Thursday, May 10, 2007

Riverside Amusement Park, Indianapolis, Indiana

My first paying job was as a paper boy. I wonder how many of us got our start that way? Millions?

Eventually, I and my two brothers delivered almost every available newspaper in the area. There were times when we would have five or six different newspaper routes between us. The newspaper business was certainly different then. From Indianapolis came the Star, which was issued in the morning and the News, which was the evening newspaper. The Indianapolis News even had a very special edition called the Blue Streak which was issued even later than the News. If you lived in Anderson and got the Blue Streak in the early to mid 1960s, I either delivered it to your door, your drugstore or newsstand, or one of the downtown vending machines. The Blue Streak was very popular around race time, i.e. the entire month of May when the Indianapolis 500 time trials, race, and festivities absolutely dominated regional news. The local papers were the Anderson Herald in the morning, and the Anderson Bulletin in the evenings. We delivered them all.

As is probably common amongst us younger entrepreneurs, we were BIG on ideas and plans, and sometimes a little short on the follow-through. Our poor grandmother would drive us around delivering papers whenever it was too cold, like the entire months of January and February, or it whenever it was too hot, like all of July and August, or it was raining. Not all the time, but we contributed a bunch of miles to that blue 1963 Chevy station wagon!

My favorite paper routes were the Indianapolis News, and Blue Streak edition, because they always ran the best promotions for us to get new subscribers. A couple times a year they would even organize adults to drive a bunch of boys around to canvas neighborhoods door to door. Those nights were double-point nights so you really wanted to rack up some new subscriptions! I hardly remember any of the junk prizes we collected over the years. A lot of them were to replace the one that broke since last year. The first prize that every newspaper boy signed-up for was, of course, the tool of the trade, the wonderful mechanical contraption that a 14 year old could actually wear out before it was lost, the chrome 5 barrel change maker! Hand-warmers, some people erroneously called them pocket warmers, were fueled by lighter fluid and gave you something to fiddle with on those dark, cold, lonely morning routes in the winter. They never worked all that well, but we always owned several and it was a good excuse to have a stash of lighter fluid. Why did we need this stuff? We had newspaper routes!

There were a couple prizes you could earn that were really pretty good. One was a Turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think we overflowed on the Turkeys some years. We were poor and those Turkeys were nice to get!

The very best prize every year, and I got it every year, was a day long trip to Riverside Amusement Park in Indianapolis. We got a bus ride, a whole wad of tickets, and a box lunch which was always fried chicken, a biscuit, and a little container of Cole slaw, which I though was cold slaw for the longest time. That was a great day!

I know that the above photograph is from before WWII because those were relatives of mine. I cannot remember the real name of the ride; maybe it was just the Rocket Ride. That was a personal favorite of mine. That means that ride was there for at least 25 years!

The photo above was probably taken the same day, before WWII. I remember this ride and I was very curious about it, but I don't think it was ever operating when I was there. Just look at the construction of that ride and think about the potential lawsuits! If you look close, there is a propeller on the front, and man, it really spun fast and with enough momentum to actually decapitate a man! Not even a fence around it. Boy times have changed!

Here's a montage of the few printable photographs that I have of Riverside Amusement Park. It was the high-point of every summer when we were young.


jnewby said...

Like the photos, but you forgot the bump cars. And I think those two rides you first showed were the same one, not sure.

Anonymous said...

Nostalgic photos. Looks like the carnival rides I was on when I was about 10 to 14 years old. The carnival came near my town in New Jersey every year.
Makes me feel old, but brings back some good memories.
Mike LeComte

Chris said...

thanks for the pictures and the memories. i came along much too late for the amusement rides, but the overgrown, delapidated park excited my imagination everytime we drove past on our way to riverside city park. i used to play pee-wee league football at the park across 30th street and you could still see the top of the old rolly coaster. i would always imagine what that place must've looked like, maybe a miniature version of king's island or six flags.

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Anonymous said...

Looking for Bill Elliott, he was incharge of the horse & pony rides.
Thanks JoAn