2005-07-01 / Columnists

Historical Views

of the Rockaways Do You Remember The Rockaway
From The Rockaway Museum by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

of the Rockaways
Do You Remember The Rockaway’s Playland Rocket Ride?

From The Rockaway Museum
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

Rockaway’s Playland rocketed to fame long before the rocket ride came in the mid-1930’s. The fast circular ride exerted a tremendous and outward centrifugal force that made it necessary for we gentlemen to have our girlfriends sit in front, resting on our chests and supported by our strong arms – so the force to the outside would be absorbed by her man. Right fellas? Riders were all smiles upon exiting. Was it the g’s?

The rocket was near the boulevard end of Playland Park, between the Atom Smasher Coaster and the kiddie rides.

Many riders were thrilled by the rocket, and of course there were those who got a sore rib cage by riding alone, without a human cushion to relieve the pressures exerted by the fast circular amusement ride.

As the mid to late 1960’s came in, Playland installed a few new rides from Europe, causing the rocket to be replaced by the more popular Tilt-A-Whirl. The latter was moved from the beach end of the park when the Calypso, the first new thrill ride, replaced the beautiful Dentzel Carousel at this spot. Note: this carousel is still operating at Six Flags of Texas, in Arlington Texas, and was sold to Six Flags by Playland Management.

Playland was the guiding light for Rockaway Beach, despite parasites and freeloaders (as written in the trade paper – The Billboard – 1952) who refused to share any part of the cost of Playland’s promotions, but set up stalls near the park and cashed in on Playland’s time, effort and money. These were the exact sentiments of Playland’s management, who also stated that their presence restricted Playland’s promotional activity, because they didn’t want to break their necks promoting someone else’s business – a business that refused to share the burden. This turned into a catch-22 sort of dilemma due to all others claiming the opposite. Why should they contribute to the fun when Playland got all the business benefits? Doesn’t this sound petty and cheap by the parasitic crews who pocketed profits derived from ads and promotional activities?

But, in the end, they died out one by one, and Playland survived for several more decades than they did.

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