Coney Island Memories
butterflies are free and so are we

I told myself I wouldn't write one word today until I got my office paperwork under control. I remind myself of that every day and, well, it's now three days later. Ah, I just cleared my desk by putting everything in a box, again. Out of sight, out of mind for now. I just want to play.

Last night I went on YouTube to restrain myself from watching the 2016 Republican Convention. I must admit, I did want to hear what the beautiful Mrs. Trump had to say about her husband, but that was all, so I recorded it so I could skip the negativity. I preferred to get lost in some Andrew Lloyd Webber to play in the background while I was writing. His 1986 hit musical, The Phantom of the Opera is my #1 favorite of all time that I never get tired of, though I could have been satisfied last night with something from Evita or Jesus Christ Superstar.

YouTube holds amazing surprises and my search led me to many familiar choices and one I had never heard of, Coney Island Waltz from a new musical called Love Never Dies, which was originally claimed to be Lord Lloyd-Webber's sequel to Phantom. Needless to say, I simply had to research everything I could find about this new gem by my favorite composer. One quote by him said "I don't regard this as a sequel - it's a stand-alone piece." It is set in Coney Island, New York, in 1907, ten years after the Phantom disappears in Paris. After a lot of challenges and changes, a touring production is slated to tour North America in the 2017-2018 season. The music was released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2012 over Universal Studios Home Entertainment in the USA. If you happen to subscribe to Amazon Prime, you can hear the whole album for free in Prime Music, along with literally a million other songs if you have a lot of time on your hands. I'm listening to The Coney Island Waltz again right now. It's also at the bottom of this page.

The last page I wrote about my junior high school experiences made me wonder what other childhood memories I had locked away from my inquisitive mind and then thrown away the key. Then I had to admit to myself that I was being dramatic and the key was hidden, not discarded, so I asked my muse-of-the-day to lead me to videos about childhood memories. I did my part by typing that in the YouTube search box. It took me to a page full of videos that all had Coney Island in the title, including pages of the Cyclone Roller Coaster. That was my first clue that this page was going to be about my Coney Island Memories.

Coney Island is the magical beach of my childhood when it was filled with amusement parks with every kind of ride to scare and thrill a little girl. Mom loved the roller coasters best of all and the scary Cyclone was her absolute favorite and became mine at an early age. That's why I chose the video above. I wanted to remember what it felt like to ride on the historic wooden roller coaster that opened in 1927. It was refurbished in 1975 and declared a New York City landmark in 1988, and as of 1991 its future was secured by its place on the National Register of Historic Places. Maybe you can go home again. If you click the Play arrow above you can have a front seat ride and see how you like it!

Coney Island is on the Atlantic Ocean in the borough of Brooklyn, New York City. To me it was the most wonderful amusement park I had ever seen, though I'm not sure I'd ever seen any other. My mother's inner child was alive and well so I got to go to Coney often. Her favorite ride was the Cyclone roller coaster and she made sure we got to Surf Avenue and West 10th Street early before the crowds arrived. Patience was not a virtue of hers and I think that apple may not have fallen far from the tree. I allow myself that one fault (haha) and attribute it to wanting to taste everything while I am visiting this planet, while realistically acknowledging it would take more than one lifetime.

Mom also like The Bobsled. It was first featured at the 1939 New York World's Fair, though I was only four then and don't remember it from there. After the fair, they moved it to the Bowery and Stillwell Avenue in Coney. We leaned back in a toboggan and it felt like we were flying through the wooden chute until the end of the ride! On the Boardwalk near the Pier was The Parachute Jump, another exciting ride in George C. Tilyou's Steeplechase, the Funny Place. It also first appeared at the 1939 World's Fair but I was too young to go on it then. I made up for it later. The Parachute was 25 stories high and cost 40-cents a ticket to ride. Mom and I were belted into a two-person canvas seat hanging below a closed parachute. Then we were pulled up to the top where we hit some mechanism that released us and we would drop down in a free fall, only slowed down by the open parachute. It was a soft landing at the bottom, cushioned by shock absorbers, which were springs mounted on poles. It was a thrill to be up that high and have a view of the New York skyline, the Jersey Shore, and the Atlantic Ocean. What fun! I read that it took three men to operate each parachute and that's why th
e cost was high. Imagine 40-cents a ride being a lot of money back then.

I was looking through my oldest scrapbooks and found a ticket I had saved from 1948 when I went to Steeplechase, the Funny Place, with a boy named Johnny Petrucci. I was 12 going on 16. I remember when you got off the mechanical horses you walked by a place with a hole in the floor. A fan below blew your skirt up over your head. A crowd always gathered to laugh at the unsuspecting girls. I had been warned and wore shorts!

The Bobsled in Coney
                    Island       The Parachute Jump at Coney Island       Steeplechase Ticket with Johnny Petrucci       The Wonder Wheel in Coney Island

The picture on the right is the Wonder Wheel. It was built around 1918-1920 by the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Company. It was 150-feet tall, like a 15-story building. It had 24 cars, of which 8 were stationary and 16 were swinging cars. Mom and I always waited for a front seat on the swinging cars that could hold 6 people. The cars slid on a track toward the hub and as the wheel turned, they slid towards the circumference, according to It gave you a little thrill even though you knew nothing bad was going to happen. It was designated an official New York City landmark in 1989. Over 35 million rides have been given since it was built and they can boast of a perfect safety record.

I simply have to devote at least another page, maybe two, to Coney Island. It contains some of the happiest memories of my childhood and one that taught me a lesson I never forgot. I'll say bye for now. Too many graphics make for slow page loading and I don't like when I go to a site that takes forever to load. (There's that patience thing again.) I suspect you don't either. Life moves fast in 2016, and as a friend used to say, If you snooze, you lose!

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