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When I lived in Houston (1962-64), my parents did a lot of their shopping at what was then called Gulfgate Shopping Center (now Gulfgate Mall). I remember us going to an amusement park next to it. I think the name of it was either "Playland Park" or "Peppermint Park."

Does anyone out there know what I'm referring to?

Chet Cuccia

Wee Wild West was on Westheimer, I think between Chimney Rock and Sage or Rice. It was the happening place for the 12 & under crowd in the 60's!

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I found an pic I took of Kiddie Wonderland in 1986, I think it was in the process of being taken down....

Yeah that photo is from 1977! This is the only other Phil I could come up with. Here's some names from the past

Speaking of the Astroworld boundaries, I still remember when we kids as a group would run and get a ride on the train that went around Astroworld. On ocassion we could see (or bust) other older teens

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I remember the old Malibu off SW Freeway and the one that finally closed at 610....I-45 North and South had tons of go-kart tracks but none exist anymore....

Fame City's demise was that they stopped fixing their rides that always seemed to break down - especially the one where you shot green and red dots while going around on a machine in the dark....also..the foodcourt never was utilized and only one or two places remained open. I went to the "other" Fame City 7 years ago that was named Chico's Funplex and it went south literally

I haven't been to the Oil Ranch since the 80s but it still exists....as for Astroworld...they used to cater to teenagers by staying open 'till 2 a.m., then midnight but stopped at 10 p.m. Fright Night was a huge event in the 80s and early 90s and Holiday in the Park was fun also.

Astroworld used to open the year with a new ride that made you want to go there because they flashed it in the commercials all the time and mass mailed it to your house.

As for Playland Park..my dad remembers it.....he said he could only go on certain days for obvious reasons

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I remember the old Malibu off SW Freeway and the one that finally closed at 610....I-45 North and South had tons of go-kart tracks but none exist anymore....

There used to be another Malibu Grand Prix at I-45 and N. Shepherd, but it closed years before the others did. There was also a watercoaster in the same location - I think it was right next to the Malibu. When I was growing up, I had a friend that used to work summer jobs at both places.

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  • 3 months later...
Busch Gardens?

I remember that! Not much though. I was at Second Baptist in elementary school and we took a field trip there. Go figure!

Peppermint Park: went to may a kiddie birthday party there. Thought I remember it being off 610 on the north west side.

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  • 2 weeks later...
1980 in my opinion was the best year for Astroworld. The Dolphin show, the Sleigh snow ride, the sports car ride, the River of No Return were all still there plus the addition of Thunder River made 1980 a great family year.

I have lived in SA all my life but we went to Houston every summer to visit family and YES 1980 was a great year. I remember that summer waiting almost 3 hours for Thunder River (Was it called roaring rapids?), then the last time I went was the Summer of 04 and the park was dead. I knew that was not a good sign at all, I miss astroworld a lot.

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If anyone still reads this, here is some info. I have pictures of the old park Kiddie Wonderland that was over on S. Main and Kirby. There is more info on it on my other post. Let me know and I may be able to help you find what you are looking for.

awesome! post the photos, please. :)

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Thanks, Mark! I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting up with Norman when I had my first car, a '51 Chevy (see below), worked on at Jimmie Green Chevrolet, on Shepherd between Westheimer and W. Alabama. There was a problem with my brakes that the mechanic wanted to talk to me about. I went back to the work area and who should be the mechanic who wanted to see me? None other than "Stormin' Norman". What a surprise! This must have been about 1953-54.

51Chevy3.jpg

My dad and his cousin amaze me. They can look at a picture like this and automatically tell what kind of car it is. Even when I showed them 1950s pictures of traffic on HoustonFreeways.Com they can point out what every kind of car is simply by its body style. They said that can't do that in this day and age because since there are so many different makes and models of vehicles that one can't be distinguished from another.

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  • 1 month later...
A friend of mine mentioned a kiddie place called Wee Wild West. I went there as a kid (60's) but have no idea where it was. Anybody remember that one?

I do remember it. It was a smaller amusement park, and I believe that it was located off of Post Oak Road - roughly where the Galleria is now (at least somewhere in that vicinity). I remember it being a smaller version of the much larger Playland Park on South Main. My impression is that Wee Wild West probably catered to the smaller kids. Anyway, I do remember going to the park with some friends for my 7th or 8th birthday back in the early sixties - and that my Mom's purse fell out of the little roller coaster there :lol: .

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  • 4 weeks later...
Here's a little video I put together of my brother's birthday party at Wee Wild West in th early 60's

That was a nice video thanks for sharing. I wish I was alive back then.

Edited by Marty
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That's Bill White in the "2" car. Bill bought it from Wade in 1961 or 1962. 57 Tbird, you might have to bail me out here. I don't remember the dates and years that well.

I'd say you're pretty close. Budman? Mark? I can ask Bill next time I see him.

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Back to Playland Park Racing. I am so impressed with your memory, 57Tbird! Your description fits to a T my remembrance of the track and surrounds. As West U. kids our hero was A.J., our neighbor, but I remember well Stormin' Norman and a few others. Not I have a question to tax your memories, all of you who kept up with such things.

Around 1955-56, I met a guy named Phillip______? He raced stock cars at Playland. He was older than I, me being 14-15 at the time. He was very slender, dark hair, nice guy, but was not considered fit company for me by my family. No romantics envolved, just friends, but he taught me how to take high speed curves and turns, pre-power steering. One night, he brought around his highly newly souped up 1955 Chevy and invited me to go for a trial spin. We headed out to South Main, past any signs of civilization and took off, reaching 155mph! It was the scariest, most thrilling thing I'd ever experienced.

I don't think he ever got famous or anything, but I have wracked my brain for years trying to remember his last name. If any of you have a clue or an old roster of stock car drivers, I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks.

Maybe you mean Phil Cronin, sounds like somthing he would do.

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OMG! I think that was it! At least it certainly sounds familiar and right somehow. A million thanks, jakdad, that has been niggling in my back brain for eons. This place is incredible.

As we grow so much older, often we feel that all these memories are made more sad if only we recall them. This forum shows how much we all share of our early life experiences. And having the blanks filled in on the partials is fantastic.

So, I owe you what? A cookie, a margarita, my first-born? Would enjoy knowing how you came up with the name, you must have known him. Oh, it was all about cars and speed (non tablet form) in those days.

Thanks again!

Sandy

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That's definately Bill White behind the wheel, I'd say 61 or 62 is a good guess.

I just talked to Bill. He didn't remember the year, but said Billy Wade sold it to him when he (Wade) left for NASCAR. I don't know exactly when that was, but I think it was the early 60's.

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To ALL,

Just reading through some of the last posts. This site is great. Like many it seems here I grew up at Playland Park and Meyer Speedway. My dad Dennis built race cars in the early 50's and Don Burton drove for him. Our families were all really close. The Burtons, Wades, Pierces. Reading these posts bring back so many memeries. I have also read were there might be video's or DVD's of some of the old action. I'd love to have one of thoses if anyone knows how to get one. I and my 2 brothers raced Bronco's from 75 through 79 at Meyer. It was great and i'll never forget it. I really can't remember a Saturday nite from the time I was a baby till I left for college. As my mother says I've been going to races since the womb. Maybe I can rattle my old memory and contribute to the forum.

Darrell Koebelen

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To ALL,

Just reading through some of the last posts. This site is great. Like many it seems here I grew up at Playland Park and Meyer Speedway. My dad Dennis built race cars in the early 50's and Don Burton drove for him. Our families were all really close. The Burtons, Wades, Pierces. Reading these posts bring back so many memeries. I have also read were there might be video's or DVD's of some of the old action. I'd love to have one of thoses if anyone knows how to get one. I and my 2 brothers raced Bronco's from 75 through 79 at Meyer. It was great and i'll never forget it. I really can't remember a Saturday nite from the time I was a baby till I left for college. As my mother says I've been going to races since the womb. Maybe I can rattle my old memory and contribute to the forum.

Darrell Koebelen

This info is almost a couple of years old, but try Gil Dudek at gill.judy@sbcglobal.net for a Playland & Meyer Speedway DVD with action from the 1950's and 60's.

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OMG! I think that was it! At least it certainly sounds familiar and right somehow. A million thanks, jakdad, that has been niggling in my back brain for eons. This place is incredible.

As we grow so much older, often we feel that all these memories are made more sad if only we recall them. This forum shows how much we all share of our early life experiences. And having the blanks filled in on the partials is fantastic.

So, I owe you what? A cookie, a margarita, my first-born? Would enjoy knowing how you came up with the name, you must have known him. Oh, it was all about cars and speed (non tablet form) in those days.

Thanks again!

Sandy

Yes, I knew Phil. He passed on several years ago.

Speaking of Margaritas, here's a bit of trivia about the origins of the Margarita.

Santos Cruz stands behind the mahogany bar at the

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Wecome, sprintcar! From your comments, it's good to see there is someone on this forum that appears to be almost as old as I am...maybe older. From previous posts of mine, you can see that I went to many races at Playland and then to Meyer, when it opened. I always thought Playland was a 1/4 mile track, but you should know better than I. Did you read in a previous post of mine that I was very close to Blackie Lothringer's car when it came flying over the fence/wall that night? Were you there that night? Thanks for posting more names of the drivers of that era. I remember them. One you left out was Norm Pierce. He and Billy Wade had many close races to the finish line at Playland. A close friend of mine, Ben Bishop, raced at Meyer when it first opened. He was a rookie and only raced for a year or two. He ran in a '57 Chevy. Know him? Did you ever race at the old Arrowhead Park Speedway? I saw A. J. Foyt race there in midgets a few times when he was just starting out.
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Wecome, sprintcar! From your comments, it's good to see there is someone on this forum that appears to be almost as old as I am...maybe older. From previous posts of mine, you can see that I went to many races at Playland and then to Meyer, when it opened. I always thought Playland was a 1/4 mile track, but you should know better than I. Did you read in a previous post of mine that I was very close to Blackie Lothringer's car when it came flying over the fence/wall that night? Were you there that night? Thanks for posting more names of the drivers of that era. I remember them. One you left out was Norm Pierce. He and Billy Wade had many close races to the finish line at Playland. A close friend of mine, Ben Bishop, raced at Meyer when it first opened. He was a rookie and only raced for a year or two. He ran in a '57 Chevy. Know him? Did you ever race at the old Arrowhead Park Speedway? I saw A. J. Foyt race there in midgets a few times when he was just starting out.

There was another racer from Playland Park that has been left out of this...he also moved over to Meyer Speedway after Playland Park. Held more than several records when Meyer shut down the first time and were not broken when it closed the second time...#55 - "Buddy" Evans (started as #8, then moved to #55). "High Points" Champion several years as well as other winnings. How many of you remember the next place I am about to mention. Spent many a late night after the Playland Park races at the (best I can remember) Tam-O-Shanter Inn on OST??? His son went on to follow in his foot steps racing Late Model Sportsman. Thanks for brining up some old memories. I have a VHS Video floating around that has some races from Playland Park, Meyer Speeway, Battleground...bought it at Big "H" when they had the last of the Outlaw Super Modified Sprints

Roddy

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I heard a similar tale when I did a story on the Balinese Room shortly after it reopened. They attributed it to the original Balinese room:

http://www.thedeliciouslife.com/feature.cf...y=16&Page=9

Yes, I knew Phil. He passed on several years ago.

Speaking of Margaritas, here's a bit of trivia about the origins of the Margarita.

Santos Cruz stands behind the mahogany bar at the

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There was another racer from Playland Park that has been left out of this...he also moved over to Meyer Speedway after Playland Park. Held more than several records when Meyer shut down the first time and were not broken when it closed the second time...#55 - "Buddy" Evans (started as #8, then moved to #55). "High Points" Champion several years as well as other winnings. How many of you remember the next place I am about to mention. Spent many a late night after the Playland Park races at the (best I can remember) Tam-O-Shanter Inn on OST??? His son went on to follow in his foot steps racing Late Model Sportsman. Thanks for brining up some old memories. I have a VHS Video floating around that has some races from Playland Park, Meyer Speeway, Battleground...bought it at Big "H" when they had the last of the Outlaw Super Modified Sprints

Roddy

BillyWadeModified53-1.jpg

On just about any night for many many years, if you looked at the front of the pack, this is what you saw running first and second. Billy Wade #53 and Don Burton #5. These two clown were the one to beat night in and night out.

DonWins5-1.jpg

Here is Don Burton beating out Buddy Evans at the line.

MJBurton5-2.jpg

Here is MJ Burton after rolling his car @ Meyers

MEYERSPEEDWAY62PROGRAM6.jpgMEYERSPEEDWAY62COVERFRONT.jpg

Page 6 of the 1962 Season Program

PhilCronin.jpg

West U Native is this your guy?

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BillyWadeModified53-1.jpg

On just about any night for many many years, if you looked at the front of the pack, this is what you saw running first and second. Billy Wade #53 and Don Burton #5. These two clown were the one to beat night in and night out.

DonWins5-1.jpg

Here is Don Burton beating out Buddy Evans at the line.

MJBurton5-2.jpg

Here is MJ Burton after rolling his car @ Meyers

MEYERSPEEDWAY62PROGRAM6.jpgMEYERSPEEDWAY62COVERFRONT.jpg

Page 6 of the 1962 Season Program

PhilCronin.jpg

West U Native is this your guy?

Might be, but she would have to allow for 20 years or so in that photo.

:D:D:D

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  • 2 weeks later...

Okay, I know this is a longshot but if anyone could help me identify the location of one of my earliest memories, I would be eternally grateful.

I am thinking of a miniature golf place. It was (I think) on Bissonnet between Beechnut and Fondren. There was (I think) a drivers license place right next to it and both would have been on the left side of the street if you were heading west. The thing that sticks out most in my mind is that it had dinosaurs. They looked huge to - what must have been - five year old.

I know it's not much to work with, and I doubt it was even that significant of a landmark. Still, I would very much appreciate some confirmation of this memory. Thanks, all.

Oh, and I'm not thinking of the mini golf place at the corner of Fondren and Beechnut with the batting cages out front; though that place was cool, too.

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Would this have been Goony Golf? Close to a Chinese restaurant, I think, and closed down sometime in the 80s?

You know, that may have been it. The Chinese restaurant sounds vaguely familiar and it would have closed in the 80s. Thanks!

Come to think of it, I also remember one on Westheimer across from what used to be the Briargrove Dollar Theater. It had a most excellent arcade with - I think - a jungle theme. My folks took me there for my birthday one year and my mother lost her wedding ring somewhere on the course. Yeah, I got blamed for that.

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As has oft been said around these parts, you guys are phenominal. As soon as I read the name Phil Cronin, I knew it was right. I never expected y'all to dredge up such a good photo. Yes, this picture of 1977 was around 22 years after I knew him and startled me to see how much weight he'd gained. But that was probably just the maturity gained with filled out adult face, etc. However, in observing the individual features, I'm sure that is he. I am so sorry to hear that he is no longer with us. Funny how you remember so well some people who briefly touch your life and move on.

jakdad and Mark Barnes, you know if I were in town, I'd buy you both a tall, cold one! Many, many thanks.

Sandy

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  • 1 month later...
This is the Wunsche Cemetery, just south of Spring High School on the east side of the freeway. Perhaps you've heard of the Wunsche Cafe in Spring... :)

If I remember correctly, the cemetery was on the west side of old Hwy 75. That part of the old hwy served for a long time as a feeder/frontage road after IH 45 was built on the west side of the cemetery.

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Might be, but she would have to allow for 20 years or so in that photo.

:D:D:D

I think Phil Cronin was born about '40, so he would have been about 15-17 years old in '55/'56. Had a fast, new '55 Chevy hot rod? Maybe so Jakdad! Say, wasn't there also a Phillip in amongst some of them Tillotta boys that did a little racing?

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  • 2 weeks later...
OR HOW ABOUT...

Malibu go-cart raceway and arcade at the Southwest Freeway

B)

I found these pictures of Malibu as it looks today...or not long ago. I still have my license for the go-karts someplace. I also think I still have some tokens for the video games. I used to go all the time for their putt-putt golf, but always perfered Speedy's for go-karts. I don't think that plae is still open, but it rocked. The track was built into an old pool.

http://www.abandonedbutnotforgotten.com/ab..._in_houston.htm

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I found these pictures of Malibu as it looks today...or not long ago. I still have my license for the go-karts someplace. I also think I still have some tokens for the video games. I used to go all the time for their putt-putt golf, but always perfered Speedy's for go-karts. I don't think that plae is still open, but it rocked. The track was built into an old pool.

http://www.abandonedbutnotforgotten.com/ab..._in_houston.htm

I thought the place where the robery and murders took place was on 290.

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I think Phil Cronin was born about '40, so he would have been about 15-17 years old in '55/'56. Had a fast, new '55 Chevy hot rod? Maybe so Jakdad! Say, wasn't there also a Phillip in amongst some of them Tillotta boys that did a little racing?

I think Phil was a pre 40s guy

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I think Phil Cronin was born about '40, so he would have been about 15-17 years old in '55/'56. Had a fast, new '55 Chevy hot rod? Maybe so Jakdad! Say, wasn't there also a Phillip in amongst some of them Tillotta boys that did a little racing?

Phil was born in Late '35 around Halloween or pretty close, because they use to throw a party in the pits at the track around that time, he was Class of '54 at Galena Park HS I am pretty sure, seems like that's what his class ring said anyway. Phillip Tillotta was also from Galena Park I think, and is still alive as far as I know still living in that house out in Sterling Green in Channel View.

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Resourceful...........that's a funny way of putting it. Phil Cronin was a sure enough hustler. Don't mean that in a negative way. He put his mind to it and could just about do anything. He was a real charactor, and could always make you laugh, no matter what the circumstances were. He believed in fast cars and fast living. Had his fair share of pit puppies I can tell you that for damn sure. He laid more pipe than Brown and Root. If it's the car I am thinking of it was a blue and white two tone '55 Chevy. I'd have to dig around but I may have a picture of that car after he sold it to David Rosas.

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55AJmidgcrsh.jpg

freddie_Barnes_notguilty.jpg

Hey, Mark The Johnson's from louisiana here. We raced over at Meyer speedway a few times before it closed. I know fellow by the name of David Garner. His dad built a BRAND NEW Super Modified to race there the year Meyer was shut down. He still has the car ready to go in his garage (never raced and I seen the pictures #76)somewhere in Houston along with the car he retired, and ready to restore it.(It was also a Super Modified). My dad and My grandfather used to go wath A.J. over at Play land park. We still race ASCS Sprint cars over in Baytown a few times a year. You may want to check us out in 2008.,Todd Edited by jtodd49
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The crash you are refering to happened in '59. One of the 3 people killed was one of the owners of Playland and unfortunately, he was the one owner who was passoinate about the park. This basicaly signaled the beginning of the end of the park since his siblings allowed it to fall into neglect and disrepair.I found this out when I went to the library down town to research Playland. I found several news articles but zero photographs. Where can one find more pictures of Playland?
The crash you are refering to happened in '59. One of the 3 people killed was one of the owners of Playland and unfortunately, he was the one owner who was passoinate about the park. This basicaly signaled the beginning of the end of the park since his siblings allowed it to fall into neglect and disrepair.I found this out when I went to the library down town to research Playland. I found several news articles but zero photographs. Where can one find more pictures of Playland?
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I am a new member and this is my first posting. My posted name is "Sparky" which is a nickname given to me by Buddy Rackly at the old Playland Park race track. My Family lived at Playland. My dad fed you and my mom put you in jail and took your "get em while you wait" pictures. I have a couple of pictures I will get my son to post. It is great to find a site that I can share some memories with. We moved to Houston right after the coaster was built and lived in a trailor where the racetrack would be built. The Park was our personal front yard and the racetrack our sideyard. If anybody remembers the Fun-in-the-dark ride then you know right where I lived. I could walk out our side door and right into the back door of that building. Buddy nicknamed me Sparky because I wore a spark plug he had given me. I made it into a necklace and never took it off except to take a bath. I do remember the accident you are talking about. My Mom was working in the booth right inside the front gate to the raceway and had just finished talking to Sam Sulsky when he walked away and was hit by the tire coming over the wall. The gentleman who said buying a coke saved his life bought that coke from my mom. She never got over it and never went back to the racetrack again. I will be posting more memories as time goes by. I am now a seventy-two year old Great-Grandmother and loving this time of my life. And now to answer a question about Crystal Pool and Gateway Roller Rink. They were my home away from home and were run by Les Oldfield, my dad away from home. To answer the question about the bubble in the bottom of the pool read on. If you don't want to know the answer quit reading now. When the pool was built pipes were laid into the bottom of the pool that were just below the bubble. Air was pumped into the bubble and out. The bubble was the bomber bubble from a B-17 from WWII that Les turned upside down and chained over the air pipes. It was great to see the divers hit the water and surface. Just a little side fact, Les Oldfield was the son of Barny Oldfield, the great racer. Les has a son named after his grandfather, Barny, who is an airline pilot. Hope this answers some questions and causes more. Thank you for this site. Sparky

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I am a new member and this is my first posting. My posted name is "Sparky" which is a nickname given to me by Buddy Rackly at the old Playland Park race track. My Family lived at Playland. ....... Hope this answers some questions and causes more. Thank you for this site. Sparky

Wow, Sparky, fascinating post! Can't wait to read more and see some of those pictures. Thanks for taking the time to post. :)

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