The grandest annual event ever in town was the old Maple Shade Jaycee carnivals.
First off goes a thank you to all the Maple Shade Jaycees. That didn't just happen without alot of hard work and dedicated hearts.
Most of the years except the last few when it was held at the High School, it was held at Steinhauer School. It would last for, I think, six nights and be held toward the end of summer. The rides and later the enclosed booths were provided by Skelly's Amusements. In the very early years ALL the booths were hand made from 2 x 4s with poor lighting on extension cords. I think the spin art always stayed in one of these because that is messy. My parents were Maple Shade Jaycees and Jaycee-ettes so I was priveledged to see some of the behind the scenes preparation as well as knowing the people behind it. Anyhow hope we get a few pics for the page but here are some rides and booths infos-
Come on, if you're like me you started out on the "Helicopters" or "Boats" ride with Mom watching. Also for the small kids was a merry-go-round. There was the Fish or Duck Pond and the spin art booth. Actually the spin art booth could satisfy any age!
Remember the Moon Bounce. You had to take your shoes or sneakers off before going in there and bouncing around.
A few years go by and you rode the "Whip" and the Ferris wheel. Now the grand ride of them all was the "Salt and Pepper shakers" or some years they were painted up as "The Rockets." To add to a 10 or so year old kid's excitement was the unsubstantiated rumor of how on one of these rides the chain broke and the shaker went into the ground and the kids were killed! OOH that really made it exciting! One time me and my friend had a few strips worth of tickets and it had drizzled out and Behold no long line at the Salt and Pepper Shakers. We rode like 5 or 6 times in a row. That was like the ultimate!
Now several years into the carnival and a few new rides came along- First the "Hustler" and about the next year the Trabant".They had lots and lots of flashing lights as they spun you every which way. And the usual music playing year after year was Chicago! The black guy that operated the Trabant was great. Sometimes he would give you what you knew was an extra long ride, and talk into a microphone and say things like "You want to go faster?" and we'd shout "ya"
The next ride to come seemed to top the long gone Salt and Pepper Shakers I guess. It was the Round Up. Hey any ride that keeps you safe from falling due to the laws of centrifical force is serious! One more thing to mention- No matter how dizzy and sick us kids felt from any ride- NEVER show it! See you had to "look cool" when you came down off the ramp from a ride. Inside you'd be ready to lay down or puke but on the outside "hey that was a cool ride" you'd say as you steadied yourself.
There was games of skill and games which were basically gambling. The stakes were only a quarter or "one thin dime" and the prizes stuffed animals usually.
The Duck Pond- Or some years it was "The Fish Pond". This is the game we all started with. You would pick one of the swimming ducks and the Jaycee-ette would turn it over to reveal which number it had on the bottom. Each duck had its own number that corresponded with the numbers of the prizes. The prizes were plastic toys of different sorts.
The Gold Fish Ping Pong Ball Toss- Win a goldfish! The goldfish were already in the bowls with water. You got 3 ping pong balls for a quarter. The game wasn't too hard because if it bounced off a rim of a bowl there were lots of other bowls sorrounding it that it might still go into. If you played it a few times you'd probably have a goldfish pet. Every so often they'd even give you a 4th ping pong ball and say, "give it another try."
The Cupcake Tin Roll- I remember seeing the Jaycee-ettes painting all the cupcake pan holes. They even made a green and white striped one. That game was played by rolling a smaller sized beach ball onto the cupcake tins all nailed to a sheet of plywood and if it stopped on the same colored cupcake hole as what you put your dime or quarter on on the side railings you would win a prize.
The Spin Art booth- A 6 x 9 heavy stock piece of paper was clipped onto a fast rotating turntable. The "Artist" would then choose colors from mustard type containers. The carnival worker had to remind them use "Only a little bit" as they would squeeze each color. Part of the fun was that you didn't actually know what it would look like until you were done and the wheel would stop rotating. The spin arts would be then hung up on a clothes line to dry and you would return to pick it up in about a half hour.
The Coin Toss for stuffed animals- Glass plates sat on stuffed animals, usually on the tops of their heads in the middle of a booth. In the center was the largest stuffed animal about 3 feet tall with its little glass plate on top. I think this started as the "Nickel Toss" and possibly later went to a dime. It was the game that guys with their girlfriends close by really spent their money on. By their great throwing skills they could provide a stuffed animal for their Sweethearts. Well everybody enjoyed the game. It wasn't expensive to play and you had a shot if you could land it without the rebounce.
The Wild Mouse- It lasted about 3 years until somebody told the SPCA. Hey the last year I think they even stopped spinning the mice. I was at a get together of Jaycees the night this game's idea was conveyed by one of the "Wilder" Jaycees to the others. As they sat around the table one said "Now get this...there are these mice in the middle of a round rotating table with holes around the edges like a pool table. In the holes is cheese to lure them there and each hole numbered so that people bet which one is going to be the first to have a mouse go in it." The rotating of the table was not fast or meant to dizzy them but to disorient them. There was a whole can of fresh mice too. Iam not even sure the table was rotated now because I forget. It was about 10 mice per session used. There was black, brown, white and various spotted mice. This game took on an almost interactive feel as people seemed to think that by shouting to the mice which numbered hole to go down that the mice understood them.
Other Games-The Zodiac Wheel was one of the spin wheels in the booths. Can you still hear him say it the way he stretched out the word Zodiac? I can. The Record Booth where you could win the latest 45s or if you were really lucky- an album. And everything from hitting darts with balloons to throwing soft balls into metal milk jars. At early carnivals there was full speed softball throws to knock over pins set up at a good distance.
They didn't just serve beer there. There was hot roast beef sandwiches, clams, french fries, I think onion rings, etc... The clams were there every year. You could even have them served raw if you'd ask. Probably the only time as a kid that I had clams on the half shell was at the carnivals each year.
For YEARS the place of the beer garden was along the back of Steinhauer School with the trees that were along there in the back of it. Later there was a year when a heavy tarp was put up at the corner of North Fellowship Ave and Front Street in the schoolyard. There was a safety question because of its heavy weight and sure enough one carnival night it poured rain! It held up fine. I think from then on the Beer Garden was covered with tarps.There was a year or two when the Beer Garden was ON Front Street. There was a law suddenly into effect which stated that no alchoholic beverages could be on a school property so they just moved it onto the street. Funny thing was when the Carnival was later moved to the High School parking lot it was there on the grounds.
Was it really because of a alchohol law that the Beer Garden was moved onto Front Street itself? I have to research this because it is just one person's story to me. I personally do not remember. What I do remember is the days before the carnival that year I was on Front Street watching them build what was a first- a bar for the beer garden. It was a square bar having counters going around all 4 sides of it. Actually all this Beer Garden movement from where it had been for years and years could be because of wanting to have tarps over it and maybe those trees which were along the back of the school were in the way. I will find out what is what!
For the last several years of the carnival, it was held at the High School in the parking lot. My first guess as to why the change of location is that each year it left the Steinhauer School field practically grassless! I still enjoyed the rides and the carnival but it never felt quite as good as when it was at Steinhauer. The whole area was perfectly well lit. The parking lot here didn't need the pre- nightly fire hosing to keep the dust down that the Steinhauer field would get. Everything was squeezed in place a bit more. It seemed to need just a bit more open space and well... dirt.
Gone, to me now at least, were the days us Jaycees kids ran around Steinhauer field playing games of tag and "find this one" while our parents painted and assembled booths. Gone were the daytimes between carnival nights with scenes of kids holding bags and picking up trash off the field of Steinhauer and every so often proclaiming "I found a quarter."
I still had fun, as a teen ager now, at the "High School ones" and enjoyed the same rides and the Jaycees spirit. Remember the announcer who would say over the microphone, "Step right out onto the Midway" and remember all the clams the beer garden, now with a juke box, had. A whole trashcan full packed in ice. Somehow I never thought that the last carnival I went to might actually be the last one.
First Booths- They were wooden and I believe redwood stained. There was red and white striped canvas plastic that was staple gunned to the sides up to the counter board.
early booths at Evesham Jaycees carnival
For a year or so there was a ball throw where you hit the spot and it made a man fall into the tank of water. I don't know how long it lasted but there was a "White Elephant" booth selling used items donated by Jaycees familys.
The Man with the Thing in the box- I remember also that the same year the beer garden was in the corner cause I remember him walking into it after "surprising" us. He had a wooden box with some air holes drilled into it and maybe abit of chicken wire and clearly there was some kind of animal in that box the way he carried it! Well he would just about start to reach to open the lid to show you the "Thing in the box" and it was spring loaded with some sort of mink stole on a long string which would shoot out and scare the daylights out of you! He later died from a boating trip where he fell overboard and drowned. He is long remembered by anyone who was at the carnival that year!
The year they stored the booths in the topless trailer- End of story was they really saved no money by renting a topless trailer to store the wooden booths behind the Knights of Columbus hall. The rain and snow had done much damage and what was salvaged needed much repainting.
Even the Banana Splits went to the Maple Shade Jaycees Carnival- One year it was advertised in advance, the hit Saturday morning children's TV stars where going to come to the carnival. I was psyched! Well I think it was for one night that Bingo, Fleegle, Drooper, and Snorky roamed the grounds of Steinhauer School signing autographs. It was a slight let down at first to see that they didnt quite par up to their tv image. Snork was hot pink colored and Drooper's suit looked the worse for wear. Still cool to see them mingling thoughout the crowds that night.
From Skelly's Amusements- "The JayCee carnival had always been one of my favorites. I'll always remember the contract signings that would happen at my parents house; the JayCees would come around 7 or 8 and the party, err... I mean meeting would last until 2 or 3 in the morning." -Michael Skelly
Am I Right or Wrong?- Any Comments?
The tickets you bought in advance for the carnival instead of paying 25 cents per ride you would pay 1 dollar and get 5 rides plus the ticket part at top that had a raffle number. Ahhh but what was the raffle- 50/50? no..... A new bike was it. I guess it was a boy's and a girl's bike the last night. You filled out your name and address on the back of the top part and turned it in at the carnival. They would put the boy's names in one jar and the girl's in the other and the last night of carnival raffle off the new bikes.
I remember an early carnival ducking booth. It was at the center of the back of Steinhauer and you'd throw balls to hit the lever that knocked him into the pool. I remember towards the end of the nights it was just plain dark out!!!! Poor lighting at the first carnivals.
Banana Splits Paper
I actually still have that from a Jaycee Carnival at Steinhauer School the night that the Banana Splits came. This is the autograph sheet on which I got all four signitures then folded it up and shoved it in my pocket and continued my Carnival night.
This is not from the time of the Saturday Morning first seasons. It is later when they showed them everyday after school hours.
That night the carnival was jam packed because they even announced it on the radio that the Banana Splits would be there.
This page to be continued later. Iam going to go to Burlington County College and look at the old Progresses on microfilm and gather alot of facts. One bit of info will be- What were the years that the carnival ran? Anybody have any old photos or stories?