Editor's Note: Over the years since Eldridge Park closed its doors, Bob Sardo has been a valuable source of information about the park and its operation during the Forties and Fifties. Bob's family ran the Frozen Custard concession and his dad showed the movies that we used to watch before and after the stage acts.
Our thanks to Bob for sending us this piece on his memories of Eldridge Park, where he spent every day during the summer helping with the family business, literally "growing up" at Eldridge.
of Eldridge Park
As I grew older
(12 years and up) my father began initiating me into the projection
booth to teach me how to run the movies (as he did my older brothers
before me). I absolutely loved it. These were the war years and television
was at least 5 to 10 years away. The crowds were enormous, particularly
on weekends. My biggest fear then was to have a film break in the
middle of the movie, a frequent occurrence. Then, predictably, the
shouts of "Put a nickel in it!" would fill the air until
the movie was finally restarted. But I loved it. The technical aspect
of the movies led me into a career as an Electrical Engineer, which
still serves me to this day.
Sunday afternoons meant
local stage acts that usually began around 1PM and went to 3 PM. At
that time the featured weekly act went on. Some of the local bands
that used to play were Brownies Old Timers (and they were!), the Woodhull
Mountain Boys, featuring Woody Woodhull, the Watkins Salt Band and
an occasional afternoon of square dancing.
Remember Jeff, the Cop? He
was the sole Protector of the Park, and took his job very seriously.
When he made his rounds at the park, we usually gave him a wide berth.
In the late 1940's (1949, I believe) he stepped into the Merry-Go-Round
area, swinging his Billy Club in his right hand when it hit his holstered
gun. The gun fired, the bullet went through his thigh, ricocheted
off the concrete floor and struck an innocent bystander below the
knee. His first reaction was, "Who fired that gun?" He then
felt the pain, looked down and saw the blood, then said, "I've
been shot!" He survived but he kept the gun on safety after that.
in the 1940's and early 1950's was very popular, both during the week
and weekends. Daily picnics were held weekdays by the many companies
then located in Elmira. It was also the favorite spot to watch the
Fourth of July Fireworks. These were located across the lake from
the main park area, and I remember the rockets bursting in the air,
creating beautiful reflections in the lake.
about the Park