happen to me my gallant Hero, hey that’s what I wanted to believe she was thinking. Well as we approached the top which triggers our descendant, I could tell by the grip she had on my hand, this was her first time, and the first of many we shared together over the next few years. Once you get past the first sudden snap with the chute opening, within seconds of it being triggered for release, then it was a smooth floats down, with the sea gulls singing and an occasional notice of the flapping of the parachutes canvas as if in harmony with the magical sounds of the Amusement Parks theme music playing in the back ground, but like all magic it soon lands you back on earth to reality and then we off running as always run to the Thunderbolt or some other wild and dangerous ride near by. She really didn’t like Steeplechase Horse Ride, like I did, she liked the scary ones. She was another scream queen! I kind a wish they would leave us up their a few minutes before they drop us. It was nice to look over the entire park and be sitting among the clouds, with the Ocean Scent lingering in the air. One Ride in the Steeplechase she did like as well as I besides the Steeplechase Horses, was the Bumper Cars, which was right in next to the Parachute Jump
Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk in Brooklyn
- Coney Island Beach & Boardwalk : Photo Gallery : New York City Department of Parks & Recreat
General information about the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.
carmi on November 22, 2015:
I lived on Stillwell Ave. Bet. Mermaid and Neptune ave. Right across from the BMT line. When dating my husband in the early 60's I was able to stick my head out the window and talk to him while he was waitng for the train to pull in ... What a life. My mom was a barker at the World In Wax for the Summer weekends. Lillian Santangelo who owned it was our landlady.. Nice lady always loved my mom. I have a hand pasta strainer she gave my mom many years ago. A work of art! I could go on and on...I had a locker in Steeplechase pool and did my dancing at the Bop House on Bay 15...My brother-in-law worked at Nathan's and got all that I wanted to eat for free. Tuesday nites was Fireworks' and I was able to watch right from my place on Stillwell Ave. My mom always had a chair outside our place on 2856 Stillwell Ave to watch all the peeps go by. Lot's of people parked their car at the parking lot a few houses from me to go to Carolina's Restaurant .... The best eating place ever! I could go on and on...but that's it folks....
carmi on November 22, 2015:
My mom grew up in Coney Island when my grandparents landed on 17th Street, bet. Neptune and Mermaid when they arrived at Ellis Island in 1909. Then 46 years later, when I was 9 in 1955, my mom moved back to C.I. after my dad left her. I grew up in this wonderful amusement park entity. Steeplechase was my haven. Bay 15 was my rock and roll days. Because of my mom, I was given carte blanche when I went to any ride or pizza joint in C.I. The Wonder Wheel was a free-bee for me along with many other rides. What can I say, but those were the days my friend...I wish they'd never end!
nielsande on June 21, 2012:
Wow... That was very interesting to me . A lot of info . I am happy i read that hub.
Kenneth Sutherland on January 28, 2012:
I grew up in the Brooklyn of the 50's. My family took me often to the magical rides of Coney. I went to summer camp there at a time when my great uncle was the Democratic Party leader of Coney Island (Kenny Sutherland). Your wonderful narrative and pictures bring those special memories back...
Amez (author) from Houston, Texas on July 03, 2011:
Well you won't believe it, I finally got around to updating my Coney Island Hub. added my Grand Mother Lee's Spagitti & Meatball Recipe, and restructed my grammer, and dug deeper into my memories of then
Amez (author) from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2011:
Thank you foryour comment, I use to be dropped off allot by my grandmother at RKO ,she might have known your brother rmost knew her by Lee Shores and Lee Balestrino. Did you ever meet Janice Travia, she grew up on the corner of 25th Street and Mermaid Ave. I believe that Coney Island had a magic to it because so many were happy there.
alice on April 03, 2011:
My grandmother Kitty own the crystal garden tea room across from Steeplechase Park mid 50's my brother work as mgr at RKO
Janice Travia on January 10, 2011:
I grew up in Coney Island. I lived on the corner of 25th street and Mermaid. Nothing like it. Fireworks every Tuesday night on the Boardwalk, The Hubba Hubba, Nathans, Steeplechase, knishes, egg creams. Connecting with people that lived there when I did is like being right back there.
gr82bme from USA on August 21, 2010:
Great story. Thank you for sharing. What a wonderful childhood you had.
Amez (author) from Houston, Texas on April 22, 2010:
James A Watkins Thank you for your comments, I just realized I could actually remark back, I just revised and updated the Hub, so I thought I just pass that on to you.
One day I'll be a true writer, especially with all the support everyone here at Hubpages has given me. I just wish are large portion of society was aware of what's knowledge is available to them absolutely free.
Amez (author) from Houston, Texas on April 22, 2010:
kayedsc Thank You So Much for your Comments, Gives the reason for sharing a far greater value, and your so nice especially sense I just spent allot of time upgrading it., I just wish all the parents in this world could create a program which reward the children of today to Read from a selective library of the past, that would give a truer meaning of what life was like before greed, corruption and substance abuse rooted in. Possible it could give them a truer meaning to why we must apply our self to life if we wish to get these kinds of magical time lines within it. Thank you again.
James A Watkins from Chicago on March 26, 2010:
I have never been to Coney Island but I have long been fascinated by it and its place in Americana. Thank you for your wonderful storytelling. I could smell the cotton candy.
Tricia Mason from The English Midlands on March 06, 2010:
Sounds like a fantastic place for a child to explore! :)
bearclawmedia from Mining Planet Earth on January 15, 2010:
BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on January 11, 2010:
That Cyclone Roller Coaster was something. Riding it at night in the dark was heart stopping. It used to clank clank clank up to the top and you never knew when it was going to drop.
Coney Island had something for everyone - which is what made it so great. Best of all - I love the picture of your grandmother! One day we'll all realize how valuable we can be as adults - in a child's life.
Thanks for the fun!
kayedsc on January 11, 2010:
Boy did you take me back. I'm a bit older than you but Coney Island held just as much magic for me as as a kid. I grew up in Queens. Part of the thrill of summer was when we piled into the car and my dad took the Belt Parkway into Brooklyn and Coney Island. I thought it was another world, a magic world reserved only for summer. You had to stop at Nathan's!
The photos of your our grandmother something, she was a classic beauty. Great family photos. Thanks for the trip back home.
Do you remember Lundy's Restaurant of Sheepshead Bay? My family loved it. I hear that magic is gone now and that Lundy's is closed. If so, it's a shame, now that is a landmark.
The kids today have no idea. The world was safe and life was fun.