Thursday, October 20, 2016

Vintage Postcards - Midway Mania

And now for something a little bit different! This is another installment looking at Ken Martinez's collection of vintage amusement park postcards. But... well, I'll let Ken explain it:

Midway Mania! - Classic Carnival Rides Part 1

Today I'm sharing postcards of classic carnival rides that could be found at the county fair of local carnival that came to town. My childhood was filled with visits to these types of places.

Here's the "Rock-O-Plane", manufactured by Eyerly Aircraft Comapny. The eight caged vehicles rotated back and forth allowing riders to travel upside down. I remember my sister losing her keys on this attraction as they clanked all over the cage and out below. The location for this postcard is Rotary Playland in Sacramento, California.

The "Octopus" was another Eyerly Aircraft Company flat ride. It was also the first carnival ride I ever rode. The sixteen vehicles rotated on the eight arms which moved up and down and around hence the name "Octopus". The location for this postcard is Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.

I've only seen the "Twister" once at the county fair in Pleasanton, California. It was manufactured by Chance Rides which was a manufacturer of many carnival flat rides. All I remember is it had a rally loud and noisy motor.

The "Spider" was sort of a second generation version of the Octopus except that it had six arms/legs. It was also manufactured by the Eyerly Aircraft Company. A larger version called the "Monster" which had rotating extensions off the arms/legs and held four vehicles on the extensions, could usually be found at the larger theme parks across the country. The location for this postcard is the Iowa State Fair in Sandusky, Ohio.

The "Flying Scooters" were manufactured by Bisch Roccho. I've only seen one of these and I didn't ride it.

Hope you all enjoyed visiting the midway today. Part 2 should appear soon!

Information Source material: The Flat Joint -

Thank you Ken! Part 2 will be here in a week.


Nanook said...


All these rides seem like such simple pleasures (if not vomit-inducing) compared to today's behemoths costing millions of dollars and requiring permanent homes.

And I think it was right-nice of the good folks of Sandusky to host the Iowa State Fair right there in Ohio...

Thanks, Ken.

Melissa said...

Last picture: Come see the famous GALLERY OF BUTTS over in the Shorts Pavilion!

"I remember my sister losing her keys on this attraction as they clanked all over the cage and out below."

My sister dropped her wallet riding through the Haunted Mansion once. She had to wait in the unload area until our Doombuggy cycled back around. She said she heard, "If you would like to join our Jamboree" so many times that it was stuck in her head for the rest of the trip.

And then there was the time my friend's sunglasses flew off his face on Space Mountain. He assumed they had fallen down to the bottom of the track, but they were really just on the floor of his sled. So, of course he stepped on them on his way out and smashed them to pieces.

I love these simpler, old fashioned rides. They had a bunch of 'em like that at Darien Lake when I was a kid.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

What the heck is that lady wearing in pic 4?? Yellow and black stripped top with a yellow mop on her head. It doesn't get any more vintage than that! This is a groovy collection guys thanks for sharing.

Maybe she was the mother of one of the lads from the Christian rock group Stryper. ?? Or she worked at a Flookies Hot Dog Stand. ??

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Duh, Flooky's.

Clyde Hughes said...

Thank you so much for sharing these great postcards! I do love the simpler rides, and one of the reaaaally cool things about those Eyerly Aircraft Company rides is that they designed rides from an airplane perspective. Here's their first 'accidental' ride, the "Acroplane," filmed on Venice Pier, CA (1933)

Also, they designed the 'cars' of the rides like cockpits, in a way. Even the Octopus could conceivably be a cockpit without the top. If you look at the Loop-O-Plane, Roll-O-Plane, and Fly-O-Plane though, for example, you can see the fuselage-type design.
Here's an earlier version of the Loop-O-Plane, but mysteriously without the famous counter-weights that were so common in later models:

I've never seen a Fly-O-Plane in person, but it looks cool!
Man, I just viewed a video of it, and it's so awesome..the planes can roll and!

I love the Octopus photo, and the colors are great! There's something about a well-painted fence/gate that makes a carnival ride even more special. The red and white fencing is terrific.

Goodness, that Sandusky postcard is like a museum for every classic ride I love. I've seen some vintage carnival posters that feature illustrations of a scene just like this, along with some rides that remain unidentifiable. I see another Eyerly ride ("Roll-O-Plane") in the distance. It looks like some technicians are working on the "Octopus." A good friend of mine operated the "Monster" variation of the "Spider" when it was at Six Flags Over Texas. That particular one had a monster 'eye' on the centerpiece of the ride. He said that the crew would regularly run the ride in reverse to make the people really sick..LOL. Well, I wonder how much of that the ride could take...maybe that's what happened here.

Now about that yellow hair.... is that what happens when you run the "Octopus" in reverse?

Thanks, Ken!

Snow White Archive said...

Never heard of the "Flying Scooters" before. Odd but interesting look to it.

TokyoMagic! said...

I always loved the Rock-O-Plane. I remember it having a large metal ring that you could pull forward to lock the cage and force it to go upside down. I'm not sure if all versions of it had that.

That fourth pic contains two of my favorite carnival rides in the distance. One of them is the Roll-O-Plane, but what is the name of the giant Ferris Wheel-looking ride. I remember the vehicles had a steering wheel that you had to turn in order to keep them from going upside down.

Thanks for those links, Clyde. The Fly-O-Plane looks like an older version of the XK-1 ride that was at Knott's for a very brief time. And speaking of Knott's, they added a Flying Scooters ride to their "Boardwalk" area (formerly the Roaring 20's) in 2013.

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, I forgot to thank you for sharing more of your collection with us! I'm looking forward to seeing more "Classic Carnival Ride" postcards!

Unknown said...

Nice work, Ken; thanks so much!

I believe, Alonzo, that she's not wearing black and yellow stripes but rather a black and yellow plaid: much more tasteful. The yellow wig remains a mystery.

And TM!, I also saw that Ferris wheel type ride back there. Because I liked riding it when I got the chance I did some research and it's at least similar to a Chance Skydiver. I liked the feeling of control the wheel gave you. I hope more knowledgeable minds will correct me if I'm off base there.

I saw most these rides at the San Diego County Fair (also held in Sandusky, incidentally) though a few were down at Belmont Park most of the time.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

@Patrick Devlin

Good eyes, on second glace I see you are correct sir. Still very funky lookin'

P.S. Hee hee, Melissa said Butt.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

duh, glance

Anonymous said...

Ken, you are a wealth of carnival information. I had no idea that all of these rides had names and backgrounds etc. Very cool to learn all this.

The "twister" in photo 3 is similar, if not identical, to rides that came to the county fairs in Central California where I grew up. I don't recall ever riding one.

BTW, I visited the Santa Cruz boardwalk recently and thought of you while riding the Giant Dipper. Did you ever run that one?

Major, once again, major thanks for hosting this extravaganza.


K. Martinez said...

Nanook, Yes, I always thought it was a hoot that the Santa Cruz County Fair had a carnival midway with the Santa Cruz Boardwalk nearby.

Melissa, my sister lost her brand new camera she just bought before we went to the new Marriott's Great America in Nor.Cal. Our first ride of the day was the Whizzer coaster and it dropped out of her pocket into the abyss. Bummer! I miss the old-fashioned midway rides too. BTW, you have now changed the way I look at that last postcard. Ha!

Alonza P. Hawk, Glad you enjoyed! That is a different outfit and hat.

Clyde Hughes, I'm glad you enjoyed these and THANKS for all that extra information. I didn't really associate the aircraft company with the cockpit style seating, but you are right. I always love sharing because I learn new stuff from other's comments. Thanks again for the links and great info. And yes, I rode "Crazy Legs" the "monster" variation of the Spider ride at Six Flags over Texas.

TokyoMagic!, One of the things I do love about Knott's is they seem to have a good collection of classic carnival rides, something that Six Flags Magic Mountain sadly lacks these days.

Patrick Devlin, Yes, that's a Chance Skydriver and those would stand out and tower above the skyline of any midway. Do they still have some classic carnival rides at Belmont Park?

JG, Awe, man! I wished I knew your were coming. I would've come down and visited you. You just might've seen me as I do daily walks there when it's open. BTW, I worked on the Giant Dipper, but it was the single ride that had it's own operators.

I hope I haven't missed anybody. Thank you all for the kind comments.

Unknown said...

There are virtually no classics left in Belmont Park these days for at least one big reason: The southern half of the former park (where they had been located) is all parking and some grass picnic area. The last time I visited there was a Tilt-A-Whirl and a Merry-Go-Round up in the northern half up by the nicely restored roller coaster. But the only reason there's room for these is that half of the midway buildings were demolished decades ago.

DrGoat said...

My nemesis was the Bullet when was I was young. That torture device next to the ferris wheel in the fourth pic. Never could endure that ride without having to sit down for a minute after it was over.

DrGoat said...

I guess it is referred to as the Loop-O-Plane, Roll-O-Plane by Clyde.
We called it the Bullet.

JG said...

@Ken, I didn't know you were still in Santa Cruz, for some reason, I thought that was in your youth and you lived somewhere else now. Sure did not skip you on purpose.

It was a spur of the moment visit, I was in town for business and we had a couple hours in the morning before facing the traffic on the way home. The last time I was at the Boardwalk, the kiddos were too small to ride the Giant Dipper, so that and the Carousel were must-do's.

When we go again I will get in touch. May I ask the Major for your email, we should correspond?