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I was watching this show on TV last night called "Things that aren't there any more" and of course the old Pike popped up.  My dad loved the old amusement parks like P.O.P and the Pike- but he especially liked the old roller coasters.  He claimed the Cyclone Racer was the best roller coaster he ever rode.  Now I know he took my brother and I to both parks on a regular basis because we have several family pictures taken in those photo ops. Honestly,  the memories are pretty hazy as I was 5 years old when the Pike closed.  But I do remember this(like it was yesterday):

It must have been a day or two before the final closure, because my dad insisted that my brother and I had to ride the Cyclone before it was too late.  I remember standing in line and looking up at  that thing and I was scared to death.  So of course I started screaming at the top of my lungs!  "No, I don't want to go on, please Daddy!!"  Of course he didn't care, and drug me kicking and screaming through the line saying, "You, have to be able to say you rode the Cyclone Racer".  Now, I don't know if it was because I was too small, or because I was crying so much- probably both- but when we got to the front, they wouldn't let me ride.  I'll tell you, I was never so relieved!  So my brother and dad went on and I waited with my mom. 

Through the years, I became quite the roller coaster buff myself.  And of course my dad(until the day he died) never let me live it down.  How could I know at age 5 that one of my biggest regrets would be, "I never got to ride the Cyclone Racer".  Who knew? 

Of course the old man is turning in his grave yelling, "I knew!"

This is us at the pike.  I'm the little girl on the left.

                                                                                     Kimber O'Shea

*   *   *   *   *

What a fantastic place you created for memories! I remember the old Pike well, along with the Rainbow Pier. There was a tunnel under Ocean Blvd. with an  underground "village." A candy store made candy that looked like bacon and eggs and other foods.  We always bought a box of salt water taffy at the Pike to "take home," but none made it there. You could smell the taffy  being made and no one could resist it. My brother and I spent many happy hours at the Plunge on Saturdays and my family loved the old Strand Theater. They had local talent shows during intermission and a drawing for prizes. Sometimes an old vaudeville act would make an appearance. This was in the late '40s. We spent hours at the Strand. There would be a film, usually a WWII movie, cartoons, intermission with lots of activities and then another movie. The old Pike! Whatta memory to cherish.

The Cyclone Racer sure looked familiar. When I was a teenager we would ride that thing over and over, just to prove how brave we were. I remember when they added the diving bell and that ride where the floor dropped out from under you.  When I was just a kid, there were "freak shows." Those would be banned today, and it's a good thing, but in those days no one thought about the fact they were people with disabilities.  When WWII was just over, you could hardly walk for the servicemen - I was a young kid and would have to walk in a sea of legs. Long Beach - a great hometown.
                                                                                - From Patsy Cincotta (Russom)

Letti Randles, Long Beach Polytechnic Class of 1937, wrote:

I especially remember sliding down the bamboo slide, sitting on a burlap bag. The climb to the top was as much fun as the slide! I loved the Plunge, especially the tunnel going out to the beach. Since I was born in 1919, I can recall a lot of fun days at the Pike while I was growing up. I would like to walk down the Pike with a mile-high cone (grape) in my hand again. That was the BEST ice cream ever!
Letti Randles, Rainbow Pier story

Bob Rapp, Long Beach Poly Class of 1969, wrote:

The Cyclone Racer Last Ride

In 1968, a friend (Eddie Hoke, Class of '68) and I went to the Cyclone and climbed to the top of the highest point before the big drop. They had already started tearing the old coaster down. Just after the bottom of the first drop, the coaster climbed up another small hill. That is where the demolition crews had stopped for the day. The track stopped there. If we could only push the cars up that big hill, we could see the last run of the coaster and have it land on the beach below. We pushed and pushed, but could only get the cars about 20 feet up. Boy, were we disappointed!!!!

JOE RATLIFF, Banning High School, Class of 1960, wrote:

The Cyclone Racer

The operators of the cyclone claimed there were 17 deaths on the ride. I know there two deaths between 1966 and 1968 as I was the first officer on the scene; all of the accidents were caused by careless disregard by the patrons (such as standing up while the ride was in motion)."

Above from Ken McGrath who was with the Nu-Pike police from 1962 until 1978 and as chief of the Park Police from 1972 until 1978 (the father of Millikan classmate Cindy (MCGRATH) Obertean '77).

Time of our Lives for a Buck

My family lived just west of there in the Long Beach Harbor area until I was 10 (1953). The Pike was my second home, especially on Wednesdays when kids could ride any attraction for only $.10. From our neighborhood, on hot summer days, we kids would walk down the boardwalk, cross the L.A. River on the old wooden walk bridge (remember it?) and have the time of our lives for a buck.
There are a lot of things that "progress" has ruined and the Pike is a prime example.


VINCENT AMMIRATO, Banning High School, Class of 1961, wrote:

Free Ride with an Empty "Circus" Peanuts Wrapper

Do you remember back in the fifties when you could get on a ride with an empty "Circus" peanuts wrapper on Wednesday afternoons? I have been eating peanuts ever since because I ate so many "Circus" peanuts that I got hooked on 'em (a bag of peanuts was 5 cents back in those days). How about the Plunge? There is nothing like it today. We had many a birthday party at the ol' Plunge. Thanks again. You brought my heart back to the good ole' days.



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