August 18, 2008
What New Jersey child born between 1898 and 1971 doesn't have a story to tell about adventures at the famous Palisades Amusement Park at Fort Lee? It seems it was a magical place for youngsters, teenagers on dates, and families with children of all ages.
A little research tells me it was started as a trolley park, but when amusement rides and games were added, it had no equal. The Nicholas and Joseph Schenck, also in the budding movie business in Fort Lee, bought the place and named in Palisades Amusement Park and never looked back, not even when they took their business to Hollywood and helped create another industry altogether.
Palisades holds many memories for people who grew up in Hoboken.
Here's what "Downtown Chick" wrote me: Palisades Park was a short bus ride away, and the times were slower. Many kids starting going without parents at a very early age.
I think I was 12 when a bunch of us hopped the bus with towels under arms and headed for that fabulous place. It was the only pool I've ever seen that had waves. It also started out like the ocean, just barely covering the feet & then just got deeper and deeper. It had an actual sandy beach. No seement pond there! This was our Riviera. Just a short bus ride from Hoboken to Cliffside Park & you were in Xanadu.
Just a bunch of high rises there now. I wish I could find the story my son wrote. He was born in 1961 so he had a few good years at the Park. It was a wonderful story about a young boy's disappointment upon finding out the Park was closing.
Slezak wrote of the park:
How can anybody forget Palisades Park, after eating a hot dog at Callahan’s? I seen PAUL ANKA there...the rock and roll shows...for free...free parking!
Swimming was great with fake waves. As a kid, BUSTER CRABBE, remember him (FLASH GORDON)? He used to try to teach kids how to swim there. I cried too much. He left me alone. I still can’t swim.
Up the viaduct...climbing the 100 steps to North Street Park to swim, that’s where I almost drowned...I got pushed in...in the deep part...great memories.
That Slezak. All memories are great, even almost drowning.
You can't stop me, even if you've heard this one (I ran it before on the post called Days of Ice Cream and Roses), from Dennis ("Rabbi"):
We were Mousie, Eddie, and Dennis. Poor Mousie had to get all his teeth pulled out due to a gum desease, but this also had a bright spot. While riding on the bus up to Palisades Park, we would spot some girls to go swimming with and maybe go on rides with, if we got a kiss, or two.
If Mousie thought they were ugly, he would take out his teeth and smile at them!! Oh! It really was a laugh. One time on the diving board, he dove into the water and lost his teeth! Don't ask me how he did this. We had to go diving for the darn things and we got them. We three were from different parts of Hoboken, yet were fast friends.
No doubt it was a wonderful place, with all the rides, the rock and roll shows in the 1950s, and those mysterious waves in the water! It had to come to an end. According to Wikipedia the park was a victim of its own success. It was too popular for its own good, with generations who had grown up there, bringing their families. In its last days it was just too expensive to operate and accommodate the crowds who never stopped coming.
But think of all the years of fun that kept it alive for so long! It will live forever in the memories it generated.