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 MEMORIES OF THE PIKE

Short Stories page 6


  3/17/17

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 Cyclone Racer.

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 organ.

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?

Cheers,
Carolyn Comings
Carmel High School, Class of 1973

                *      *      *      *

Where 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.

When 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.
 

Before 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.
 

We 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.
 

I 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!!!
Joe Machado
Posted 12.3.15

                    *      *      *      *

The World's Greatest Ride

As 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
Posted 12.3.15

        *      *      *      *

My 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)


Reading 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 testing it!
You 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 mom.
The 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.
My 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 Pike
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!

We 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, Brute.”
 
Randy Ford, Class of 1969
Posted 10.5.10

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.

The 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 its name)
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 California.
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 goes on.
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

Posted 10/27/06

 

 

 

"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."
 
DENNIS WILBERG
LEHI, UTAH
Posted 10/20/07

FOND MEMORIES OF THE PIKE
 RICK KENDALL
TORRANCE CA.
 
    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
ACCORDING 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 !"
 AND 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 ,
BUT 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,
I 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.
Posted 12.26.08

Arcades

When 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?

Round 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.

So, 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)
http://www.dukeandbanner.com/
 

Posted 12.27.08

Pike in the '50s

My 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!
 
We 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!
 
I 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 it.
 
John Flint, Banning High School 1964
Posted 12.27.08


 

 

 

 

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