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Coney Island'sHigh Striker Queen

Coney Island’s High Striker Queen. Photo © Tricia Vita

“I’m happy to be back,” says Monica, Coney Island’s High Striker Queen, who has a new spot on the Bowery under the famed Wonder Wheel’s Thrills sign. And we’re happy to be reporting the good news. In photos taken earlier this week, Monica and her partner Jeff were overseeing construction of their new Fishbowl Game. It will officially open this weekend along with a Kiddie High Striker and Basketball Game.

As ATZ reported in March, three weeks before Coney’s March 26th Opening Day, Monica was told by a rep of 12th Street Amusements that she could not set up this year. “I’m heartbroken,” she had told us. “If I can’t find another place, I’m going to leave Coney Island for the last time.” The space on the Bowery became available for lease after longtime indie operator Jimmy Carchiolo aka Jimmy Balloons, passed away in April.

Coney Islad Bowery

New indie games under construction on Coney Island’s Bowery. Photo © Tricia Vita

Coney Island’s High Striker Queen was the first victim of the City’s scheme to use eminent domain to acquire six privately owned lots for “the revitalization of Coney Island.” One of the lots is the location where Monica and her partner Jeff ran their popular Mom & Pop “hit the hammer, ring the bell” game for the past four seasons.

A few weeks ago, 12th Street Amusements set up their own game in Monica’s former location, which means that when the lot is finally acquired by the City to make way for Wonder Wheel Way, they would be the ones entitled to compensation.

Related posts on ATZ…

April 1, 2016: In Memoriam: James Carchiolo, Coney Island’s Jimmy Balloons

June 3, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island’s Indie Game Operators

May 16, 2013: Shooting Gallery Revival in Post-Sandy Coney Island

April 22, 2013: Saying Goodbye to Manny and Target the Coney Island Cat

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Feed the Clown Game Coney Island

Feed the Clown Game, West 12th Street in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Skin the Wire, Feed the Clown, Roll-A-Coaster! Game of skill operators are needed for the 2016 season at these independent games on West 12th Street off the Coney Island Boardwalk. As a former carny kid who grew up working games on the midway, ATZ highly recommends this unique and formative job experience. And next time they call you in to play the games at San Gennaro or the state fair, you’ll be a full-fledged carny and can reply “I’m with it!”

Qualification::
–Games require manual dexterity
–Proficiency in addition. One game requires adding numbers
–Personable, outgoing and good with people
–Ability to describe and explain the games and merchandise to customers

The games open March 20 March 25 and are open weekends and school holidays in the spring and fall, as well as some evenings in May. The daily schedule kicks in Memorial Day Weekend and runs through Labor Day Weekend. Hours and scheduling are flexible. The rate of pay starts at $10 per hour and goes up as the operator masters each of the three games.

Apply in person or leave a reply below and ATZ will forward it to the game’s owner.

Games on W 12th St, Coney Island

skin the wire and Feed the Clown Games on West 12th Street, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

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Step Right UpAfter Hurricane Sandy, Coney Island got lucky when a rare vintage 1940’s Mangels shooting gallery from Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park was brought out of storage, restored, and installed at Coney Island USA’s Surf Avenue storefront. As far as we know, it’s the only one of its kind in operation that is open to the public. Since many shooting galleries were sold for scrap iron during World Wars I and II, you’re more likely to come across cast-iron and sheet-metal targets in the shape of birds and beasts, cowboys and Indians, and soldiers and torpedo boats in folk art collections than as a game in an amusement park.

Richard and Valerie Tucker’s passion for collecting figural cast iron began in the`early 1980s with the acquisition of a row of doves from a William F. Mangels’ gallery manufactured in Coney Island. Thirty years later, they own hundreds of shooting gallery targets from a variety of manufacturers. Step Right Up! Classic American Target and Arcade Forms is a sumptuous coffee table art book with more than 225 color images of American and European targets along with a sampling of carnival banners, signs and game pieces. As the first and only book on the subject, the volume is valuable to collectors and of special interest to fans of carnival art and antiques.

In addition to Mangels, the 144-page book has chapters on C.W. Parker of Kansas, William Wurfflein of Philadelphia, the John T. Dickman Company of Los Angeles and Chicago manufacturers Evans, Hoffmann, Mueller, and Smith, as well as miscellaneous targets and a few European targets. Essays by specialists on the manufacturers supplement illustrations from the Tuckers’ archive of catalogs, trade cards and other ephemera which are a great resource since the majority of targets have no trade marks.

Step Right Up! Richard and Valerie Tucker

Card Suits by WF Mangels. Private Collection. Photo: Kimberly Gavin/Kimberly Gavin Photography

One of our favorite target makers is C.W. Parker, who started out as a shooting gallery operator and soon got into the business of supplying traveling carnivals with a wide variety of attractions. Parker had a showman’s flair for borrowing design ideas from his fellow manufacturers and fashioning them into commercially successful shooting galleries and carousels.

No complete Parker galleries are known to exist or even to have been photographed, says Bob Goldsack, a Parker historian who wrote the book’s chapter on the self-proclaimed “Carnival King.” Parker’s highly detailed and mechanized targets included owls and eagles with flapping wings, whippets chasing rabbits, and the now politically incorrect circus animals, Indians, and Lincolnesque figure holding a sign that says “Hit Me” in a gallery advertised as “A New Political Shooting Gallery.”

A lecture and book signing by the authors will be held at the American Folk Art Museum, 2 Lincoln Square, Columbus Ave at 66th St, in Manhattan, on December 18 at 6pm. Admission is free of charge.

Step Right Up! Classic American Target and Arcade Forms by Richard and Valerie Tucker. Schiffer Publishing, 2014. Hardcover, $45

Step Right Up! Richard and Valerie Tucker

Indian by CW Parker. Photo: Kimberly Gavin/Kimberly Gavin Photography

Related posts on ATZ…

September 5, 2013: Photo of the Day: Restored WF Mangels Shooting Gallery

February 28, 2013: Coney Island Shooting Gallery from 1940s Makes Comeback

September 28, 2011: Rare & Vintage: Auction of French Fairground Art

February 25, 2010: Happy Belated Birthday to Coney Island’s William F Mangels

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Pinto Bros Fire Truck

Pinto Bros Fire Truck, Coney Island. Rich Penn Auctions, May 3, 2014

Among the items being offered on Saturday at online auctions are a circa 1940s Pinto Brothers Fire Truck from a kiddie ride manufactured in Coney Island and an array of vintage arcade machines and carnival games. The Pinto Brothers were kiddie ride manufacturers in the 1940s and ’50s and like their better known contemporary William F Mangels, who also manufactured a popular fire engine ride, the Pinto family had a factory on West 8th Street. After the widening of the street for the New York Aquarium construction swallowed up their shop, they continued to manufacture ride parts for customers and operate rides including the Cyclone roller coaster. For more info on the Pinto Brothers, see “Rare & Vintage: Pinto Bros. Pony Cart from Coney Island,” ATZ, May 18, 2012.

Airplane Game

Detail of St. Louis Carnival Supply Airplane Game. VCA Auction

“Fly to Tokyo, Rome, Paris, London, India, Egypt, Hawaii, N. Pole, Berlin, New York – Colors Win Small Prizes.” This very tall airplane-themed carnival midway game caught our eye in the auction catalogue for Victorian Casino Antiques May 3rd sale. Made by St. Louis Carnival Supply, the game features a hand-painted wooden backboard and a metal plane and track. It calls to mind the Bumper Car Game, which my father worked with a roller skate that was pushed by players. Dad said it was designed as an alternative to gambling wheels after wheels were prevented from operating in many places.

The VCA auction has a selection of pinball games and arcade machines including this 1 Cent Supply Co. “How Can I Get What I Want” Grip Tester. Squeezing the handle of the circa 1944 machine provides a variety of answers: “Take A Chance, Get Lucky, Work Hard, Be Pigheaded, Grab It, Outsmart ‘Em, Be Greedy, Just Ask, Use Good Line.”

1 Cent Exhibit Supply Co

1 Cent Exhibit Supply Co. ‘How Can I Get What I Want.’ VCA Auction, May 3, 2014

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March 30, 2014: Spring Reading: “Automatic Pleasures: The History of the Coin Machine”

February 5, 2014: National Pinball Museum Founder’s Vintage Games Up for Auction

December 6, 2013: Rare $25K “Punchy the Clown” Game Makes a Comeback

November 15, 2013: Modern Pinball NYC Opens with New Arcade Business Model

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Jerry, Ball Toss Game

Jerry, Ball Toss Game, Jones Walk. May 29, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Having grown up working behind the counter of Mom’s Balloon Dart and Dad’s Spot Game, I feel a special kinship with game operators. It’s not an easy job, especially when there’s no awning and the sun is setting in your face. If nobody plays your game, you don’t get paid. The Coney Island indie game agents whose portraits are in this photo album are survivors and jacks and jills of all trades. Jerry was a crew member on the Zipper until the ride lost its lease and was shipped to Honduras. Now he runs a ball toss game on Jones Walk and is one of the stars of Zipper, Amy Nicholson’s documentary about the rezoning and redevelopment of Coney Island.

Monica, High Striker. West 12th Street

Monica, High Striker. West 12th Street. August 28, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

Monica, the High Striker Queen of Coney, has been on the road with traveling carnivals. In Coney Island, she was displaced several times due to changes in land ownership, yet she always manages to come back. When I worked a game on Jones Walk, Monica was a few doors down. Since then she’s been on the Bowery and is now located on West 12th Street. This is the spunky gal who told a Voice of America reporter last year that independent attractions like hers give Coney Island its soul. “Our spirit will live on long after we’re dead, honey. We are the blood, sweat and tears on the block,” said Monica in a feature about Coney’s amusement parks.

Skin the Wire

Janice, Skin the Wire, West 12th Street, Coney Island. March 24, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

What’s the difference between an agent and a clerk? Agents work their own game or for a percentage of the profits rather than an hourly wage. They don’t wear company shirts and hats. They know how to call people in to play and are adept at getting you to play some more. The key to their longevity is making sure everybody walks away happy. One of my favorite signs in Coney Island–now long demolished, but its operator is back– is WIN BIG! BIG! PRIZES FOR THE FAMILY!!!

Roll-A-Coaster

Carolyn, Roll-A-Coaster. West 12th Street, Coney Island. March 24, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Janice and Carolyn work the games of skill on West 12th Street next to the mechanical wonders Miss Coney Island and Coney Island Always and the Coney Island History Project. Roll-A-Coaster and other ingenious games are the creation of Benny Harrison, who should be designated the Wizard of West 12th Street.

Coney Island Arcade

Manny, Coney Island Arcade Games on the Bowery. March 23, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Target the Coney Island Cat and his human, Manny Cohen of Coney Island Arcade and Games, recently left Coney’s Bowery forever. Evicted by the landlord, they moved to Las Vegas. Jimmy Balloons, who operated his Balloon Dart on the Bowery was also displaced and has since reopened on Jones Walk under the Wonder Wheel’s big neon sign.

Jimmy Balloons new Balloon Dart

Jimmy Balloons new Balloon Dart under construction in Coney Island. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Related posts on ATZ…

May 16, 2013: Shooting Gallery Revival in Post-Sandy Coney Island

April 22, 2013: Saying Goodbye to Manny and Target the Coney Island Cat

April 2, 2013: Shoot the Freak Reborn in Coney Island as Shoot the Clown

April 13, 2012: Photo of the Day: Catch 1 Ball Win This Prize

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Game

6 Balls, Score Under 14 Or Over 28. July 7, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

These two clowns are neighbors of Miss Coney Island, the dancing mannequin, on West 12th Street in Coney Island. Score Under 14 or Over 29 to Win a Big Prize!

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April 27, 2012: The Dancing Doll “Miss Coney Island” Speaks

April 13, 2012: Photo of the Day: Catch 1 Ball Win This Prize

April 10, 2012: Up for Auction: Collection of Carnival Knockdown Dolls

December 7, 2011: Jones Walk’s “Miss Coney Island” Shimmies Over to 12th St

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Old Doc's GameWe’re long accustomed to seeing antique carnival wheels, ball-toss figures and shooting gallery targets in the collectibles category on eBay. Ten years ago we wrote an article for Games Magazine titled “Step Right Up! Folk art collectors are snapping up vintage carnival games.” But this is the first time we’ve seen an entire vintage game being offered along with its vintage game booth—wooden stick joint, canvas and all—as historical memorabilia. Is “Old Doc’s Game” a museum piece or merely an obsolete piece of carnival equipment? You decide…

The photo of the vintage Duck Pond and canvas-and-stick joint transported me all the way back to the New England midways of my childhood. In the 1950s and early 1960s, my parents operated games with traveling carnivals and at fairs—Pitch Till U Win, Balloon Dart, Cover the Red, Slot Roll Down–you name it, we worked it. In those days we still had home-made wooden joints instead of custom-built concession trailers.

Stick joint textI can almost feel the heft of the lumber. As a little girl my first job was to carry the little wooden braces from Dad’s big red truck to the location where the joint was being set up. Each stick of lumber had to be laid out on the ground in a preordained manner. As Dad and our roughie hammered together the hinged pieces, I handed out the nails and sometimes got to drop one in. The canvas ballycloth in particular evokes tactile memories of helping set up the joint because snapping the ballycloth onto the front of the counter was the very last part of the job.

ducks in tank The Duck Pond for sale on eBay is described as Classic 1950s Americana. “Up until last year this game was at the fair making money for over 50 years,” says eBay seller “houseofmemories802,” who is based in Vermont. “All original, all hinged together and comes completely apart for easy storage. I have the canvas sides and top, the light fixture board, the breaker, the original metal stand that it sat on, the motor and pump and approximately 30 of the original ducks.”

When ATZ got in touch with the seller for info on the game’s provenance, we learned that he’d bought both the Duck Pond and a Cat Rack Game from “an old timer whose Dad was in the business forever.” He added, “Someone should really take these and keep them original as they are. I’m sure they just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. I have a feeling it might take some time on eBay because of the price, but then again it only takes one person.”

ducks textAlthough the price is indeed on the high side—$2,900 or best offer, I find it laudable that the seller is trying to preserve a piece of Vermont fair history. It’s sad when artifacts such as old carousels and old photo albums get broken up and sold piecemeal to collectors. When that happens, the items lose their historical context and become curiosities set adrift in the world. We’re pretty sure the kids who played Old Doc’s Game at the state fair will miss this gaggle of ducks.

cat rack The seller is also offering Old Doc’s Cat Rack, a ball game which is sometimes called a Punk or Doll Rack. The game includes 28 vintage punks, the original throwing balls, and the original stick joint and canvas tops and sidewalls. Says the seller, “This is the complete package as it’s been set up at the fair since the early 1900s.”

Update, December 3, 2011…

In 2009. ATZ wrote about this eBay auction of a complete cat rack as well as a duck pond, stick joints and all, which belonged to an old-timer whose father had been in the business forever. The seller tried to preserve these pieces of Vermont fair history and offered the games in their entirety for many months on eBay, but no buyers came forward. The dolls were (and some of them still are) being sold separately for $150-$175 and the antique stick joint is now available for a mere $249!

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November 21, 2009: Nov 28: Coney Island Arcade Auction of Pinball Machines, Coin-Op Games

November 16, 2009: Rare & Vintage: Coney Island Sideshow Banner by Dan Casola

November 3, 2009: Coney Island’s Shoot Out the Star Still Open… Players Wanted!

August 16, 2009: Coney Island Carnival Games: My Photo Album

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