Joseph Svehlak

Fond memories of Coney Island

Joseph Svehlak
Interview Date:
July 18 2009



Joseph Svehlak recalls two generations of stories from Coney Island. His mother grew up in lower Manhattan as a first generation American born to European parents in the early 1910’s. On Sundays after church, her father would take her and her sister on an open-air trolley to Coney Island. They would go to eat in the hotel kitchen where their father worked. In Joseph’s own childhood visits to Coney Island, he remembers riding on the Steeplechase horses and figuring out ways to beat the other riders. Joseph’s father had ridden the Parachute Jump when it was part of the 1939 World’s Fair and Joseph describes riding it in Coney Island once it was moved there. He says his father would sneak away from the family to ride the Cyclone by himself until Joseph was old enough to join him. His father frequently visited Cook’s Baths on the Boardwalk near Henderson’s Walk. Joseph would love to see bathhouses and year-round amusements accessible today for working class people the way they used to be.