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By Professor Solomon

As soon as popular as a funspot, Coney Island has been mostly forgotten. Does it nonetheless exist? What has survived of where? And what used to be it like? In his new publication CONEY ISLAND, Professor Solomon takes us there to determine. Roaming approximately, he interviews old-timers' searches for antiquities, explores what's left of the leisure sector. (Among his reveals: a guy who recalls seeing the 1st human cannonball, shot into the air at Coney Island; the continues to be of Steeplechase Park; and a journey "the ask yourself Wheel"that begun as a perpetual-motion machine.) He additionally presents a background of Coney Island, from its Canarsie Indian days, to its period as a lawless, Tijuana-style inn, to the increase and fall of its leisure parks. in this historic journey, you will meet such personages as John Y. McKane (notorious mayor of Coney Island); George Tilyou (amusement-park pioneer); and the Wild guy of Borneo (actually, an actor from the Bronx). and you can stopover at the Pavilion of enjoyable, French Nudi! st show, Elephant resort, journey to the Moon, Insanitarium, Tunnel of affection, flea circus, Feltman's eating place (where the recent puppy was once invented), and different vanished points of interest. the result's a desirable profile of a different, and persevering, position.

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Example text

They came in droves, pouring out of the BMT and IND cars just as many of them had recently crowded down the gangways of steamships. Meanwhile, the well­to­do were going elsewhere. ) As a result, the posh hotels were shutting down.  It was during this period that the city took over the beach, widened it, and built the Boardwalk.  While the middle class continued to patronize the resort, they were no longer its principal clientele. * Some of the old crowd were upset, too, by the sartorial changes that had come to the Island.

Sadly, there was an occupational hazard to self­display. A glassy­eyed stare was often the lot of a human exhibit, as he retreated into a shell before the imper­ tinencies of those who had paid to view him. An apt emblem for life in a freak show was an apparent English­ man known as Sober Sir Edward, perhaps the most curious of all the Living Curiosities.  A prize of $100 was offered to any­ one in the audience who could make him laugh. It was never collected.  This lugubrious frame of mind seems to have been no act, but the real Sir Edward: when his fiancee died, he is said to have married her ashes.

Samuel Gumpertz (the showman who managed Dreamland for its absentee owners) had roamed the globe in search of human oddities for the Congress.  The mild­mannered Bantocs would return home with strange tales to tell.  Perhaps the Wild Man of Borneo had dropped by Headhunter Village for some pointers, only to be disappointed by its grinning, joking inhabitants. By the mid twenties a small company of freaks were liv­ ing and displaying themselves at Coney Island. They included Jolly Irene the Fat Woman; Zip the Pinhead; the Tattooed Wonder; Captain Fred Walters, known as the Blue Man (he ingested silver nitrate to turn his skin blue); Baron Paucci, a midget; Cliko the Dancing Bushman (far, far from his home in the Kalahari was poor Cliko); and Jackie Donahue, the Human Auto Tire.

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