Pleasure Island Stories and Memories
Original story: Kory Hellmer, November, 2002; Responses follow.
Two years ago about this time, one of the Friends of Pleasure Island wrote a letter printed in many New England newspapers in search of the carousel horses which vanished after the Massachusetts park closed in 1969.
Readers all over the U.S. responded; we made several new friends; and followed horse trails from California to Rhode Island and across the Atlantic. As a result, we have located five of the historic hand-carved ponies.
This time we are searching for child-sized 1911 touring cars built for the park's popular "Horseless Carriage" ride.
One rumor tells us that these miniatures are stored in a barn near Manchester, New Hampshire. And there is a theory that the park's final owners shipped them to their Rhode Island property -- Crescent Park -- now also defunct. They were too cute to have been thrown out.
In preparation for the first-ever defunct amusement park reunion, the Friends of Pleasure Island queried Bill Hawkes, the park's founder, about the origin of the beloved horseless carriages.
Widely publicized as miniature 1911 Cadillacs, Bill tells us that these little tourers were actually 1911 Packards. His mother's family had run a touring business in Savannah, Georgia, and he had fond memories of the Packards they drove.
Built by Arrow Development in Mountain View, California, the miniature Packards were four-seaters, with a one-cylinder gasoline engine that ran all day. They went forwards but not backwards, and had only one control. The bodies were molded fiberglass, with fairly accurate details except for the rubber rollers which bumped up against the sides of the track.
Parents rode in the back seat.
One of our friends remembers unloading the small cars at Logan Airport in 1959. Many of us knew them as "Jenney cars," for Jenney Gasoline paid $45,000 to sponsor the ride for its first three summers.
Pictures of the cars and the "Horseless Carriage" ride, can be found at www.wakefield.org/pleasureisland.
If we could bring home just one of the horseless carriages for Pleasure Island Remembered, November 29 & 30 at Wakefield's Americal Civic Center, there are grown men and women who would become kids again, revisiting the first automobile they ever mastered.
I remember the cars with great fondness. Hobo, Capt. Bob and me had a running gag involving the pursuit and capture of a bag of "gold" that was gold foil wrapped chocolate coins. The "gold" would exchange hands many times over the course of the day via variations of old vaudeville slapstick routines. We used the "Stick'em up, No YOU stick "em up routine that always got the audience going.
Our favorite had Hobo and I in cars. Hobo held up the bag of gold and the kids cheered. I came up in a car and snatched at the bag. The crowd booed and Hobo took off with me in "pursuit." We entered the underpass with Hobo in the lead. When we were out of sight, we quickly switched positions. I fired a Ruger .22 blank and we emerged with me now in the lead holding up the gold and Hobo was behind feigning great distress and shaking his fist at me. The kids were going wild. I stopped, left the car where it was and ran to Western City to hide with the gold that I only would lose per the day's script during the next stick'em up routine.
It was great fun and I always referred to performing at the park as the best job I ever had. All that fun and pay, such as it was.
George LaCrosse (email@example.com) November 2002
Those PI Jenny cars in question definitely came to Crescent Park as did the silo slide, the Moby Dick ride boats and several stunts from the Moby Dick ride and the Wreck of the Hesperous.
When Crescent Park closed in 1977, some rides were auctioned off, while others were broken down sold with other remnants of the park in 1979.
I'll ask some Crescent Park sources to try to determine if anybody knows who purchased the Jenny cars.
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