Stuart Waldman

Memories of growing up in Coney Island in the 1940s and '50s and fun summer jobs

Born in 1941, Stuart Waldman grew up in Coney Island on West 32nd Street and Neptune Avenue. He shares memories of school days - PS 188, Mark Twain, Lincoln High School, and Brooklyn College - and vividly describes a series of fun summer jobs he had starting when he turned 14. Waldman's first jobs were selling metal Parachute Jumps at a souvenir stand, schlepping beach chairs for "Beach Chair Bob," and operating the carousel and Whip ride at Ward's Kiddie Park. His favorite job, the summer that he was 16, was working a balloon dart, milk bottles and "The Dancing Dolls" for a game operator on Surf Avenue. "I loved that job because it was thrilling to me. I was a shy kid. And in that job, I couldn't be shy," Waldman recalls. "You are a huckster and you motion people in with things like, 'Hey, if you don't win, I'll give the lady a prize.' But you shouted it, you really shouted it. And then you had to hustle adults. It was a quarter a turn and there were various prizes." The next summer, his last job in Coney Island was doing deliveries for his uncle, who owned Mermaid Pharmacy. Waldman went on to get his hack license at age 19 and worked as a for-hire driver in Manhattan when he was a college student.