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Ghost Lettering

Ghost Lettering, Coney Island Boardwalk. October 23, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

On Sunday in Coney Island, we happened to take a few photos that are linked by end of season color and the melancholy passage of time. Last week, the ghost lettering of a forgotten arcade was revealed on the brick facade of the building on the Boardwalk at West 12th Street. As previously reported, Gyro Corner Clam Bar took down their signage and moved it to their second location on Coney Island’s Bowery. Gyro is one of the Mom and Pops which must vacate their longtime locations on the Boardwalk by November 4th.

At first we thought the lettering dated back to the old Playland Arcade and so did some of our friends. By Coney Island standards, it was the equivalent of an archaeological find! People have fond memories of Playland, which occupied the store from 1957 through 1981, according to its operator Stan Fox. But Stan informed us the ghost lettering is actually of more recent vintage: It belongs to an arcade that shared the corner with Gyro Corner for a spell in the late ’90s. You can listen to his memories of managing the Playland at this location for 20 years and other arcade stories in his audio interview in the Coney Island History Project’s Oral History Archive.

Balloon Dart

Balloon Dart, After the Season Is Over. October 23, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

This weekend is Coney Island’s last of the 2011 season. The rides and games and arcades are still open, and yet this solitary Balloon Dart game has already been abandoned by its operator. As a carny kid, my first job was picking up darts and replacing busted balloons in Mom’s dart game. Although the painterly composition made me stop and take a photo, there’s something sad about seeing the remnants of the balloons left on the hooks.

Back wall at Ruby's

Back wall of Ruby's back wall... October 23, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

When you walk into Ruby’s Bar on the Coney Island Boardwalk, you’ll notice the back wall is already stripped of its vintage photos of friends and fans. The task of packing up decades of memorabilia has already begun for Ruby’s owners Michael and Melody Sarrel. The photos behind the bar are still intact as you can see in the picture below. Rain or shine, Ruby’s “Final Closing Party” is scheduled for Saturday, October 29th Sunday, October 30, starting at 11 am and going on till ??? Of course, everyone is hoping for another reprieve, this time in the form of a multi-year lease from Luna Park operator Zamperla. If the deal gets done, Ruby’s owners will still have to pack up because all of the Boardwalk stores are expected to undergo extensive renovations. We’re not against renovations, we’re against loss of character. Goodbye, dear old Ruby’s! Will we recognize you if we’re lucky enough to meet again next season?

UPDATE October 27, 2011, 11:40 am

Ruby’s “Final Closing Party” was changed to Sunday, October 30, due to weather forecast for Saturday. Same time–11am till ??–same place. Check Ruby’s Facebook page for updates. Friends keep asking poignant questions that Ruby’s owners cannot possibly answer yet like “Will you be open for the first Polar Bear swim?” and “are we going for good, or just for the season????” We’ll keep on hoping, but 2012 is def not a done deal! We recommend coming out to say “Goodbye” this weekend to the seven Boardwalk Mom & Pops.

Ruby's

Ruby's Bar, late afternoon in October. October 23, 2011. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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