16. The Wesley Lake Section, Part 7
The Palace Amusements, Part 3
Image 1.16.1. Looking south in the Palace.
Now we look south, in the direction of Wesley Lake, standing between the Chinese Ride and the Funhouse. Just past the pink mirrored room of the Funhouse, we make out the corner shooting gallery. The Skee Ball games are further ahead (you can't see them yet); the great Carousel will be opposite the Skee Ball lanes, to the right. Now let's walk straight about 30 paces and look left (southeast).
Image 2.16.1. Carousel, looking southeast.
Now we see the famous Carousel. At the right of the photo, just left of the mirrored pillar, you can make out the brass ring dispenser. It juts diagonally down. (It seems far from the ride; perhaps it was moved out of reach.) As a child, I believed I would never be able to get a ring. Then one day, when I was about twelve, I finally gave it a try. What the heck. Here goes... I got it! The cool brass ring fit right around my finger. I can still hear the slithery click of the dispenser. Miraculous! I'm actually growing up!
Click HERE to see photos of Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman on the Carousel.
Okay, in the background of the above carousel photo we see the snack bar that I mentioned earlier. It advertises pizza and popcorn. I remember buying a bag of purple cotton candy there. In the foreground we see a few gaming machines. Now lets turn around and face the other direction (west).
Image 3.16.1. Base of the Ferris Wheel in the background.
In the photo above, in the foreground, we see more of those nudge-the-prize machines. (There must have been over a hundred of them in Asbury Park, including many tall antique ones of the skill-crane variety.) To the left we spy part of the children's merry-go-round, which was surrounded by a white picket fence. The Skee Ball lanes are in the background. (Tickets won at Skee Ball anywhere in town could be redeemed for prizes at several locations.) Behind the Skee Ball lanes is the Ferris Wheel. Note its giant rim, spokes and crossed metal supports. To the left of the photo we can just make out one of the large canopied cars that characterized the Asbury Park Ferris Wheel. (We'll take a ride in one later on.)
By the way, click HERE to see a few Palace Artifacts.
Now let us walk around the side of the Ferris Wheel, to the right.
I don't have a photo of the next attraction, "Hell and Back," which was the Palace Amusements' "Tunnel of Love." Hell and Back was a spookhouse ride. You rode through the horror in track-bound metal cars. The entrance to Hell-and-Back was the mouth of giant ape-head! The ape made statements, quite loudly, most of which were difficult to understand, even if they could be heard throughout much of the Palace. I distinctly remember one of the ape's groaning utterances: "Ooooh, have I been sick!" Our little car pushes through double doors of black-painted wood and steadily makes its way into the pitchy darkness of the underworld. At various spots, horrible faces light up with a growl or a scream, giant spiders climb down their webs and a ghoul opens his coffin lid and sits up. Other enormities force themselves on you; and our car seems to head ... right ... into ... them. Then, of a sudden, we swerve and dash for the next fright on the list. Everything turns pitch black near the end of the ride. In front of us we see a pinhole of light, which is meant to represent the distant exit of a tunnel. We arrive at the entrance sooner than expected, our car pushing through the black double doors. And here we are again amid the jolly confusion of amusement sounds and the smells of popcorn, hot dogs and colorful candy snacks.
Just to the left of Hell-and-Back, on the other side of the Ferris Wheel, is a ride called the "Rock and Roll." I never went on it. In retrospect, it seems to be something like a Tilt-a-Whirl ride - people in cars get spun around on a lopsided rotating dish. Funny how we seem to recall certain characteristics of things that may or may not have been real. I have a sense that there was some kind of jungle theme to the Rock and Roll ride (or maybe to a predecessor of it). Could it be that the ape of Hell-and-Back and some nearby foliage-effects have rubbed off? Anyway, it is the mental mixture of elements that gives recollection and re-experience so much magic. As I write this, many complex recollections flicker through my mind. Worlds for the tasting. We will experience this effect in its fullest when we complete our tour of the Wesley lake area and I describe for you the layers of my involuntary mental structures. (Woo!)
Image 4.16.1. The Bumper Cars arena.
To the left of the Rock and Roll ride, we find the Bumper Cars. This attraction is nicely situated on the southwest corner of the Palace Amusements. Its windows open up on Lake Avenue and beautiful Wesley Lake. Walls of mirrors reflect the sunny outside world, including the Victorian houses of Ocean Grove on the other side of the water. You can't see the Spanish-Moorish Mayfair Theater a few steps away, but you "know" its there. Not that you are looking and thinking of these sights, of course... You've got to keep your eyes on that weird guy who's coming at you with a murderous look.
You fly out of your car and, after a double air-borne summersault, land on two feet back in front of the Bumper Cars arena. I'm really impressed! Now lets walk back amidst the pinball machines and other games to the Ferris Wheel. We're going to take a spin - I mean, a revolution...