Steve Burke

Memories of working at Coney Island's pony track as a boy in the 1940s for "no pay, just tips"

Interviewer:
Interviewee:
Steve Burke
Interview Date:
August 19, 2017

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Born in Flatbush, Steve Burke shares boyhood memories of working at Coney Island's pony track,  where the Aquarium is now. As a boy of 10 and 11 he worked two summers for "no pay, just tips" and the fun of riding the horses, he says.  When the Labor Department came around, people who worked on Surf Avenue would send a signal and he and the other kids would hide. Among the perks of the job was getting to ride horses in Coney's Mardi Gras Parade. He talks about his grandfather, who told stories about getting into a fistfight with George C. Tilyou and owning the first Ford taxicab in Coney Island, and his grandmother, the first Queen of the Mardi Gras. For the past 30 years, Steve has raised cattle in St. Lawrence County in upstate New York, an interest that he says began at the pony track.