Travel Week : Trolley Parks

a1Hey-
I don’t know
if I told ya,
but it’s travel week !

Oh,
I did, huh?

Alright….
well,
forewarned is
forearmed,
ya know.

Ahem.

Sometimes
I think
we don’t knowglenecho
how to have fun
any more.

Those innocent days
of getting a nickel’s
thrill–

slamming somebody
with a ‘bumper car’,

throwing balls at targets
to win a prize not
worth the 25 cents
you paid to try for it,

waiting for a skirt
to blow up in the
‘fun house’,

taking aim at funny
moving targets
in the ‘shooting gallery’,

— or participating in a
little heavy petting session
in a dark ‘tunnel of love’,

Most of these
are long,
long gone …

( well,
you can still
do much
of this stuff
out in public, I guess,

—but you could
get yourself
in serious trouble …. )

And even if the
Amusement parkspalisde
in which they were
found turn out
to have been just
another lost relic
of modern Western
civilization,

(.. which would be
a damned shame ..)

—- they sure were fun
while they lasted.

They all started with the
‘Trolley Park’.

The 1890’s were a time of
drastic social changes
for American society.

Industrial mechanization,a1
upgraded transportation
infrastructures,
and the electrification
of urban areas
improved the living
conditions for many
working people–

They had more income–

and much more timetrolley
for leisure and recreation.

And it was the combination
of these factors
that led to the rise
of a unique American
phenomena
— the Trolley Park.

Sometimes called
‘Electric Parks’,

they were the forerunners
of modern Amusement Parks…

They were usually operated
by local transport outfits
( like street-car companies )
or utility organizations
(like electric companies).

electricWhile their original intent
was to simply
keep the money
rolling in
during off-peak times
like the weekend,
and holidays, this
idea spread like
wildfire across the
country–

while in 1895,
there were only
about a hundred
and fifty in operation,a2a1

by 1910,
there were over 2,000-

– just about every
city in America had
at least one.

The first ones
weren’t
much more
than scenic
picnic grounds
and band pavilions,
but they quickly
evolved into
much more–

swimming pools,
trail and boat rides,
skating rinks,
ball parks,
and food kiosks
quickly followed —

then, mechanized
amusements
like Ferris Wheels,
Carousels,
Roller Coasters,
and game arcades
were added to
many parks.

The activities offered
at one park,
Central Park
in Hot Springs, Arkansas
were described in 1907
as including:

“…. baseball, bicycle racing,
glove contest, football,
barbecues, revivals, baptisms,
fireworks, badger fights,
and sharp shooting”.

Coney Island, New Yorkdreamland
had four operating trolley parks at one time–
…. in the early 1900’s,
including the famous
Luna Park“,
and “Dreamland“.

Dreamland in particular
was described as one
of the most beautiful
parks ever built–

It was especially
dramatic at night,dorneypark
to a populace who
was still relatively
unaccustomed
to such a display of
electric lights —
— the park used over
1 million light bulbs.

Trolley parks ranged in
size from small parks like:
the 25 acre Lenape Park
near West Chester,
Pennsylvaniabaltimore
( founded in 1892,
no longer extant ) —

…. to larger parks
like the 200 acre
Dorney Park,
near Allentown, PA
( still operational ).

Interestingly,
four major Trolley Parks
are still prospering
in Pennsylvania,
the highest number
among the 50 states….

namely:

Kennywood (Pittsburgh),kennywood
Dorney (Allentown),
Lakemont (Altoona) ,
and Waldameer (Erie) Parks.

Parks also offered an
interesting variety of themes…

One park opened
in the 1890’s
in Jacksonville, Florida,
was called the
Florida Ostrich Farm“,

…. and gave visitors
a chance ostrichto watch
ostrich races,
pet ostriches,
and even buy
ostrich plumes —
sometimes costing upwards of 40 dollars
each.

The oldest surviving
Trolley Park today
is Lake Compounce Parkfamous
near Bristol, Connecticut,
founded as a ‘picnic park’
in 1846—

At one time,
it had the largest miniature railroad in the world.

While it looks very much
like a modern Amusement
Park, still retains a good
deal of it’s original rustic
charm–

The 1911 Loof-Murphy
Carousel still uses it’s
original Wurlitzer 153
band organ,

And the Wildcat
Roller Coaster,
built by the
Philadelphia
Toboggan
Company in 1927
to replace an earlier
structure, still thrills
wooden coaster
fans today.

One of the best
rememberedpalisades
of these parks
was the world famous
Palisades Park,
near Fort Lee, New Jersey,
opened in 1898.

This park was
easily accessible
by trolley and ferry
from the
city of New York–
— it could actually
be seen from Broadway
on a clear night.

It offered a large
salt-water swimming
/wave pool, the largestaa
of it’s kind at the time.

I remember, as a child,
seeing advertisements
for this park on the
back of comic books,
and wondering what
it would be like —

—- unfortunately,
I grew up a long way
from the place,
and never got to see it.

There was even a
hit song about it —
Palisades Park
by Freddie Cannon, glenecho
in 1962.

All in all, the large
assortment of
shows, events, rides, games,
and all kinds of other attractions on offer
made Palisades Park a
favorite of people all
over the Northeast,
until it’s closing in 1971.

The site, which is
visible from the
George Washington Bridge,
is now covered with
condominiums and undesirables
parking lots.

In my adopted hometown
of Charlotte, most residents
are completely unaware
that the state’s first roller coaster was located in
a 100 acre park two miles northwest of uptown–

…. not to mention
a zoo,
a casino,
a Ferris Wheel,
a dance hall,
and a large lake
complete with
‘unsinkable boats’.lakewood

Called Lakewood Park,
the only remaining trace
of it is some railroad tracks on which used to run the trolley to the
park.

Even the lake is gone.

(For those interested,
the site is between
Glenwood and Rozelles
Ferry Road, in a wooded
area southeast of I-85.)

Though not strictlyglenecho
defined as a trolley park,
Glen Echo Park, near Washington D.C,
in Glen Echo, Maryland,
which originated as a
Chautauqua Assembly Park,
eventually developed into a
famous amusement park
from the early 1900’s until
the 1960’s —

and the park is
still in use today
as a cultural and
arts center —

certainly closer
to it’s original
intended purpose, lakewinnie
but perhaps not
as much fun.

Southerners still
can visit several
vintage-style parks,
though —

Lake Winnie,
(technically called
Lake Winnepesaukah)
(near Chattanooga,
Tennessee)
is over 85 years old,
and still has that
special charm found
in old parks.

One of my favorite rides
there is a log flume
(from 1927)
that looks like it was fabricated out of the material from old steel Quonset huts.

The Mad Mouse is gone, alas, but a new one has been built to replicate that hairpin feel…..

There’s an antique
1916 Carousel,
of course,
and a Philadelphia
Toboggan Coaster
called the Cannon Ball.

And anyone who evera2a
visited the
now-a-parking-lot
that once was
The Miracle Mile
Amusement Park

in Panama City, Florida,
will recognize several of
the rides, which have found
sanctuary at Lake Winnie.

And the park itself is
beautiful, scenic, and
just plain fun.

(Hey-
don’t forgeta23
to See Rock City
while you’re in Ole Chatty–
—– just sayin’. )

But most trolley
parks are gone, now.

Those that remain
hold out a tantalizing
taste of what was ,

and what will
probably never
be again —

A token,fun
a trace–
of something
innocent,
wonderful,

…….. and,
oh so American.

For more on the subject
of Amusement Parks,
see my posts on:

Lost Florida Amusement Parks
Weeki Wachee Springs
Lost Amusement Parks: Heritage USA 

.

HOY !!!!!!!!

a2a

 

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Captain Billy And His Whiz Bang

w1929As a guy who
still pines
for his monthly
National Lampoon
subscription fix,
even though
it’s been defunct
since 1998 ….

you’ll probably
not be all
that surprised
when I say that
I’m a big fan of
humor magazines…….

Humor magazines
printed in Englishw4
have a long,
storied history –
— going way back
to “Punch”,
started in 1831.

The modern trend
toward humor
publications
was actually
started in Poland –

in 1816 —
by the
“Society of Rogues” ,
followed by the
“Philanderer” in 1830-wnice

But,
they were printed
in Polish, of course.

In the United States,
humor publications were
first oriented toward the ‘college’ crowd —

The Yale Record
and Harvard Lampoon
both started in the 1870’s.

Although American
adult-oriented humor Magazines probably owe
a good deal of their lineage
to a publication called
” Judge”, printed from w3
1881 to 1953 —

( and to a more
short-lived one
called ” Vanity Fair ” )

And this month
so happens to
be the 100th anniversary
of the founding of a
pioneer in the genre —
it was called:
Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang “.

A collection of
snarky cartoons
and semi-dirty jokes….

It was started in 1918
by a retired Army Captain
and veteran of the Spanish
American War,
named Wilford
“Billy” Fawcett.

Captain Billy’s
Whiz Bang was
variously self-described
as an :

” Explosion of
Pedigreed Bunk (or Bull) “ ,

” Farm Yard Full of
Fun and Filosophy “

” America’s Magazine of
Wit, Humor and Filosophy ” .

Fawcett explained
what he was
trying to do with
Capt. Billy’s thus:

” This little publication
was created
with the idea
of giving the former servicemen

a continuation of the pep and
snap we got in the army,”

And the magazine
did cause quite a stir,
—- especially in
polite society .

David Sloane,
in “American Humor Magazines
and Comic Periodicals” notes:

Few periodicals reflect the post-WW I cultural change in American life as well as Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang. To some people [it] represented the decline of morality and the flaunting of sexual immodesty; to others it signified an increase in openness. For much of the 1920s, Captain Billy’s was the most prominent comic magazine in America with its mix of racy poetry and naughty jokes and puns, aimed at a small-town audience with pretensions of “sophistication”.

Naughty and racy —
well,
how could you
go wrong, right?

Of course,
it’s way back
before my time,

— and the first time
I’d ever even heard
about it, was in
the movie
“The Music Man” —

when Robert Preston
was describing
the moral decline of w1
children in the year
1912:

“Is there a nicotine
stain on his index finger?
A dime novel hidden
in the corn-crib?
Is he starting to
memorize jokes
from Captain Billy’s
Whiz Bang
?”

Of course,
I was hooked
from that point.

Sure, the humor is dated,
and can offend peoplew1928
who don’t remember
to consider the times
and culture in which
it was produced.

So, it’s not
for everybody,
but then, what is ?

It’s absolutely precious
as a historical reference,
and fun, too.

Captain Billy employed
a number of very
skilled artists
like Frank Tashlin,
and Norman Saunders….

It also spurred a
number of imitators,
some of whom really
couldn’t maintain
the same levels of
quality in terms
of content,
art, and print
craftsmanship…….

and it
influenced others —
including:

“Joy Book”,
“Laff”,
“Charlie Jones’ Laugh Book”
“Eye Opener”w2
“Bally Hoo”
and “Esquire”
( founded in 1933).

Even Captain Billy
got into the knock-off action
with “Smokehouse Monthly”.

By the mid 1930’s,
Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang’s humor
seemed old-fashioned and
out of step with the times,
and the publishing empire
(Fawcett Publications)
that it had created started focusing
on other types of periodicals,
like:1922

comic books –
” Captain Marvel ” ,

paperbacks –
” Gold Medal Books “,

technology –
” Mechanix Illustrated ”

movie mags –
” Movie Story ”

noir fiction –
” Daring Detective”

men’s action –
” Cavalier ”

household advice-
” Family Circle”

Time marches on, a1
I guess…..

But to me,
any opportunity
to laugh
makes the world
a happier place,

and so the passing
of the Whiz Bang,
like the later passing
of the National Lampoon,

still fills me with
a feeling of loss.

Happily,
we still have plenty
of old copies
laying around.

.

HOY!

whizbang

 

 

 

1922

The Friday Mail Bag

shingleDeep,
deep
deep
down
in the very depths
of the mailbag —

—-  lurks …..

Well,
who knowsatake
WHAT.

But,
we’re gonna try
and find out
on today’s post.

This is the
ultimate
grab-bag post….

I got no plan,
no sequence,
no theme.

Just stuff my
readers have tempt
sent me,

that I stashed away
for the day
when I’d figure out
how to put it
to some use.

And obviously,

I haven’t done a
real good job
with that, so far.

There are some really
interesting pieces here,
though,paris

— and it would
be a shame
for them to rust away
in digital purgatory,

until the time comes
when I get my head
outta my ass.

I’m beginning
to think
it’s stuck there
permanently,
so……a2

What’s really scary is that
I’ve finally figured how to
walk around that way.

Anyhoo…….

If you wanna reach
down there with me,

well, I’m more
than comfortable with that.lenticular

A little more to the left, please.

Ahem.

Order me another shot of
Wild Turkey and Seven-Up,
and we’ll see what we come up with.

Now, I know you’re probably
thinking that
Yer Ole Uncle Nuts
has gone all sloppy,

and is now
reduced to posting
blurry pictures of hotties
for his own amusement.

And, while that’s probably
true to some point,
In this case, it’s not so.lenticular

Those postcards are was
were called ‘Lenticular’ cards,
from the 1960’s.

What we’d call 3-D.

Move it around, and you get a different view.

One minute,
she’s got clothes on,

The next minute,
she don’t.

Ahhh….
——- if life could only
be THAT simple.

.1906

The first example of a lenticular card
I could find is from 1906….

They appear to be making
rather nice, nice
in a tunnel of love.

Wooooo Hooooooo .

As long as they don’t tip the boat over.

.

juliachildOh,
now this postcard
is a fascinating one  —

Did you know Julia Child
and her husband Paul had a ‘reputation’ ?

And,
yep–
that’s them alright.

Writer Nora Ephron wrote
that Julia and her husband, Paul,
led the sex life of “a couple of rabbits”.

Apparently, it workedoffice
pretty well for them —
—  they were married over 50 years.

I guess everything does go
better with butter.

.

I got this next set
from my boss at work.

He just hired a very
vivacious new office assistant,

…. and I was bitchin’ that
I need/deserve one more
than he does.a3

So he found me one.

Actually,
several.

Hardeeey
Har Har.

That’s all
I got
to say.

That,

—– and he can
forget me pullin’
any more overtimexoffice
for a while.

One of these days,
Alice…..

one of these days.

Bang Zoom.

One of the most popular
Mutoscope card series
in the 1940’s was
called “Your Future Mate ” —shave

You put in your penny,

— and the machine
spat out a card
describing somebody’s idea
of who you
were matched with.

I don’t know whose match
“Lotta Beaver” was —
( Really?
“The Human Soup
Strainer?” )

Or whether they were aware
of the depth of the weird
double entendre
they were making.

But, take it from me….unsafe

Shaved
really is better.

Just sayin’.

.

Ya know…..

( How do you
like that
for a totally
non-sequitur segue ? )

Some guys
don’t understand –
-the powers-
of flowers.Image result for french postcard flowers

But I do.

A simple thing
like a
bouquet of posies
can turn
your girl’s day around.

And that’s always
gonna mean
a good thing
for you, too.

Here’s proof.flowers

This French guy
just got there —
and he’s already
in the chips.

The postcard is
from around 1905 —
it’s hand-tinted, and gorgeous.

Speaking of flowers….

….. if you’ve never read
my post “What Color Is Your Rose” —

Well,
now’d be a good damn time
to catch up on your reading.

‘Cause I am out
till next time.

Hoy!

stop

A History Of Ecstasy

Nowadays,
we throw the
expression ‘ecstasy’
around pretty easily….

You see it in
movie posters,
comic books,
advertising,
social media, etc,
like it’s really not that
much of a big deal.

But in the ancient world,
— they took that dealmaenid
very seriously, indeed.

This lady ,

featured in a photograph
from 1903,

… represented a prime
example of how our
Edwardian age great-grandfathers thought
that the classical
predecessors had
defined it.

If you invited one
or two of these ladies
for an evening of fun,
you were liable to in
for more than you
might have bargained for.

But, I guess it depends
on your idea of fun, though.

She’s what they
called a “Maenad” —

— and her idea of a good time
makes anything the average
college kid on Spring Break
does look like a church picnic
with bingo following.

Actually,
it sort of was a
church picnic of sorts:

Followers of the Greek god Dionysus
(the Romans called him ‘Bacchus’) —mae

— ladies like these would
drink, dance, sing, rave
and generally carouse
to their hearts content —

during a religious rite that
has come to be called a “Bacchanalia”.

Today, when you hear that term,
you might think ‘Mardi Gras’ —

Or you might think ‘Orgy’.

And neither of those terms
would really live up to
a Maenad’s standards–

Even their name tells you something —

“Maenad” means “women in ecstasy”.

They liked to conduct their activities in the nude,
— or clothed in only
a fawn skin —

And according to Euripides,
they’d carry on like this
for days on end.

But before you start
recruiting Maenads
for your next kicky weekend,

I guess I’d better
warn you, brother —

There were NO MEN allowed.uhoh

Their rituals were open to women only.

And any man who happened
to try and crash their party was dealt with,

well, rather severely.

As in ,
— torn apart, shredded,
and eaten.

I guess when these girls
said ‘no trespassing’,
brother, they meant it.

Frazer, in the Golden Bough,
thought that the Maenads
were not only drinking heavily
at their ceremonial soirees,

— but under the influence of a powerful drug.

In all probability, that drug would have been basidiomycete —

— derived from what we today
call psychotropic mushrooms,
like the ‘Fly Amanita’.

The plant causes intensemaenad
euphoria, hallucinations,
and delirium–

very similar to the descriptions
of the Maenad’s conduct
in ancient texts, is known
to grow in that part of the world.

– and could very well
also been the mythical ‘Soma’ referenced in other materials
about ancient ceremonial drugs,
and in the Indian Rig-Vedas.

Now, of course,

I like my mythology maenad_
with more than a
smattering of smart-ass
and sex mixed in,

— but if you’re really
serious about reading
up on Greek Mythology,

I’d recommend you start
with my friend
Aquileana’s site.

.

HOY !!

.