Memories of Pleasure Beach Park

By Don Browne, Harding Class of 1962

       Pleasure Beach Park was a wonderful place for an eight-year old to be taken during the Summer of 1952. For those who came to Bridgeport on the Port Jefferson Ferry, or by Railroad excursion, the pier for the water shuttle to Pleasure Beach Park was only a few steps away (on the Stratford Avenue bridge). Those of us who lived in East Bridgeport had to take the #9 East Main Street CR&L bus to East Main Street and Stratford Avenue, stand in front of a fenced-in yard containing power transformers! (The coal-fired United Illuminating power plant was a short block away), and "transfer" to a rather small CR&L bus, which could safely cross the wooden-trestle bridge into Pleasure Beach Park. The bus disgorged its passengers at the "top" of the enclosed midway. To the left was "The Old Mill" water ride, followed by "The Fun House", on the right was a custard stand and a bowlarama. Continuing on the left was "The Arcade" (with machines that dispensed "cowboy stars" of the 30's and 40's; Ken Maynard, Tom Mix, Lash LaRue, "Hoppy", etc.), followed by that famous wooden roller-coaster. Then you crossed a driveway and came upon the motor boat ride (which navigated narrow canals). At this point, you were in "the plaza", where the only water fountains in the entire park were located!!! There were four mounted in a concrete cross-shape. Usually only two worked at any given time. The "plaza" was surrounded by the Merry-Go-Round, the Tilt-A-Whirl, and a formal restaurant. The restaurant later became The Polka-Dot Playhouse, long after the amusement park had closed. Continuing down the midway, of the left past the motor boat ride, was the Ice Cream Parlor, followed by the Haunted House, and then the police "box". On the right past the "plaza" was the Tilt-A-Whirl, an elevator-type ride than turned upside-down, a small food stand, and The Airplane Ride. It was many a day when I road that Airplane Ride and looked down upon the "police box" (a 10 x 10 foot wooden shack with a desk, a chair, and a police telephone). On the small porch of the "box" stood Mayor McLevy, waving and addressing passers-by using their first names! The "box" had an outside bell mounted on the front wall, which loudly rang whenever the police telephone "rang". On the left of the midway, after the police "box", there was a driveway where a police car (or the mayor's official car w/lights and external siren) was usually parked, followed by the "concrete pond" (which once was filled with water and foot-powered water craft—later became the "training pit" for Bridgeport police dogs), followed by "The Jitter-Bug" later called "The Caterpillar". This was a ride with four or so circular passenger compartments with a center "steering-wheel", which you were supposed to hold onto while the ride went up and down small hills on an oval track. Originally, this ride had a "hood" which enclosed the passenger compartments, so that you were "in the dark" during the ride. Following the "Jitter-Bug” was the Ferris wheel. On the right side, past The Airplane Ride, was the beginning of a small, tree-enclosed park surrounding Pleasure Beach Ballroom. Across from the Ferris wheel was the "formal" entrance to the Pleasure Beach Ballroom, sort of a "round-about" which could drop-off attendees. At that point, the midway ended. On the left, there were several "Holiday Houses To Let", and the "ring" road (which  circumnavigated the park). Beyond the "ring" road, the beach began.

From the memory of Don Browne (Harding Class of '62)

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