Andy called me last Sunday, the day before he died, to tell me about the Himalaya ride in New Jersey that he wanted to buy. He was in serious pain that even morphine couldn’t alleviate, but all he could talk about was the ride, how he wanted to buy it and bring it back to Coney Island. The ride had sold to another operator, and I told him that there’d be others. He wouldn’t stop. “I almost hocked my house to buy it,” he told me, “it’s electric drive, one of a kind, all the others are hydraulic.” He felt that his Himalaya ride, with himself as DJ, playing all the old Motown tunes, was the thing that Coney needed most. He was a true believer.
Coney Island was Andy’s life and obsession. In the 1970s Andy was a fixture in Coney Island, operating the Tornado Roller Coaster, the Bobsled, and his great love, the Himalaya. He was an expert ride mechanic whose love of animals led to his job at the police stables in Brighton Beach. In recent times he had a thankless side job, working for Horace Bullard as the guardian of Coney’s decaying relics, the Thunderbolt, the Shore Theater, and Playland Arcade. He always dreamed of restoring them to their former glory and never fully recovered after the illegal demolition of the Thunderbolt.
I will miss his smile and laughter and his intensity and optimism. We shared many Coney Island moments together. He was a good friend for many years and a main character in my books, “Coney Island: Lost and Found ” and “Wild Ride: A Coney Island Roller Coaster Family.” He left us too soon, but his legacy will live on.