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2007-12-13 / Little Old Canarsie

Little Old Canarsie

A Little Tour Around Our Stretch Of Jamaica Bay In 1912

The year is about 1912 as we enter Golden City Park. On the left is a famous ride called "Love's Journey." This was later replaced by a merry-go-round. The earlier ride was made up of cars hanging by hooks which went through a dark tunnel.

Fellows used to stand up in the wooden cars which went round and round and many a fellow lost his watch and chain (worn across his vest). Fellows also swung the ride back and forth to give their girlfriends a sort of scare.

Across, on the right, was the famed penny arcade. Then, there were the goats and wagons owned and operated by an old-time Canarsien, Frank Dixon of Truckleman's Lane. He made many children happy with his ride, which went all the way around one side of the park.

This was later replaced with a little steam locomotive, which went all around the park.

Right next to this was the office where all the cashiers had to turn in their day's receipts for the various rides in the park. After this came the whip-ride. Then came a ride where motorcycles traveled at terrific speeds along a straight wall, hitting 80 to 90 miles per hour, with a girl riding on the handle bars. The wall shook like a bowl of jelly as the people stood around the top, looking down at the riders.

Next, we walk over to the bulkhead of the bay, which surrounded the park. We saw the boat ride float operated by Charles Bunche and his assistant, Herb Bennet. They took you for a three-mile sail around Jamaica Bay for ten cents.

Along here were some of the fishing boats tied to the dock. There was the Rosie R. owned by Captain Dick Person, and the Pioneer, owned by Captain Jack. There was also a small fishing boat owned by a black man named Kelly who was rightly noted for his ability to catch prime blue and weakfish.

Nearby was a famous hotel, owned and operated by Larry Messinger. It was later taken over by the famous Billy Ray, the ex-boxing champ who was known as the Mayor of the Canarsie shore.

As we resume our walk towards the back of the park, we come to the Indian Village where real cowboys and Indians set up their headquarters. They used to ride each morning on their horses up to Church Lane and East 92nd Street and down the lane to Varken's Hook Road,which ran about where East 86 Street is now.

They would ride up this road to where the woods started on the other side of Flatlands Avenue and ran all the way up to the Lotts Farm.

I believe they were called the Wycoff Woods, where, just before you came out at Old Canarsie Lane (now known as Bedell Lane) there was a house owned and occupied by a cousin of mine, Joseph Denton. What a thrill it was to hear those cowboys and Indians galloping through those woods on their horses and letting out their famous yells.

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