Eliot Wofse

A Coney Island native's memories of running amusement games

Eliot Wofse grew up in Luna Park Houses across the street from the amusement area, which he calls his playground. His elder brothers worked as game agents and regularly sent him off to play, for free, at Steeplechase Park and Playland Arcade. At eight years old, Wofse had his first job -- blowing up balloons by mouth for $2.00 per hour-- and by the time he was a teenager he had learned how to run any game. He recalls the 1960s through the mid- '70s, when he made good money, and the "scary times" of the late '70s and early '80s, when "the City forgot about Coney Island." After a long hiatus, Wofse returned to Coney and successfully operated the fishbowl game in 2010 and 2011. He reflects on his philosophy of running amusement games and interacting with customers, and the unsustainable cost of private proprietors like himself doing business in the new, corporatized Coney Island.