And After All, You’re My Wonder Wheel

on the moving car of the Wonderwheel with Craig

And how could I not visit Coney Island?

After all, it’s en route in our Island hopping tour – between Staten Island and Long Island.

My family plunked down its roots in Coney Island, on 21st Street. This is where my great-grandparents on my grandmother’s side lived. My grandmother with her three sisters and one brother.

This is the subway train stop that takes you to the boardwalk. The very spot where my grandmother and her sisters would stand and offer visitors and beachgoers a clean place to shower and change after beachgoing at their apartment  – all for a quarter.

On the boardwalk, there are signs of souvenir stores that are so old they advertise Suntan Oil – NOT sunscreen, or sunblock – but good, old-fashioned melanoma inducing suntan Oil.

This is the famed Coney Island boardwalk. On this spot – or around here somewhere –  my grandmother met my grandfather and told him to go home and grow up. They were married for 67 years. This is also the Boardwalk and the beach where my brother and my cousins and I ate chicken salad sandwiches with grapes and then had to WAIT on the beach blanket for 30 minutes before we can go jumping in the waves. It was a cruel ritual that we endured each summer.  

This is the Cyclone. My grandmother rode it, as well as my mother. Skipped a generation with me. Now, this week, my husband and son got a chance to ride its rickety hills.

Me? I agreed to ride the Wonder Wheel with the family.

My husband, two boys and my parents crammed into one of the moving cars that shoots out into nothing over the beach.

This is the sign that tells the rider just how old the Wonder Wheel is, and that there has never been an accident in all the Wonder Wheel’s 89 years.  This is the view up top of Nathan’s Famous Franks below:

And after a few hours, hot hungry and tired, we left the boardwalk to find our car which was parked by the Luna Park apartment projects. These were the apartments where several branches of the extended family lived for several decades.

I took a walk on the grounds. I looked up at the terraces where my cousins and I played tag.

The buildings were under a much-needed renovation. As I walked along memory lane, I noticed that the playgrounds of my childhood had been upgraded. Old school monkey bars and jungle gyms have been changed to the plastic, safer playgrounds of today.

But wait – some were JUST the same. The same concrete play structures were still there that I played on. So, for one more time , I climbed on them, with my youngest son:

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About stacylynngittleman

I have been a reporter and public relations professional for over 30 years, specializing in profile features and investigative longform writing. During my career I've profiled WWII Honor Flight Veterans, artists and musicians and have written on topics that range from environmental and gun control issues to Jewish culture. Click around on my writing samples plus read my blog on my personal life raising three kids over 27 years and three cities.

8 responses to “And After All, You’re My Wonder Wheel”

  1. Debbie Abrams Kaplan says :

    Stacy – I love this! I visited Coney Island last summer for the first time. The photos are identical to my memory of it (except we didn’t do any rides). We went to the aquarium there, and missed on on the perfect beach day. Thanks for sharing your memories! I hope the kids enjoyed themselves. sorry we missed your trip to NJ.


  2. kelly says :

    Love it.


  3. gerry says :

    Hi, Stacey — I first posted this May 29, but as one of your extended family, Brooklyn-born and Coney Island-raised, thought you would appreciate this foot-note to your Coney island rambles:

    I grew up in Coney Island, Brooklyn. No offense intended, but it was better than where you grew up. Okay, take offense.

    In the first place, it was historic, legendary, gritty Coney Island, with world famous amusements, five miles of boardwalk and Atlantic beach front, a vast and diverse parade of visitors during the summer and the hushed stillness of a sea-coast town in winter. And it was in the storied borough of Brooklyn.

    ’nuff said.


  4. transplantednorth says :

    May 29? where is your post and what did you write about Coney Island? And even if I grew up in the sub-standard Staten Island, I still consider Coney Island and the Luna Park Apartments a part of my growing up : )


  5. gerry says :

    On my FB page. That’s about it. It was just a brief, personal reflection. And you are more than welcome to claim a piece of Coney Island. How lucky we were.


  6. transplantednorth says :

    Reblogged this on Transplantednorth's Blog and commented:

    Add your thoughts here… It’s July fourth and I’m taking some time off from blogging. But I think back to what I was doing last year at this time, spending time on Coney Island.


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