Marilyn, Jim, and I departed Luna Park for the boardwalk.
And headed toward the carousel, but just before we got there, on West 15th Street we saw an alarming structure. It looked like a spiky orange snake made out of giant Legos. It featured backward loops, corkscrew turns, and 150 foot right angle drops. To make the picture complete there was a load of screamers zipping along the track.
I had been on the Cyclone many times when I was a kid—back then I was fearless—but the last time I rode it I was about fifteen. I went with my high school boyfriend, Lenny. (My parents hated him and his widowed mother hated me. There was a lot of sturm und drang. The funny thing is I don’t even remember why we broke up but I don’t think it was because of them.)
So Lenny and I got on the Cyclone and up it clanked, so far so good, hovered, still okay, then to my surprise, EEEEEEEEEEEK! I ducked and covered. When it was finally over I ended up with something I had never had before and that was a splitting headache.
Ever wonder about the house under the original Thunderbolt?
It was built in 1895 as the Kensington Hotel. Later, when George Moran bought the property in 1925 to build a roller coaster he saw no point in tearing down a perfectly good building.
I can almost hear the family discussion:
George: “Let’s build the roller coaster on top of the house and move in!”
Molly: “Why not!”
So they did. When they died their son Fred and his girlfriend Mae Timpano moved in, and when Fred died in 1982 Mae sold the ride, and the new owner closed it, but let her remain in her home. Mae moved out in 1988 for safety reasons.
In 2000 Mayor Giuliani had the ride bulldozed (some say illegally) while Mae cried in her car.
The house under the roller coaster scene from Annie Hall:
A mercifully short clip of the new Thunderbolt in action:
If you’re dying for more, here’s a 15 minute documentary featuring Mae Timpano. It’s very charming.