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SUMMERTIME AT THE PIKE
Part Two

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 Oily puddles, broken tile and smashed glass
by
Curt Leber/Cal State Long Beach/1992

Unfortunately my friends and I had just turned eleven or so by the time the Pike began to finally close down in '79. We enjoyed the remaining independent rides that had not yet been auctioned off and the "Scooby Doo Haunted Amusement Park' vibe we got riding our Honda 90's up and down Queensway.
In early '80 I remember riding over a flattened Rent-A-Fence near the last remaining tattoo joint down on what used to be Queensway. Oily puddles, broken tile and smashed glass spilled out of the door frames and windows of buildings that were now little more than mouldering heaps of lathe and plaster in the light afternoon rain. These were the remnants of "the jungle" a place where the old timers lived many different lives amid three fantastic and squalid city blocks. All of these memories were gone now, in less than four days of serious demolition. Riding east I saw a lesser fun house on my right. It wasn't the Laff In The Dark, it was the one that every cheap carnival has. I remember it because it was the only existing building I heard sounds coming from.
I didn't get off the bike. I cut the engine and walked it to what used to be the entrance of the fun house. Through the large barrel and the slanty steps I could make out a group of 3 or 4 people burning a couch. Part of the corrugated metal roof was missing and the afternoon sun illuminated the back wall of the fun house while profiling the inhabitants in deep shadows. Watching them break the wooden arms off the sofa and trying to keep their trash fire going was entertaining to me. Until all activity stopped and one of them said "...Hey little man, Come here."
I cut a deep U right there in the middle of Queensway and tore-ass back out and over the flattened Rent-A-Fence. Never looked back. That's my last memory of Queensway.

 

From
Glenda Adney Gould, Class of 1964, Millikan High School


In 1956 when I was ten, my mother took my two sisters and me for swimming lessons at the YWCA at 6th and Pacific. Every Saturday morning the four of us would get on the city bus at Spring and Palo Verde for the ride down there. I always liked to sit on the bench seat at the back of the bus because it made for a warm and bumpy ride.

My swimming instructor was Greta Andersen, the famous Olympic Gold Medalist and long-distance swimmer. It was an honor to receive Red Cross cards from Greta. Frequently after our lessons, we would take another bus down to Pine St. to window shop and buy novelties "Made in Japan". Sometimes from there, we would go down to the Pike! On the way, we would stop for salt-water taffy at Magruder's. Orange, strawberry, caramel- I had a difficult time deciding which flavors to get!

When we got to the Pike, after walking through the lively arcade, we would ride on the Double Ferris Wheel and the Carousel! Riding on the Carousel was my very favorite thing in all the world to do! With the music of the calliope playing in the background, I wanted to sail around on that beautiful horse forever!

The idea was to grab the brass ring, which would entitle you to a free ride! The anticipation of the brass ring was thrilling! As my heart pounded, I would hold on to the shiny brass pole with my left hand, lean out far to the right and, while the horse was moving up and down, crook my finger and get ready to pluck the ring from the mannekin's fingers! I can remember thinking, "I must grab the ring! It might be the brass one! I don't want to miss it!"

I did get the brass ring several times and each time I felt like Cinderella at the ball! There was something magical about getting that brass ring!

 

From
Sue Richards Rogers, Lakewood High, class "63"

The year was1962 a friend and i took a bus ride from Lakewood at 9 at night to the Pike to go dancing and meet the sailor's in the Lido Ballroom. We were so scared to be out down there on the street that we ran from the bus stop down into the pike and into the Lido. The manager watched out for all of the patron's and we had a great time. Of course our parents did not know of this of this trip. ps. my parents met there in the Lido in 1930 when my dad was a sailor from Kansas and my mom uses to go dancing there just to meet sailors. What Fun! Sue Richards Rogers, Lakewood High, class "63"

 

From
Judy Pierceall Corea ( Gardena High School-1957 ) 

Growing up in the 50's era of "The Pike" always evolved into a "coming of age" ritual. Anywhere within a couple of hours drive to and fro. was close enough proximity to plan on having the time of your life. You always had to allow enough time to spend there, having that time of your life, before piling into perhaps a 1941 Ford or the likes that clearly had such a gas fume leak you almost passed out on the drive home. Never mind, it was worth any effort. As you drove closer you could feel the electricity as the Long Beach air assumed it's customary salty-tar smell. Entering the parking lot just as dusk fell, the Pike seemed a truly wondrously forbidden, yet inviting, Sodom to this 15 year old. No matter how many times I managed to get there, I was always filled with brimming anticipation and excitement. The flashing lights and gaudy signs hawking the hootchie-cootchi dancers with made up sad faces, and the freak shows with "freaks" that mysteriously looked like the little man next door. No where else could you see such things, and it was great to be 15 and to be there.

 

From
Claudia Weaver Class of 55 LB Poly
 

 

My great grandmother had a gift shop at the entrance to the pike in the 20's called the Oriental........My Grandmother had a hamburger joint when I was little. When I think
about the Pike, so many great memories flood my mind. My first Pony ride, the Fun house, the plunge and the Strand Theater where they still had burlesque shows and I was
thrilled by the Magicians, Ball room, Apache, Fan and Tap dancers.. acrobats and corny song and dance comedy routines...I'm so grateful I got to see these things and ride all
the rides and see the sailors buy flowers for their girls. The best day of all was a day my Dad just lost his job,instead of being depressed, he took us all on the bus to the Pike
and we went to the" spit and argue club", Dad played his guitar and sang songs and had my sister and me sing"Pistil Packing Momma", people threw enough money at us to
ride everything, eat plenty and go to the show. it was a great day and Dad found renewed spirit and a job the next day. My father was Lynn Weaver, in clubs where he sang he
was called Monty.
Claudia Weaver Class of 55 LB Poly

 

 

 

 

 

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