As my family clambered up the rickety on-ramp to the boarding area, I kept my eyes firmly fixed on the intimidating paintings on the stage wall and imitation yellow, brown and orange stone work adorning the side walls, operation booth and entrance doors. The strong odor of ozone given off by the small electric motors under each of the six art-deco period car seats helped to set the spooky atmosphere while my uncles Angelo and Henry assisted by making scary threats about my safe return. Just then, they disappeared into the darkness through the swinging doors.

     Elton Greenleaf, the ride operator, ordered my father and myself into the next waiting blood red car. First I boarded, then my father so I would be secure in our ride through the “Moo-Moo’s” house. Sitting in the car, I studied (left to right) in amazement at the lurching hag. She was painted in a lavender gown and outstretched arms with bulging eyes as if chasing me in the direction of my doom. Standing ferociously upright and jaws open is a black haired snarling ape emerging from brightly painted green jungle grass that happened to be directly next to me. Goody for me, because at eight feet tall each, this was the painting that scared me most. Next was a devil with a big, white spiky head and evil smile with lots of small sharp teeth standing in a pyre of flames with souls and demons trying to escape his wrath. Lastly another haggard witch I considered a twin to the one on the other side seemed content to stir a bubbly cauldron facing the devil. These scary monsters stood out clearly painted on a light blue background across the 26 ft. stage wall.

     Realizing we were next, Mr. Greenleaf, in his green Dickie uniform asked me if we “are ready”. Upon one last look at the ape which I have always referred to as the “Moo-Moo” we replied yes and in around the first turn we went crashing into the first set of swinging doors painted with a prisoner warning us with a word bubble stating “oh no” (this was the oldest painting dating back to the first day of operation). I stared wide eyed in front of me holding on to the cool handle bar and feeling the vibration of the impact of the second set of black painted swinging doors. The sunlight disappeared behind us when we entered “their house” and as we rumbled across the crooked old tongue and groove floorboards (the floor was 2.5ft. off of the ground giving off a very deep “hum” when traveling across the floor adding to the eeriness of the ride) an orange light flicked on and displayed a rotted skull on top of a treasure box. Quickly we turned 180
degrees right through the dark to a cobwebbed jail cell imprisoning a skeleton with his own skull lying hapless on his shoulder under a blue light. Next a quick rush sent us 180 degrees left back into the darkness of the building constructed 38 years earlier by the local contractor, Pierre Allaire. The smell of the aged wood, Lubriko grease and ozone combined to help punctuate the mysterious situation for my wild imagination. “Oooo…the Moo-Moo, Charlie”, was all daddy had to say to his little one at that moment as the next specter materialized as a discombobulated scarecrow reaching out between the bars of his confines for our souls under a green light. A 90 degree turn to the right brought us to the rear end of the 70ft long nightmare (a very large “Laff “ ride) and a series of 3 “S” turns passing a glowing red EXIT sign above a quicker way out before my journey became any worse. . As I realized my chance for escape vanished, we were startled at the orange illumination of a full sized werewolf whom seemingly just finished it’s transformation and perhaps, I thought, we disturbed it. At this point a distant scream from my uncles somewhere in the abyss made me fear the possibilities opposed to loving the unknown, my father would later point out. Immediately we bounded left and then a right turn through the blinding blackness and over a hazardous bump in the track (which was actually a pan drilled and screwed into the wood floor on the left side of the track by former ride operator Howard Behrendt in the
late 1940s). We hurled left then right then left again through what I termed the situation the “old witch’s hair”, because I cowered down in my chariot to avoid sparsely hanging string and fishing line to tickle the rider’s senses. This time, I thought the conspiracy of the witches and the Moo-Moo to get me was finally going to work. I nervously clutched on to my daddy’s right arm when the sensation of mechanical failure seemingly started and I was then “tapped” on my little right shoulder (thanks dad) from what seemed like large powerful, rubbery hands because so many “evil involvements” were taking place thus far. Now a quick
90 degree right turn and a very loud siren emanating from the dark abyss directly in front of us became a horrifying welcome to the most fiendish apparition in here. A clear incandescent bulb showcased a vampire like ghoul lurking in a corner before the last two 90 degree turns to the first set of doors before finally leaving our adventure. I remember the faint outline of light around the rectangles of the final set of doors as the doors behind us closed and we hurtled like a prisoner during a break from jail at the clearly visible tunnel between the two worlds. I remember looking to my left and over my shoulder and back into their very spooky house checking to make sure that no one or thing had followed us out. The second and final impact of doors to our world was a welcome sensation forcing my eyes to squint to faint silhouettes of my waiting family. Yes, this impression would last a lifetime. I still remember the loving smiles from my mother and aunt as our car came to a quick stop in front of the still closing jail-like doors. Exiting the car, I stopped to wave bye to Mr. Greenleaf and the feeling of a small victory came over me as I made my way down the exit ramp. I would be sure to go on again later in the day with other family members, each taking their turn to enjoy my excitement. Walking away, I stopped with a newly attained confidence of a young man to look up and let that sinister old bat know that I “survived” his house of terror (at least for now). To this day I swear it was laughing at me as if it were not finished with me yet . . .