I told you a while back that I would try to throw in some Owasco Lake history once in a while. Well, here is an interseting story from Laurel Auchampaugh; who is quite an exceptional historian and writer. Laurel writes a monthly column on local history for the Auburn Citizen. She is also the Owasco Town Historian as well as story teller and very active contributor to her community. If you have not read one of her stories; its about time you did:
Park offered sea plane rides
By Laurel Auchampaugh
Sunday, August 24, 2008 11:17 PM EDT (from The Auburn Citizen - Mon. 8/25/08)
The picture shown here is from an old tin-type loaned to me by James Moore. If you look closely, in the background you can see the faint image of the Owasco River and the bridge going from the main park to the island where the arcades and amusement rides were located. I did some research and found that there was indeed a sea plane ride at the lake. The name Island Park provides the clue to the approximate date of the tin-type. Before it became Enna Jettick Park and later Emerson Park, it was called Island Park.
These were the years of “the Coney Island” atmosphere created by visionary Michael Carmody. Cayuga County historian Sheila Tucker aptly described the park evolvement in her “Legends in the Dust” columns in the 1970s. She wrote, Michael Carmody bought the park in 1899 and ran it for 20 years. I believe the tin-type was taken in 1919.There were attempts by the owners prior to Carmody to make the park profitable that resulted in financial distress. One even skipped town to avoid his creditors.
When the dedication of the seawall was held in 2001, I prepared a “Timeline and History of Emerson Park.” It describes the various owners and names the park held over the years. This timeline chronicles the woes of the owners prior to Carmody, and if anyone wishes a copy of this history, please send a request for this information with a self addressed stamped envelope to: Owasco Historian, 3 Bristol Ave., Auburn NY 13021.
My memory gates opened wide as I thought of the park and our personal family experiences. I remember the cement monkey pit on the main part of the park as a 5-year-old in 1942. Years later as a young wife, I took my daughter and her friend to ride the miniature train on the Island side under a car with scalloped canopied ceilings. I can still hear the sound of the train whistle as we rode through the shade in the grove of trees along side the lake and the shock when we burst out into the brilliant hot sunshine. To our left was the Deauville Hotel surrounded by its expansive porch facing the lake.My senses were aware of the sights and sounds, even the smell of the train engine.
But it is the merry-go-round that holds a special place in my memory. Recently, my daughter and I went to see “Les Miserables” at the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse. It was a special outing provided by her husband for her 50th birthday. Once inside and as the theater building filled up, I looked around especially up at the ceiling. This building was built in 1930 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company with a lattice roof to house the carousel that is now restored at Hershey Park, Pa.Yes. The same ceiling that covered the second carousel is now housed in Long Island. I remember the striking animals of so long ago on their endless trek around the moving floor. I could still picture the Ostrich, with one leg up racing alongside the cat, dressed in a little coat with gold tassels. The frog and rooster so jaunty and colorful. Can you remember them too?
We were living in a three-room upstairs apartment at 24 Franklin St. 50 years ago when I read in The Citizen the Merry-Go-Round was sold and being dismantled. My husband, Milo, was stationed overseas in Germany with the Army. How he would have laughed at my plan to ride the Owasco merry-go-round one last time. (I did write him later and confess to him what I did.)I left baby Lynne with our landlords, Floyd and Marlea Montross, and drove alone to the park. I approached the merry-go-round and found a solitary attendant. I was the only person there. He did not reproach me when I asked if I could ride one last time, but patiently allowed me to ride until I was satisfied.Each time I gave him my quarter I rode a different horse. The first was a black steed on the inside that went up and down. When I rode, the band box would start up with a stirring of the drums and then the rest of the hurdy gurdy music would play a rousing march or a series of melodies - just for me.I could see all the miniature lights around the center and overhead highlighting the golden painted panels with each featuring a different scene. I remember it all so well.Last of all, I climbed astride a stationary horse on the outside. I tucked my black flat in the shiny sliver stirrup and pulled myself up. I then put my left arm around the brass pole, and with my right arm, swung out as far as I could reach trying to catch the coveted “brass ring” from the box mounted outside of the ride. With each revolution, I saw the attendant waiting at the side watching me. I would wave to him exultant and sad at the same time.When I was done, I climbed down and returned the silver rings I had managed to snare, but alas no brass ring! I drove back home to face the loneliness of waiting for my husband to come home.Home to meet the little daughter he had never seen or held. It was 1958, the time of the “Berlin Crisis, and the Berlin Wall.” We saved our money living in our little apartment and eventually purchased our home in Owasco in 1961.
Last year, a young father from Owasco now living in Pennsylvania took his three young children to Hershey Park. They rode the merry-go-round there. He called his mother afterwards to ask about the name plate posted on the ride. The plate stated the machinery and all the animals were from Enna Jettick Park in Auburn.“Mom,” he asked, “where was Enna Jettick Park?”My sister Barbara will come for a visit in September from Seattle. We three sisters - all in our 70s - always take a trip together. As a surprise, I have planned a trip to Hershey Park to create two special memories. Barbara craves chocolate, and one of her fantasies will be realized surrounded by all that chocolate.In 2006, for our 50th wedding anniversary, coming back from Washington D.C., Milo and I stopped at Hershey Park. It was November and the amusement park including the rides were closed and boarded up. I pleaded with the staff to just be able to see the Owasco merry-go-round to take a picture - but it was not possible .This fall, I intend to take another ride in the park on the old merry-go-round from Enna Jettick Park that we rode as young children.-
Sources: Hershey Park Web site: links - rides, carousel - shows a picture of the restored Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel from Enna Jettick Park on Owasco Lake; Sheila Tucker's “Legends in the Dust;” Hillary Ford with the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, and http://www.merry-go-round.com/ “How the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse came to Emerson Park”Laurel Auchampaugh is the Owasco historian and can be reached at the Owasco Town Hall
from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoons or at email@example.com
Link to article: http://auburnpub.com/lifestyles/article_1f02f872-b3c4-57c8-a3fb-10e94f957888.html