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Thanks Sparky for a great story. Got any pics you can post?

Jim

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I do have pictures I can post but I will have to have my son show me how to do that. I just discovered that my sister had posted #119 on 5-10-2006, as member No. 2116. What a pleasant discovery. She passed away on July 3, 2006, one day shy of her 73rd. birthday on July 4th.. When we were little she always thought the July 4th. celebrations were for her birthday. I really don't know what kind of posts to do so I will just ramble on about living in the park. Some one said they remembered the neon towers at the park entrance. They did look like giant toothbrushes from a distance. They were hollow inside and filled with spiders, webs, and a lot of wiring. Before the school bus was allowed to pick us up inside the park grounds, we would have to catch the bus in front of the park. We would take cover in the towers if it was raining. When my dad found out we were doing this, he got the buses to come into the park and pick us up by our frozen custard stand. The first job I can remember having was blowing us ballons for the dart joint. I blew them up by mouth, tied them and them put them in a big ballon box. If you ever try this game at a carnival throw the dart up so it will come down to hit the ballon. It works better than a hard straight throw. I worked in the front food stand until I was old enough to run the snow cone, cotton candy, and popcorn stand by myself. I still roll cotton candy cones if I am holding a dollor bill. To change the subject, my sister had mentioned Playmore that was in downtown Houston. It had bumper cars, a penny arcade, my dads food stand, some joints, and of course the man who was buried alive. That was my "Uncle Homer". He was not really a blood uncle, but was one of the people that came in off the road when my family did. Coming in off the road meant that you had left the sawdust trail and settled down. The saw dust trail meant that you traveled with a carnival or a circus which we had done. If anyone is interested I can post some stuff about that. Uncle Homer not only was buried alive, he also managed to make the board cut-outs that my mom used in the mug joint. The favorite cut-out of course was the jail. When I married and moved away from the Park, I still could hear the sounds at night when I went to bed. My father had the concessions at Arrowhead which was on Old Spanish Trail. The monorail was also on OST.. As a matter of fact the year my father passed away he had the concessions at almost all of the public places in Houston. The Colliseum, The Music Hall, The Auditorium, The Zoo, Herman Park, Playland Park, and was bidding on the Astrodome when it was built. Like I said I am just typing what comes to mind. Let me know if you like it. Thanks again for the site. Sparky

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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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Uncle Homer not only was buried alive, he also managed to make the board cut-outs that my mom used in the mug joint. The favorite cut-out of course was the jail.

Hi Sparky, and welcome to the forum. When you mentioned cut-outs for pictures, the following ones came to mind. My dad and his friends had these taken some time in the mid 40s (after the war.) I asked him where they were taken, and he said that it was somewhere downtown. Could they possibly have been from one of your family's concessions?

Sailor.jpg

Cowboy.jpg

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I do have pictures I can post but I will have to have my son show me how to do that. I just discovered that my sister had posted #119 on 5-10-2006, as member No. 2116. What a pleasant discovery. She passed away on July 3, 2006, one day shy of her 73rd. birthday on July 4th.. When we were little she always thought the July 4th. celebrations were for her birthday. I really don't know what kind of posts to do so I will just ramble on about living in the park. Some one said they remembered the neon towers at the park entrance. They did look like giant toothbrushes from a distance. They were hollow inside and filled with spiders, webs, and a lot of wiring. Before the school bus was allowed to pick us up inside the park grounds, we would have to catch the bus in front of the park. We would take cover in the towers if it was raining. When my dad found out we were doing this, he got the buses to come into the park and pick us up by our frozen custard stand. The first job I can remember having was blowing us ballons for the dart joint. I blew them up by mouth, tied them and them put them in a big ballon box. If you ever try this game at a carnival throw the dart up so it will come down to hit the ballon. It works better than a hard straight throw. I worked in the front food stand until I was old enough to run the snow cone, cotton candy, and popcorn stand by myself. I still roll cotton candy cones if I am holding a dollor bill. To change the subject, my sister had mentioned Playmore that was in downtown Houston. It had bumper cars, a penny arcade, my dads food stand, some joints, and of course the man who was buried alive. That was my "Uncle Homer". He was not really a blood uncle, but was one of the people that came in off the road when my family did. Coming in off the road meant that you had left the sawdust trail and settled down. The saw dust trail meant that you traveled with a carnival or a circus which we had done. If anyone is interested I can post some stuff about that. Uncle Homer not only was buried alive, he also managed to make the board cut-outs that my mom used in the mug joint. The favorite cut-out of course was the jail. When I married and moved away from the Park, I still could hear the sounds at night when I went to bed. My father had the concessions at Arrowhead which was on Old Spanish Trail. The monorail was also on OST.. As a matter of fact the year my father passed away he had the concessions at almost all of the public places in Houston. The Colliseum, The Music Hall, The Auditorium, The Zoo, Herman Park, Playland Park, and was bidding on the Astrodome when it was built. Like I said I am just typing what comes to mind. Let me know if you like it. Thanks again for the site. Sparky

I had forgotten about the Pla-Mor arcade downtown until you mentioned it. It was on Dallas, between Main and Fannin, across from where Sakowitz would eventually be built. I went there many times as a youngster in the mid-40's. As I remember, it was open-air, on the ground floor of some type of structure that may have been a parking garage.

Where did you go to school while living at Playland? You and I are the same age. I am the "gentleman" you mentioned in your first post who was buying a Coke when that horrible accident occurred at Playland in 1959.

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I had forgotten about the Pla-Mor arcade downtown until you mentioned it. It was on Dallas, between Main and Fannin, across from where Sakowitz would eventually be built. I went there many times as a youngster in the mid-40's. As I remember, it was open-air, on the ground floor of some type of structure that may have been a parking garage.

Where did you go to school while living at Playland? You and I are the same age. I am the "gentleman" you mentioned in your first post who was buying a Coke when that horrible accident occurred at Playland in 1959.

Hi Alpha. They were probably made at Playmore in one of my dads mug-joints. He also had one at Stuarts Drive Inn where OST and Main street meet. Stuarts was inside of the V and Princes Drive Inn was on the point of the V.

Hi 57Tbird. So glad to be able to talk with you and know that you are still alive. I went to South Main elementary until the school bus changed routes and then I went to McGregor. I attended Johnston Jr. High School and then San Jacinto High School. I was in the class of l953. Where did you attend school?

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Hi 57Tbird. So glad to be able to talk with you and know that you are still alive. I went to South Main elementary until the school bus changed routes and then I went to McGregor. I attended Johnston Jr. High School and then San Jacinto High School. I was in the class of l953. Where did you attend school?

I went to Sutton, Fannin, Poe El, Lanier, Lamar '53. My wife went to MacGregor, Johnston, and San Jac '55.

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09-06-2005091734AM.jpg

Here's one for you Sparky, I believe that to be Buddy Rackley in front, correct me if I am wrong.

Hi Mark. I sent you an e-mail and I don't know if you got it or not. I then found out I could join and post. I believe that is Buddy, but I am looking a man that I knew as a much younger person. The photos are great. They brought back lots of memories. My brother and I used to go swimming in the pit pool where they rolled in cars to put them out. That was another thing my dad put a stop to. I was looking to see if Cotton Grable, the flag man was in the pictures, but I didn't see him. For a short rotound man, Cotton could really move fast once he flagged the race to start. Finding this site has been like a Christmas present to me. I am pulling out pictures for my son to post for me. Will post more later. Sparky

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T-Bird is this the wreck in question? I think this is the one that there were a couple of spectator fatalities.

Nope! It was the one where Blackie Lothringer went over the wall between turn 1 and turn 2. He landed in the area between the concession stand and south stands near the west entrance gate. Here is a Chronicle report on the accident. Front page and other page.

Sparky, Was your mom one of the ladies named, at the concession stand, in the Chronicle article?

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I went to Sutton, Fannin, Poe El, Lanier, Lamar '53. My wife went to MacGregor, Johnston, and San Jac '55.

So you went to San Jacs arch rival, Lamar. Hmmm. Your wife might have been in all three schools with my brother, David Gordon, who is two years younger than me. Let me know. By the way, my name is Becky Gordon McKeehan. I was a majorette at San Jac with Amy Levine, Barbara Battlestien and another girl whose name escapes me at the moment. Sparky

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Nope! It was the one where Blackie Lothringer went over the wall between turn 1 and turn 2. He landed in the area between the concession stand and south stands near the west entrance gate. Here is a Chronicle report on the accident. Front page and other page.

Sparky, Was your mom one of the ladies named, at the concession stand, in the Chronicle article?

That is the first time I have seen that article. I had already married and moved away when the wreck happened. My sister called me to let me know about the wreck before I saw it on TV.. She wanted me to know that Mom was ok. and home in bed. My mothers name was Myrtle Gordon. I would like to know the names that were in the paper. I have a feeling my Mom left the stand right away after seeing Sam being killed.

Mark, OH YEAH that is Buddy. I had such a crush on him. I know he must have thought I was a pest because I hung around him so much. He had a beautiful wife who was very nice to me. Thirteen year old girls are such a mess to begin with. That is not the picture of the wreck that Sam was involved in. It was closer to the front wall where my dad's stand was. I love the picture that shows the third hump of the coaster. The next part of the coaster was the end

turn around which was a soft square. I don't know if many people noticed the fenced in sheep that were under the coaster. They kept the grass mowed and were great to play with. I am really enjoying all of this. Sparky

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Sue Payne, Agnes McCandless (sp?), and Aurora and Virginia Bowen.

I am not familar with any of these names, but they must have worked there with my mom. I had been gone from the Park for a while so I did not know some of the newer help.

There was an other time that a wheel came over the same place but did not hit anyone.

Tbird, your reply was edited so I could not read it. To change the subject again do any of you remember The Plantation night club right next to the Park? They had big name bands that used to come and play there. Further down the Hi-Way was a root beer drive in that showed free short movies. I can't remember if it was before or after the South Main Drive in Theater. Back to the Park. Someone had mentioned the park giving away free dyed rabbits on Easter. Sometimes my brother, sister, and I were the younger kids in the pen. We also gave out baby ducks. Only later did we find out how cruel that was. When the racetrack land was sold, that also contained the land that was under half of the coaster. Once the coaster was "cut in half" the park did go into a decline. I wonder if any one has any picture of that. Sparky

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I also have some of the same memories of Games People play on 1960. It's hard to believe that nothing has been done with that property. GPP closed around 1990-ish, and the place still has many remnants of the old park.

Where is this on F.M. 1960? I have tried searching for it, but have had no luck.

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I believe you just answered a question that has been on my mind for over 50 years. I seem to remember the name of Porter. Now does the name Doc Casey or Cassedy ring a bell with anyone. It seems that he was not a crown favorite. Thanks for help. Sparky

Yep, Doc Cossey was a local racing hero. He ran mostly Houston but would occasionally venture out to other cities. Doc won a lot of races and was one of the first to buy an Offy for his car. Red Hodges got an Offy powered car about the same time. That was some serious racing.

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Yep, Doc Cossey was a local racing hero. He ran mostly Houston but would occasionally venture out to other cities. Doc won a lot of races and was one of the first to buy an Offy for his car. Red Hodges got an Offy powered car about the same time. That was some serious racing.

Doc drove a stocker also they nicknamed Big Bertha

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Hi Mark. I sent you an e-mail and I don't know if you got it or not. I then found out I could join and post. I believe that is Buddy, but I am looking a man that I knew as a much younger person. The photos are great. They brought back lots of memories. My brother and I used to go swimming in the pit pool where they rolled in cars to put them out. That was another thing my dad put a stop to. I was looking to see if Cotton Grable, the flag man was in the pictures, but I didn't see him. For a short rotound man, Cotton could really move fast once he flagged the race to start. Finding this site has been like a Christmas present to me. I am pulling out pictures for my son to post for me. Will post more later. Sparky

Here you go Sparky

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Cotton Grable

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I think that's Charlie Scheilds getting the flag from Cotton

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AJ Foyt winning at Playland Park

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Cotton working the starting grid in 1953

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And this is yours truely in 1955 in the infield at Playland standing next to Uncle Bobby's Modified.

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I bought one of these about two months ago, and I have been able to scan old slides and negatives with ease. I highly recommend it. I bought it from Tiger Direct. Best $200 bucks I ever spent.

H333-1034-main.jpg

Plustek OpticFilm 7200 Film Scanner

The OpticFilm 7200 is a 7200 dpi film scanner capable of scanning 35 mm slides and various negatives. High optical resolution, USB 2.0 connection and fast scan speed allow Plustek's OpticFilm 7200 to easily outperform other professional film scanners.

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SONATA_VOLUME-166.jpg

More Playland action

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Here's the roller coaster

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And another

Mark, you have no idea what this site means to me. I lost my pictures of the park in a flood. I had nothing except the Chronicle picture to show my children where I grew up. My brother and sister gave me a few pictures that I will post when my son shows me how. I check this site every day. Thanks, Sparky

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If you would like me to post them for you, you can email them to me, however it is fairly simple, you can either host them on a free site like photobucket, or if they are not extremely large you can just attach them to your post. I will be posting more as time goes by. I fly home tuesday and will get busy then.

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I have run out of superlatives! On a mere whim I blithely asked for the solution to a lapse in memory from over 50 years ago and you came up with the answer. Then a photo, though not the exact look of the guy as I knew him. Now, outta nowhere, the spittin' image arrives.

Mr. Barnes, I cannot thank you enough. These early pix of Phil Cronin are exactly the way he looked in those teenage years, see how slender he was? If you go back to my original post and description of him, you'll see these are dead on. Thank you so much for the head's up email to let me know you found these.

Besides the wild, fast ride out South Main I described, Phil and I spent one whole Saturday cruising around with frequent stops by AJ's house trying to catch him in. Phil needed to talk to him about something. Sadly we never did manage to find him that day and I never got to meet AJ, but the local WestU gang cheered him on for years and were so thrilled with his first Indy 500 win - ecstatic is more like it.

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If you would like me to post them for you, you can email them to me, however it is fairly simple, you can either host them on a free site like photobucket, or if they are not extremely large you can just attach them to your post. I will be posting more as time goes by. I fly home tuesday and will get busy then.

SAY WHAT? I didn't understand one word of what you said past email. Thanks for the thought but I don't speak tech talk. I will have my son teach me and show him your posting. Thanks again, Sparky.

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I remember Busch Gardens! It was created quickly and why they put it in that part of town I will never know? Thas probably why it met an untimely demise. Who in the heck wanted to take their kids to an industrial area?

We would drive by it everytime we picked up my dad at work at nearby Roadway Express terminal. B Gardens looked so cool from far away because the rides looked very exciting, we were just glued to the car windows as we passed! Was very colorful and seemed like it was expanding. I bet it only lasted about 4-5 years at most? Anyone else know? I just recall it there until about 1975???

I remember going there on a school trip in 4th grade ('72) - there was an "ecology" film with Jonathan Winters in it that they played in the vistor's center.

Does anyone remember Maui Kai? It lasted only a short time, and I think it was on the same grounds of Busch Gardens.

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  • 3 weeks later...

To Mark Barnes -

WOW!! I found this site this morning (was looking up info on Kitirik - I was on the show once), and I am also just blown away by your photos and info - same for jakdad and the others.

Let me put in some of my memories. I was born in Houston in 1951, lived there until 1960. We lived in "South Park" on Malmedy. At that time the 610 loop was a sand and gravel roadbed, and everybody used to gather at the end of the block at sundown in order to watch both screens of the King Center drive-in (the Road Runner cartoons were the best, of course).

57Tbird has the details about the track exactly as I remember them. My dad was a huge racing fan, and we went to Playland every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, without fail. We went into the pits, Billy Wade was my hero, and one night I got to sit in AJ's car, wearing his helmet, after he'd won the final race (was it 36 cars?). On another occasion, at one of the demolition derbys, five cars crashed into each other, all in a straight line. After a few seconds they exploded into a line of flames across the car roofs, and the driver of the car in the middle (a black '40 Ford) dove out of the "passenger" window. I remember being amazed that he, a very big man, had managed to fit through that tiny window. I also remember the loudspeakers playing all those Sousa "Marching" songs.

As for the crash in '59, on that night we were running late. Usually we got there before the first heat, and we would have been standing at the concession stand when that car tore through the fence. Dad heard it reported on the radio, and we immediately dropped to the floor and said a prayer of thanks for our deliverance. The next time we went to the track, we looked at B&W photos of the car after it had come to rest in the parking lot.

I never rode the big coaster, but I do remember one ride: I think it was called "The Rocket." It was a big slanted green platform on which a long, curved, tube-like silver "train" would go around the slanted platform, clock-wise, at high speed. The cars were open, and tilted slightly toward the left. The centrifugal force gave you the sensation that you were being thrown out of the car. The reason I remember it so vividly is because I freaked out on the ride, and screamed bloody murder so loudly that they stopped the ride to let me off! Hey, I was only 7 or 8, gimme a break :)

On a lighter note, I remember another ride with cars that looked like airplanes. As the ride went in a circle, you could turn your car upside-down, go up and down, etc. That was my favorite.

Anyway, thank you so much for posting these photos. Such wonderful memories.

Edited by rgb001
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Thanks for the You Tube on Wee Wild West( post 240)...went there many a time and the Golf course next to it...many trips to the Post Oak Drive In...also Uncle Bert Lynn show at Channel 2( remember this is 50 years ago-- if memory serves me, they had a guy named Bobby Lahr on the show who eventually went out to California to work on Truth or Consequences)... all of these places were in the area of the Galleria and Williams Tower... met with KITIRIK at the old channel 8 studio when it was Channel 13...she came out into the lobby and talked to me and my bro and sis and mom, I think I remember her saying that she was a cheerleader at LSU and knew some football player from my parents small home town back in the day...thanks to earlier posts about the Kiddieland out on HWY 90 in Spring Branch area, I too remember going out there

Great book now out on the history of Movie theatres in Houston :rolleyes:

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  • 1 month later...
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

Hey guys, this is my first post, and I've got a question for you all. Where was the Malibu GP located on 59? I've heard Westpark, but the only place where the MGP could have been is a large empty parcel on the south side feeder of 59, right at the Westpark Tollway ramps. Is this where the MGP could have been?

Funny about the link above. The web site says this was where the murders took place, but in reality the location is the one on 610 near 290. That explains why the car remains look so fresh. I actually found the guys who took those pics, and on their web site they show a Google Maps sat overhead of the property. I did the same for the 610 location, and they match.

I've been looking for the MGP off 59 for a while, and I will be grateful to anyone who can tell me exactly where it was.

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  • 1 month later...
What a great memory! I am 52 years old and grew up in Bellaire & Sharpstown until I was 9. Mom & Dad used to take me to ride those ponies at OST & Main. One of my early childhood fond memories.

Other memories in Houston as a child . . .

* Seeing Snow White at the movie theatre in the old shopping center on the north side of Bellaire Blvd. just east of the train tracks on the east end of Bellaire.

* Going to see Kitirik at Channel 13 and Captain Bob on Channel 2 at their old studios on Post Oak Rd.

* The deep drainage ditches along Avenue A (now Newcastle) and Post Oak Rd. in Bellaire.

* Movies at the Trail Drive In, and the new Sharpstown Drive In.

* Bissonnet was still called Old Richmond Road from the curve at about Edloe, down through Sharpstown.

* A big discount store on Hillcroft in Sharpstown called "Globe".

* That jingle . . ."Summer winter spring or fall, stroll in the air conditioned mall, with one stop to shop for all, at Sharpstown Center."

* The old Sears on South Main just south of Downtown

* U-Tote-M was a fairly large chain of convenience stores in those days. Their radio jingle? "Just in case anyone should ask you, you tell 'em U-Tote-M." Their sign incorporated a totem pole.

Probably a lot more stored in this old brain here!

Hello, I was reading this forum and came across your post about Bellaire.

I grew up on the 4500 block of Mimosa Dr Between Ave B and newcastle and I always wondered what the area there was like. I never knew there were drainage ditches along newcastle and also post oak.

I do know there is a drainage tunnel now along the west side of newcastle with concrete openings for water to enter, this flows south to the bayou that is north of beechnut. The same type of tunnel is under the 610 frontage road on the east side of 610. I lived in the same house since I came home from the hospital until I was 18 and moved to Phoenix. My mother still lives in the house and I am trying to find information on who the builder was for the houses in that area. From the digging I did on some of the county websites I found it was built in 1950 and it was in a part of bellaire called "Post Oak terrace section II" I am also curious about the houses in the area east of newcastle between Bellaire Blvd and Beechnut, I think this area is called southdale and I remember some of the houses were very small almost like a shotgun shack. I would sure like to hear about your memories from that area.

Thanks,

Chris McGrail

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Yep. I used to hang out at Playland in the early 60's. I was in high school. I particularly remember the "haunted" house. You would walk through it-pretty primitive actually- and end up in a room with a moving floor that went in a circle. I remember seeing a rather wild young girl who would make out with all the guys while going arouind in circles.

Hi. I don't know where the "haunted" house that you are talking about was located but it was not at Playland on South Main. There was a "fun in the dark" there, right next to our house, but it was a ride in a dark building. The cars looked like scooter cars and ran on a rail. Spooky things would light up and scare you. I would be interested in knowing where the "haunted" house you are talking about was located. Sparky

Hi. I don't know where the "haunted" house that you are talking about was located but it was not at Playland on South Main. There was a "fun in the dark" there, right next to our house, but it was a ride in a dark building. The cars looked like scooter cars and ran on a rail. Spooky things would light up and scare you. I would be interested in knowing where the "haunted" house you are talking about was located. Sparky

P.S: There was a "Glass" house on the other side of our house that had dark tunnels in the back of the glass part. You could walk around in the glass part and then you could walk thru the dark tunnels and you would come out in the glass part again. Sparky

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Here you go Sparky

Mark,

The opening title to this says Playland Park 1952. Sure looks like a '55 Olds with the girl in it at the start of the video. That was back when cars had character, and I knew all the makes and models. Most look the same now.

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TBird now that you point it out that does look like a 1955 Oldsmobile Super 88 Convertible, It's confusing me now, if you also notice, in the background there is no Roller Coaster wasn't it built by 1955? Not positive on that. I know it was there in '58 for sure. Maybe that race is the 1954 Fall race. The ran the Gold Cup Classic in like September or October. I missed that parade car, good catch. Sparky can you shed any light on when the Roller Coaster went up?

But you are correct, they all (cars) look the same now, however I have my deposit down on the new Camaro, Donny Buckalew was allotted two of them on the first release, he's getting one and I'm getting the other one, I just can't wait. 2010 Camaro can't get here quick enough.

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TBird now that you point it out that does look like a 1955 Oldsmobile Super 88 Convertible, It's confusing me now, if you also notice, in the background there is no Roller Coaster wasn't it built by 1955? Not positive on that. I know it was there in '58 for sure. Maybe that race is the 1954 Fall race. The ran the Gold Cup Classic in like September or October. I missed that parade car, good catch. Sparky can you shed any light on when the Roller Coaster went up?

But you are correct, they all (cars) look the same now, however I have my deposit down on the new Camaro, Donny Buckalew was allotted two of them on the first release, he's getting one and I'm getting the other one, I just can't wait. 2010 Camaro can't get here quick enough.

The video is being shot from the north stands looking south. the roller coaster went behind the north stands, so it wouldn't show in the direction being shot. I know the roller coaster was there in the early 50's, when I first rode it. I'm not sure, but I think it was built back in the early to mid 40's before the track was built.

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It wasn't really a haunted house, just a series of rooms you walked through. I definitely remember that moving floor. I don't know where else it might have been-Playland was the only amusement park we went to Maybe it was a Glass house. Was that located in Playland?

Like I said, we did have a glass house with a walk around dark tunnel in the back. But no rotating floor at all. I hope somebody out there can tell us where it was. Thanks for the videos. I played them over and over. This is a step back into my childhood. I can show these to my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Thank you all so much. Sparky

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