Re: more playland oddities

08/17/03 - posted by Louise Ann

I was in love with the funhouse. Scared for years of Laughing Sal until I was about 10 or 12 and forced myself to stop being a baby and go in. Does anyone remember that horrible little man that used to stand next to Laughing Sal in the Window? How about the mechanical seal that used to balance the spinning ball on it's nose? The curiousity was too much for me, I guess, but it was ohhhh so worth it. I would have missed out on what are now so many priceless antiques that our children will never see except for photos. The mirror maze was great and I remember all of the colorful bars with balls on them as you walked between from mirror to mirror. You would get to the big colorful rollers that looked like the old washing machine rollers except they were vertical instead of horizontal. They were polka dotted, swirled and squishy soft when they threw you out onto the main floor. There were two different sets of rocking staircases that went up to the second floor. One went back and forth and the other went side to side. I was able to go up the first one, but the side to side always scared me. The second floor was very neat. It had a couple of display cases with mannequins in them. One was from the old comic strip, "Bringing Up Father" featuring Maggie and Jiggs. Jiggs was sitting with his back to Maggie at the kitchen table. when you pressed a button, Maggie would hit him on the head with a rolling pin. There were mirror up there and these little rows of boxes with push button on and off switches that were suppose to activate the tricks and optical illusions inside the boxes when you looked through the viewer. There was the balcony from where the wooden men would circle tthrough to the outside front of the building. The fisherman, keystone cop, fireman, I can't remember the others, but would love to find photos of them. On the second floor you could also look out over the floor below to the disc, barrel, steeple chase horses, and the whirlpool. Of course you would also see the control booth. The fun was when you'd get shot with air! You could also see these four sided cubes that hung from the ceailing. Each side had a different clown face on it. The eyes and the mouths were actually mechanical and they would grin and their eyes would dart open and shut and from side to side. Now THOSE were creepy! On the east side of the second story there was also a little corkscrew slide that hardly anyone ever went down. From the second floor you could also access the BIG slide. I remember that no matter what kid you teamed up with, there was always a race to the bottom.

Afterwards, I would meet my grandma outside where she would wait patiently while reading a book. We would go and have ice cream from the cafe that was by the merry-go-round. The outside roof line was decorated with all sorts of little fairytale-looking cottage fronts. You could sit at the bar and eat and if you sat on the side you could look out at Ocean Beach and the waves. That cafe had the best fish and chips I've ever eaten in my life. But the best Cheeseburger is still up at Louie's by the Cliffhouse. I took my husband there last year for the first time I 'd been at Louie's since 1972. The cheeseburgers were exactly as I remembered them right down to the placement on the plate. My husband agreed it was the best cheeseburger he's ever had as well! One of the last bastions of the old Beach the way I remember it from the early 60's. I went to Playland even in the last year of it's life in 1972. We moved out of state that summer, and a good friend wrote to me and told me what had happened to it...and on my 15th birthday! I cried for days!

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