Bill Bliss

I just stumbled on the Pleasure Island web page while surfing for some Wakefield news at

What a concept!

It's great to see all those memories and a few recognizable names. I worked at PI for the first four years (starting before the place opened) through the succession of food service providers starting with Hood and ending with Servend.

I have a ton of memories that will take a week or so to write down.

At the press opening, the guy from "The Millionaire" was handing out ersatz million dollar checks to random people (but I didn't get one).

First year I ran one of those picturesque ice cream push carts and I still have the blue arm garters and bow tie somewhere. I figured in about three photographs a day as a parent would send a toddler up with some money and I quickly learned to position the moppet and the cart to make a good picture for the parents.

I was also the popcorn guy in the old Model-T Ford Popcorn truck (not a peanut truck as one of the pictures is labeled) outside the ice cream parlor across from the toy store (Hello Mary Phipps and Priscilla DiDonatto!)(Add Lorraine and you have The Pleasurettes).

Then there's the little stand across from Diamond Lil's. The first year it was an orange juice stand -not much business.

Second year I think it was an ice cream stand (Without running water!!) Always mobbed. Amazingly never closed by the board of health.

3rd Year it was the Pizza stand and I got to manage it. Jeremy McRell and I would play catch with the pizza dough out in front of the stand. There was another guy also named Bill who had the same birthday as me, and our lovely counter girls were Polly, "Ingo" Johansen (Christine?) and Joan Galante who figured out we should be using oregano to make the sauce more authentic.

The fourth year they tried to make this stand an "everything" food stand with grill, fryolators and the works. Maybe too much. I do remember that no one ever thought to train us on the equipment and we would get marks off in inspections because we didn't know about cleaning the coffee machine and the fryolator. We did invent french fried pickles which actually tasted good.

There was a wonderful community among all the people who worked there and it was a wonderful time. I remember the beach parties at Stage Fort Park and the sing-alongs. Learning the little secrets about the celebrities (e.g. "The Rifleman" Chuck Conners would not get on a horse).

I occasionally got to "give the spiel" on the boat rides just for fun. I'd pervert the script with "Captain Pequod's vessel the Ahab" and "Trading Lychee nuts with the natives for diamonds and uncut pearls" to see who was paying attention. Once someone told me to take the Moby Dick Longboat out by myself (with no training) and I almost drowned a boatload of tourists. Due to a navagation error, I was over the whale as it was coming up (!) backed off energetically in the wrong direction, and treated the visitors to an inside view of the other side of the half-whale. Oops.

Do you remember the big Luau that we had for employees after closing the park? I think it was the Fourth Year.

One of my fondest memories, though, was at the old Farm at the end of the first year. Going into the fall there had been a giant wooden keg of apple cider to which no one had thought to add preservative. As the weekends progressed it began to mature and on closing day, when we were told to just "give it away" it had gained quite a kick. Good thing we didn't charge money because we didn't have a liquor license. There were a lot of very silly kids (and employees) though. This was the same farm whose silo-slide is featured briefly in the movie "Charley" staring Cliff Robertson.

Then there was there time a cinder from the train had started a small grass fire and the burro ride was in trouble with a string of kids blocked by fire. We ran over with extinguishers, put it out, and then were roundly scolded by Servend Management for using the food stand safety equipment "inappropriately".

Money laundering the snow-cone receipts, that is running the coins through the dishwasher to get off the cotton candy and syrup before counting it.

And some in-lines "I want your can" - known to only a few "Abdul Nassar-r-r" - known to more

There's a lot more to tell but that's all for now. Love to hear from anyone who remembers me.


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