I was a freshman at Bentley College in May of 1964 when my accounting professor, Allan Oram invited four of his students to work in the Pleasure Island accounting office for the summer. At the time Herb Buckman was the General Manager. All of the major exhibitors (Hood s, Pepperidge Farm, Merchants National Bank, Swift) had 5-year rental contracts that expired at the end of the 1963 season and none of them renewed. In 1964 Walter Smith, the principal owner, wanted out and leased the park with an option to buy the land to a group of investors (Boston Ventures Inc.) lead by Al Longo and Sandy Giampapa, who together previously handled the publicity for the park. Within a few weeks Buckman, Oram and two of my classmates were out. Vinnie DeCesaris became the General Manager and we became good friends. My remaining Bentley classmate, Walter Butler and I did cash control, payroll and accounting for that summer and throughout the rest of our college years. In 1969 the park was sold to Fairbanks Amusements that tried unsuccessfully to revitalize the business, later selling the property to real estate developers. I continued to take care of the accounting records for Boston Ventures until the park was sold. I remained in contact with Vinnie until I moved to Brazil in 1972. Vinnie went on to become the manager of the Boston Common Underground Parking Garage.
Those years left me many happy memories that the Pleasure Island web site (Great Idea!) have brought back. After the first summer, for the next three years while attending Bentley, I continued to work part time when the park was closed to the public. I got to know the full timers very well. I adored the wonderful crotchety and unforgettable Walter Sherman and the great guys (John DiDonato, Jack Rennie and Henry Rufo) who worked year round with him doing the never-ending maintenance. It was sure a cold (and mostly empty) place to be during the two years that Christmas Wonderland was open!
Some of the other people I recall are Mark Phillips who ran the Carlton Concessions food stands, the Rosenthals, who had the china shop and hat stands, the couple from Salem Candies (names?). Behind the scenes were people like Alice Flanagan, the telephone operator, Mary Kellogg, the sweet old lady who worked as cashier at Kartland. I wish I could remember the names of more of my summer colleagues from those times. I can t find any pictures from those days.
I've been living in Rio de Janeiro for more than 20 years. In the late 80's I visited the Pleasure Island property site and found a few minor recognizable landmarks. However, I prefer the web site and my memories as a better way to recall the park. Right now I think I can still here that music that played continuously at the Front Gate
Jim Callahan firstname.lastname@example.org
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