Ask Mr. Coney Island

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posted on Apr 24th, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
I have a very clear memory of a huge whale washing up on the beach at Coney Island. It was moved to an indoor exhibition space right next to Nathan's. The smell became unbearable, so the entire display didn't last long, but no one else I know remembers it. Do you have any information about it? It had to be around the mid-1950's. Thanks so much!
- Phyllis

Hello Phyllis,

The 75-foot finback whale washed up in 1954 and was hauled to the alley behind Nathan's and displayed at 50 cents a peek. The carnies who hauled the whale from the beach pumped preservatives into it but the chemicals only added to the horrific smell of decomposition. The attraction was not well received and the admission dropped to 25 cents before it went out of business. The whale display went up in flames in August and the smell of formaldehyde and smoldering blubber drove Nathan’s customers away in droves.

An insurance company paid to have the scorched whale towed away and dumped at sea but the stench remained for months after. This was not the first beached whale to be exhibited in Coney Island. Here is a picture of the 1930s "Moby Dick" that was displayed on the Boardwalk.

posted on Apr 22nd, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
When I was growing in a small town near the Pocono Mts. in Pa., all of my summers were spent with my cousins and aunt & uncle who had the Parkway Baths on the boardwalk. Not many of the family left and no body has any pictures of the bath house. The ones I had were lost during the flood of 72 (hurricane agnes). Where can I locate some pictures. I am retired now and spending my golden years in South Florida and often recall all of the wonderful summers with my cousins and my Aunt Irene and Uncle Jack Miner. Please advise. THANK YOU!
- Richard Velevas

Hello Richard,

Here are some images to replace what was lost in the hurricane! 

posted on Apr 8th, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
My mother showed me a picture of she and my dad and my aunt and cousins in Coney Island in 1948/49. My Dad is shooting a gun in the picture, and the rest of them are looking on with priceless expressions. I was told that it was some sort of an arcade game that if you hit the bulls eye the camera would then take your picture. Can you tell me the name of the game or where it might have been located in Coney Island?
- Vicki

Hello Vicki,

The photo shooting gallery game was called "Shoot-A-Photo," and there were several locations in Coney Island. The most popular was a storefront in the Washington Baths building on the Boardwalk at West 21st Street. Attached is one of their photographs.

posted on Mar 3rd, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
My aunt Anna owned the pizza place on the boardwalk right next to the bungalow's at 32nd Street. She sold the place sometime in the 90's when she was in her late 90's herself . I wanted to get as much info asIi could or even some old pics of the place. The family moved to NJ and I can't find them... I spent a lot of time there when I was younger.
- Chuck Randazo

Hello Chuck,

Larry and Vinny's was an Icon to anyone who grew up in the West End of Coney Island during the 1950s-1960s. Here are some photos of Larry and Vinny's shortly before Anna retired at the age of 94. She operated the restaurant for 50 years and it was the last of the West End boardwalk establishments. Pictured are Anna and Robert (dough in hands); Andy "(The Bat") Adams striking a pose, Anna with her incredible pizza; The last days of the store in 1994, and again, shortly before the abandoned building burned to the ground in 2005.

Anna died in New Jersey at the age of 101. She is missed.

posted on Feb 19th, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
I was wondering, could you tell me where a 12-year-old girl would have gone to Junior High School if she lived on West 21st Street between Mermaid Ave. and Neptune Ave. in 1925? Where could I find information about school life in Coney Island during the 1920s? Thank you!
- Hunter O'Rourke

Hello Hunter,

She probably would have attended PS 80 on West 17th Street or PS 188 on Neptune Avenue near Sea Gate. There was no Junior High in the 1920s.

posted on Feb 19th, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
My grandmother lived on W 32 St betw Mermaid and Surf Avenues and I spent a lot of time there in the 50’s as a young boy. I remember a very large, old even then, Victorian house w/ turrets on the NW corner of Surf and W 32. It was always scary to me. It was just across W 32 from the closed Surf Theater. Would you happen to know anything about it or possibly a photo? Thanks for your help.
- Eric Schwelke

Hello Eric,

The building was an old rooming house called the Wave Crest that stood abandoned for many years. It was demolished around 1958. Here is a photograph of the building when it was in operation, circa 1920.

posted on Feb 19th, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
Is that the Thunderbolt on the left in a picture of Patti Smith and Robert Maplethorpe published in USA Today dated 26 Jan 2009? I believe thay are at the west end of the bowery also on the right was a spook ride if my memory serves me right. Thank You!
- Coney Fan

Hello Coney Fan,

Yes, that is the Thunderbolt. They were standing on West 16th Street and the dark ride across from the Thunderbolt was the Tunnel of Laffs.

posted on Feb 19th, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
Do you have any pictures of the old school PS 80. It was on West 18th Street. I went to school there back in 1967. Thank you very much.
- Romerojojo2000

Hello Romero,

Here's a photo from our archive. We hope it brings back memories!

posted on Feb 19th, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
Would you remember the Memorial Post which was on I think 17th street and Surf Ave. It was a newer building around 1962. We had a Drum Corp called the Surfsiders under their Sponsorship. We would have parades and compete against other Drum Corps. We would always have Nathans Catered after every event. We originally would practice opposite Nathans which was next to the Movie RKO theatre. We were upstairs where I learned to play in this Band. 1960 was the year.
- Coney Fan

 Hello Coney Fan,

Here is a photograph of the Jewish War Veteran's Memorial Post on Surf Avenue at West 19th Street. It is no longer standing.

posted on Feb 19th, 2010
Dear Mr. Coney Island...
I was wondering if you had any Photos or info on the Lido Bar & Grill. This was my Grandparents on the Boardwalk from 1920's to 1959. Thanks!
- Marc Arniotes

Hello Marc,

Here is a photo of the Lido taken during its last days, circa 1973.