Cyclone Racer 1
People on car 2
End of ride 3
AT THE PIKE
Short Stories 1
MEMORIES OF THE PIKE
Short Stories page 6
LONG BEACH MEMORIES
In the mid 1920s my maternal grandparents, Harry E. Bicknell, MD and
his wife Emmeline, emigrated from Toronto to Long Beach, along with
their three small children, Gordon, Stuart, and Mildred. In 1945,
24-year-old Mildred, who had graduated from Poly High in 1939 and then
got a music degree at USC, married a Merchant Marine named Sherman
Comings and they moved to Carmel, where he was born and raised. They
raised their three children, of whom I am the youngest, and lived out
the rest of their lives in Carmel, in an era when middle-class families
could still afford the cost of living.
When my sisters and I were growing up, we spent many summer vacations
at our grandparents’ Long Beach home on East First Street. We usually
rode the Daylight train from Salinas to Glendale to get there. I
remember that my grandmother liked to shop at Newberry’s, Buffum’s and
Savon Drug Store. While she shopped, I would ride up and down the
escalators in the stores that had them. We had no escalators in Carmel
so they were a great novelty. (We got our first one in Monterey about
1967 when Macy’s opened.)
I have only a few hazy recollections of The Pike, and I don’t believe I
spent much time there. (I do remember going swimming in a lagoon and
playing in Bixby Park much more clearly.)
Recently, for reasons unknown, “The Pike” popped into my memory, so I
Googled it. In that process I learned a lot about its history and
eventual demise, as well as the current effort to re-create the famous
I never rode the original Racer. I was just a little kid, and it was
far too scary-looking. Not only that, I remember my grandmother telling
horror stories about it. She talked about how it used to go out over
the water, and people fell into the ocean, so it was terribly
dangerous. Because I didn’t ask for an explanation, my childish
imagination cooked up a scenario that from my adult perspective is
actually pretty absurd. Devoid of any knowledge whatsoever of simple
physics, I had a mental image of a completely-unsupported arc of track
soaring out from the end of the coaster with nothing underneath but
ocean. And since that imagined feature didn’t exist in the 1960s, when
I would have visited The Pike, I assumed they had somehow remodeled the
ride to eliminate the over-the-ocean feature, or perhaps they had moved
the whole thing further inland. Of course no one explained to me about
breakwaters and sand build-up over a period of decades, or that the
ride sat on a pier that once had ocean under it.
My oldest sister blogged several years ago about riding the Cyclone
Racer with our cousin Charlie. Her account, including her other
memories of The Pike and our grandmother’s great fear of it, can be
found here: https://eveningstarjilly.wordpress.com/tag/cyclone-racer/
I remember that day. I watched Kate and Charlie disappear up the ramp
into the maw of the beast, and wondered how they could be so eager to
risk their lives. Would I ever even see them again? Or would they fall
into the ocean and forever disappear? I probably rode something much
tamer, such as a merry-go-round, perhaps the horse-racing carousel, but
I couldn’t swear by it. In a recent conversation with my sister she
said she thinks she was probably in her early teens when she took that
ride—and loved it.
Until I watched one of the many Pike memories videos on Youtube, I had
forgotten all about the “funny” mirror. When I saw it on video, it all
came back. I think perhaps my Uncle Gordon, the prankster, was the one
who sent me to stand in front of the mirror, and thus have my skirt
blown up by the air blast coming out of the ground.
In 1968 we spent Christmas with my grandparents, and Uncle Gordon drove
me down to a place on the waterfront where we could see, across the
water, the newly arrived Queen Mary, minus its smokestacks as they were
gutting the engine rooms at the time. I have no recollection of anyone
mentioning at that time that the Cyclone Racer was in the process of
being destroyed. We were all caught up in the Apollo 8 mission, the
first to orbit the moon.
My grandparents sold their Long Beach home in 1975 to move closer to
their oldest son, Uncle Gordon, in West LA. They and my parents’
generation are all gone now, so I can’t ask my uncles, who were
teenagers in the 1930s, whether they ever rode the Cyclone Racer. I can
say with near-certainty that my mother never would have ridden it. When
I was about 5 years old, we went to Disneyland for the first time, and
my middle sister, my grandmother, my mother and I rode the Matterhorn
for the first time. We kids loved it; Mother and Grandma hated it and
never went on it again. I think they only went on it with us because we
begged and begged and they weren’t going to let us ride it by
ourselves. Much, much later, I took my first ride on the Giant Dipper
in Santa Cruz in my mid to late 20s. That coaster, also designed by
Fred Church, was built about 6 years before the Cyclone Racer, and is
approximately two-thirds the length of the Cyclone. It continues to
operate to this day and is now a national historic landmark. The folks
in Santa Cruz had the good sense to preserve their waterfront amusement
park, and it continues to be a well-attended attraction, albeit in a
somewhat-dodgy neighborhood. It’s too bad Long Beach threw away what
they had. Santa Cruz also has one of the few remaining original Looff
carousels, complete with a brass ring machine and the original band
If a resurrected Cyclone Racer ever comes to pass . . . who wants to
ride it with me? Do you suppose the price of admission will include a
lifetime pass to the chiropractor of one’s choice?
Carmel High School, Class of 1973
do I start? My Mom and Dad would go to THE Pike on dates. As for
myself, being born in nearby Torrance, it became a usual destination as
we lived in nearby Harbor City. All my Uncles, Aunts, Grandparents used
the Pike for fun and amusement. 4 of my sisters met their future
husbands there; 3 were Navy and 1 was a Marine. All are still alive and
only one of them is still married. Today's date, October 13, 2015.
I married my wife, Tonya Brown, in January 6, 1967, the Pike had been a
place to go every once in a while. We would have cotton candy, and
taffy candy. The Plunge with the island in the middle was interesting.
my wife and I married, the roller coaster was mandatory before we went
out to dinner and a drive-in movie. We always drove around Rainbow
Pier. Had several different cars from then and switched which one
we would take. 57 Dodge - 55 Chevy, 30 Model A, 49 Fleetwood, 42
Cadillac convertible, 50 Ford - the list goes on.
actually talked to strangers. Sometimes, before I had a license to
drive at 16, we would ride our bicycles to the Pike to swim and meet
girls at the Plunge.
think the last time we went was in '68 after I got out of the Army.
Starting a family changed things. I have some awesome memories from
this unique time.
I will be 70 in 2 weeks and my Mom, 91. We still talk about THE Pike. I will be letting others know of the memories we have to chime in. Thanks for the memories!!!
* * * *
The World's Greatest Ride
young teens we used to go to the Pike to watch the sailors get tattoos
- and, well, watch the sailors as well of course. I can recall
riding and riding the Cyclone Racer over and over again until I ran out
of money. I can still see the rod closure as we were locked in,
no turning back now, and the painfully slow climb up that hill, the
fear and excitement building as we knew the downhill was going to take
our breath away. What if it broke, what if it slid right off into
the ocean, and then screaming down and around the turn and out over the
black ocean at night. I can still hear the click clacking as the
cars slid over the tracks. Then there was the ending where it
slowed down to a crawl and you thought you were about to get off and
then it quickly sped up again before finally stopping. That was
nearly 60 years ago and I have never been back since I was 15 years old
and I can imagine the ride as if it were yesterday. What fun. It
is so unbelievably sad that they tore it and the old Pike
down. I recall talking to a man in recent years who
lost his daughter on the coaster. When it slowed to a crawl and
you thought it would stop she started to get out somehow and was drug
along as it sped up again.
What a great time to grow
up in Los Angeles, blue sky, dandelion speckled lawns, pristine beaches
- until you got tar on the feet. My aunt lived in Redondo so sometimes
I would spend weeks in the summer walking to the beach and spending the
whole day on the sand and in the water. Sometimes the jellyfish would
die and come up onto the beach. I had one put down the back of my
bathing suit - it didn't sting. Oil wells bobbing, fields of soft
dirt and fennel to chew as it tasted like licorice.
Then as we began to grow
into teenagers we'd go down to 13th Street in Hermosa Beach and hang
out with the boys and girls in the sand. The Biltmore Hotel was
there at the time. Then later on parties in Hermosa or beach
parties in Playa del Rey waiting for the grunion who I only saw one
time when they weren't expected. To get there someone who had a
car would drive us down Manchester Avenue. Scriveners Drive-In
where we'd order cherry cokes and French fries and gravy - and Art
Laboe and Dick Hug Huggie Boy, Jonnie Otis and Hunter Hancock and
Rhythm and Blues. Yes, such a time.
'The World's Greatest Ride'.
Thanks for bringing this memory back. What a great idea. Kate Shannon
family moved to Wilmington in 1945. When I was 12, and my big
brother Don was 14 (1951), we would walk to downtown Wilmington and
catch the Grayhound bus at the southeast corner of Avalon and Anaheim
(all by ourselves.) The bus took us to the Long Beach Pike.
Once we got there, Don and I would run toward the Cyclone Racer, and
when nobody was looking we'd sneak underneath it. My brother had
discovered that sometimes the drunken sailors would drop money they
kept in their hands or sailor hats as they rode the roller
coaster. We usually found enough change to ride our favorite
rides and have a hotdog. We rode the Cyclone Racer, the Rotor,
the Double Ferris Wheel, The Octopus and the Merry-Go-Round (I never
did get a golden ring, but Don did.) I remember the tiny
mechanical band that was encased in glass close to the
merry-go-round. We also liked to ride the bumper cars, and go
through the mirror house. (I never could figure out how to get
out of it.) I remember the big, fat mechanical lady
in a house dress that was above the entrance to in the "Laff In
The Dark" ride. She would laugh so hard, as she bent over it made
us laugh. Sometimes Don and I would go to the Pike just to go
swimming in the Plunge. I remember the fountain at the shallow
end. This is where Don used to pretend like he was drowning, and
I'd fall for it everytime....I'd have to save him. The Long Beach
Pike holds some of my fondest childhood memories. (Mary A. Temple)
your website I begin to drift back to a place in time when the days
were less complicated. I began to recall the Long Beach stories told by
my parents and my aunts and uncles. They spoke of the plunge, the
Nu Pike, the Cyclone Racer and the Rainbow Pier as if they were part of
it and they were. Most of the stories were told at large family picnics
at Cherry Street Park on PCH where one could choose between grass and
trees or beach and sand. Remember the tiled Cherry Street tunnel that
led from the park to the beach? One of my favorite stories involved my
Uncle Chuck who was a press photographer for the UT. My grandmother
told the story of Uncle Chuck as a young boy asking if he could go ride
the Cyclone Racer because he was told he could ride for free. After
granting permission, my grandparents hollered after the boy running
down the street, why is it free? He yelled back, because they are
mentioned in the view from the Pike, the oil derricks studding Signal
Hill. My grandfather built those derricks and I can tell you my dad and
I have both ridden our bikes down “Airplane Hill!” Don’t tell my
Rainbow Pier brings back the memory of a tidal wave prediction when I
was a kid. Now we call them Tsunamis. My dad said, “get in the car boys
and let’s go see if we can watch the wave come in". Most folks would
not consider the Rainbow Pier as the ideal point to observe an ocean
surge coming on shore, but my dad was not like most folks. With fear
and trepidation we clung to the railings of the pier as we scanned the
horizon for some indication of our impending doom. There it was,
unmistakably, a line extending up and down the coast as far as you
could see. The surge came directly at us, and we stood firmly on the
pier as the six inch surge passed below our feet and lapped against the
pilings that preserved the Ford men from being washed back out to sea.
dad worked for the Long Beach PD as a Traffic Guard during the school
year, but he walked a beat along the shore during the summer months.
This guaranteed my brothers and I the opportunity to run crazy at The
in the early 60’s. My favorite was the fun house. I used to go
to the plunge during the earlier day camp years. I would wait on the
porch with a packed lunch, a dry towel, and quarter to cover the costs.
The wood paneled station wagon would finally arrive and pick me up.
Swimming at the plunge was great!
had several great teachers at Millikan High School, but one comes to
mind often who truly left a lasting impression on me - Sarah Brooks,
English 1A. Thanks for teaching me how to correctly read, “Et tu,
Randy Ford, Class of 1969
From Keith Cullum, London, England
What a thrill it was to find your site
on the net. I live in Ealing, London, England now but in 1954
I lived on west 4th Street and Golden Avenue in beautiful Long
Beach. My memories are so vivid of my youth there and I often
wax nostalgic when I think of the wonderful times I had a kid
of 12 at the Pike.
summer vacations seemed to last forever and it was such a short
walk to the beach and Rainbow Pier where I learned to swim. I
also learned that being an adult didn't mean you didn't act like
a child after witnessing the men argue their points at the Spit
and Argue Club on the pier.
I distinctly remember the smell of pistachios and how they stained
your fingers with the red dye they used to stain the nuts with,
the salt water taffy, corn dogs, hot dogs and pop corn, cotton
candy and the smell of beer from the honky tonk beer parlors
at the east end of the walk.
My name is Keith Cullum. I was born in England in 1942 and my
family moved to Canada in 1952. We lived there for two years
and then my uncle Gordon Pinder, a Long Beach resident sponsored
us to move to Long Beach in 1954. He was the owner of the Glue
Pot Bar. I don't know if it still exists today. Unfortunately,
he died of a heart attack while trying to haul a beer keg into
place at the bar.
I attended Edison Elementary school at the bottom of the hill
on Golden Avenue. My best friend was Ledrue (Leddy) Baker, who
lived on West 4th Street with his parents and brother Paul. I'm
still in touch with Leddy. He lives in Seal Beach now.
I remember with great fondness lying in bed at night in our 2nd
story rented apartment, looking out from the glass enclosed veranda
that we had converted into a bedroom for my brother and me. The
warm air smelling of the Pacific Ocean would drift into my room
and bring with it that wonderful smell of night blooming jasmine
and the sounds of traffic coming from Ocean Blvd. I could see
the night lights of the city glowing in the sky and that large
red letter atop the old hotel on Ocean Blvd. (sorry I've forgotten
I also remember (with good reason) the Miss Universe Contest
every year. My dad, Syd Cullum was a singer in those days with
the Long Beach Civic Light Opera Company. He sang on stage during
a couple of the beauty pageants at the Municipal Auditorium.
Afterward I would get to go back stage and meet all those beautiful
contestants from around the world. I was only 12 but the sight
of all those lovely women smiling so sweetly at me when my dad
introduced me was something I'll never forget.
I remember Lincoln Park and the best used book store in the world
called 'Acres of Books' just across the street. I spent many,
many hours in there reading and looking through dust covered
old books. I still have a couple I bought there in storage in
I got my first of three tattoos at the Pikes tattoo shop, I was
16 and told the guy I was 18. I got my first kiss from a girl
at the Plunge on the Pike and I would sneak into the theater
on the Pike to see those adults' only films. That's where I learned
about the holocaust by watching a film called Halfway to Hell.
I never forgot that film and I still have a very soft spot inside
me for the Jews that suffered during those terrible days. I was
only 12 and couldn't understand why men can do such terrible
things to each other. I still don't understand. Yet it still
I'm 61 now and I can say that after all my traveling in the world,
after all that I've seen and done, Long Beach, The Pike, Rainbow
Pier and that beautiful Pacific Ocean live in a very warm place
in my heart.
The Pike is gone, but not forgotten. Those of us that had the
wonderful experience of enjoying it are much better for having
walked it, tasted it, smelled it and loved it.
All the best from London, England.....Regards, Keith Cullum
MEMORIES OF THE PIKE
From Mrs. Cecelia Borchers
Last night we were at my Daughters family
for a birthday party, and they were talking about going to Amusement
Park in Minnesota..And flashes came to me about when I was a
little girl, visiting my Grandmother, who lives at 334 E. Ester
St. in Long Beach. I loved the Pike, and have many fond memories...The
Plunge, the Fun House and the wonderful hamburgers, the photo
places..But most of all, I remember the gentleman who drew your
portrait with chalk on the beach at the Pike, to this day, it
hangs in my hallway in my home..It was a Christmas Gift to my
parents, when we to lived in Long Beach..I was 15, when we lived
in Long Beach for a year. Didn't mean to bore you, but I did
have to relieve those days again, even for a short period...PS...I
was always to scared to ride the roller coaster...Mrs. Cecelia
Borchers, now age 66
HELLO, HERE IS MY PIKE STORY. MY GRANDPA USED TO TAKE ME TO
THE PIKE IN THE LATE 60'S EARLY 70'S - WHAT WAS LEFT OF IT.
I REMEMBER DOUBLE FERRIS WHEEL, BUMPER CARS, FUN HOUSE, THE
LAUGHING LADY, AND THE ARCADE AND MIDWAY GAMES. I CAN STILL
REMEMBER THE CHALK FIGURE PRIZES AND THE SMELL OF THE ELECTRIC
BUMPER CARS. I FOUND THIS PHOTO OF ME AND MY COUSIN FROM 1976.
WE WENT TO WHAT WAS LEFT OF THE PIKE A LOT, AND WE TOOK THIS
PICTURE IN THE LONG BEACH JAIL. I WISH I HAD MORE FROM THE
PIKE. THANKS, JIMMY TILLITT - 44 YEARS OLD
"JUST FOUND YOUR SITE. BRINGS BACK GOOD MEMORIES.
MY UNCLE, (LEON SOMMERVILLE) OWNED LONG BEACH ICE AND COLD
STORAGE COMPANY ON ANAHEIM ST. MY FATHER (HESTON WILBERG) WORKED
FOR HIM. MY FATHER HAD THE ICE ROUTE ON THE PIKE. IF YOU REMEMBER,
REFRIGERATION WAS JUST COMING IN. IT WAS THE WAR YEARS AND THE
PIKE WAS ALWAYS CROWDED WITH SERVICE MEN. ALL OF THE STORES DOWN
THERE USED A LOT OF ICE. AND EVERY MORNING BEFORE THEY OPENED MY
DAD WOULD DELIVER ICE TO THEM. HE HAD THE KEYS TO ALL OF THE
PLACES THAT USED ICE. SOMETIMES HE WOULD TAKE ME WITH HIM. I WOULD
DRINK SOFT DRINKS AND EAT CANDY AT EACH ONE. WHEN I WAS IN JUNIOR
HIGH SCHOOL. (JEFFERSON) WE WOULD GO DOWN AND RIDE THE RIDES, AND
PLAY IN THE ARCADES WHEN EVER WE COULD. AND IN THE 50'S I WAS
STATIONED AT CAMP PENDLETON. AND WENT TO THE PIKE QUITE OFTEN. I
REMEMBER RIDING THE LITTLE MOTOR BOATS IN RAINBOW BAY. AND I
REMEMBER SNEAKING INTO THE AUDITORIUM TO WATCH THE FIGHTS THERE.
WE WOULD CLIMB THE TREES BY THE BALCONY UPTO THE SECOND FLOOR AND
JUST STEP ACROSS.
I REMEMBER THE TUNNEL UNDER OCEAN BLVD. AND ALL OF THE
WONDERFUL SMELLS THAT IT HAD. IT WAS A GREAT PLACE. LATER ON I
WORKED FOR GENERAL TELEPHONE COMPANY AND THEY BUILT THEIR LONG
BEACH MAIN OFFICE ON OCEAN BLVD. AND THE BACK OF THE BUILDING WAS
NEXT TO THE PIKE. SOME GOOD MEMORIES."
FOND MEMORIES OF THE PIKE
I REMEMBER THE PIKE VERY WELL,I ALSO REMEMBER IT HAD A LOT OF DIFFERENT
NAMES,THE LAST I REMEMBER WAS "QUEENS PARK" PROABLY NAMED AFTER THE
CITY OF LONG BCH AQUIRED THE THE QUEEN MARY LINER
I AM NOT A GREAT WRITER SO EXCUSE ME IF I DRIFT OF SUBJECT ON OCASION AND MISPELL WORDS AND ETC.
THE FIRST VISIT TO THE PIKE I CAN REMEMBER MY FATHER TOOK ME,I THINK I
WAS UNDER 5 YRS OLD,HE WAS LOOKING FOR WORK IN THE AIRCRAFT INDUSTRY IN
LONG BCH ,WE STOPPED IN AND HE WALKED ME AROUND THE PARK AND HE GAVE A
LITTLE HISTORY,SADLY I CANNOT REMEMBER MUCH OF WHAT HE SAID.
MY FATHER WAS WW2 NAVY AND I BELIEVE HAD BEEN TO THE PIKE MANY TIMES,I
REMEMBER SEEING THE CYCLONE RACER COASTER ALLTHOUGH MY FATHER STEERED
ME WELL CLEAR OF IT ,ALSO INFORMING ME THAT MORE THAN ONE "FOOL "HAD
BEEN KILLED BY OR WHILE RIDING IT,I ALSO REMEMBER THE SHOOTING GALLERY
WHERE THERE WERE SAILORS IN THERE NEAT BLUE /WHT UNIFORMS,AS I REMEMBER
THERE WERE TWO TYPES THOSE SHARP AND CLEAN NEAT LOOKING GUYS AND THEN
THERE WERE THESE TOUGH GUY LOOKING SAILORS USUALLY WITH A TIGHT WHITE T
SHIRT,THAT WHITE SAILOR HAT ,A CIG ,NEEDING A SHAVE AND SOME FUNKY
TATOO OF SOME BOOBY CHIC IN HOT PANTS IN THAT "DOLLAR BILL GREEN"
INK....I MEAN EVERYONE WAS ONE OR THE OTHER NO LIE ...IT WAS VERY
INTERESTING TO ME! A BIT SCARY TOO, I DIDNT TRUST ANY BODY DOWN THERE
,SOMETIMES I WAS EVEN FEARFUL MY DAD WOULD SOMEHOW DISAPPEAR AND I
WOULD BE LOST AND FACE CERTAIN DEATH!
ANYWAY BACK TO THE ARCADE SHOOTING GALLERY,THEY HAD THESE METAL MACHINE
GUNS THAT LOOKED PRETTY REAL TO ME,I RECALL THE FRONT OF THE BARREL WAS
CHAINED TO THE BAR TOP THEY WERE MOUNTED ON (SO YOU COULDNT SPIN AROUND
AND SHOOT OTHER PATRONS OR THE GUY RUNNING THE PLACE)THEY HAD A
VERTICAL TUBE ABOUT 24"HIGH FULL OF BB'S THE OPERATOR WOULD LOAD ON
YOUR GUN AND THE GUY WOULD HANG A 4"X6"PIECE OF PAPER WITH A 1"
RED STAR ON IT HAUL IT DOWN ABOUT 25' DOWNRANGE...... THEN IF YOU COULD
SHOOT ALL THE RED OUT,YOU WON SOMETHING.
I NEVER GOT TO TRY IT OR ANYTHING ELSE FOR THAT MATTER! MY DAD WAS
PRETTY MUCH A "SHOW YA "RATHER THAN "HAVE YA DO IT" GUY
TO HIM IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE FOR AT LEAST TWO REASONS,ONE "THE DARN SIGHTS
WERE MIS ALLIGNED SO YOU COULDNT HIT THE BROAD SIDE OF A BARN !"
TWO "BY THE TIME YOU SIGHT IT IN RICHARD THE DAMMM THING WILL BE OUT OF
BB'S" HE WAS LIKELY CORRECT ON BOTH COUNTS BUT THERE WAS NO SHORTAGE OF
PEOPLE TRYING,AND IT IT SOUNDED REALLY NEAT,I THINK IT WAS AIR POWERED
BY A COMPRESSOR AND IT EMPTIED THE GUN IN ABOUT 5 SECONDS,SURE WAS
COOL,REMEMBER I WAS ONLY ABOUT 5 YEARS OLD.
I RETURNED TO THE PIKE MORE TIMES THAN I CAN REMEMBER FROM THAN TILL
ABOUT 16 Y.O.OR ABOUT 1973,I NEVER DID GET TO RIDE THE CYCLONE BY THE
TIME I WAS OLD ENOUGH OR BOLD ENOUGH IT WAS NO LONGER OPERATING,I DO
REMEMBER THE PEOPLE WHO DID RIDE IT WERE ALLWAYS SCREAMING SO IT MUST
HAVE BEEN A REAL THRILL RIDE. I DO REMEMBER THAT SOME OF THE
OTHER COASTER S SOME I DID RIDE WERE IN PRETTY BAD CONDITION ,I REMBER
SEEING THE TRACK HEAVE WHEN THE LOAD OF THE CAR WOBBLED AROUND IT,I
REMEMBER THE CARS DID NOT ROLL SMOOTHLY THRU THE TURNS...RATHER THE CAR
JERKED VIOLENTLY AS IT SQUARED OFF THE CORNER IN STRAIGHT LINE TANGENTS!
THAT WAS THE SCARY PART THE WOOD STRUCTURE LOOKED READY TO FALL APART ALSO ,
I GUESS THERE WAS ENOUGH REDUNDENCY IN THE STRUCTURE THAT IT DIDNT FOLD
UP! REMEMBER I WAS A KID AND I COULD RECONIZE THIS WAS RISKY.
THE OTHER THING THAT STICKS OUT VIVIDLY IN MY MEMORIE IS THE
OPERATORS ON THE POWERED RIDES,THESE GUYS LOOKED THE PART OF A TWEAKER
IF I EVER SAW ONE,JUST ROUGH ,MISSING TEETH, DIRTY,SMOKERS EVERY ONE OF
THEM,DONT GET ME WRONG ALTHOUGH THESE GUYS LOOKED MEAN AS HELL I
BELIEVE THEY WERE ACTUALLY KIND PEOPLE,I THINK I DID GET A FEW FREE
RIDES ,EVEN THOUGH THOSE GUYS KNEW IF YOU COULD AFFORD A TICKET,IF YOU
WERE UNABLE TO PAY THEY WOULD LET A KID RIDE FREE,THEY JUST HAD TO BE
SNEAKY ABOUT IT,WHICH IS REALLY COOL AND JUST WHAT YOU WOULD EXPECT A
"KIND "PERSON TO DO ,OF COURSE I DID NOT KNOW THIS AT THE TIME,AND
USUALLY WAS PREPARED TO BUY A TICKET.
THE OTHER MOST IMPRESSIVE THING ABOUT THE PIKE WAS THE NOISE! SOMETHING
ABOUT THOSE DIESEL ENGINES ARCING UP TO THE GOVERENED LOAD LIMIT WHEN
THE RIDE STARTED IS UNDESCRIBABLY EXCITING,THEY ALL SOUNDED THE
SAME,LIKE THEY WERE GONNA GERNADE TOO ,NEVER SAW ONE BREAK
,EVER............THE PLACE WAS ALLWAYS DIRTY ,FULL OF CRIMINALS,
DRUGGIES ,HOOKERS CERTAINLY ONE OF THE BEST PLACES ON EARTH TO VISIT,
HOPE IF YOU READ THIS YOU WILL GET SOME IDEA OF THE GREAT COLOR OF THIS
PLACE IF YOU NEVER GOT TO SEE IT,AND OR SPARK A FOND MEMORIE IF YOU DID.
I was a kid, I spent many a weekend playing those old card machine
pinball games at various arcades at the Pike. It may have been NuPike
by then, it was around '62 when we first went there. The machines were
rigged to play for a nickel, but I soon discovered that they would also
play for a penny, and my family wasn't exactly the richest. So for
about 25¢, I could be entertained all day.
I got pretty good,
and eventually the machine would award me free games, so then I would
use the extra money to feed the Jukebox, which was more sophisticated,
and rejected my pennies.
The machines did good for me: They kept
me out of trouble. While many a kid was stealing hubcaps (or worse) I
was playing games. Eventually the State of Calif. would outlaw pinball
machines that didn't have flippers. They labelled them gambling
machines, and most were confiscated and/or destroyed.
In Chicago they burned hundreds in a bonfire. After all, we can't have gambling now, can we?
about '69, I remember going to a NuPike arcade, and finding a new
Seeburg jukebox. I asked the guy where the old one went, and he told me
that I could have it for $25.
It was a stupid move for me not to get it. Today on eBay, it would sell for about what he paid for it, when it was new.
now I'm retired, living in Northern Cal, and doing what I should have
done some 50 years ago: Repairing jukeboxes and pinballs.
Bro Duke (of Duke&Banner)
Pike in the '50s
family moved to Long Beach from Oxnard, Ca in 1950. For a short while
we lived just a few blocks from the Pike in an old apartment building
on Golden Ave and Ocean Blvd. I was four years old at the time but can
remember walking to the Pike with my Dad and riding the kiddie rides.
He would also take me on the double ferris wheel. What a thrill that
was! One of my favorite things was riding the electric boats at Rainbow
Pier. I put in a lot of nautical miles in that lagoon!
soon moved to Wilmington and only made occasional trips back to the
Pike. Later on when I got older, my buddies and I would go there on the
bus, usually on Wednesdays, when rides were ten cents. We would ride
all the thrill rides but It took a while for us to work up enough nerve
for the Cyclone Racer but once we did you couldn't get us off of it!
spent many happy hours at the Pike and was sorry to see it deteriorate
and finally shut down. I can still hear the sounds of the penny arcades
and smell the popcorn and Macgruder's salt water taffy. For many of us
that grew up there in the '50s, there will never again be anything like
John Flint, Banning High School 1964
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